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Old 06-24-2016, 09:11 AM   #1
JazWillow
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Question Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

I've had gerbils for a while now, and got interested in winter whites (mostly cos they're cute!)

I've been doing a bunch of reasearch already, but want to ask a couple of questions

What are the biggest differences in care for winter whites and other hamsters?
Biggest difference in care for winter whites and gerbils? (Plastic toys aren't safe for gerbils, but they seem to be safe for hamsters?)
Biggest MUST KNOW about care for winter whites?

Should they be kept in pairs? Alone?
What is the best substrate? Other alternatives?
What is the best nesting material? Other alternatives? (I know about the no fluffy cotton!)

Are there any good links for this information? I've googled a bit, but haven't found any really good 101 resources.
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Old 06-25-2016, 05:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

Plastic toys can be safe for hamsters,however just like any other rodent if they're chewed more than just a tiny nibble for investigation purposes they would become unsafe as plastic shouldn't be eaten.

In terms of care,hamsters do need much larger spaces overall than some rodents and they are actually terrestrial for the most part(with the exception of Chinese hamsters).Also for diabetic prone species like winter white hamsters,you do have to be more careful with sugary foods and not feeding them in the amounts that would be reasonable for other rodents.Think teeny tiny pieces,but never more than once every week to every other week depending on the type of fruit!Vegetables are much easier to work with and there are more safe options,same with a lot of healthy herbs and grains and such.

In terms of space,dwarf species can do great with a cage that is around 775 square inches or 0.5 square meters.This might sound huge especially with the undersized US and Canada minimum being 450 square inches,but it is actually only around 25 inches x 31 inches I believe which is completely reasonable.You can definitely find tanks that add up to 775 as well,it doesn't have to be those exact dimensions just something that adds up to 775 is best!

Pairs have been done,but really it's easier to maintain a single hamster and that way you never have to worry about fights happening.With single hamsters there is more peace of mind,and you do lower the risk of unnecessary stress a lot more.Companionship is definitely not necessary though as hamsters,unlike a lot of other small animals,don't crave companionship.

For substrate,paper based bedding is the least risky option.Aspen is somewhat okay,but it isn't the most comfortable option and it can cause allergic reactions so it is not the safest option possible.Something like Carefresh is good,or for UK owners Fitch is much more economical but it does come in massive amounts so that is something to keep in mind!

Something to keep in mind is that people often say wood shavings are fine,but really there's no proof of the reasons they say so being 100% true or false so it is better not to take that massive risk.

The best nesting material would be just your standard cheap scent free toilet paper(aka loo roll)as long as you get one that you test with water to make sure it dissolves easily.It certainly doesn't have to be anything fancy!
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:40 AM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

Hi & welcome to the forum

I don't know much about gerbils, almost nothing really so I can't compare but I can probably tell you a little about Russian hams!
There really isn't much difference in care between species, the dwarf hams still need a good size cage but not too much open space, they like lots of small hiding places & lots of deep substrate to burrow & dig in, unlike some syrians they really do love to have a sand bath in the cage & it is quite an important factor in their care.
The diet for a dwarf needs to contain more in the way of small seeds than a syrian mix does & it is generally better to buy a species specific food mix.
If you intend to buy a ham from a breeder then you won't need to worry about a WW being prone to diabetes, of the pure bred dwarfs only Campbells Russian & Chinese are prone but if you buy from a shop then you will be buying a Russian hybrid, not a WW, & these are prone to diabetes so you do need to take care to exclude sweet foods & fruits, generally no ham should have much in the way of sugars & fruit so if you feed a good healthy diet you can't go far wrong anyway.
They can be kept in pairs but it is quite a challenge & you have to be very careful with your set up to prevent them becoming territorial & falling out, even with the best precautions this can still happen so you have to be on constant watch for fights & keep a spare cage ready in case you need to separate them.
Keeping them alone is much easier & they are quite happy living that way as well as more likely to enjoy interacting with you.
The best substrate will depend on which country you live in, can't really recommend anything without knowing where you are!
The only nesting material really is cheap plain toilet paper.

