Jul 302010
 

When you take your hamster out of its cage it’s important that you keep an eye out for possible dangers that can result in injury to your hamster. Think about each of the following when your hammy is out.

Water

You may have seen the cute YouTube videos that show hamsters swimming. DON’T DO IT! Put in water, a hamster will probably start kicking. But that’s not swimming – it’s just trying NOT TO DROWN. What’s more, if your hamster stays in water long enough there’s a good chance he or she will then catch a cold or get pneumonia. So, please, keep your hamster out of the water.

Human Feet

If you let your hamster out to play on his own – in a tightly closed room, of course – be careful who is around. Because a hamster is so small, even a small foot can crush a hamster. Warn other family members and friends when your hamster is out to play.

Other Pets

Cats or snakes can and will try to catch and eat a hamster. A bird may try to peck it to death. Your dog may not want to eat your hamster, but its paw can easily crush it. So when you take your hamster out to play, please keep it in a place where other animals won’t be tempted to hurt it.

Electric cords

To keep their teeth in shape, hamsters have to gnaw on things. That means they may try to gnaw on any electrical cord they come across on the floor. This may include a cord going from a computer or lamp to a plug in the wall. If your hamster is going to be out, you should hide electrical cords, lift them off the floor, or pull them out of the wall and move them out of the way.

Small, sharp items

Your hamster uses its expandable cheek pouches to carry food and bedding. But outside its cage, a hamster is likely to put any small object it finds in its pouch. If any of these items are sharp, such as a pin, staple, or screw, the hamster can cut itself when putting the item in its pouch. Check for small, dangerous items in any areas where your hamster is going to play.

Exercise Ball

Hamsters like exercise balls, those clear plastic round balls. When you put them inside the ball it lets them to run as if they were on an exercise wheel. Your hamster can explore your house while being in a safe space. But there are dangers associated with these hamster balls. hamster exercise ball

First, the hamster can get dehydrated if you keep him or her in there too long. Recommendations for allowing your hamster to stay in the ball range from 15 to 20 minutes.

Secondly, you must be sure the ball doesn’t get near a staircase. The bumping and jolting of the ball as it goes down stairs can easily break the bones of your hamster.

Finally, remember that the exercise ball should only be used inside a house. The light outside a house is too bright for a hamster. What’s more, a lawn may be too difficult for a hamster to push the ball through.

Keep these possible hazards in mind when you’re taking your hamster out of its cage to play.

For other hamster dangers, read Hazards Inside Your Hamster Cage.


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Jan 212010
 

Most hamster owners have a story about how their hamster got away. Maybe it escaped from its cage or maybe it just jumped out of your hands and took off running. It’s not that your hammy doesn’t love you. It’s just that hamsters like to run and burrow – that’s their nature. So to them it’s not an escape – it’s just doing what comes naturally.

Let’s face it, once your hamster escapes, the odds are against you finding him or her. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying, because most hamster owners also have stories of their hamster miraculously turning up – maybe in a day, maybe a week, maybe even more.
 

So what can you do to find a lost hamster? Follow these four rules:

  • Lock
  • Look
  • Listen
  • Lure

Lock

Lock down the house or apartment. Close all doors, windows, and any other exit from the house, such as a doggy door or air conditioning or heating grate. Not only should you close grates, but try putting a piece of fabric or paper over them using painter’s blue tape so you don’t mess up the wall or floor. If there’s a space under a door, stuff a towel under there.

Also be sure to lock up any other animals you have – dogs, cats, birds or any other animal that might harm your hamster.

Look

Do your search room by room. Kitchens are popular hiding places. But you can start with the room where you last saw your hamster. Get down on all fours and pretend you’re a hamster. Where would you hide? What might make a good nest? What corner, nook, or hole would you like to crawl into?

Remember that hamsters are night creatures, so you may have more luck searching in the evenings.

Using a flashlight, start in one corner of the room, on the floor, and slowly move around the room. Look in, under and behind things. Shine the flashlight in every corner, every hole, every spot that’s dark and hidden from normal view.

Hamsters can fit almost anywhere. Here’s a list of some of the places your hamster might be hiding. Think about this list of hamster hiding places as you go through each room.

  • Under sinks
  • Behind toilets
  • In cabinets and drawers (bathroom, kitchen)
  • In closets
  • Inside shoes, purses, clothing or anything else in your closets
  • On shelves, especially behind things stored there
  • Behind and under furniture such as chairs and sofas
  • Behind and between chair and couch cushions
  • Behind a bookcase or even books on a shelf
  • Behind a stack of mail or magazines
  • Inside any box, including tissue boxes
  • Under the sheets of a bed
  • Inside a mattress
  • In the folds of a towel (or any piece of clothing left on the floor!)
  • In a laundry basket
  • In a trash basket
  • In a shopping bag
  • Behind or under a refrigerator, stove, water heater, or washing machine

Listen

While you’re looking, try to be quiet. Listen for the sounds a hamster might make, like scratching or tapping. You might also make a loud noise by banging on the floor, then listen again. Maybe your hammy will get scared and then you can hear him or her scurrying around.

Another idea is to put some crinkly aluminum foil or newspaper on the floor of a room. Sit quietly and listen for the noise your hamster will make if it walks across the foil or newspaper. (You can combine this with the lure of food, discussed next.)

