Hamsters are one of the most popular pets for families. Hamsters are cute, cuddly, and inexpensive to own. However, they need a lot of care and attention, and it can be expensive to keep them healthy and happy.
Here’s what to do when you first get a hamster:
- Set up a space.
- Stock up on supplies.
- Get the cage prepared.
- Toys and why they are important.
- Get the right water bottle.
- Introduce your hamster to their new home.
- Build a relationship.
- Pick a vet.
Hamsters may look like small, simple animals, but they are very complex and require a lot of time and effort to take care of them properly.
What To Do When You First Get a Hamster
This article will cover everything you need to know about getting yourself ready for your first hamster.
If you are just getting started with a new hamster, the first thing to do is set up a space for them. A hamster needs a big cage and lots of toys and accessories to keep them busy.
If you plan on keeping two female hamsters together, two cages this size will be needed. For one male and one female, one big cage will work. Hamsters like to dig and burrow, so it’s important to give them plenty of room in their cage to do so.
You can use a regular cage of wire or plastic or even a glass aquarium with a screen top. If you choose food for your hammy that comes in those little colored blocks, make sure there are at least two inches (5 cm) of bedding in the bottom of the cage. That way, your pet can dig down and bury the new pieces of food as he eats.
A glass tank or aquarium is the best cage type since it allows you to keep your pet at eye level. Most glass tanks are too short for adequate ventilation, and you will need to replace the top with a wire mesh lid from a pet store.
You can also build your cage with wood or purchase a commercial wire mesh cage, but these are less ideal because it is harder to see your pet in these cages.
Hamsters like to sleep during the day, so they will appreciate dark corners where they can doze off. Be sure to add some tunnels and hideaways if your cage didn’t come with them already.
You’ll need to buy everything before bringing your hamster home so that they can move in right away. It’s best not to take them out of their cage and let them run around in their new space until you’re sure that all their needs are met.
When choosing food for your new hamster, it is essential to remember a couple of things.
First, you want to make sure you purchase food explicitly designed for hamsters. While many different types of animals share the same food, hamsters should not eat the same food intended for rabbits or guinea pigs that is made in the USA.
The second thing to remember is the amount of sugar in your hamster’s food. Some foods made for various rodents have high sugar content, which can cause them to gain weight or even develop diabetes.
Here are some foods that you should avoid:
- Gerber’s Baby Food. This food contains a significant amount of sugar and garlic powder, which is toxic to hamsters. The Gerber Company in the USA has also recalled several batches of their baby food due to mold contamination.
- Cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. These vegetables contain a substance called thiocyanate, which can cause stomach upsets in hamsters and lead to goiter (a swelling of the thyroid gland).
- Fruit seeds and stones. Hamsters like fruit but the seeds and stones are poisonous. Apple seeds, for example, contain a chemical called amygdalin, which turns into cyanide when digested.
- Onions, garlic, and chives. These vegetables all belong to the same family, which is known to cause anemia in many animals, including hamsters.
If you’re in New York, My Natural Pet sells all-natural food for small animals.
Hamsters are omnivores and need a variety of foods to stay in top condition. They will eat many types of food, including seeds, grains, nuts, and fruits. Here are some of the best:
- Fresh fruit such as bananas and apples. Remove any uneaten parts after a few hours to stop them from going moldy.
- Fresh vegetables such as carrots and lettuce (not iceberg). Remove anything your hamster doesn’t eat.
- Sunflower seeds in moderation. Be careful not to give your hamster too many, or he may become overweight.
- Most commercial hamster foods include a mix of seeds, dried fruits, and nuts. These foods are often contained in a block form but can also be found as loose mixes.
These foods are convenient and well-balanced, but some people find their hamsters will only eat the tastiest parts of these mixes and leave the rest. You may want to experiment with a few different brands to determine which one your hamster likes best. You may even need to mix other brands for your pet’s tastes.
If you want to avoid commercial foods altogether, it is possible to make a blend at home using seeds, nuts, dry grains, and dried fruits. Just be sure that you include a variety of different ingredients, so your hamster gets all the nutrients it needs.
Hamster cages may come with wheels, tubes, bottles, houses, and toys. These keep your hamster happy and occupied.
The cage’s base should ideally be solid plastic with a removable litter tray. This makes cleaning easier. For smaller cages with wire bases, you need to get some substrate for the bottom of the cage.
Next, add cardboard tubes and tunnels to create an obstacle course for your hamster to explore.
First off, keep in mind that all hamsters need toys. They’re intelligent and curious creatures who love to explore new things. Without the proper stimulation, they can develop bad habits like chewing on their bars or biting their nails.
