Hamsters are a variety of rodents that are quite close to the mouse or rat family. However, unlike a mouse or a rat, these rodents are a bit chubbier and have a denser coat of fur, making them extremely lovable and cute pets. Relatively new to the world of pets, Hamsters have only been around for a couple of centuries, at least in terms of us knowing of their existence. It wasn't until 1839 that these hamsters were discovered but it took another 100 years before we finally figured out how to breed them in captivity.
Hamsters are quite shy creatures and prefer staying out of the Sun, digging into the ground. They have a mouse-like face, with similar short and wide ears, but with a snout that's blunter than that of a rat. Their legs are extremely short while the bodies are quite stout. The kind of coat and the colour of the fur varies depending on the species, but you get all kinds out there and every little furry friend will catch your eye immediately.
Hamsters as Pets
If you have made up your mind on getting a hamster, try adopting one from a rescue group rather than buying one from a home. Hamsters aren't like dogs or cats, so they don't develop that loyal bond with owners even though they develop a preference for some people over time. Whether you adopt one or buy one from a pet store, you will have plenty of variety to choose from, mostly based on the colour. As pets, hamsters re quite easy to maintain and rarely demand too much time or attention, making them ideal for young children!
The home you build or buy for a hamster needs to have a lot of ventilation but make sure that it isn't a wire-bottom cage. These are tiny animals and their feet may get stuck between the wires, causing injury or severe discomfort, and you don't want your little pet to suffer. However, you can have cage walls that are made of wire because they are excellent for ventilation. However, make sure that your hamsters aren't small enough to escape through the wire, especially if you have the dwarf variety.
The other option for a hamster home is the plastic cage that you find in pet stores. These come with in various shapes and sizes, have a large viewing area and also have equipment inside for the hamster to get some exercise on. They have holes for ventilation, which might not really be enough, but the main problem with these cages is that when it comes to cleaning time, they can be a handful. Ideally, the cage should contain a sleeping place that's away from the light and covered in paper. Do not use wood shavings as they may have an adverse reaction on the rodent's skin.
Maintain a decent temperature inside and you should have a perfectly healthy hamster that's eating well and keeping you entertained with its antics inside its home.
Hamster Feeding Time
There are a couple of different perspectives when it comes to feeding your hamster. The first school of thought suggests that you feed your hamster completely natural food, similar to what it might get out there in the wild. However, the second school of thought suggests that you feed it commercially manufactured foods that have nutrients, which might be missing from the naturally available food. Instead, you will find that a slight combination of the two, with a lot more focus on natural foods.
Give them a nice variety of seeds, fruits, vegetables and leaves although things like fruits & vegetables need to be given extremely moderately. All uneaten or left-over fruits need to be cleaned out of the cage so that they don't start rotting inside. Along with this, you can include a bit of variety with store-bought hamster pellets that these creatures love. These pellets also come with some special vitamins and nutrients added to them, giving them a slight edge over the regular stuff you generally eat. The last thing you need to remember is that hamsters need a lot of fresh water all the time, so make sure there are adequate provisions.
Some General Tips
To keep a hamster in your home, you don't need to do anything special unless you have other animals in the house. Understanding your pet and its habits will help you take care of it. Learn about your hamster by spending time with it - this will not only help you understand things like grooming habits and general traits, it will also help them get accustomed to your smell and presence. That is always useful when you need to get them out and clean out their cage.
Hamsters love to stretch and yawn when they are feeling happy and comfortable in their surroundings so that should be a good indicator to you, about its mental state. If they start squeaking, on the other hand, it is a sign that they are irritated or agitated by something. This is generally when they are scared and when you get a new hamster into your cage, you might hear them squeaking quite a bit. A hamster grinding its teeth is an indication that it is irritated. Usually, before it bites, you are likely to hear this sound so leave it alone when you do.
Hamsters also bristle up and start hissing when they are extremely scared or angry. This is a sign for you to leave it alone and let it be. However, biting the bars of the cage is not about anger, it is about getting your attention. If it is biting the cage, then just try letting it run loose around your room for a bit. Make sure it doesn't escape and things should be just fine after that. If it bites your hand, its either because it can smell its food off of your hand or because its scared of you. Either way, it's time to let it go!
Owning a hamster is quite a simple thing and even young children can do that on their own. However, adult supervision and keep making timely checks to ensure that the little guy is doing well. A wonderful companion and an exciting little bundle of fun, if you need some joy in your life, then get yourself a hamster!