5 TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Have you just got your first ever hamster?
Or maybe you are thinking about getting one?
This page covers the basics of caring for hamster,
and what you should know about them
Tip 1: Educate yourself on each species
All hamster species do well by themselves. Some hamsters can live in pairs or groups, including Roborovski, Campbell, Winter White and Hybrid hamsters. Syrian hamsters are solitary animals, so should always be kept this way in pet ownership. Chinese hamsters generally do best when housed alone as they are also solitary animals - some people do have success housing them together, however I would personally be inclined to house them alone due to the risks of disputes.
If you do take on a pair or group of hamsters, you must ensure that the hamster species are compatible living in pairs/groups. You must also be prepared to separate the hamsters if fighting gets serious. From past experience, I would recommend getting just one hamster for new owners.
Tip 2: Give them lots of space
The minimum dimensions for all hamster species is 100cm x 50cm. These days there are so many options and there really is no excuse to house hamsters in a cage that does not meet these dimensions.
Will it meet the minimum size requirements?
Is it safe from other animals (e.g. cats, dogs)?
Is there sufficient ventilation?
Can I clean it with ease?
Is it free from drafts?
Is it made from suitable materials which they will not chew?
Is it fully secure so they can not escape?
Tip 3: Provide lots of enrichment
Having a large accommodation is great, but to make that even better, you can provide enrichment for them to stimulate their brains. Giving them activities to do will prevent boredom and it is great fun to watch them display natural behaviours; you should take into consideration some their natural instincts to encourage this.
Tip 4: Feed them a natural diet
The bulk of a hamsters diet should be made up of a grain and seed mixture. Variety is essential and the more different types of grains and seeds, the better - variation ensures that their nutritional needs are met, and makes their diet more interesting (because eating the same food all the time can get boring!).
A high quality hamster mix consists of various grains, seeds, dried plants, flakes (e.g. flaked peas, millet flakes) and nuts. Additionally dried insects for protein, such as dried mealworms or dried shrimps. Fresh food is a great addition to the daily menu. For example, fresh vegetables, small selection of forage plants and herbs.
Tip 5: Spot clean their home
Some hamsters can be litter trained - chinchilla sand is a popular substrate for the litter tray as it can easily be cleaned using a small sieve. If your hamster doesn't use a litter tray, you will most likely see which areas they use to pee - they sometimes wake up during the day to go to the toilet so this is a good time to monitor where their preferred area is. You can clean that area as often as needed.
How much substrate you provide for your hamster will dictate the frequency it requires cleaning. Simply remove all the bedding (reserving some of the old bedding to reduce stress) then spray the base of their home with water and vinegar solution. Then replace with a suitable fresh bedding (such as hemp, aubiose, lay-soft or megazorb), and sprinkle over some of the old bedding so it smells familiar.