Are they the best pet for you?

Hamsters are cute and cuddly and are a popular choice all around the world as a first pet. They live a relatively short life, need less care than many other pets and are inexpensive to keep.

They have chubby looking bodies with short legs. They have furry ears and thick fur that has a variety of colours. The most common colours are some mix of white, brown, black gray, yellow and reddish.

They can be an ideal pet for those living in small place or for those who have never had a pet before. After the initial cost of buying a cage they are relatively inexpensive. but there is still a commitment required for proper care required.

Cages/ Habitats
There are three main types of cages that can be considered:

1. A glass aquarium with a lid. Using a glass aquarium with a lid has the advantage of no shavings being thrown out of the cage and a clear view inside. The cage should not be higher than it is wide or air flow may be an issue

2. A wire cage – Cages made from wire allow more air flow and allow climbing (they appear to like this!) They can be tougher to clean than a glass aquarium though

3. A modular plastic cage – you will see these in the pet stores. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. They have a number of parts that can be added on. They are very attractive and I really like them. However, I have found that these are the toughest to clean and sometimes the hamsters chew them. It is important to clean these cages thoroughly and to provide materials for the hamster to chew

I can tell you from experience that they are good climbers and will escape if there is opportunity.

Furnishing the cage Providing a nesting box is a good idea. You can buy one or provide a small cardboard box. They also require shavings (wood chip) and some materials that they can make a nest with and chew on. I recommend facial tissues for nesting material, and paper towel rolls for chewing.

The cage will also need a food bowl (a shallow and wide ceramic or porcelain is best). A source of clean and fresh water is required as well. You can try a bowl, but a water bottle is much cleaner and easier.

Providing a wheel is a good idea too. I recommend one that is solid over one with spokes. A wheel with spokes could hurt the pet if it happens to slip while running.

The hamster needs something to gnaw on – otherwise its teeth may grow too long causing problems.

Where to put the cage The cage needs to be in an area where it won’t be drafty or too sunny. It should also be in an area that isn’t too loud during the day.

Feeding Stick with the seed mix that is available in any pet store. If you also want to treat it to human food the best choice is green leafy vegetables or seeds and nuts. Fruits may be too sugary for and acidic foods (oranges, lemons) should be avoided as hamsters have a sensitive stomach.

not sure if hamsters are the best for you? Go to small pets