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Choosing, Caring For, and Handling Pet Hamsters


Use this guide to find out everything you need to know about hamsters including choosing what kind, caring for them, picking out toys, handling, and even breeding.

1. Choosing a Pet Hamster

Photo © Martin Harvey / Getty Images

Hamsters are popular pets for children but they aren't always the best pet for small hands. Different breeds are known for different traits and any potential owner to be should learn about the choices they have before picking one out to take home. Also specific kinds of hamsters should not be kept together while others enjoy company, therefore it is important to research your hamster of choice if you plan on getting more than one.

  • Chinese Hamsters - small and not as common as other kinds of hamsters.
  • Dwarf Hamster Varieties - several varieties exist and are similar to Chinese hamsters.
  • Syrian Hamsters - several color variations go by different names but are all types of this hamster.
  • 2. Choosing a Healthy Hamster

    Li - Chinese Hamster Picture
    Photo © ForeverHamsters

    Not every hamster in the pet store is of optimal health. Moving from supplier to store to a new home can be a stressful period for baby hamsters and they will often get sick from it. Learn how to choose a healthy hamster and what to watch for after you take it home. Hamsters that are younger are best as they will most likely be friendlier. Choose an active hamster and one that doesn't look like he has a wet bottom or weapy eyes. And even if a cage seems to have a few sick hamsters it is probably best to avoid buying any hamster from that group since hamster diseases are very contagious.

    3. Hamster Cages and Supplies

    Photo Courtesy of Pricegrabber.com

    There are many hamster cage options available online and at pet stores. But some cages are better than others. Several cages (like the ones with all the tubes and colors) may look cool but aren't very functional and difficult to clean while others aren't good for hamsters to live in at all (fish tanks). Smaller hamster breeds also have different cage considerations than the larger Syrian varieties. It's a good idea to get your hamster cage all set up with bedding, water bottle, chew toys, and other necessities before bringing your new hamster home. Check out what you need before you get your hamster, or just make sure you have what you should for the hamster you have now.

  • Syrian Hamster Cage Considerations
  • Dwarf Hamster Cage Considerations
  • 4. Hamster Diet

    Photo © Flickr user Annia316

    Is that store bought bag of seed mix really the best thing for your hamster? Do they need other protein, fruit, or vegetables? There are options available to you but what is really best for your pet?

    5. Taming Hamsters

    Mel - Hamster (Syrian) Picture
    Photo © Carla Matias

    Does your hamster bite? Does your child not want to play with their hamster anymore since it bit them? Do not fear, you can tame your hamster! Learn how to not startle them, entice them to climb onto your hand, and gain their trust.

  • Help! My Hamster Bites!
  • 6. Toys for Hamsters

    Photo © Flickr user JDAC

    Hamsters need activities and enrichment to keep them happy and healthy. They also need chew toys to keep their teeth neat and trim. A variety of hamster toys exist in pet stores but other pet rodent toys often work great as hamster toys too.

  • Homemade Hamster Play Tubes
  • Hamster Wheels
  • 7. Hamster Breeding

    Chinese Hamsters - Babies - Picture
    Photo © ForeverHamsters

    Hamster breeding is not something the casual hamster owner should do. It is best left to hamster breeders who are breeding for specific qualities and temperaments. But accidents happen and sometimes you end up with baby hamsters. Learn a bit about hamster breeding and see what you can expect with a pregnant hamster.

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