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Looking after your hamster
In this way it is easy to see why hamsters are, and continue to be, a perennially popular pet. Small, relatively clean and hassle free, they also tick the most important boxes - cute, cuddly, adorable and any other synonyms of those you care to mention...
If you are getting your first hamster, you might rightly wonder how to go about it. As a caring person, you wouldn't like to think that your inexperience could lead to harming your pet's well-being. However, there are some things you have to think about before you set out for the pet shops.
First, is numbers. In the wild, hamsters tend to live as social animals. Now, whilst it is fine to keep just one hamster (in fact, with Syrian and Golden hamsters, it is better to keep them alone), you may want to consider getting a pair. There are things to consider though; females and males together will see nature taking its course and litters; same sex pairs or groups are fine, although males will become agitated if a female is brought in.
Hamsters love to eat, and will eat, almost anything, including nearly all fruit and vegetables. However, there is proper food available and a little once a day or so should be fine. Also, be sure to check online before giving your hamster something new, as some things, such as apple pips for instance, are harmful to them.
The cage should be provided with non-synthetic and preferably dust-extracted bedding that should be checked daily for soiling. At least once a week, you should give the cage a thorough cleaning, including spraying with a safe disinfectant. A dirty cage can give a hamster all sorts of nasty health issues, and a simple amount of basic upkeep and level of cleanliness should reduce the likelihood of your hamster falling ill.
Also, if you wish to get your hamster a ball, make sure that it is big enough for him to stand in without arching his back, and avoid those with rungs in the bottom as this can cause feet injuries. To keep his natural inquisitive instincts, you may like to hide titbits around his cage for him to find, and things such as old flower pots and toilet roll tubes for him to hide around and play in.
Of course, there will be times when you want to fuss the new addition, but you must be careful with this. To let them become tame, they must learn to get used to what it to them a large, threatening claw (i.e. your hand!). Hamsters can be a little nippy, and this is due to many factors, such as being woken from a deep sleep during the day (which can make anyone a little touchy!)
You should gently offer your hand to the hamster, and he may sniff around and may even step into your palm. You should then carefully and slowly lift him up in cupped hands, always keeping him close to your chest and always over your lap. In this way, the hamster should come to associate being handled with affection, and come to enjoy, if tolerate it, without fear and aggression. When handling, you should check your hamster's eyes and ears and coat, as well as his teeth and nails, to make sure everything is fine with him.
Lastly, remember that you can always ask in your pet shop for help with anything regarding your hamster; these days, they sell everything from snakes to dog clothing, and because of this have a wide knowledge of all animals and their welfare.
I used to breed hamsters when I was at school and one way to help keep the cage clean was to watch which part of the cage they used for the toilet, I would put a jam jar on its side on top of the place, the hamster would then go into the jar and use it which was cleaned out daily so the cage was easier kept clean.
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