What Do Hamsters Need?

Skylar Dial
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An Appropriate Habitat

Hamsters are small, furry rodents that often find themselves as pets. They are smart animals that can be trained to do simple tricks and enjoy interacting with their owners. In general, hamsters are active, playful, and entertaining, which is why so many people enjoy them as pets.

Being as small as they are, however, can make hamsters difficult to care for. For instance, a common mistake made by pet owners is to buy an aquarium that’s too small for the hamster. Although hamsters are small, they still need space to move around in.

Toys for Enrichment

Hamsters have short attention spans, but they love interacting with their environment. Provide various toys and accessories to keep them happy and active – a little bit of hamster enrichment can add years to their lives.

One thing that hamster owners learn quickly is that hamsters are not creatures of habit. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, hamsters establish a pattern of activity and prefer to stick to it. If their routine is disrupted, they may get bored easily or even depressed. This is why it’s important to pair a food dish with multiple toys. Hamsters may spend an hour gnawing on a specific toy, but that will only serve to fuel their curiosity for a few days.

You may find a particular toy that your hamster loves to play with. But once he or she has had enough with that one, they’ll be looking for new ways to entertain themselves.

Here is a high-level overview of the types of toys and accessories that you may consider adding to your hamster’s cage.

Safe Bedding

Hamsters are fairly "easy-going", but they do have certain preferences when it comes to their habitat and the bedding that makes up their home. Your hamster's cage should be made of a material that won't be easily chewed, so the best options are plastic, metal or glass. Ferret and rabbit cages are acceptable, but will need to be covered with wood to prevent chewing. Avoid wood, cardboard, or any other materials that will be easily chewed.

Hamsters are very sensitive to their environment. While they have a reputation for being filthy animals, this is not accurate. A dirty cage will create a dirty hamster. If the hamster gets contaminated bedding or the floor of the cage is dirty, it is at risk for bacterial infection and illness. The bedding should be changed often, and any items that can’t be washed and sanitized should be removed and replaced.

Even though your hamster does like to chew, it can not digest anything that it chews up. When your hamster gnaws on its bowl, tunnel or bedding, it could cause problems if they swallow it. You can purchase chew-proof wood nesting cubes, pieces of cork bark, wooden tunnels (cubes, tunnels and tubes) and cedar bedding which all work well for hamsters.

A Ball or Portable Habitat

The first thing you need to get a hamster is its cage. A cage is a very important structure as it contains all the essentials that a hamster needs to survive. It’s very important that you have the right kind of cage for your hamster since it’s the main factor in your furry friend’s happiness.

Choosing the right hamster cage is exactly why we’ve written this entire post!

Some hamster owners prefer to buy a ball with a track that runs on it. This allow your hamster to run around freely and not get used to you taking it out when you want to play with it. However, some owners use these balls to let their hamster run around only under supervision.

I prefer to have a portable cage for my hamster because the hamster can get out every now and then when I bring him to do his hamster duties. Also, his cage has all the essentials that a hamster needs to survive.

Food and Water

The biggest and most important part of caring for a hamster involves making sure that he eats and drinks regularly. The best way to get your hamster to eat and drink as much as he needs is to make sure that you feed him at least two portions of food each day. One portion in the morning, and another portion in the evening. Make sure that your hamster has access to fresh, clean water all day long.

If your hamster does not get the amount of water that he needs on a daily basis, he could get dehydrated. This could make him prone to infections and illnesses that could be fatal. Make sure that the water dish is always full, and that it contains clean, fresh water. Never use tap water to fill his water dish. Your best bet is to purchase an aquarium water purification system to keep his drinking water fresh. Never use alcohol-based or chemical-based cleaners to clean his cage or the inside of his water dish. Instead, use hot water and mild soap. As mentioned previously, if your hamster does not drink enough water regularly, he could become ill or dehydrated.

If you notice that your hamster is starting to behave strangely in any way, then he could be ill. If you see your hamster not eating or drinking, then you should take him to the vet as fast as possible.