Mar 052014
 

If you are going to travel with your hamster, consider all the items you will need to bring to make the trip as comfortable as possible for your hamster. These include a cage, food, water and a medical kit. Also think about how you are going to travel as you’ll probably find that car travel is best.

Traveling by Car

The easiest way to transport your hamster is by car. That’s because a car is a much easier place for you to control the conditions which will make your hamster comfortable when traveling. Let’s look at the different key items you’ll need when you’re about to travel with your hamster by car.

Cage

Travel with a hamster

Flickr photo by ninithedreamer

The cage or carrier is the most important of all the items you have to bring. More than anything else, the traveling hamster cage has to be well-built, ventilated, and escape-proof.

You should avoid pet carriers made of cardboard as they are only good for temporary use. For instance, bringing your hamster home for the first time. No matter how solid they look, they are not made for anything but short trips.

The ideal material is plastic but it must be the durable type that will be difficult for your hammy to chew through. In addition, you should avoid all wire cages as they are not secure enough. What’s more, they are not accepted for air travel.

The cage should have a self-locking top or door. You may want to weigh down the top with something heavy so your hamster can’t pick the lock and get out. hamster travel cage

A one level hamster cage is best, but if your cage does has more than one level, take out any ladders and platforms so your hamster won’t try to climb around. One bump in the road and your hamster can have a bad fall from the second level of a cage.

Put bedding in the cage so your hamster can burrow if it gets scared. hamster bedding

And remember that your hamster likes a steady temperature so check your hamster if you turn on the car heater or AC. If you decide to open the car window you may want to cover the traveling cage so your hamster doesn’t get cold air blowing directly on him or her.

Finally, just as a precaution, get a label and attach it to the cage. Clearly write your hammy’s name, your name, address, and contact information. It is also a good idea to include your vet’s phone number in case of emergency. You should also add feeding instructions on the label.

Water and Food

When it comes to hamster travel, make sure to bring along your pet’s regular food and drink so its diet won’t be affected, especially if you’re going to be away from home for a while. The less change there is in your hamster’s diet, the less stressful the trip will be for your pet. hamster food

If you are not certain about where you can find the same pet food where you are headed, bring enough food and treats to last for the whole trip. Don’t forget to bring along sufficient water, too, because just like people, a hamster could develop an upset stomach if the water is different. It is also a good idea to bring disposable spoons and dishes for easy cleanup. Besides, these are very convenient utensils and can be purchased anywhere.

Keep in mind that cucumbers are mostly water. So a slice of cucumber in the traveling cage can provide both food and water.

Emergency Kit

It’s best to avoid complications during your trip so take along any medication that your vet prescribed for your hamster. In addition, your kit should include ear cleanups, cotton swabs and balls. And while you’re at it don’t forget to add a tick and flea spray or powder. This might seem like overkill but it is better to be safe than sorry.

To complete your hamster travel kit, get an envelope and put any medical records and medical information in it. Such information might not be needed, but you never know. Also include your vet’s name and contact number.

A brush or lint roller might also come in handy to clean your pet’s fur so it doesn’t make a mess in the hotel.

Travel by Plane

If you must travel with your hamster by plane, you should first check with the airline to see what its hamster travel policy is.

Most airlines will not allow you to carry your pet on the plane and be with you at your seat. Most airlines will insist that the hamster be put in the baggage compartment. That’s because they don’t want a hamster loose inside an airplane cabin where he or she could chew wires and cause a terrible accident. So there is a good reason for the airlines insisting that your hamster travel in the baggage compartment.

Your hamster will still have to be in a traveling cage that the airline might inspect to be sure that he or she cannot chew its way out. You’ll want to put some water in the cage, of course. As with car travel, you may want to put a slice of cucumber in there for liquid.

Also, airlines may not allow your animal to travel when the temperature is too cold or too hot in the baggage compartment.

If at all possible it is much easier for your hamster to travel by car than by plane. If you are moving a long distance away, think about giving your hamster to someone who will care for it and getting a new one when you reach your new home.


