Hamsters make suitable pets for older children, providing they are taught the responsibilities of their pet’s routine for cleaning, feeding, and care. Dwarf hamsters can live for up to three years, but the average lifespan is approximately 18 months to two years.
There are four species of Dwarf hamster commonly kept as pets, these originate from Russia, Siberia, and China. In the wild, they live in burrows during the day to avoid the harshest weather and predators and travel great distances at night to forage for food.
Dwarf hamsters can be social animals and can be kept in small, single-sex groups or pairs. Be aware that keeping them in male/female pairs will result in many babies. Animals that you intend to keep together should be bought at the same time, as it is unlikely that new individuals will be accepted later. However, squabbles in groups are common so be aware of any fighting and separate them into their own cage. It is sometimes recommended to keep a singular hamster to avoid any fighting. Syrian hamsters should be kept alone within their home. This is because they can fight, and they are solitary animals.
Hamsters have pouches in their cheeks, which they use to carry and hoard food, check for any uneaten fresh food and remove daily. Extra protein in the form of cooked chicken, boiled egg or mealworms can be given a couple of times a week. Your hamster will also enjoy a small bowl of milky porridge several times a month.
Additional vitamin supplements or a mineral block can be added to your hamster’s diet. Feeding bowls should be gnaw-proof, easy to clean and hard to knock over.
Fresh clean drinking water must always be available. It can be provided by a gravity-fed water bottle designed to suit your hamster’s cage.
Before you even attempt to look after your own Hamster you need to be equipped with the right equipment.
- Book on hamster care
- Cage/housing unit
- Litter and bedding material
- Food for dwarf hamsters
- Food dish
- Water bottle and bottle brush
- Exercise wheel
- Gnaw block
Hamsters are generally hardy animals and normally stay healthy throughout their lives. They can, however, suffer from coughs and sneezes and their nose and eyes may run. Keep them warm and away from any draughts if these occur. Some Dwarf hamsters develop diabetes, which shortens their lifespan.
Hamsters’ teeth do sometimes overgrow if they do not meet properly, making eating difficult. When this occurs the teeth must be trimmed regularly, which should be done by your vet.
If your hamster escapes from its cage, try putting a box in the corner of the room with some of his favorite food in. You might find him it in the next morning.
If you are concerned about your hamster’s health, speak to your pet shop or vet.
It is important that you handle your hamster regularly to help you build up a relationship.
When you first get your hamster home, leave him to settle in for 24 hours to allow him time to get used to his new surroundings.
Slowly place your hand in the cage so he gets used to your smell. When he seems happy, gently cup one hand under him and one hand over him, and pick him up. Always concentrate on holding your Dwarf hamster as they can be very quick and can slip out of your hands. Roborovski hamsters, in particular, are very small, so great care should be taken when handling them.
Do not try to handle your hamster if he has just woken up as they feel vulnerable at this time and may bite.
Food & Water
Hamsters are omnivores and so will enjoy a varied diet. A good, commercial Dwarf hamster mix or pellet will provide the nutrition they require. This can be supplemented 2-3 times a week by small amounts of fresh fruit (not citrus) or vegetables (not onion).
Plastic cages with wire tops are ideal as they are easy to clean and should be escape-proof. The cage should be big enough to provide adequate space to divide their accommodation into an eating, sleeping and toilet area. More space or two adjoining rooms or stories will add to their environmental enrichment. It is recommended to choose a cage that is specifically designed for Dwarf hamsters, as bars on Syrian hamster cages can sometimes be wide enough for a Dwarf hamster to squeeze through.
Hamsters are indoor pets and should be kept in a stable temperature, ideally between 17˚C and 23˚C and avoid sudden changes in temperature. The cage should not be placed in draughts, direct sunlight, next to a radiator or in damp or humid conditions. Dwarf hamsters will go into a state of very deep sleep, similar to hibernation if there is a sudden drop in temperature below 5°C.
Hamsters require lots of exercise and their cage should include a suitably-sized exercise wheel.
Soft, dust-free woodchips make a good floor covering for your hamster’s cage. Soft shredded paper can be used as bedding and nesting material – it is recommended not to use fluffy bedding. The cage should be emptied and fully cleaned with a pet safe disinfectant at least once a week. Some cages have extra rooms and tubes available, which provide good stimulation for your pet.
Thanks for reading
If you found this Hamster caring guide and would like to see more information on this care sheet just click here.
At HugglePets we understand that not everyone will understand everything from this care sheet, so if you have any questions or there is anything you are unsure about please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help. Just contact us on 01902 494860 or go over to our Facebook and drop us an inbox.