My experience with hamsters is enough to know at least what hamsters like and want.
Hamsters have specific requirements for their care, including proper housing, nutrition, and enrichment. Understanding their likes and wants can help ensure they lead happy and healthy lives as pets. However, it’s always a good practice to stay open to learning more about hamster care to provide the best possible environment and care for them.
Therefore, I’ll be sharing 16 essential steps to help you become a responsible and caring hamster owner.
Becoming a Responsible Hamster Owner 101
#1. Selecting the Hamster
Before we discuss the steps of becoming a great hamster owner, it’s vital that you have all your hamster supplies ready.
Now, there are four types of hamsters, so you must select one that suits your requirements the best.
- Syrian hamsters are golden brown and 5-7 inches long.
- Chinese hamsters are greyish brown and 4-5 inches long.
- Dwarf hamsters are bluish-grey and hardly 3-4 inches long.
- Roborovski Hamsters are light-colored and roughly 3 inches long.
Understand the different hamster species and their unique characteristics. Evaluate your daily routine, available space, and commitment level to determine which hamster species suits you best.
#2. Different Hamster Cages
So, the next step is to buy a spacious and comfortable cage for the hamster so it does not take much time to adjust. Here are two points to consider while buying one:
- No matter how small the size of your hamster, the cage should be big enough for it to relax and play.
- Buy a good quality metal cage that is warranted and does not corrode easily.
#3. Choosing the Cage’s Interior
The cage’s interior should be friendly enough for the hamster to remain happy and relaxed.
For instance, put things like an exercise wheel, a hammock, or a tunnel for it to have fun in the limited territory. Having such toys ensures that your hamster won’t get bored. All of these things should be harmless so that the animal does not get injured while playing.
#4. Hamster Food
Food is one of the most common concerns when it comes to keeping a hamster.
All you have to do is buy medium or high-quality food, most preferably suggested by the veterinarian, place a bowl in the cage, and put the right amount in it.
To maintain cleanliness and ensure your hamster’s well-being, it’s essential to replace their water with fresh, hygienic portions daily.
#5. Familiarizing with the Surrounding
A hamster might seem like a carefree small animal that does not get bothered by its surroundings or a change in its habitat.
But in reality, hamsters are as sensitive as any other living being.
To familiarize your hamster with its environment, here is what you can do:
- Leave it alone for a couple of days to observe and feel at home.
- Don’t try to touch or hold your hamster frequently.
- Give it enough time to work on the sleep cycle without disturbance.
You might want to read my article on how to tame a hamster if you’re a new owner.
#6. Health Concerns
If you own a hamster or any other animal as a pet, the best thing you can do for it is to take care of its health and keep looking out for signs that indicate danger to take action immediately.
The following symptoms indicate an unwell hamster that needs medical attention:
- Too much sleep or no sleep at all
- Not interested in food
- Biting unnecessarily
- Not wanting to socialize
#7. Understanding Behavioral Issues
If you really wish to become a good parent to your hamster, then the best thing to do is empathize better.
See, hamsters are quite sensitive and equally bad at expressing grief or anger.
If your beloved pet begins displaying frequent biting behavior, reduced food consumption, or excessive sleep, it’s crucial to investigate the underlying cause and take appropriate action to address their well-being.
#8. The Unusual Sleep Cycle of Hamsters
Unlike humans and many other domestic pets, hamsters follow a unique sleep cycle that involves sleeping in the daytime and remaining active throughout the night.
Despite your efforts to tame them, a hamster’s sleep schedule will typically remain consistent with their natural rhythm. Instead of attempting to alter this innate routine, it’s advisable to adapt and find harmony with it for the well-being of your pet.
#9. Your Hamster’s Interaction With Strangers
Usually, hamsters are not fond of mingling with strangers.
They do not appreciate being touched by every person who finds them cute. Here’s my take on whether hamsters like to cuddle or not.