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Mar 102011
 

If you’re thinking about buying a wire cage for your hamster consider some of the following: wire cage size, height, cleaning, and security. For a discussion of the wire bars themselves and their pluses and minuses read The Good And The Bad About Wire Hamster Cages.

Size

Hamsters need a lot of room to run around and exercise in. If you’re cage is too small your hamster won’t get the exercise it needs and will get bored. Your wire hamster cage should be at least 24 inches long by about 12 inches deep (61 by 30.5 cm). Different heights are available. Read the next section for discussion of wire cage heights. wire hamster cage

Remember, along with your hamster, your wire cage will also need space for an exercise wheel, a water bottle, some hamster toys, and a food bowl. Then your hamster needs plenty of bedding space for digging around, sleeping, and using the bathroom. So keep your hamster happy by giving him or her enough space to move around in.

Some people use two small wire cages and use an adapter kit to connect them with tubes. This gives your hamster the chance to get more exercise by running between the cages. Cutting holes in wire cages to connect them is not recommended.

Height

Hamsters like to climb around their wire cages. They can get their little feet around the wires and climb all around the bars. Some will try to climb to the top of the cage, even if it two or even three stories. But hamsters can slip and fall. If they fall from a great enough height, your hamster can get hurt. wire hamster cage

Because of the danger of falling, if you use a tall hamster cage, be sure you have ladders and ramps so your hamster can climb up more easily. You can also use hamster climbing tubes so your hamster can get around its tall wire cage.

Cleaning

Cleaning this type of hamster cage is usually pretty easy. The bars are lightweight and usually just snap out of the sides of the plastic bottom. You can then just rinse the bars off to get them clean. You will still have to do some more serious cleaning for the bedding in the plastic base. See the article called Easy Steps to Clean Your Hamster Cage for more detailed information about how to do that.

After you have replaced the bedding, you reattach the wheel and the water bottle, put the wire cage back on and attach it back to the plastic base. You are then ready to put your hamster back in its clean cage.

When you’re putting the cage back together is a good time to decide if you want to move things around. You may want to change the way things are hooked up or where the hamster toys are located. Sometimes your hamster can get bored if he or she has the same layout all the time in its cage. So move some tubes around or put new tubes in or change the location of different toys in the cage. This will give your hamster something new to explore and keep him or her from getting bored. wire hamster cage starter kit

Plastic base depth

The plastic at the bottom of the cage is for holding the bedding and any hamster toys you want to put in. Make sure the plastic bottom is deep enough to hold about 2 inches of bedding. This will let your hamster have room to burrow and sleep and make a place to go to a bathroom.

However, because the cage has spaces between the wires, when your hamster starts kicking up his or her bedding or throwing around their food, some of it is likely to get through the bars and onto the space around the cage. Plan on leaving some room around the cage for this bedding. You’ll have to keep that area clean if you have this type of cage.

Security

The metal door on the wire cage should also be looked at carefully when you’re buying this type cage. You want to be sure it’s snaps tightly to the wires of the cage because if it’s loose your hamster will figure a way to pry it open and escape. Some people even use an extra piece of wire to tie the door to the wire bars so the door stays well sealed.

Consider all these things before you buy your hammy a new wire cage. As an alternative, you may want to think about using an aquarium for a hamster cage.


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Aug 162010
 

If you’re like most hamster owners, you clean your hamster cage about once a week. But before you start you need to gather all the cage cleaning supplies. Here’s what you’ll need and why:

Bucket or sink filled with mild soap and hot water. This is where you’ll drop the parts of your hamster cage you need to clean. For the parts that don’t fit, you’ll have to use the soapy water to clean them by hand.

Other cleaning solution options include unscented dish washing detergent or a drop of bleach for every cup of hot water. Another way to measure is one tablespoon (14.8 ml) of bleach for each gallon (liter) of water in the bucket. DO NOT use dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, or other harsh detergents.

The idea is to kill germs and bacteria. Just remember to thoroughly rinse whatever you wash so none of the disinfectant remains behind.

Plastic garbage bag or paper bag. You will use these to dump the bedding you’re going to remove from the bottom of the hamster cage.

