Apr 142012
 

Whether we’re 10 or 70, we find hamsters fascinating. What is it about this charming little creature that makes us love it so?

In my opinion it can be put into one word – cuteness.

Hamster by narumi-lock, on Flickr

If you want the main reason for this cuteness, just look at a hammy’s face. The eyes are large and seem to have a naturally curious expression. Then there’s that little button nose and pointy ears that stick up and move around to hear what’s going on around it. This is a totally perfect face with an expression that seems to say “Let’s have some fun.”

Another thing that contributes to hamster cuteness is its overall size. Even a “big” hamster like the Teddy Bear or Golden, still only 3 to 5 inches long, is a great size for fitting in the palm of your hand. And the smaller dwarf hamsters are a perfect fit for smaller hands. What’s more, you can get two dwarfs in one nice sized palm.

Helping the hamster stay small is the fact that, except for the Chinese hamster, they have a little nub for tails. That makes the hamster round and compact, making him or her easier to hold in your hand.
That small size makes hamsters a great pet for keeping in a small space. Even if you use a large hamster cage, this type hamster habitat fits nicely on the top of the table in even a small room. The hamster, then, is a great pet for people who live in the city.

Another reason we love hamsters is because of the fact that these little creatures like to take care of themselves. You will see them standing there constantly grooming themselves. It happens before they run, after they run, before they eat, after they eat, before they drink… Well, you get the idea.

That means you don’t have to worry about washing them or taking them to a groomer. They are quite happy to keep themselves clean.

And they are easier to take care of than some other animals. A little food and water, a few toys, and a place to run usually keep them pretty happy. This means you can come home and either play with or watch your hamster without having to plan on taking them out for a walk or chasing them around the house. Unless, of course, your little hammy escapes from its cage.

Another reason we love hamsters is that they are a fun pet to watch. Sure, they sleep a lot. But when they’re active, they really go at it. They run around their exercise wheels like little madmen. And they love to explore. They crawl around any hamster tubes you put in their hamster cage or they push around an exercise ball. Even when they’re not running they can be active. They may be chomping on a food treat or stuffing it in their cheek pouches.

If properly trained, you can also enjoy the hamster interacting with you. It will let you pet it and hold it in your hand. You can hand it a treat and let it sit in your hand while it holds its food in its paws and munches on it. And who hasn’t enjoyed little hamster’s feet tickling you as it runs up your arm.

They’re cute, they’re small, they’re easy to keep, and they’re fun. So it’s easy to see why everybody loves hamsters.


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Mar 162011
 

Combination hamster cages made of plastic and wire have some negatives associated with them. You have to think about these before buying this type of hamster cage.

Size: Many of the basic one-story plastic and wire combination hamster habitats will not have enough space for a normal sized Syrian or Teddy Bear hamster. The plastic and wire cage complete kits usually come with an exercise wheel, a water bottle, and a food bowl. These will all take up space inside the cage. Then your Syrian will need a few toys to chew on as well as both a bedding and a bathroom area. Pretty soon your Teddy Bear or Golden hamster can be restricted to a small area inside the cage. hamster cage kit

One way to get around this is to add a second or third story or add some climbing tubes that will let the hamster get to a second cage. But that will cost more money.

Air circulation: Moving air around is a big deal in hamster cages. Hamsters need air circulation because they exercise a lot and because there are fumes from where they go to the bathroom. Both this type cage and aquariums have a problem getting enough air circulating inside the cage. If your plastic cage has a few stories with more wire bars, that would help circulate the air. But if there’s more plastic than wires, there will be less air circulation and this is bad for your hamster. Also, unless your climbing tubes have some holes in them, air won’t circulate much inside the tubes.

Cleaning: All hamster habitats have to be cleaned out every once in a while but this plastic and wire cage can be particularly tough when it comes to cleaning. You have to take the cage apart to clean it. With a wire cage you just take off the top, clean the wire bars, and then clean out the bedding in the base.

hasmter cageWith a combination hamster cage you have to do all that as well as take all the plastic tubes out of their holes. That means you have to be extra careful so none of the plastic breaks. Then, even when you get them out, you have to clean all the pieces individually. So there’s a lot more cleaning involved than with a wire cage.

