Nov 132011

Maybe your hamster has finished his or her time here and gone on to Hamster Heaven. Or maybe you’re thinking about getting a hamster as a present for your kids.

You probably want the new hamster to be the cutest little hammy in the bunch. But all hammies are cute! What you want is a cute and healthy hamster.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re ready to choose a hamster:

Get a hamster that’s not too old or young.

  • Ask for a hamster that is about 5 or 6 weeks old. Hamsters that are too young can get overstressed and become ill when being moved to a new hamster cage in a new environment. Older hamsters can make good pets but may have trouble adjusting to a new home if not handled gently and carefully.

Inspect the cage the hamster is being kept in.

  • Is the cage clean and well kept? If not, the hamster may already have an illness.
  • Do the other hamsters in the same cage look healthy? Another sick hamster may have already infected the one you’re interested in.

Check to see if your hamster is healthy.

  • Does it have a round, broad body with no lumps? This indicates a normally growing hamster that eats well.
  • Is its coat full and well groomed? Does the fur lie down evenly and smoothly? Bald patches and matted fur can indicate a hamster health problem.
  • Is it lively, energetic, and alert? Is it using the exercise wheel? If a hamster is sleeping all the time, it may be ill. Many people recommend checking out a hamster you want to buy in the evening. Because hamsters are nocturnal animals, that’s when they will be moving around the most.
  • Are its eyes clear and bright? They should be free of any discharge.
  • Is its nose clean? It should be free of any discharge.
  • Is its tail bottom area dry? If it’s wet or matted it may indicate wet tail disease.
  • Is its feces solid and dry? Wet feces or diarrhea indicate illness.
  • Are its teeth in good shape? A healthy hamster will have two incisor teeth in their upper and lower jaws. If these teeth look too long, it could indicate overgrown teeth, a definite health problem.

Handle the hamster  hamster being held

  • Hold the hamster gently cupped in two hands. A hamster may give a small bite when first held, but it should not do this continually. If the store has done its job properly, the hamster should be used to being held.
  • If the store won’t let you handle the hamster it may be a biter, which means it can harm someone.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking to buy a hamster. Take your time so you can get a healthy, active hamster that will provide years of fun.

Finally, if you’re new to hamsters, make sure you’ve identified a vet before you bring your hamster home. That way, you will be prepared if you spot any trouble.


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