The Humane Society of the USA recommends offering chew toys before food or water so they’ll get used to chewing on them instead of biting you.
Hamsters have teeth that never stop growing. This means that they constantly need to chew on things to keep their teeth in check. If you give them enough toys and chew sticks, they’ll be able to wear down their teeth naturally.
However, if you don’t provide them with these things, then they’ll start gnawing on the bars of their cage and possibly injure themselves.
Give them a variety of things like wood blocks or apple slices that will keep them interested but not too much, so they gain weight.
A wheel for exercise is also essential. Make sure it’s the right size for your hamster’s breed: Syrian hamsters need larger wheels than their smaller cousins, Russian dwarfs, Chinese, and Roborovski dwarfs.
It is essential to buy a water bottle for your hamster and not use a bowl. There are a few reasons why:
- The water will get filthy very quickly. The hamster will splash it around and soil it with food and bedding material.
- Hamsters can quickly get wet. This may lead to them getting very cold and even getting sick.
- It is more challenging for the hamster to drink from a bowl than from a bottle. Hamsters need to bend their necks down to drink from a bowl and must suck the water up through their teeth. This can be difficult for young or old hamsters.
When your hamster is thirsty, it will head straight for its water bottle. The type of water bottle you buy for your hamster is essential, as the wrong bottle can harm your pet. There are some things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a water bottle for your hamster.
The water bottle size doesn’t necessarily matter; what matters is finding one that fits well in your cage. There are small water bottles made especially for hamsters, but these aren’t necessary. You can use a regular water bottle if it’s the right size for the cage.
There are two ways a hamster’s water bottle can dispense the water: with a straw or with a drip system. While both methods work well, some people prefer one over the other.
The straw design means that you don’t have to worry about leaks or spills, but it also means that your hamster may end up chewing on the straw and thus destroying it. Your hamster won’t chew on the drip system, but it may leak and cause a mess.
Hamsters may chew on their water bottle no matter what type you get them. This is natural behavior that should be expected of your hamster. For this reason, the bottle must not contain any toxic materials, so use bottles made from stainless steel or glass.
Hamsters also need soft bedding — never use cedar or other types of softwood shavings because the oils can irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin of small animals like hamsters. Aspen or paper-based products are good options, though avoid cat litter since that can cause severe digestive issues in rodents.
They will probably be a little nervous when you first get your hamster. It’s crucial to settle them in and do everything you can to help them feel safe and secure.
The first thing to do is set up your hamster home. This should be done before you bring them home, so they have plenty of time to explore and settle in. Your hamster will soon start to call this place their own and hideaway under the bedding.
When you first get your hamster home, give them some time to calm down and inspect their new home. When your hamster starts exploring and sniffing around, offer them treats from your hand (peanut butter is a good choice). This helps your hamster associate humans’ scent with food and makes it easier for them to trust you later on.
Don’t disturb or handle your hamster straight away – let them settle in by themselves for the first day or two. You can use this time to watch how they behave so that you can get a better idea of their personality!
After a day or two, try offering your hamster treats again. If they come out of hiding and approach you, try gently stroking them with one finger.
To tame your hamster, spend short periods whispering to them and stroking them gently in their cage when they’re awake. You can offer your hamster small treats through the bars of their cage to encourage them to come close and start interacting with you.
If your hamster is happy to be stroked, pick them up using both hands. You should use one hand underneath the body with your thumb at the base of the tail and the other hand on top supporting the body. Avoid holding your hamster in just one hand, as this will make them feel vulnerable.
Your hamster should learn to trust you quickly. Once they have, they will enjoy being handled and will start exploring outside their cage when they’re allowed out with supervision.
When you bring your new hamster home, you should also pick out a vet to care for your pet. Even though hamsters are tiny, they can be prone to many problems that require veterinary attention. You may not be able to find a vet specializing in hamsters, so you can call around to find one familiar with them.
You can ask your breeder, local pet store, or others who have hamsters for recommendations; when you locate a vet who has experience with hamsters, set up an appointment so that you will have someone to call if your hamster becomes sick or injured.
You can learn more about how to pick the right vet for your pet from this video from ErinsAnimals:
Related Hamster articles:
- Why Is My Hamster Lying Flat?
- How To Bond With Your Hamster
- Why Is My Hamster Not Coming Out at Night?
- How To Humanely Kill a Hamster?
- Why Does My Hamster Lick Me
- How To Clean Hamster Poop
Hamsters are easy pets to keep, and even children can have fun caring for their very own. They do come with a fair amount of responsibility, however. You can’t just feed them once or twice a day and throw in a new cage liner every so often. Follow the above tips to make sure your hamster settles in and leads a happy, fulfilling life.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more