|Why not keep...Hamsters!|
Why not keep Hamsters!
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There are five species of hamster commonly kept as pets in the U.K – Syrian, Dwarf Russian Campbell, Dwarf Russian Winter White, Roborovski and Chinese. Average lifespan is 2 years.
First of all, you need to decide which species is right for you. Dwarf hamsters are not recommended for young children and Syrians should only be considered if there is parental or adult supervision at all times.
Cage or Tank?
The golden rule for Syrian hamsters is ‘one hamster to a cage’. Although they are small, hamsters are very active and in the wild would wander up to 10km in a single night in their search for food. Therefore, it is vital that your hamster has enough space right from the start. Do not be tempted to purchase a ‘hamster starter kit’ as it will soon be too small for him. Instead, buy the biggest cage you can afford and preferably one that is, at least, 24” long, 15” wide and 12” high, with one upper level. Be careful when buying the tall cages. They are suitable but ensure that the floors are positioned in such a way that the hamster cannot fall from top to bottom.
There are Dwarf hamster cages available where the bars are closer together to prevent escape (a mouse cage is suitable too). However, you may like to consider housing your Dwarf hamsters in an aquarium-like tank. This is ideal for recreating their natural habitat. It is great fun to set up and the hamsters will love it. They will also need a solid wheel for exercise, some wood (preferably un-sprayed apple wood) to gnaw on, and a water bottle.
The cage will need to be thoroughly cleaned, on average, every 10 - 14 days. However, if the nesting material is not soiled leave it longer as the hamster will feel more secure sleeping in his familiar scent (undetectable to humans). Hamsters hoard food, either in their nest or a favourite place in the cage. Always throw away any fresh, uneaten food before it goes mouldy, as mould spores are harmful to the hamster. However, the hoarded dry mix can be left longer. Some owners like to have a food bowl for their pet but ‘scatter’ feeding will bring out the hamsters’ natural foraging behaviour. Never use wool or any other type of fabric for nesting material as the fibres can be ingested and become lodged in the hamsters’ gut. This will inevitably lead to death. Paper bedding, like plain white tissues, is recommended. (Avoid shredded printed paper as the ink may be toxic)
Cage costs vary enormously so be guided by the ‘available space’ when making your choice. The more space available, the better.
Commercially prepared hamster food is fairly cheap to buy. He will also appreciate some small amounts of well-washed fresh food once or twice a week. Things like carrot, apple, broccoli etc.
Quite simply, a joy to have in your life
They are also living creatures that will rely on you for everything. Please be absolutely sure that you can provide for its needs, for the whole of its life, before purchase.
Article written by R. Ray