Tips For Getting Started With Pet Hamsters

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Hamsters can seem like a really simple option when you are looking for the perfect pet (for you or your kids), but how much do you actually know about hamster care, and how should you prepare to welcome one of these little fur balls into your home? In this guide to basic care, we give you the essential tips for getting started with pet hamsters.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Cage Selection. Bigger is better. Hamsters require a huge amount of space to be happy and healthy. If you start out with a larger cage (at least 650 square inches is strongly recommended) your pet will not have to re-learn his environment.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Bedding Selection. Hamsters should be given at least 6″ of bedding, though more is strongly recommended. Like gerbils, hamsters are burrowing animals, and benefit immensely from having a deep layer of bedding to tunnel in.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Food Bowl Selection. Some people choose to just scatter the food into the cage (which is fine for a hamster’s habitat) but, using a bowl (ceramic is best as your pet cannot chew into the lip) will help you to keep track of your pet’s food consumption.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Water Bottle Selection. Your hamster’s bottle should be between 4- 6 ounces. Anything larger may make it harder for your pet to activate the water release mechanism. Hamsters typically drink less than half an ounce per day, so even the smallest bottles available are plenty big enough (water bowls should generally be avoided, as they become dirty very quickly).
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Hideout Selection. “Igloo” types are the most common (plastic may not be ideal for hamsters that chew a lot). Ceramic is great, because it’s chew-proof and is easy to clean (wooden hideouts cannot be cleaned; they must be thrown away if they become too soiled). In addition, the hideout should be filled with enough bedding or nesting material for the hamster to completely cover itself in.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Wheel Selection. Hamsters are very, very active animals so, having a wheel is not an option, it is a requirement (just as much as food and water). Wheels must be plastic or wooden with a flat running surface. Wire and mesh wheels are harmful and potentially dangerous. Syrian hamsters will often require a 10 inch or larger wheel (though 8.5 inch wheels are sometimes sufficient for smaller Syrians).
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Know their sleep schedule. Hamsters are nocturnal which means that they sleep in the day and are active in the night. If you wake them up too often they can become sick. If you get into a schedule of usually waking them up with food at a regular time after dark, they will get used to it.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

Handling Tips. Take your time and give your pet the same as well. Initially, let your new pet get used to his surroundings. Wait at least two or three days before attempting to handle. A hamster isn’t a toy and if he doesn’t want to be held, put him down. You can hold him once in a while and train him to be tame, which requires patience.
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Pet Hamster Starter Tips

General Care (every 1 to 2 days). The cage should be spot cleaned at least every other day. To do this, simply pick out any droppings and urine-soaked bedding. Many hamsters will use their hideouts and wheels as toilets, so it may be necessary to wipe or wash these areas while cleaning, as well. The water bottle should be checked every single day to make sure it is dispensing water and hasn’t stopped up. To check the bottle, simply tap on the ball in the spout to ensure that water is coming out. The bottle should be emptied, rinsed, and have fresh water added at least every other day. Feeding can be done daily or every other day. If you choose to feed every other day, make sure you are providing enough food for 2 full days.
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