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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Mar 212011

A critical question to ask when you’re getting a new hamster is “What size cage should I buy for my hamster?”

Size is important because hamsters are active pets – especially at night. They like to run, climb, play with their toys, and burrow. All this activity means they have to have space in their cages.

The two key questions to ask about space are “What’s inside the cage?” and “What type hamster do you have?

What’s inside the cage?

Everything you put inside your hamster cage takes up space. So what goes inside the typical cage? hamster cage

Exercise wheel: Because a typical hamster can run about 6 miles (9 km) in one night you need to have an exercise wheel for your cage. This can be a freestanding exercise wheel or one of the kind that attaches to the metal bars on the cage. The freestanding wheel takes up space on the floor of the cage. But even the kind that attaches to the wire walls takes up space inside the cage.
hamster tubes

Tubes: Another way for your hamster to get exercise is to run through hamster tubes. People even connect a lot of tubes so the hamster has a big maze to climb through. Some tubes go outside the cage so they don’t take up any space inside the cage, but some climbing tubes may go inside the cage and take up space.

Water: Hamsters need water. You can attach a water bottle to the outside of the hamster cage, but its tip still takes up room in the cage. If you don’t use a water bottle you have to have space for a water bowl on the bottom of the cage.

Food bowl: What you feed your hamster goes inside a hamster food bowl. These can be large or small depending on how much food your hamster eats.

Toys: There are all kinds of chew toys and play toys for hamsters. You can also get a hamster house or some people even use the cardboard toilet paper holder. Depending on their sizes, these toys use space in the hamster habitat.

So before you buy your hamster cage, think about all of these items and how much room they will take up in the bottom and along the side of the cage you want. Remember you still need plenty of space for bedding so your hamster has spots to burrow, play, and use as a bathroom.

What type hamster do you have?

The other thing you have to consider when you’re thinking about the size of your cage is the type of hamster you have. The typical Syrian hamster, also called a teddy bear or Golden hamster, is about 5 to 7 inches (13 to 17 cm) long.

Having this type hamster may mean some of the items in your cage will have to be larger. For example, your hammy should not have to bend its back when it’s in its exercise wheel. So you may need a larger exercise wheel in your cage if you have a Syrian hamster. You also have to make sure the climbing tubes you get are large enough for this type hamster to fit through. That means more space for your hamster tubes. Also, because of the Syrians size you have to make sure there’s lots of bedding in the cage so it can burrow.

The typical dwarf hamster such as a Roborovski is smaller, being about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 20 cm) long. But many people keep two dwarf hamsters together in one cage because they get along with each other. That means providing enough space in your cage for two hamsters to run around in.

If you want to breed hamsters you’re also going to need a much bigger hamster cage.

The right size hamster cagehamster cage

Most people recommend getting a wire hamster cage that is at least 24 inches wide by 12 inches deep by about 10 inches tall (61 X 31 X 25 cm).

If you’re planning on using an aquarium, you will need at least a 10 gallon fish tank, but 20 gallons would be even better.
hamster cage
Smaller cages, that are usually 8 inches long by 12 ½ inches wide by 7-1/2-inches high (20 X 32 x 19 cm) may be adequate for a smaller dwarf hamster. It is too small for the Syrian hamster.

Available larger cages are about 16 inches long by 24 inches wide by 12 inches high (40 X 61 x 31 cm). This size will give your hamster plenty of room to exercise and burrow around inside its cage.



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Jul 292010

Your new hamster will probably be nervous when he or she first gets to its hamster cage . The move to a new location can make your hamster frightened and confused. Here are some things you can do to help your hamster get used to his or her new home.

Set up the new cage

Before you bring your new hamster home, make sure you set up the cage. See the article How to Set Up Your New Cage for some tips. In general, you want to put the cage in a quiet place away from other pets. Then you want to put all the stuff the hamster will need inside it – bedding, water, and food. Once it’s all set up, you’re ready to introduce your hamster to its new home.

hamster cage

Bring the New Hamster Home

Let’s say you’re bringing a new hamster home in its carrying box. If the carrying box is not too big and you can open the top of the hamster’s new cage, put the box inside the cage. Then open up the carrying box and wait. Let the hamster come out by itself.

Once the hamster is out, take the bedding material that was in the carrying box – there’s probably not a lot – and put in your cage. Your hamster will recognize the scent. This will help to make it more relaxed in its new home.

Your hamster needs to investigate its new surroundings. So give it some time! This is most important. If your hamster gets spooked when it’s first looking around, it may become fearful of its new home. It will then hide in the bedding more than it should.

You may want to even cover the new cage with a light piece of fabric. This will give the hamster some quiet and some privacy so it can explore its new home. By the way, don’t use something heavy, like a towel, to cover the cage, because your hamster might think it’s for chewing.

Even if you don’t cover the new cage, make sure you, your family, or your friends don’t try to pet, touch, or hold the hamster when it first gets home. There will be plenty of time for playing with your hamster once it feels at home in the new cage.

How Your Hamster Will Get Used to the Cage

At first, your hamster will probably hide. It will burrow into its bedding or go inside a wooden toy. This is normal so don’t bother him or her. Let your hamster rest.
hamster hiding

After a little while – it may do this at night – your hamster will start to explore. It will check out all the corners of the cage, figure out where the food dish and water bottle are, where its exercise wheel is, and what toys are available. It may even take a quick spin in its wheel to burn off some of its nervousness.

Then your hammy will start doing some nest building. It will move around some of the bedding to make a sleeping area and then decide which part of the cage will be its bathroom. It may even move some of the hamster toys around.


It will typically take about a week for your hamster to get used to its new cage and feel comfortable in it. During this time, you should just watch and talk to your hamster. You can hold your hand up to the cage and let it sniff you. This way it will get used to the sound of your voice and your scent. By taking things slowly, you and your hamster will get off to the right start.


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