These little fluffy rodents are one of the most popular pets.
Hamsters won a strong place in the homes and hearts of caring owners due to their unpretentiousness, friendliness and ingenuity. But despite all their advantages and popularity, the decision to settle in their home a new furry pet should be approached with all the responsibility.
Buy or not buy?
The first thing you need to pay attention to is the absence of allergies among family members to animal fur or bedding fillers. The second, but no less important – the choice of a place for the future pet’s cage. Hamsters are equally disliked by drafts, too warm or cold air, dampness. They have no place in a smoke-filled room, on the floor or windowsill. It is important to remember that these are living beings and they are entitled to demand a decent attitude towards them.
Among other indisputable advantages of keeping hamsters is their low cost, ease of care, which does not require special skills. The insignificant amount of food a hamster needs for a full-fledged life will not affect the family budget in any way, and its cage will not take up much space in the apartment.
What is the best age to buy?
Unlike other pets, hamsters do not live long – on average from one and a half to three and a half years. If you still decide to have a new pet, it is better to purchase it at the age of no more than two months. Young hamsters quickly get used to the new environment, are easier to educate, they are easier to accustom to the tray.
Who to choose – male or female?
The choice of a hamster’s sex entirely depends on the preferences of its future owners, however, if you have only one hamster in your house, then experts recommend purchasing a male. The procedure for determining the sex of a hamster is quite simple – you need to gently put it on your palm or take it by the neck and look at the distance between the sexual organ and the anus. In females, this distance is very small – no more than three millimeters, and in the male – up to one and a half centimeters.
A cage with vertical or horizontal rods is the most suitable and convenient housing for a hamster. Its size depends on the hamster breed. For dwarf – Dzungar and Roborov – height and width are about 30 cm, length – 50 cm. For golden or Syrian hamsters, it is better to choose a larger cage – a width and height of 40 cm, about 60 cm long.
Unlike the Syrian hamsters, the Dzungar and Roborov hamsters are indifferent to climbing rods and other acrobatic tricks, so plastic cages (dunes) are quite suitable for them. In no case can hamsters lodge in high and narrow aquariums – bacteria multiply very quickly, high humidity and almost no access to fresh air.
To make your pet feel happy and healthy, you need to not only feed it, but also entertain it. Golden hamsters will not be able to do without climbing devices – various decorative branches, tubules, labyrinths, obstacles that create several tiers in a cage at once. Here you must have a wheel with transverse crossbars, it can be fixed to the wall or mounted on the floor of the cage.
Medium size sawdust, pressed or mixed with shavings, as well as fine sifted sand for dwarf rocks are most often used as bedding. All types of textile or paper mats, including newspapers, cotton, rags are categorically excluded.
An important place in the hamster’s dwelling is a house for sleeping and resting, here he will be able to store valuable things for him. The house should be quite spacious and comfortable, preferably attached to the wall. Its design should provide easy access for washing and airing.
Having bought a cage and settled in it a hamster, immediately install in it a toilet with a special filler that absorbs odor and moisture. It is necessary to teach a hamster to go to the tray from an early age, otherwise it will be very difficult and often impossible to retrain it. Replace the filler once a week.
The feeder can be purchased at the store or made independently, given the size of your pet. On average, the size of the feeder varies from three to ten centimeters, with a height of about one and a half centimeters.
As a drinker, you can use a small capacity – about 50 milliliters. This volume will fully satisfy the hamster’s daily water requirement. The water in the drinker should be changed daily, it is also very important to ensure that there are no wet sawdust around the tank.
We buy only healthy hamsters
When choosing a hamster, it is very important to make sure that your future pet is healthy. A visual inspection and observation of his behavior will be enough to make sure that he is all right. So, a hamster is healthy if:
- He has a brilliant thick skin, with no signs of hair loss. The scars spoil the appearance of the animal, but do not speak of its poor health.
- his eyes are clear, clean and shiny around.
- no nasal discharge, the nose itself is healthy and clean.
- the fur around the anus is clean, with no signs of diarrhea or inflammation.
A hamster who has just been awakened should not show undue anxiety or, conversely, apathy. Both variants speak about the stress state of the animal, which can later result in high vulnerability and diseases. Only Roborovsky hamsters are distinguished by increased fussiness in any circumstances.
