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Old 11-23-2018, 10:43 PM   #1
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Default Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

Hello! I am completely new to this website, and I just got a new Campbells hamster, Nogi. I want to know if everything I am doing for Nogi is correct.
*620 square inch cage with 3 big levels I have added, one small level.
*I clean her food bowl and litterbox each day. (And switch out her water)
*she has multiple hides, some chews, bridge, stimulating toys, sand bath.
*clean her cage once a week
Sorry if this was a strange post. I just wanted to make sure that as a pet owner, I am doing good for my pet, and taking care of her properly.
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Old 11-24-2018, 01:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

Welcome to HC & congrats on getting Nogi

It sounds as though your cage is probably a little small, levels aren't important & depending on how high the cage is can be a potential fall risk especially with Russian hams.
They really need more space on one level, a lower ledge or shelf is ok but doesn't actually count toward the cage space.
I find 80x50cm to be a good size for most dwarf hamsters.
The main thing is to have lots of deep substrate (at least 15cm, more if possible) in the base, a house that's large enough, with no base placed directly on the substrate so your ham can dig & burrow down a bit to make a nest.
The hides, toys, chews & sand bath all sound good, hams aren't often interested in a lot of things sold as chew toys but you can't really go wrong with whimzee dog chews & some will enjoy willow and apple sticks to chew on.
You really don't need to clean the cage weekly, it can be very stressful for your ham to over clean the cage as they need to have their scent all around them.
Just spot clean any pee, if your ham uses a litter tray or the sand bath then that makes life very easy.
If the nest isn't peed in at all then leave it alone as much as possible, check it now & then, maybe every few weeks & if it's getting a bit smelly you can just replace some but never all of the nest material.
If the food hoard has fresh food like veg in it you can remove that but otherwise it's best to leave that too as they will eat from the hoard, if it does begin to get really old then you an just remove it & put some fresh hamster mix back where it was.
The rest of the cage won't need cleaning often & I would never do all of it at once, maybe clean about a third or half at most once a month if needed, don't just clean because you feel you should, hams are very clean & unless something really needs cleaning it's best left alone.

Just in case you don't already know Campbells & Russian hybrids (if your ham came from a pet shop he is most likely a Russian hybrid) can be prone to diabetes so you do need to take care with his diet, no sugary treats, nothing with honey or any kind of sugar, fruit should only be a very rare treat but the less sweet veg are fine to be given daily once you ham gets used to them.
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Last edited by cypher; 11-24-2018 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 11-24-2018, 07:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

Cypher has good information! Though 620 square inches is 4000 square cm so the cage should be minimum size already

Edit: good not glod haha
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Last edited by alpacassei; 11-24-2018 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 11-24-2018, 08:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

I probably miscalculated! I really can't think in square anything, only dimensions the way cages are sold
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Old 11-24-2018, 06:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

620 square inches is enough floorspace - about 75cm x 50cm. Although it depends on the dimensions of the cage/tank - some are only about 30cm deep and longer, which is too narrow. But something like 75 x 50cm or 80 x 45cm is fine.

I would be a bit concerned about the 3 levels as it sounds quite high. Falls are a big risk especially for small dwarf hamsters - if they happen to climb and monkey bar across the roof in the night they could have a long drop and hurt themselves or bounce of the edges of shelves on the way down.

So if it's a tall cage it would be better to have one full level to make it safe. You might be able to create this using the existing shelves (ie have two at the same level, a ladder at one end and put a piece of wood or something to cover the whole of the gap between the shelves, except the small bit at one end where the ladder is - then put a small shelf over the ladder entry (so they can't fall from the top down the hole).

Cypher has said it all about the cleaning etc. Weekly clean outs aren't necessary - you can easily go a couple of months spot cleaning and emptying a potty, before needing to do a substrate change - and then try and replace some of the old substrate and mix it in so it smells familiar. Then do the wheel a different week and the toys etc a different week again (toys don't need doing that often usually). Also, as Cypher says, don't throw away the nest and hoard. I just leave them unless they're pee'd in. They tend to only hoard dry food. If you do have to remove them because soiled, try and leave a bit of the old dry nest and put a big heap of torn up strips of plain white toilet paper out in the cage so she can forage for them and rebuild her nest. Also replace any removed hoard with new food in exactly the same place. They get very anxious about their hoard and nest. It's instinctive to them to hoard, forage and nest so they always have emergency supplies.

Don't worry about poops - they sometimes eat them (normal) or hoard them - they have two stomachs and can redigest vitamins etc from the poops. Poops can be emergency food supplies! They are just like little hard black seeds and not smelly or dirty - so unless they really start taking over in a big way you can just leave them mostly - and spot clean if they do take over!

I wouldn't do the litterbox every day - maybe every 4 or 5 days. It's instinctive to us humans to want things neat, clean and tidy - but to hamsters it's like being invaded by cleaning ladies Or like coming home and finding someone has moved all your stuff and you can't find it and everything smells different and not like your home.

Main thing is to have enough depth of substrate so the cage stays clean longer. Also it helps if they have a house that is on top of the substrate and open underneath. That way they can have more normal behaviours, which is to bury hoards under their nest (and snack in bed) and burrow down to keep warm. It's also more hygienic as doesn't get condensation inside that way.

A house with a lift off roof is nice too - not essential but it means you can check inside without having to take the house out and their nest falling apart. A shoebox house is good - use the lid as a lift off roof and cut the base out and a hole for a door. Although a shoebox may be a bit big for a dwarf hammy - unless it's a child's one.
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Old 11-24-2018, 08:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Am I Caring For My Hamster Correctly?

Everyone has given great advice. Seeing pictures of the cage would help too. Cypher has given great advice on why not to clean the cage once a week. All hams have their own preference on cage size and 620 sq. in. meets the requirement. I personally think 620 sq. in. is a good size for most hams but then again it depends on the ham.
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