You can use a 10 or 8 gallon size plastic garbage bag. A grocery store paper bag should also be large enough. Although the used bedding may fit in a grocery store plastic bag, the opening is usually too small to fit in a hamster cage bottom.

NEVER dump the bedding down your toilet.

Sponge, paper towel, cloth, or old towel. You will be using these to actually clean off all the parts of the cage and the accessories from inside the cage. The sponge should be used only for cleaning the hamster cage, not your dishes. Use paper towels, cloths, or old towels for drying all the parts after you’ve washed and rinsed them.

Some people have found success using disinfectant wipes on some parts of their cages. Just be sure you rinse and dry any areas you use these on. hamster cage

Small travel cage or hamster ball. Before cleaning the cage you have to remove your hamster.

Put him or her in a small travel cage with some bedding and food or in a hamster ball that you keep in an enclosed space.
 
New bedding and food hamster bedding

Once your cage is clean, you’re going to need to add new bedding to the bottom of the cage. And to make your hamster feel comfortable when he or she returns to the cage, you should add some new food to his or her food bowl.

For more information about how to clean your hamster cage, read Easy Steps to Clean Your Hamster Cage.


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Aug 162010
 

If you can smell the bedding in your hamster cage, it’s definitely time to clean it. But really, you should do the cleaning before it starts to smell. The typical hamster cage should be cleaned about once a week. If it’s a larger cage, you may be able to wait about 10 days. If you are breeding hamsters, however, you may have to clean more often.

Cleaning your hamster cage can be a fairly easy event. Here are the steps. hamster cage

Move your hamster out of its cage

You need to keep your hamster in something safe and secure while cleaning its cage. A clean carrying cage with bedding, water, some food, and maybe a small toy will do. As with any hamster cage, make sure there are no small spaces where the hamster can escape. hamster exercise ball

Another option is a hamster ball. But since you’ll be busy cleaning, make sure you keep the exercise ball is in an enclosed area. Otherwise, let someone else keep an eye on your hamster. A hamster should only be kept in its exercise ball about 20 minutes, which should be plenty of time for you to finish cleaning its cage.

Take apart the cage and its contents

Carefully separate all the pieces of the cage. Be careful separating any plastic tubes as you don’t want them to crack.

If the pieces fit, put them in a bucket or sink with soapy water or a large sink. If not, put them aside as you will have to wash them by hand. For more information about cleaning supplies, read What Supplies To Use for Cleaning Your Hamster Cage.

Next, remove all the other items in the cage. This includes the water bottle or water dish, food bowl, exercise wheel, and toys. Put these aside as you will want to wash them by hand.

Dump the bedding

Although you can clean the cage and its contents next, I prefer to take care of the bedding first, as it may have a strong odor.

Dump the bedding in a plastic garbage bag or a paper grocery bag. Sometimes, when it’s very wet, the bedding can stick to the bottom. In this case you can use paper towels or some type of scrapper (e.g. toothbrush, putty knife) to get that part of the bedding off.

Put the bag in the garbage. Some of the bedding will be wet, so do this immediately or your paper bag can leak.

DO NOT dump the bedding down the toilet or sink. This will likely cause a back up in your plumbing.

Clean the cage bottom

Using warm, soapy water, wash off the cage bottom. Since this usually is the part with the most urine, you should spend the most amount of time scrubbing this part of the cage. You can use a sponge or cloth to do this.

Then thoroughly rinse this part of the cage. If you live in a house with a back yard, you can take this part to the back of your home and wash it down with water from a hose. Make sure you rinse off all the soap and/or disinfectant. Then either let the part air dry or wipe it dry off with a paper towel, cloth, or old towel.

Clean the rest of the cage and its contents

Now it’s time to clean the cage parts that were in the bucket or sink with soapy water. This means all wire and plastic pieces. You can also use the soapy water to hand wash the exercise wheel, water bowl, food bowl, and plastic toys. Wood toys can start to rot if washed in water too often so just wipe them off.

You may want to use disinfectant wipes for some places you think are especially dirty or were used as a bathroom by your hamster. Some people also use a small brush (like a toothbrush) that they use only for cleaning their hamster cage.

