Care Of Hamsters

HAMSTERS make very good pets for young and old alike especially iof you live in an Austin Apartment, and they come in various breeds to suit everyone’s circumstances.  You can get dwarf varieties (such as Chinese and Russian) and also the larger variety of hamster known as the Golden or Syrian hamster.


Hamsters have a natural desire to carry and hoard their food to save for later.  It is essential that you feed you hamster a large bowl of formulated hamster food (Available at all good pet stores) even if you know the hamster cannot possibly consume everything in the dish.  It is important for their mental well being to be able to carry food in their pouches and hide it for later even if they never get round to eating it because you have cleaned the cage! Hamster pelleted food should be topped up each day and a fresh food treat such as a piece of cauliflower stalk should be offered each week and sunflower seeds and monkey nuts in their shells are readily accepted as a delicious supplement to their pelleted food.  They also enjoy chunks of carrot etc and the special nutty treats you can purchase form pet stores.  Any spoiled fresh food should be removed from the hamsters store if it is uneaten as consumption of molding food is bad for their health and soft foods, if left to go off, can get stuck in the hamsters pouches if he tries to pick it up again.  A hamster will generally drop anything you give him which he doesn’t agree with (e.g if it is sharp or too soft) so take notice of what your hamster tells you and don’t feed it again! Needless to say the hamsters water bottle should be refreshed daily even though hamsters do not require lots of water.  Do not expect your hamster to drink something you wouldn’t.


There are so many choices of housing on the market for hamsters that it would be impossible to list them all here.  The best hamster cages are the very entertaining ones such as Habitrail, RotaStak or SAM housing.  These houses can be linked and expanded and many additions connected to the original house.  This creates an amazingly interesting environment for your pet whilst ensuring he is very safe and well protected. If you choose a cage to house your hamster, remember that you must buy a cage specifically for a hamster otherwise the gaps in the bars will be too big and will allow your hamster to escape. If you choose an aquarium, you need to make sure the lid is secure and well ventilated.  Aquariums aren’t the best choice of housing considering the vast array of fantastic hammy housing available today. Always remember to provide a nice dark house for your hammy to sleep in during the day due to them being nocturnal.


Hamsters have sensitive respiratory systems like most rodents and the choice of bedding is very important.  There are many types of bedding but only a few that should be readily used especially considering the ‘pouching’ antics of the hamster.  Here are some examples:

  • Wood Shavings – these are fine as long as they are dust free and kiln dried.  If they are not kiln dried, the oils in the wood produce phenols which harm the eyes, nose and respiratory tract and also do damage to the liver over time. Kiln dried pine or aspen is ok but never ever use cedar as this is toxic.  Although it is not the best bedding around, it is extremely popular due to its odour control and ease of use and it is economical if bought in large amounts.
  • Chopped Straw – there are a few chopped straw products such as Dengie Medibed and Russell Bedding and both are good beddings.  They are not as absorbent as shavings but they are very soft and sweet smelling and Medibed has the advantage of being naturally treated to repel fungus and bacteria.
  • Shredded paper – Carefresh is probably the most well known paper based bedding but this bedding tends to be quite expensive.  It is absorbent and controls odour but is less economical if you have a larger number of hamsters.
  • Sawdust – never use sawdust as it affects the respiratory systems, gets in the eyes, nose, ears and genitals and is generally a bad idea for your hamsters health.

Your hamster should be cleaned out at least twice a week and more often depending on the bedding to prevent the build up of odour and ammonia from the urine.  Once a week, disinfect the base of the cage in order to keep bacteria at bay and to keep your house smelling fresh also!  Bowls and water bottles should also be cleaned regularly to prevent build up of bacteria and algae. Don’t allow too much humidity or dampness to build up or you’ll have growth which could spread to other parts of your house. This could end up requiring you to have Austin mold remediation throughout you house. If you have plastic housing such as Habitrail, remember to wipe the whole unit down regularly to keep the whole house fresh.


Hamsters also require bedding to sleep in and create a nest.  Never use the cotton wool type ‘fluffy’ bedding as this can cause problems such as cuts when the hamster winds a limb around the bedding, cannot get loose and then gets tangled.  This can create deep wounds or possibly cut off a limb.  It also can get stuck in the pouches.  The best nesting material is soft paper based, easily ripped and quite strong when damp.  This ensures that if the hamster gets tangled it will rip and that it will hold together when in the damp pouches of the mouth.


Hamsters rarely bite if handled properly and will settle down into a lovely pet as long as you handle them regularly and get the hamster used to you.  Never grab at the animal and never move your hand quickly within the cage, always be calm and collected and treat the animal with respect.  Hamsters only tend to bite when they are very young and unused to handling, they sense you are scared or if you handle them roughly. your hamster treats such as sunflower seeds when he is out of the cage.  This will help him bond with you and put him at ease.


Short haired hamsters rarely need grooming but the long haired varieties need to be groomed with a soft bristled brush to keep the hair free from tangles.


Once again, there are many hamster products on the market in the way of toys.  Hamsters need a wheel and it is suggested that the wheel be solid and not made of rungs so that the hamster does not get its feet stuck in the gaps.  You can buy hamster balls and see-saws and all sorts of exciting toys for your pet but always remember, the humble toilet roll tube goes down well with any hamster!  Hamsters enjoy anything they can crawl under, rip up (such as cardboard tube) and climb over.  Just ensure that any toy you buy is non-toxic, cannot be harmful if chewed and is not sharp or detrimental to your pets health.  Be sensible when offering toys and common sense tells you what is good and bad.  Hamsters will provide you with hours of fun and especially if they have an elaborate house where you can watch them play and explore.  Feed your hamster correctly, treat him well and he will have a long happy life.  Enjoy your hamster!