@ AmityvilleHams what did this mean "they are actually terrestrial for the most part(with the exception of Chinese hamsters)" that totally confused me lol!
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

It's a very technical term for animals who mostly prefer to spend time on the ground as opposed to climbing.For example,Chinese hamsters do seem to enjoy climbing where other hamster species aren't really that fond of it.Terminology can be confusing,sorry
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:33 AM   #5
cypher
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

lol! That is a funny one
Actually virtually all hams enjoy climbing they just aren't very good at it whereas Chinese hams are!
Still important to note that with all species care has to be taken so they can't fall in the cage when they attempt to climb, good at it or not.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

Climbing can be very good enrichment for most hams,to be honest.Of course,a lot of cages wouldn't allow for a whole level so climbing toys work better for that but then with the taller rat cage style setups you can do full levels.

A lot of animal care is simply common sense,and cage setup for hamsters is definitely one of those things.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:17 PM   #7
JazWillow
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

AmityvilleHams, cypher:
Thank you so much for your replies! You gave some some great starting points to find out more about hamsters!

I live in Sweden, and the minimum cages allowed sound super tiny. My gerbils have a 300l glass tank, that I generally fill up with A LOT of substrate material (peat in their case). What's the smallest cages recomended for a hamster to actually be happy in, gerbils generally need at least 100l since they run around and dig a lot.

Do hamsters also dig tunnels? I saw a YouTube video about hamsters being burrowers, but all the cages I've seen have had very little substrate and lots of random tunnel toys. Which is best?

From your answers I've gathered a shallow cage with more floor area is better than a deeper cage with less floor area, that's something I didn't know before! Makes is easier to chose a good cage!

I think that I'll be getting a lone hamster if I do get one since I don't think I would be able to handle two of they start fighting (I don't have the funds or storage to keep a spare cage on hand in case I'd have to sepparate them). What can I do to make sure it gets all its social needs met?

I would also be getting one from a breeder. My gerbils are resques, and I love them! But they can be pretty wary of humans too. So I'd wanna get one that would be easier to tame.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

I think the minimums always sound super tiny For a hamster to be happy in,around half a square meter up to a full square meter(100 cm x 50 cm to 100 cm x 100 cm)or even larger if you want is a good size.If you wanted to go even larger than that and set up the cage in a way that still allows for hiding,that would be great too!

Hamsters do burrow.Ideally you want lots of substrate instead of creating artificial tunnels,and more substrate is always better which is why DIY cages often work out to be better than storebought wire cages.Wire cages generally don't allow for more than 20 cm of substrate and are around 100 x 50 at most,while wooden enclosures from Germany may be larger.DIY does tend to be cheaper though,especially if you did something like an Ikea hack or you were very lucky with materials costing a small amount!

Interacting with your hamster once it has settled in after between 3 days and 14 days takes care of socialization needs!Allowing your hamster to settle in is important but you can still do things like talk to your hamster or offer pieces of toilet paper with your scent on it during this time,which is very helpful for the taming process.
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Old 06-26-2016, 03:50 PM   #9
JazWillow
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

Thanks again Now I know what size cage I have to find a place for

My gerbils ended up getting a custom glass tank, so I think I'll start of with a bin cage if I do get a hamster And fill it up with lots of substrate! And lots of toys ^^
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Old 06-26-2016, 04:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Difference between hamster and other rodents (newbie q's)

You're welcome It's always good to know things like that anyways before you get any pet,that way you're not suddenly doing something wrong by accident and you don't waste money either or anything like that

You could definitely try and make a custom tank style cage!Bin cages are good to have lying around anyways,since they make wonderful travel cages and can be used during cage cleanings and things like that anyways.You might be able to find one that gives half a square meter of space if you look hard!
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