Hamsters

Having rodents in the home may not sound like a lot of fun to most people, but for those who keep them as pets, they bring an element of entertainment without a lot of work. Domesticated rodents, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats and guinea pigs are all enjoyable and require little maintenance.

A good domesticated pet is an animal that can withstand the rigors of being bred - raised in captivity through several generations without noticeable declining or deteriorating in health or appearance. Hamsters have flourished and breeders have established strong stocks of hamsters in a variety of color and fur type.

Their gentleness, attractiveness, ease of care, and their amusing ways make them desirable pets. Since hamsters are small, they are inexpensive to feed and maintain. They can live quite comfortably in relatively small quarters, so a large cash layout is not needed.

Pet shops sell various good, inexpensive cages;  fish tanks are not recommended because they do not provide enough  ventilation. Larger pet stores will provide you with “handrails”, with connecting tubes, ladders, wheels - even sky domes to keep your pet happy. While wooden cages are often cheaper (and look good) - avoid them. The wood will soak up urine and remain damp, thus becoming a breeding ground for disease carrying bacteria... not to mention urine soaked wood smells BAD! Furthermore, like all rodents they like to gnaw and it would not take long for your hamster to chew through a wooden cage.

A “food hopper” or feeding chute opening makes feeding easy and prevents the hamster from piling building material over the food. A water dish inside the cage should be avoided because hamsters will seemingly deliberately fill it with litter and waste. A conventional water bottle containing a cork or rubber stopper with a metal plastic drinking tube inserted in it is best. The bottle is hung upside down from the cage by means of a clip.

Hamsters fit snugly into the palm of your hand, have no odor and are known for their cleanliness. Like ferrets they will usually choose one corner for bedding and another for “a Toilet” - making cleaning up after them easy.

They are practically mute, so they can’t utter any annoying noises. They are quite the little clowns, loving to perform for any audience. They relish being hand fed, played with, and just generally loved.

Their amusing hoarding instincts are fun to observe. They will cram food into their cheek pouches, then scurry off to a secret corner where they then dislodge the hoarded food and leisurely eat it as a later date. A wise owner will not disturb these “treasures”, unless they like having their fingers nipped. Bites are usually small and quick and the shock hurts more than the wound.

Hamsters are docile creatures and easily tamed. Allow your pet  a few days to get used to you and his new surroundings before handling.

The golden rule for housing hamsters is one hamster, one cage. A few young specimens can live together in peace if given ample space. Males generally get along better.

The hard part is choosing the right hamster for you. They come in various colors and sizes, to the newly introduced “dwarf” hamster - who from head to no tail is no bigger than your little finger.

As with any pet, proper feeding is crucial, and the hamster is no exception. Packaged mixtures designed specifically for you pet is a sure way to a ensure a well balanced diet. However, they also like treats such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains. Soft foods should be fed carefully, because green vegetables and fruits do no lend themselves to “pouch packing”.

Hamsters make a great pet for children and adults. They are easy to care for, and unlike a goldfish, they CAN be held and petted!