Responsibility involves providing proper housing,
nutrition, grooming and veterinary care.
- Hamsters were first discovered in Syria, but
are native to many parts of the world. The name they go by today was taken
from the German word "hamstern," which means "hoard,"
because that is exactly what they do with extra food. Their looks and
activities can provoke many a smile.
- The types of hamsters commonly kept as pets are the
Siberian, Roborovsky's, Djungarian, Chinese and Syrian. Hamsters come in a
variety of colors - the Syrian, for example, is one of a number of
hamsters called "golden" because of the color of their fur - and
may be all one color or multi-colored.
- Hamsters are nocturnal animals who live about two or
three years. They are very frisky, and can easily escape from a cage that
isn't closed securely. Their eyesight isn't very good, so they sometimes
fall off tables when they are running around loose. Hamsters will bite if
they are not used to being handled or if they are mistreated.
- Children caring for hamsters should be supervised by
an adult. These animals are not toys and should be treated gently.
- Hamsters should be kept in a wire cage or a 10-gallon
aquarium that has a wire-mesh top. The enclosure should be placed away
from direct sunlight or drafts, and lined with an absorbent bedding or
some other form of litter. Timothy hay is a good choice. Be sure to change
the litter often enough to keep it dry and odor-free.
- Hamsters like to play, so give them an exercise wheel
to use and/or allow them to run explore outside of their cage for a
supervised period of time each day. Keep them in one room carefully
checked for any openings from which the hamsters can escape, get lost or
possibly meet with some harm. Hamsters also like to hide and sleep inside
enclosed spaces, so place a small box inside their cage. They love
crawling through tubes, which can be homemade or bought in pet supply
- Hamster food is available at many pet stores, but
hamsters can be given fresh grains, sunflower seeds, nuts, alfalfa
pellets, spinach, lettuce and apples as well. Be sure to clean up any
leftover fresh food before it spoils. It is best to use an inverted bottle
with a drinking tube to provide water, which should be changed daily.
- Hamsters like to carry food in pouches in their
mouths and then store it in the corners of their cage. When cleaning the
cage, always be sure to check the corners for any stale food.
- Hamsters' teeth grow continuously, just like those of
all other rodents. So, it is important that they be given a piece of wood
that they can gnaw on and wear their teeth down. It's best to provide an
unpainted twig that has not been treated with pesticides or any other
- Djungarians and Siberians like to live in pairs, and
Chinese hamsters also enjoy company. However, if two or more Syrians are
kept together, fighting will probably break out. Since hamsters are
multiply rapidly, keeping males and females together is not recommended.
- Hamsters generally live healthy lives, but can catch
colds from people. A hamster who is ill should be seen by a veterinarian.