Let’s take a closer look at how to look after a hamster: the equipment you’ll need, the ideal enclosure, what to feed your hamster and how to keep them entertained and stimulated.
You will need…
Before bringing your new friend home, it’s a good idea to get yourself ready – this will include doing some shopping. Your hamster will need:
- A cage with plenty of room for them to move around in
- Food bowls and a water bottle
- An exercise wheel
- Gnawing materials (to stop their teeth growing too long)
Your hamster’s cage
Your hamster will spend a lot of time in their cage, so it’s important to keep them comfortable. First off, choose a good-sized cage – your hamster should have plenty of space to move around. You’ll want to keep toys and bedding in there too, so plan extra space for those.
Hamsters are natural burrowers. If a cage is faulty or not secure, they may escape. Make sure there’s enough bedding so they can burrow themselves under it; this will help your hamster to feel safe and sheltered.
Take care with where you store your hamster’s cage too. Wild hamsters live in warm climates, so avoid anywhere with a draft or damp. Hamsters tend to be creatures of the night: keep their cage away from direct sunlight or any devices that produce light or sound, such as the TV or vacuum cleaner.
You should aim to clean their cage around once a week. Ensure your hamster’s bedding is changed regularly, especially if it gets wet. You’ll also want to get rid of any uneaten food – keeping their supply of food and water as fresh as possible.
What does the ideal hamster diet look like?
A healthy diet for domestic hamsters will consist of 5 main food types:
- Feeding pellets, with a healthy blend of fibre and essential nutrients
- Fruit, veggies and herbs in small amounts
- Special hay that’s high in fibre (you’ll get this at most pet shops)
- High-protein snacks such as nuts or mealworms
- Clean, fresh water – made readily available throughout the day
Note: Avoid muesli-based diets. Hamsters will leave the fibrous parts and overindulge on sugar, which can lead to weight gain and dental problems.
Wild hamsters are incredibly active and cover a lot of ground during an average night. Make sure their cage comes equipped with a sizeable exercise wheel so your hamster can keep their step-count up!
That said, don’t rely solely on the wheel. Provide your hamster with other toys to keep both their mind and muscles active. Climbable structures are a great idea; you could also get a hamster ball so they can run around your living room.
They’re usually active at night, but you may catch them up and about – first thing in the morning or last thing at night – for a bit of playtime.
Entertainment and stimulation
Hamsters can be timid creatures, and many love their own company – meaning they’re not the best pet for young children. It’s also a bad idea to keep more than one hamster in the same cage.
Providing they get a combination of suitable food, gnawing material (to sharpen their teeth) and toys, your hamster will keep themselves entertained just fine.
If you would like further advice on looking after your hamster please call and speak to one of our vets.