What should I use for bedding?

Generally speaking, that is non-toxic, dust free, absorbent, fluffy, and non-staining is great for bedding. Newspaper makes them inky, don't use it. Kaytee makes various types of bedding; most commonly used are aspen and pine. It's been suggested that caution be used with Kleenex/facial tissue. Although hamsters love it for bedding, some can get overly ambitious and put a little too much into their mouths, then have problems getting it out. Moderation is the key.

What should I do if my hamster exhibits strange symptoms?

If your hamster is doing anything out of the ordinary that worries you - coughing, wheezing, shaking, developing sores or callouses, walking weird, or any other abnormal behavior - SEE A VET IMMEDIATELY. When your hamster is awake, it should look alert, not apathetic. Anus should not be smeared with droppings. (This is a sign of possible diarrhoea.) Eyes should be clear, without signs of secretion. Heavy or noisy breathing may indicate disease. There should be no sores or bald spots.

What is the life span of a hamster?

It varies from species to species. Approximate life span is 3 years.

What do hamsters like (and not like) to eat?

They will eat pretty much anything. Broccoli, Kraft Dinner, yogurt, and many other foods. Their favorite foods are foods native to their dry habitat, like seeds/cereals (but make sure that it's natural seeds - no roasting or salt, and that the cereal isn't sugary). For protein and variety, they will eat some small insects. They like vegetables, but be moderate in how much you feed them. The key word for the hamster diet is *variety*. It keeps 'em healthy. You might want to give them a dog bone to chew on - it's healthy for them, and is great for their teeth. DO NOT feed them: Anything poisonous to humans, raw beans, sprouting potato buds, fool's parsley, poison hemlock. laburnum, canned/frozen veggies. Make sure as well that the food is still good to eat , don't let it go bad. That means vegetables can be going rotten. Chocolate is a bad idea too, but there is a special variety of chocolate that's sold at pet stores that's safe for animals. Again Kaytee makes Hamster food specially balanced for a hamsters needs look for it at your pet store

What do hamsters like to drink?

Water (make sure they have a good supply - tap water should do unless you have some strange nutrients in it)

Why does my hamster sleep all day?

Your hamster is nocturnal.

My hamster is having babies! What should I do?

Calm down, it is perfectly natural. Keep your hamster well-nourished. Added protein (possibly in the form of insects) might be a good idea. It has been suggested that one of the reasons hamsters eat their young is because they need the protein from them after birth. To reduce the likelihood of the babies being devoured by their parents, separate the father from them as soon as possible, and when you deem it safe, separate the mother from 'em. You should be aware that the time you separate the father from them varies from species to species. Case in point: The Syrian/Golden hamsters should only be together for mating, whereas dwarf hamsters can be kept together because they mate for life... I have been given these figures... they are all for the Golden Hamster, but are probably pretty close to any other breed of hamster: Puberty: 4-5 weeks Optimum beginning breeding age: males: 10-12 weeks females: 8-9 weeks Estrus: Every 3-4 days Gestation period: 16-18 days Litter size: 6-8 Birth weight: 1/14 to 1/8 oz Weaning age: 3-4 weeks

What are the two symmetrical spots on the hamster's sides?

They are flank glands. Hamsters rub against things and mark their territory with them.

Do hamsters really like those balls?

The directions tell you not to leave your hamster in the ball unattended, or for more than about 20 minutes at a time.

How can I interpret the hamster's body language?

Body Language: Convulsive movement, as well as sudden continual face washing, signifies fright. Defensive raising of both front paws can be observed in males that have been unexpectedly attacked by females and have no way of escaping. Puffing up the cheeks and showing the abdominal regions are to be construed as a threat. Lying motionless on the back shows resistance and fear. Stiff-legged walking of a young animal, with its tail stiffly stretched up and its hindquarters turned toward the adult hamster, denotes fear and submission . This can also often be observed in vanquished adult hamsters. Stretching and yawning with half-closed eyes is an expression of cosiness and inner peace.

How can I tame my hamster?

