What are the Types of Hamsters!

There are two different types of hamsters, and each offers various issues to deal with.

Syrian hamsters are the largest and easiest to handle. They are solitary animals and cannot be housed together.


The Russian dwarf, and other dwarf breeds, are becoming more popular.

These smaller breeds are social and should be kept in pairs. They are hard for most people to have sex and unwanted breeding is a real threat.

It is not always possible to place dwarf hamsters who are not litter mates together; fighting may occur. Hamsters have developed a reputation of being nippy.

However, this is frequently caused by overcrowding in pet stores which inspires the hamsters to be extremely protective of their nest.


How to gain your hamster’s trust

Hamsters can be taught to trust humans by putting food in one’s hand and waiting for the hamster to come to get the food.

A significant yet little-known fact is that hamsters have no depth perception. If placed on a table, they will walk off the edge.

Hamsters are very nocturnal and should not be disturbed during the day.

One of the most important first steps is choosing the proper habitat. Contrary to pet store lore, aquariums are not the best hamster homes. The air circulation in tanks is too poor to ensure health.

Wire cages are acceptable as long as the hamsters are given flat substances to walk on.

Our favorite cages are the type that utilizes an easy-to-clean cat litter box as the floor.

These cages also benefit from providing a well for hay and debris to fall into. Instead of falling out of the cage onto the table, they are set on. Another option for housing is the new “Habitrail” condos. These make perfect hamster homes with multi floors, tubes, and such to crawl through and use as nesting sites. Whatever house you choose, make sure it is big enough.


One consideration that must be taken in is the size of your hamsters. Smaller hamsters can easily escape from even the most miniature mesh cages and “habitrail” type homes. Unfortunately, if you are getting a young Syrian or dwarf breed, you may need to use an aquarium-like home for the first few months.


How to re-capture an escaped hamster

If your hamster escapes, and this is not uncommon; some are regular Houdinis, a trick to finding her is to place a stack of books she can climb in front of a small bucket too tall for her to jump out of. Place some food in the bucket. The setup should be along a wall because hamsters will stay close to the wall. She will inevitably go into the bucket for the food, and therefore be re-caught!


Hamster’s Hygiene

Some things that can harm a hamster, such as bacteria, viruses, and mold, can easily penetrate a hamsters’ haven. Weekly cleaning with a cleaning solution that is effective against all pathogens is essential to keep a hamster healthy. Veterinary supply stores often carry virucides such as Virkon that are effective cleaners. A ten percent bleach and water solution can also be used. Make sure all washed items are thoroughly rinsed, and product directions are carefully followed.

Make sure your veterinarian is qualified to treat hamsters. Early treatment of illness is imperative. Only experienced vets can safely neuter hamsters, essential to ensure longevity and non-aggressive behavior.

What do hamsters eat?

The typical diet sold for hamsters is a mix of seeds and other items that are not the best foods. They will eat the most fattening things in the combination, letting some with critical nutritional elements behind. We highly recommend a diet of rodent blocks. A good block is from Oxbow and can be purchased online. Other blocks are corn-based and dried corn is a known carcinogenic. All blocks should be augmented with fresh vegetables and fruit to make nutrients found only in fresh foods available. Keep food in an airtight container so that it doesn’t lose vitamins.

Bowls are okay for hamsters’ water supply. Sipping bottles with small openings for hamsters are also okayHamsters need toys. Especially comfort wheels (no foot catching spokes!) that can give the chance to exercise. Tubes or hide boxes to build nests in are essential. Chew toys are necessary for growing teeth.


Hamster bedding Tips

Wood shavings can cause liver damage and upper respiratory illness. Timothy hay or Carefresh makes good nesting material. Cotton wool-style bedding traps hamsters’ limbs and can block stomachs when digested. These beddings are made of plastics that do not dissolve when a hamster eats them. They are not safe despite manufacturers and pet store claims. White felt, which has no toxic dies or strings that tiny feet can be caught in, is safe for bedding.

Knowing that the hamster you bring home is healthy is very important. This can be ensured by adopting one. A hamster’s health from a rescue organization has been evaluated, and the ever-important socialization process will have begun. Many of the hamsters on this page were available for adoption at Angelas’ Southern California Rescue and Adoption. Henrietta, pictured here, is a member of the family of The Sanctuary. If the hamster of your dreams is not available for adoption, look for a responsible breeder whose premise can be evaluated for sanitary conditions.