Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Hamster!
So, did you have a hamster growing up? Or maybe your best friend had a hamster? Most people have had some experience with hamsters, and those experiences often leave lasting impressions! Guess what: I had hamsters growing up, too! They were one of many small animal types I kept. I really liked the typical “Teddy Bear” hamsters. But I also kept Dwarf hamsters and Angora hamsters. I handled them all and bred them all. I loved all the hamsters!
Hamsters are a common first pet for youngsters. They provide an excellent learning experience in teaching responsibility. Children learn to care for and love another being. Especially if gotten while young, hamsters can be handled often and become very friendly and affectionate towards their owners. These rodents are also small, don’t take up much room, are inexpensive, easy to care for, and only live to be around 3 years old. They are clean animals with little odor. They come in a variety of types, colors, and sizes.
Hamsters have been kept as pets since the 1930’s! They were discovered to be easily tameable and affectionate and quickly became popular pets. Their name means “to hoard” and is derived from the German word “hamstern.” And believe me, hamsters know how to hoard! They have large pouches in their cheeks which allow them to store and move around large quantities of food and nesting materials. In fact after you’ve had your hamster for a while you will probably know where is favorite “hoarding” spot is!
Caring for and maintaining a healthy and engaging environment for hamsters is generally very easy. They don’t need a huge enclosure, but large enough that they can run around in. Metal cages and aquariums make good homes for them. Be careful of using wood and plastic enclosures, because hamsters are great at chewing and escaping! There are many metal cages available that also have custom expansion parts you can use to change things up. Hamsters love these! Keep some purchased bedding (such as aspen wood shavings) on the bottom of the cage and clean it out once or twice a week.
Provide fresh water (a water bottle works well) and fresh food every day. Hamster food mixes purchased at a pet store or online are the best bet for providing your pet with optimal nutrition. You can give fresh fruits and vegetables once or twice a week as a treat. Also, provide them with chew sticks for their constantly growing teeth! Hamsters enjoy exercise. They are nocturnal and usually do most of their activities at night. One of the best toys you can give them is an exercise wheel. A hamster ball is also lots of fun if you want to watch them roll around the house!
Hamsters are mostly solitary creatures. So plan on only putting one in a cage unless you plan to breed them. Sometimes they will do alright together if they grow up together, but that is not always the case. And never introduce two adult hamsters into the same enclosure unless you want a fight on your hands! A hamsters best friend in captivity is usually: you! If you begin handling them while young, you can have a loving and fun to handle little critter.
Hamsters are available almost everywhere and are inexpensive. As long as you keep their cage clean, give them fresh food and water, give them play time and social time, they will most likely have very few problems!
Read more on Animal-World’s Hamster page!
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.