Let your hamster have the first few days in a cage on his/her own to get used to it. Put him in a quiet place so he is not disturbed and give him plenty of bedding. Putting a small cardboard box in the cage will also give him somewhere to hide, and therefore a sense of security. The first few times you get him out, do not go through the cage door, especially if it is at the top. Take the whole top off the cage and place the base on the floor. They sit on the floor and scoop up your hamster. If he is young, he will probably be very skittish so you will have to be very aware to stop him running away, but let him run on your body. It is best if this job is initially done by an adult or older child, as small children do not have the confidence, usually. Always scoop up your hamster firmly - it will make him more confident, and never hold him without first sitting on the floor unless he is really tame. Pick up your hamster in this way once or twice a day, talking in a soft voice and using lots of gentle encouragement. Skittish young hamsters usually calm down with age. Always wait until your hamster is awake before taming him, and never pick up a sleeping hamster. Most biting is as a result of fear, not viciousness. Remember this if you do get bitten (it was probably your fault) it does not mean the hamster is nasty. The most common reasons for getting bitten are grabbing a hamster from above, picking up a sleeping hamster and accidentally pinching a hamster when you pick him up. After a biting incident, put the hamster back in the cage and leave him for a couple of hours to calm down. Remember that taming is easier if a hamster has been handled since birth, but I have yet to meet an untamable hamster. It may take months if the pet shop has allowed an animal to mature without once being handled, but even an older animal can be tamed with effort. If at any stage the hamster starts biting and looking anxious, try going back a step and repeating the process (i.e. leave him alone for a few days). Once your hamster runs on you without looking frightened, place the cage in a busier area to get him used to people.

How can I keep my hamster healthy?

Read this FAQ over, and make sure you are using all the suggestions contained within it, and your hamster should be healthy. Here are some extra little tidbits of information to help you along: The adult weight of a (Golden) hamster should be about 150g. Your hamster should be in a room with a temperature of about 20- 23 degrees Celsius. Make sure your hamster has a wheel, as well as other sources of exercise. Without exercise, paralysis may develop.

Do hamsters make noise?

Hamsters are among the quietest creatures there are - usually the only sound you'll here from them is the squeaking of their wheels. Hamsters do vocalize from time to time. They squeak - this is a mating call. They scream - when they are in distress. They cough/sneeze - when they are sick.

Do hamsters hibernate?

Sort of. Technically it's not hibernation, but they will slow down their body functions (they become "torpid") if the room temperature of the room they are in gets unusually low, but shouldn't just go into hibernation because it's the winter season. If your hamster reaches this state, be sure not to disturb them. Let them come out of it naturally. Golden hamsters become sluggish at 59F and torpid at 50F. Dwarf hamsters are less active at low temperatures.

My hamster has escaped! Help me!

To find your hamster: Close all doors and windows, and try to figure out what room your hamster is in. If you are having trouble, try placing a bowl of food in each room. The hamster is bound to get hungry, so you will be able to tell which room he's in by whichever food dish is touched. Once you have narrowed down your search, start looking under chairs, beds, in corners... put yourself into the frame of mind of the hamster. You could get creative/inventive and devise some traps. Apparently one of the best ways is to get some sort of deep bucket with a ramp heading up to it, with some food as bait. Hamster falls into bucket, cannot climb out. Good luck.

Should I be cleaning my hamster?

Hamsters are darned clean to begin with, but if your hamster starts to actually look dirty or smell bad, first clean the cage, and then proceed to wash him. You can use water, but be extremely careful to be gentle and dry him off completely because they catch colds very easily. A much easier solution is to brush a bit of chinchilla powder of cornstarch, work it into the fur a little bit, then dust it off with a dry towel.

Do hamsters get lonely?

Not the way we get lonely, no. Many people will argue that hamsters will appreciate having a companion of the opposite sex to live with, but I don't think that hamsters will really mind too much if they are left by themselves. Hamsters will harm each other if they are together. Males and females can be together for mating, but not much longer than that without risking some sort of fight. Females hardly ever get along with other females, but you MIGHT be able to successfully raise two male hamsters together if you get them from the same litter and raise them together from as close to their birth as possible.

Can I brush/comb my hamster's hair?

Unless you have got a teddy bear hamster or a hamster with extremely long hair, most hamsters can groom themselves. For grooming purposes, pet stores sell special hamster combs. Apparently toothbrushes work well, too. If you think your hamster's hair is too long, you can safely clip it with regular scissors.

