housing your hamster

* Hamsters can be housed in a wire cage with a plastic base, a plastic hamster home or an adapted aquarium (vivarium) with a well-ventilated cover. Wooden cages should not be used as hamsters can chew their way out. The most important thing to remember is that a hamster home can never be too big - they love to explore and exercise.

* Multi - level cages are a good idea as they add interest to the hamster's environment - but be careful with plastic tubes as the larger Syrian hamsters may get stuck. Provide soft bedding under the hole or a little ladder. The hamster home must always have a place for your hamster to rest and hide, and another area for play, exercise and feeding.

* Hamsters must always be kept indoors and careful thought should be given to where your hamster's home is situated. The temperature in the room should always be constant, away from direct sunlight and draughts and away from constant noise (such as a freezer). Because they have sensitive hearing, they should never be placed near a television, CD player Hi-fi etc.

* Choose a cleaner that eliminates odours, germs and bacteria. There are cleaners from petshops that are specific for hamster cages. Clean the cage regularly or as soon as there is any odour.

* Use bedding that is absorbent but be careful of synthetic bedding as this could harm your hamster if he ate it and might block his cheek pouches, food pipe or gut. Use a natural bedding such as good quality barley straw which is treated with a cleaning agent and is dust - free.

* Before attempting handling, make sure that your hamster is fully awake and alert. Try not to wake your hamster suddenly if he is asleep.

Always approach him slowly and gently. Place a closed fist in front of your pet and allow him to approach and sniff you.

pet hamster advice at Lomond Hills Veterinary Clinic

hamster

Hamsters are the most popular of the small pets. They are very clever and adventurous little animals and deserve consideration, care and commitment from their owner.

Feeding your hamster

The bulk of their diet is cereals and other hard foods which are chewed and digested slowly. This slow eating would make them easy targets in the wild, so they would normally bring their food back to their burrow to eat it in the safety of their own home. This also allows them to hoard spare food, in case it becomes difficult to find food at a later date.

This variety of ingredients encourages foraging - a natural behaviour in hamsters. Hamsters need feeding everyday. As they are nocturnal, an evening meal is better for them. They will normally wake at feeding time and will be happy to play with you once they have been fed. A good quality heavy, earthenware food bowl is essential to keep the food dry and clean. Plastic should be avoided as hamsters will chew it. Their bowls must be cleaned after every use.

Treats that you buy or small pieces of apple, carrot or maize (that hamsters love) can be hidden around the cage to encourage your hamster to forage. Ensure there is fresh water available at all times.

Hamsters rely on smells rather than sound and therefore smell is important so they can detect what is approaching. If your hamster is confident and appears interested, slowly unclench your fist and offer your palm. He may well crawl onto your hand or you can gently scoop him up. Cup him in the palms of your two hands to ensure that he is safe and won't be dropped. Lift him up slowly. To ensure he is safe at all times, you should hold him over your lap or close to your chest.

Never scruff a hamster to pick him up as this can put immense pressure on the head region possibly resulting in the eyeball popping out.

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