Common Hamster Care Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Hamsters are small species of rodents that belong to the subfamily Cricetinae. Because hamsters are docile, low maintenance animals, they are a popular house pet. But there is more to caring for a hamster than providing the rodent with food and water! To ensure the health and happiness of your pet hamsters, we are listing down common pet care mistakes and how to avoid them:

Using the Wrong Bedding

Because a hamster is a rodent, it loves to chew, chew, chew! Using the wrong bedding could cause injuries to the poor animal, including broken bones, digestive issues, and infections. Never use newspaper, wood shavings, cotton, fluffy bedding, cat litter, or corncob as bedding in a hamster cage. The rodents could ingest these materials and become sick. The right kind of bedding to use will depend on the breed of the hamster. For instance, Syrian hamsters live in dry, hot climate so sandy soil makes great bedding for this breed. Campbell Russian hamsters thrive in dry, grassy plains so using grass or wool as bedding is perfect for this breed.

Mixing Male and Female Hamsters in One Cage

Unless you plan to become a hamster breeder, never mix female and male hamsters in one cage. Hamsters – just like rabbits – are easy to breed in captivity. Mixing males and females in one cage could result in dozens of baby hamsters. Keeping both sexes in one cage could also lead to fighting especially when the females are in heat.

Wrong Wheel Size

No hamster cage is complete without a hamster wheel! Hamster wheels help release pent up energy and alleviate stress among hamsters. The wheel also presents plenty of opportunities for your hamsters to exercise regularly. Of course, you want to make sure that the hamster wheel is the right size. If the wheel size is wrong, the hamsters will not be motivated to use it at all.

For smaller hamsters, an 8.5-inch comfort wheel should be big enough. For larger hamsters, go for 11 to 12 inches wheel. The idea here is to choose a wheel size that allows free running movement without causing injuries to the animal. Also, avoid grated or barred wheels because these products cause injuries to the hamsters.

Wrong Cage Size

Even if hamsters are small, you need to choose a roomy cage that provides plenty of space for exercise, play, and exploration. The minimum cage size for hamsters in Europe is about 80cm x 50cm, except Germany. In Germany, the minimum cage size for hamsters is 100cm x 50cm. In the US and Canada, the minimum hamster cage size is 61cm x 38cm or 360 square inches. Remember, the larger the cage is, the better it is for your pet hamsters.

Neglecting Oral Health

Hamsters have large, strong teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. You need to keep their teeth healthy to avoid oral problems. We recommend giving your pet hamsters something hard to chew on, like wooden blocks or wooden chews. You can also give milk biscuits, dog biscuits, and chew treats to keep your hamsters’ teeth nice and strong!

Regular Bathing

Do not give the hamsters a regular bath. Hamsters are generally clean animals. They do not like feeling and looking dirty so they groom themselves all the time. Instead of attempting to give these animals a bath, leave a bowl of chinchilla sand in the hamster cage. The hamsters will roll in the sand, removing dirt and parasites from their fur.