What if my hamster gets fleas?

Hamsters usually get fleas from other animals in the house who have fleas. There is a special flea powder available at pet stores that can be put into the bedding material - eventually it gets into the hamster's fur. You can also apply it directly to your hamster if she doesn't mind.

Can I travel in the car with my hamster?

Avoid it if you can. If you can't... Make sure it's a short journey, on a nice smooth road. Take out anything in the cage that can move around and hurt your hamster. If you are using a special traveling cage, use bedding that's familiar to your hamster. Make sure there's plenty of food and water, and that the water can't drip. Give your hamster a cucumber or similar wet food before the journey. Try to have a passenger watch your hamster and hold the cage so that he can't escape. Keep the windows closed so it doesn't get too drafty. Don't leave your hamster in the car or in the sun. Stop if your hamster looks sick.

How can I stop the wheel from squeaking?

Try putting some vegetable oil, or chap stick, or Vaseline on the axle of the wheel. You might have a problem with these lubricants attracting bedding material and dust, in which case you should try using a dry powdered graphite lubricant, available in most hardware stores.

What should I do if I find bugs in the hamster food?

This happens quite often. The solution is to put the food in the freezer, to kill off the bugs. Then, either take the bugs out or include the dead bugs with the food - your hamster appreciates the protein.

Should my hamster be eating his poop?

Yes. Hamsters aren't graced with as functional a digestive system as we humans are. It is perfectly normal (as disgusting as it seems) for hamsters to eat their poop.

What are the different breeds of hamsters that exist?

Most common is the golden hamster... in brackets are the lengths of each breed.
Chinese hamster (12.5cm)
Common hamster (32cm)
Eversmann's hamster (16.6cm)
Golden hamster (18cm)
Long-tailed hamster (16cm)
Migratory hamster (13.5cm)
Mouse-like hamster (16.5cm)
Rat hamster (26cm)
Roborovsky's hamster (9cm)
Rumanian hamster (varies)
Short dwarf hamster (16.6cm)
Striped hairy foot Russian hamster (9cm)
Striped hamster (13cm)
Tibetan hamster (varies)

Can I let my hamster swim?

No. No matter what you have heard, water is dangerous to hamsters. Even if they do not drown trying to stay out of the water, chances are they will catch pneumonia.

What are the signs to tell that the mother is pregnant?

Physically you will not be able to tell because the increase in the female's girth is very minor. However, you will be able to tell from the behavioural aspect. She will start to hoard more then ever, be constantly dig in and around her nest, and be busily carrying nesting material in and out. Some females might become more jumpy and nervous than normal during gestation.

We have two hamsters living together from the same litter. Our female, has begun to chew tufts of her fur out and she has mated with the male. Is this a sign that she could be pregnant and begining to nest? Should we separate the two?

Definitely seperate the two hamsters. Generally, hamsters are solitary animals so let's keep it that way. One other thing that should be known is that the female hamster is MORE aggressive then the male. That's why when even mating a pair, it should be done in the males' cage rather than the females' (possibility that she would kill the male). About her pulling out tufts of her fur, it sounds like she is being stressed out from living in the same cage quarters as the male does. So seperate the two so that the female will not continue to do this strange behaviour and to prevent further unexpected in-breeding to occur.

My hamster has little tuffs of hair sticking out on the same part of its sides. I checked to see of they were shedding fur but it's not. Is it some kind of a mutation?

Not to worry. But I'm glad that you did point that out. What you are mentioning is the scent glands of a golden hamster. (Chinese hamsters have scent glands not only on their sides but also on their abdomens. Dzjungarian dwarf hamsters only have it on their abdomens.) Usually you will see a hamster using its scent glands when it is marking its territory.

Is chewing on cage bars ok?

Sure it is! The purpose for a hamster doing that, is to grind down its teeth and keep them trimmed. (As you should know, a hamster's 4 incisor teeth never stop growing.) Just be cautious that the bars the hamster is chewing on doesn't contain rust. As you can understand, rust inside a hamster's system isn't exactly healthy for the little critter.

Information and advice contained in this section is for your consideration only. Please consult your veterinarian before implementing treatment for your pet .