Lure

A hamster’s got to eat. You can take advantage of their hunger by placing a few bits of a treat they like (e.g. yogurt drops, fresh fruit, sunflower seeds) on the floor of the room you’re in. Put a few bits on the floor, then step back and be quiet. You might even hide in a corner! You’ll have to be patient as your hamster sniffs out the aroma of its treat and comes out to eat.

If you can’t stay up all night waiting for your hamster to eat, sprinkle a little white flour or cornstarch on the floor around the food. The next morning, look for your hamster’s hiding place by following the tiny white footprints.

Another lure might be one of your hamster’s favorite toys. If he likes running around in an exercise ball, put it on the floor of a room. Again, the familiar aroma might get your hamster to come out and explore the toy.

Many people report success with a pail trap. First, find a pail, bucket, or some other container. It has to be deep enough so that a hamster can’t get out, but not deep enough for a hamster to get hurt falling in. Put some of your hamster’s favorite food in the bottom of the pail. (Think of food that smells good.) Then build some stairs up to the top of the pail. You can make the stairs out of books, magazines, or pieces of wood. Leave the trap out overnight.

The plan is for your hamster to climb up the stairs and jump into the pail to get the food. If the pail is high enough (but not too high), your hamster should be there waiting for you in the morning.

A final lure is to leave the hamster cage, with an open door, on the floor of the room. Who knows? When your hammy is finished exploring, he or she may want to come back to their familiar bedding.

The Outdoor Escape

Once a hamster gets outside your house, it will be a lot harder to find it. Obviously, you can’t lock up the outside. But you can still look around in corners and possible hiding places such as under a garbage can or near a wall. You might also try leaving some snacks around, or in the pail trap, in the hope that your hamster will want to eat some familiar food.

For more information see the article Preventing Hamster Escapes.


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Aug 102009
 

The first article about what goes inside a hamster cage was about bedding and water bottles. The other important things to be sure are inside your hamster cage are:

  • Exercise wheel
  • Exercise ball
  • Toys
  • Food bowls

Exercise Wheel

hamster exercise wheel

Hamsters like to run any where from 3 to 6 miles (4 to 9 km) every day. Therefore, it’s best to have an exercise or running wheel in the cage so they can get their running in. One of the newer types of wheels with a base is the flying saucer wheel, or spinner, so named because of its open design.

hamster spinner

The two primary types of wheels are either freestanding, in which the wheel comes with a base, or the kind that attaches to the side of the hamster cage.

Wheel considerations include:

  • Safety
  • Noise

Safety

One type of wheel which is not recommended is a wheel made of metal or wire spokes or bars.

  1. A hamster’s leg, foot, or toe could catch in the bars, resulting in your hamster getting a fracture.
  2. A hamster could get their head stuck between the bars.

For safety sake, then, get a hamster exercise wheel with a solid back and a solid running surface. These are typically made of plastic.

Some plastic wheels include treads. These allow your hamster to get a better grip when running.

Another safety concern is the size of the wheel. You don’t want your hamster to have to bend his or her back while running. Naturally, smaller wheels will work for dwarf hamsters, but you will need at least a 6 ½ inch (16 cm) wheel for Syrian hamsters.

Noise

Hamsters tend to run in the evenings or at night. If you’re trying to sleep near your hamster and the wheel makes a lot of noise, you’re going to have a long night (unless you’re a heavy sleeper!).

There is much disagreement, at least on the Internet, about which exercise wheels are quiet and which ones make noise. Checking out the wheels in the pet store doesn’t really tell the story.

Before you buy a wheel, please read the reviews from owners on the major pet sites. Then use these as a guide to your purchase.

Typical methods for quieting exercise wheels include:

  • Putting vegetable oil (never real oil) on squeaky parts
  • Using duct tape to tighten the attachment between wheel parts
  • Making sure the base of the freestanding exercise wheel is sitting solidly and evenly on the cage floor

Exercise Balls

hamster exercise ball
As an alternative to an exercise wheel, exercise balls, are also available. These round plastic balls, with vents, let your hamster get exercise outside of the hamster cage.

When using exercise balls:

  • Only keep them in the ball for about 15 or 20 minutes as your hamster can get overheated.
  • Never use an exercise ball around stairs.

Hamster Toys

Hamsters need chew toys to help maintain their teeth. And hamsters need play toys to have fun!

Hamster Chew Toys

Hamsters are born with a full set of teeth – and they never stop growing. A hamster must chew and gnaw so his or her teeth do not get overgrown. Overgrown teeth can cause eating and other problems for the hamster.

Some hamsters gnaw on the bars of their cages to grind down their teeth. This can destroy the cage or, if the cage is painted, can cause the hamster problems. Therefore, you should provide your hamster with chew toys. hamster chew toys
Chew toys can be:

  • Wood sticks or blocks
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Unflavored hard dog biscuits

Other toys

hamster toys
Search online for “hamster toys” and you will find a wide variety of things for your hamster to play with.

There are wooden houses, straw huts, ladders, extension tubes, tracks for exercise balls, and many more items to keep your hamster from getting bored.

Hamster Food Bowls

Your hamster has to eat, so be sure to have a small bowl to put his or her food into.

A ceramic bowl will be heavier than a plastic bowl, which the hamster may knock over or chew on.

Be sure to clean your feeding bowl often because hamsters will sometimes use their bowl for sitting or as a toilet.

With the right hamster cage furnishings including bedding, water bottle, exercise wheel, chew toys, and a food bowl, your hamster will provide you with hours of viewing fun – and stay healthy too!

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