Security: A wire door with a strong latch usually provides good security for keeping your hamster in its cage. A good latch is one that snaps tightly to the wire bars. Some people even use an additional wire to make sure the door stays shut. If the door doesn’t have a latch, your hamster can easily push it open.

On some combination plastic and wire cages the doors on top are just plastic. If these doors don’t have a strong latch, this is an area where even a dwarf hamster can push the door open and escape.

Also, you want to be sure there are no cracked plastic pieces when you finish putting together this type of cage. Your hamster will try to nibble on the crack to make a hole so he or she can get out of the cage.

For the positives about this cage, read Plastic and Wire Hamster Cage Positives.

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Mar 162011
 

If you pick a hamster cage made of plastic and wire it will usually have a colorful plastic top, wire bars in the middle, and a plastic base on the bottom. When you are choosing this type of cage you should think about size, set up, color, parts, and cost.

Size

Generally the plastic and wire combination cage is a little smaller than a plain wire cage. Many of these type hamster habitats are usually under 2 feet in length. Some of these cages allow you to make them bigger because they have holes on the top or the side. These holes let you connect hamster tubes that can expand the cage. You can add a lot of tubes or you can bring the tubes to second cage so your hamster can run between the cages. hamster cage

Some of these cages also let you add a second story so your hamster has an extra floor in the cage to play on.

If you’re keeping a couple of dwarf hamsters, this type cage might be good for you. But if you have one large Teddy Bear or Syrian hamster, look it over carefully to be sure he or she is going to have enough room to move around.

As with all hamster cages, you need to be sure the wire bars are close enough to keep a dwarf hamster, such as such as a Roborovski, from escaping through the bars.

Set up

These cages usually come in a box with a lot of pieces that have to be put together. So setting up this type of cage means snapping the wire parts into the plastic base, putting the plastic parts in the cage, then attaching the top and any other plastic pieces that attach to the sides or the top. This can be a big job and smaller kids may need help. hamster cage

People disagree on how easy or hard it is to put these cages together. Some people find it easy to get together while others think they are very difficult.

One problem is the plastic used for the tubing on the tops of this cage. If the plastic is thin or flimsy and you push things too hard when putting the cage together, the plastic can break. You have to be especially careful when you’re squeezing plastic climbing tubes into their holes.

One of the additional problems is that the instructions that come with these cages are often not too good. So you have to try and put the cage together by looking at the picture on the box.

One good piece of advice is to put the cage together before you buy your new hamster. That way you have plenty of time and don’t have to worry about your hamster being stuck inside an exercise ball.

Color

Although these cages are colorful to look at, keep in mind that hamsters are colorblind so they can’t see the colors. They can, however, see light and dark. So the lighter color plastic will be easier for them to see through while it will be harder for them to see through the darker colors. It will also be easier for you to see your hamster inside the cage if you get a lighter color plastic. But, to tell the truth, you don’t get to choose the colors you want for most of these cages.

Pieces and parts

Combination plastic and metal cages usually come in kits that have a lot of pieces. Because hamsters are all different, not all the pieces will be the right sizes for all hamsters. Sometimes the exercise wheels are too small for Syrian hamsters. Sometimes the water bottles leak or don’t fit well inside the cage. Sometimes the food bowls can be too tiny for all the different kinds of food you want to give your hamster.

So even if you think you’re saving money by buying a kit with all the parts, you may find you still have to buy a separate exercise wheel or a separate water bottle to fit inside these cages. These will cost extra. hamster cage

You also want to be sure that hamster tubes that are part of this cage are big enough for your regular size hamster, like a Teddy Bear, to get through. You don’t want your hamster getting stuck in the tubes. If you have dwarf hamsters, you also want to be sure the hamsters have something to grab on to so they can climb through the tubes. If the tubes are smooth you may want to put a thin branch inside the tube so your hamster can more easily climb through it.

Cost

These cages vary in cost depending on size. The taller combination cages – like three stories – usually cost around $50 and up. Medium-size cages that are one and two-stories often cost from about $25-$40. Smaller, starter cages can be found for about $25-$35. There are a few very small combination cages available for under $20. To see different cages and their costs go to the hamster cages and accessories page.

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