Therefore, respect this nature and make sure to keep it protected from unwanted fans.
#10. Cleaning Your Hamster’s Cage
Okay, so this is probably one of the few things that you should know beforehand: cleanliness is crucial!
We all know the importance of cleanliness, but when the animal is bound to live in a small space with no freedom to go out, there has to be a strict check and balance on keeping the cage clean all the time.
You can do this by changing the bedding every once a week, putting fresh food and water, and cleaning the litter box daily or even twice a day.
#11. Never Manhandle Your Hamster
I know how hard it is not to squeeze a cute and small furry animal with damn innocent eyes, but manhandling is strictly a no-no for a hamster.
Handling a hamster too roughly can result in bites or unintentional harm to these delicate creatures.
#12. Giving Enough Time To Your Hamster
Well, it is evident by now that hamsters are not attention-seekers. They like to enjoy on their own; it is still important for you to connect with them.
See, the thing is that connecting does not necessarily mean cuddling, sleeping, eating, playing, or traveling together.
You can give your hamster enough time by ensuring you’re always there when they need you or keeping track of their daily routine to empathize better. Here are a few tips:
- Do not buy hamster bedding that’s harmful if chewed.
- Do not place the cage exposed to direct sunlight.
- The environment should be less bright and cozier.
- Maintain an appropriate temperature that’s comfortable for your hamster.
- Don’t overfeed.
#13. Providing Hamster Chew Toys
Hamsters have a natural tendency to chew, so to prevent them from chewing on their bedding or other cage items, be sure to provide them with appropriate chew toys.
This will also help your hamster fight stress and anxiety.
#14. Keeping the Hamster’s Environment Peaceful
A serene environment is highly essential for a hamster, especially while sleeping.
So, ensure that the lights are dimmed and that the room is quiet. The temperature should be set between 24-30 degrees.
#15. Taking Care of a Pregnant Hamster
If your hamster is pregnant, here is what you can do to ensure maximum care.
- Visit the vet regularly.
- Provide extra comfy bedding.
- Keep a check on its eating and drinking schedule.
- Do not put another hamster in the cage.
#16. Maintaining the Correct Temperature
Hamsters thrive in a cage with a temperature ranging from 24 to 30 degrees Celsius (75-86 degrees Fahrenheit). This range closely resembles their natural habitat, ensuring they stay comfortable and healthy.
So there you have it: the top 16 steps that will help you become a more responsible hamster owner.
Caring for a Hamster for Beginners
Here are some additional tips to help you become a great first-time hamster owner. These simple steps can make your first experience with a hamster the best one!
- Invest in a large-sized cage.
- Buy fluffy and harmless bedding.
- Only buy food with good reviews.
- Clean the bedding and cage every week with a soapy solution.
- Maintain a diet chart.
- Keep it in optimum temperature conditions.
- Give it some activities in the cage to kill boredom.
- Visit a vet once a month.
- Do not try to introduce it to strangers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which breed of hamsters is the friendliest?
When it comes to hamsters, their temperament can vary more by individual than by breed. However, some hamster species are generally known to be more sociable and friendly than others.
The Syrian hamster (also known as the Golden or Teddy bear hamster) is often considered one of the friendliest hamster breeds. They tend to be more comfortable with handling and human interaction.
Do hamsters like to be petted?
Hamsters’ preferences for petting vary. Some may enjoy it, while others may find it stressful. Approach gently and observe their comfort level, respecting their boundaries if they seem uncomfortable.
Which hamster is best for a child?
While all hamsters can be child-friendly, Syrian hamsters are often the top choice for children. They’re adorable, known for their gentle temperament even in less ideal circumstances, and generally easier to tame.
Although there is no particular definition of a good hamster owner, following the practices I’ve mentioned creates a foolproof recipe for providing the best care and utmost consideration for your pet. By focusing on these aspects, you can expect a rewarding and mutually beneficial relationship with your hamster.