General Hamster Care
From Hamster Central WIKI
Certain factors should be looked at before purchasing a new furry friend. You need to evaluate your situation and ask yourself if you have the time, space and money needed to feed and care for your animal. Also will you need to be able to afford a visit to the vets if your hamster happens to fall ill, and provide routine care through its two to four year life span.
There is a large verity of hamster food mixes available on the market. One of these is a kind of chow also referred to as pellets or lab blocks. These consist of all the needed ingredients and nutrition a hamster needs compacted into a large brown square. They may not look very appealing but feeding your hamster these lab blocks prevents them from sifting through an ordinary feed and only eating what they like best, thus not getting their full body requirements. Eating the large pellets also help in the maintenance of your hamster’s front incisors that are constantly growing.
Lab rodent blocks are not easily available in the UK to pet owners, commercial muesli-type diets are the only option other than making up your own.
Another option is mixed seeds and grains. These mixes give your hamster foraging activity as they like to sift though the mix and pull out the things they like; it also adds interest in their daily lives. Some mixes today are made to seem more gourmet with such ingredients like almonds, dehydrated fruits and vegetables.
Hamsters in the wild are grass eaters; in addition to the main part of their diet hamsters can be offered hay or either timothy or alfalfa or a mix of both. All hamsters are different and some may not care for these things.
Hamsters will also enjoy fresh foods. When you offer fresh food its vital that you start out with small amounts and gradually at first. Too much can result in diarrhea. Watch out for leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce and spinach as these can also cause diarrhea.
Some fresh food you can offer are, acorns, apple, banana, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, dandelions (leaves and flowers) grapes, kale, peas, sweet potato, turnip, watercress, tofu, bread (fresh or stale) breakfast cereals (no sugar) dog biscuits, egg (scrambled or boiled) mealworms, milk(a tablespoon or less) uncooked pasta,cheese, ham, cooked chicken.
Foods that should not be fed are Kidney Beans (raw), Onion, Potato (raw), Potato tops, Rhubarb (raw), Rhubarb leaves, Tomato leaves, chocolate, garlic, sweets, Citrus fruits.
How much to feed
Syrian hamsters on average need a tablespoon of feed each day supplemented with tidbits of carrots or apple. The same amount applies to the Campbell’s, winter whites and Roborovski because they have a higher metabolism.
You may see in the pet shop vitamin and mineral supplements designed for small animals. If you are feeding your hamster the correct diet and he is healthy, these really should be unnecessary, and could even cause more harm than good. These should only be given for a reason, for instance if your hamster displays signs of a deficiency or is very picky about what they eat, but always give vitamin supplements with caution. If in doubt, consult your vet.
Probiotic supplements are also available. Again, these should usually be unnecessary, but can help prepare an animal for surgery, or recover from illness. Again, if in doubt, consult your vet. Live yoghurt can be given for the same effect.
Routine hamster care
The hamster’s cage should be cleaned once a week. Disposing of the old sawdust and food. Cages should always be washed rather than just emptied out. clean it with soap and water and dry with paper towels. You can place your hamster in its ball in a supervised area while you do this, or in your bathtub just makes sure the drain is plugged. A tall clean bucket would also due. Be sure to clean out any plastic toys or tubes that the hamster may have urinated in or tacked feces on.
- If there is a litter pan it should be replace with new hamster litter or chinchilla sand every other day or so.Or clean the "wet" conrer daily
- Make sure your hamster always has fresh food and water available to it daily.
Although hamsters do not require to be bathed the longhaired verities may need the occasional grooming to get out sawdust and developing tangles. This can be accomplished with a soft toothbrush. Some hamsters like to roll around in sand, you can provide this in a large ceramic bowl and small box.
Health checks are also an important routine task to be performed. When cleaning the cage check the hamster for any signs of illness. Observing it through the week is another way to see if your hamster is acting out of the norm. Also look at the droppings and corners where your hamster urinates to make sure everything seems normal.
Taming and Handling
Once your hamster has gotten use to its cage its time to start socializing and taming your hamster. Its best to take your hamster out when it’s already awake. But since hamsters are nocturnal it will most likely be sleeping all day when you are most active.
It’s not a good idea to wake your hamster abruptly out of sleep. The best way to coax your hamster up is to try and offer a tasty treat and see if the scent of it wakes it up. You could also try and rustle the bedding around the cage to try and slowly rouse the hamster up.
Talking gently to it through the cage bars will help to calm it down and realize that you are not a threat. Hamsters can be tamed in a short period of time, but its vital you don’t make your hand a negative experience or you may get nipped or just wont gain the hamsters trust. First allow the hamster to get use to your hand in the cage, when it looks relaxed try stroking its back gently or offering it a tasty treat.
When you are ready and you feel the hamster is content with your hand in the cage try picking it up around the middle and once it’s off the bedding cup your hand around its bottom. Close your fingers around the hamster just enough to prevent it from escaping and falling and causing itself injury. You might try cupping the hamster close to your body.
Once the hamster seems calm try talking to it and perhaps offering a small treat. You might want to sit down and allow the hamster to crawl on your hand or lap but be certain it cant escape and no pet’s area around. Syrians are typically easy to handle, the smaller dwarf breeds might be more difficult to keep a hold off for young children.
Another Note, make sure that your hands are clean when handling a hamster. And don’t handle a hamster after touching food. If they smell it on you they might try and have a taste.