Do you need neighbors?
Your hamster will react very painfully if someone else lives in his cage. Therefore, the cells should be as much as you plan to have hamsters.
Addiction to a new home
In order for your new guest to quickly get used to the new conditions for him, give him a few days to slowly explore his home. When the initial stress passes, innate curiosity will take over, and the hamster will begin to study his cage with interest, feeling more and more confident.
If it becomes necessary to take an animal, for example, to a veterinarian, it is not necessary to take the entire cage with you – it is enough to purchase a small carrier for rodents. Subsequently, it will be useful during the general cleaning of the cage. Alternatively, a well-ventilated cardboard box can be used.
How to handle a hamster?
To gain the confidence of a hamster, you need patience and some time. However, all efforts expended on this will pay off in full – communication with your pet will bring you only joy. What can and can not do when dealing with hamsters?
You can not:
- make sharp movements or swing arms near the hamster;
- pick up a newly awakened or sleeping hamster;
- corner or palm up;
- shout loudly next to the cage;
- leave it on high surfaces – it does not distinguish between distances and will definitely fall down;
- take a rough movement by the scruff of the neck.
- talk to the animal in a soft, calm voice;
- taking him in your arms, do it slowly and carefully, clasping under the front paws;
- to touch the hamster only with clean hands and give him the opportunity to pre-sniff the hand – so he will get used to your smell faster;
- give him a chance to calm down if he is scared.
What to do if a hamster bit?
Hamsters are harmless, but very sensitive and fearful creatures. Therefore, sometimes there is a risk of being bitten, but not out of malice, but in order to defend oneself. In addition, if your hand smells like food, the hamster can simply take it for an appetizing treat. What if you are bitten?
First, keep calm and not punish the animal – he did it not out of malice. Gently place it in the cage and treat the bite with green paint, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and apply a plaster. If your hamster is healthy, then there will be no dangerous consequences from a bite.
What and how to feed hamsters?
The main food of hamsters is solid grains, such as wheat, oats, millet. They also love to nibble seeds and nuts, but these delicacies should not be made their main food, it is better to leave them as a dessert. The need for liquids and vitamins hamsters satisfy at the expense of juicy vegetables and fruits – apples, carrots, pears, celery, cucumbers, beets, corn. Garlic, onions, citrus and white cabbage should be excluded from their diet. Sometimes a hamster can be pampered with sweet berries in small quantities – strawberries, raspberries, grapes.
Feeding occurs twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. To determine the size of portions and taste preferences of your pet, just watch him for a while. And do not forget to put him a daily water with clean water.
Water treatment and claw clipping
Hamsters do not like to swim, so water procedures should be resorted to only as needed. For swimming is best suited special shampoo for rodents, after which the fur should be blotted with a soft towel. If the room is cool, and you are worried that it will freeze, you can slightly dry it with a hairdryer, a weak stream of warm air.
The regrown claws are carefully cut off with a special nail clipper or nail clippers.
Mating of hamsters is allowed after both partners reach three months of age.
On average, hamsters have a gestation period of two and a half to three weeks.
About three weeks later the babies born will eat mother’s milk. During this period, it is advisable to add a small amount of protein to the diet of the female – a hard-boiled egg, a piece of cheese or boiled chicken. Before giving birth, it is better to move the cage with the expectant mother to a quiet place, with poor lighting.
If the female is young and became a mother for the first time, she can abandon her young and even eat them. Unfortunately, if this happened before the kids reached at least ten days of age, then they could not be saved. After 3.5-4 weeks, the pups are deposited, settling in individual cells. We can not allow them to be next to the mother for more than five weeks.
Newborn hamsters are bald, deaf and blind. The first few days, their main food is breast milk, then they gradually move to small grains. At the end of the first week, their wool begins to grow, at the end of the second – their eyes open. Within a month, they will fully master the world around them.
After the offspring was born, the male should not be in the same cage as the female – he will not harm the babies and even help in caring for them, but it is very likely that the female will become pregnant again, and this can be dangerous to her health.
Signs of hamster disease
You can determine if your pet is sick by the following criteria:
- wet fur and heavy breathing;
- increased aggressiveness or apathy;
- loss of hair or sores on the skin;
- chills, frequent stools (runny or dry);
- the presence of blood-sucking insects – lice, fleas.