Rinse each piece off using clean, hot water. Again, make sure you remove all soap or disinfectant. Then dry each piece using a paper towel, cloth, or old towel.

Your water bottle is the only piece that usually doesn’t need to be cleaned weekly. You may want to clean the water bottle every other week. You can use a bottle brush to clean inside it.

Put the cage back together

Reassemble all the parts of the cage. Be especially careful with plastic tubing. If you use too much pressure putting plastic pieces together they can crack.

Make sure all the pieces fit together snugly so there are no gaps that might allow your hamster to escape.

Put in new bedding

Drop in a new layer of bedding. To learn more about the different types of bedding, read Types of Hamster Bedding Material. hamster bedding

Some people put in a few bits of the bedding they saved from the cage before cleaning it. They say having something with the scent of the previous cage helps the hamster feel comfortable when he or she first gets back in its cage.

Put in all the cage accessories

Reattach the water bottle. Put the other accessories, including exercise wheel, food bowl, toys, and hiding places back in. Try to put them back in the same place as they were before. This will help your hamster quickly feel at home when you put it back in the cage.

Put some new food in the food bowl. This might be a good time to add a small treat.

Return your hamster to its cage

Gently place your hamster back in his now clean cage. Watch him or her scamper around making sure that everything is in its place.

You might also be interested in reading What Supplies to Use to Clean Your Hamster Cage.

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Aug 042010
 

Hamsters like to eat – and they are fun to watch eating. Here are a few facts about hamster feeding habits.

How Hamsters Eat

Hamsters like to explore. And that’s true with their food, also. When you first put out their food, they will usually run right out and check out what’s in the food bowl. They will look for their favorites, which is often a treat or a piece of a fresh fruit or vegetable. Sometimes they will eat their favorite right in front of you.

Or your hammy might stuff as much food as it can in its cheek pouches, then run off to store the food in a hiding place. Hiding places can include its hamster cage bedding or inside a toy house.

Your hamster will store more than it can eat at one time. This is called hoarding and is typical hamster behavior. When no one is looking, your hamster will then return to its food hiding place and eat in private. He or she may do this whenever it’s hungry throughout the day.

hamster food

When to Feed Your Hamster

Even if there is no food in your hamster’s bowl, you can be pretty sure it has stored food somewhere in the hamster cage. So only feed your hamster once a day.

Try to feed your hamster at about the same time each day. The best time for feeding is usually toward the evening. As you know, they are nocturnal creatures so this is when hamsters are often the most active.

How Much to Feed Your Hamster

The amount of food a hamster eats can depend on a number of different factors.

Health. If your hamster is not feeling well or is sick it will tend to eat less. That’s why it’s important for you to know what your hamster “normally” eats. Then if he or she starts eating less, you should check for health problems.

Age. Older hamsters tend to eat less than young, growing hamsters.

Activity level. Hamsters that are more active running in their wheel or through hamster cage tubes will eat more food than less active hamsters.

Heat and cold. If it’s warm, your hamster will think it doesn’t need to have extra fat on its body so will tend to eat less. If it feels cold inside the hamster cage, your hamster may think it needs to fatten up – so it may start to eat more.

Food mix. If you put more of what your hamster likes in the food mix, it may eat more of it. But you must be careful to provide a nutritious diet with all kinds of food your hamster needs. Too much fatty foods and treats can make your hamster too fat. If you want to know what food to feed your hamster read What You Should Feed Your Hamster.

Diet Changes

Once your hamster becomes accustomed to a certain mix of food, it will be wary of trying something new. Changing the hamster diet every time there’s a sale on a new type of hamster food can be disturbing for your hamster and can result in him or her eating less or not getting the nutrition it needs.

If you try out a new food, do it slowly, with a little at a time. Watch what your hamster does with the new food and give it time to get used to it.

Caprophagy

You may not want to know this, but hamsters will eat their own feces. They don’t do it because they’re sick. They actually need to do this so they can digest their food a second time. This is called caprophagy and actually helps your hamster get all the nutrition it needs from what you feed it.


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