Hamsters are the most common introductory pet in the United States. These curious critters are a relative of mice and gerbils. They are low maintenance and provide an endless source of entertainment to owners. Creating themed habitats is part of the fun of these pets. With proper training and care, they can bring years of love and enjoyment to their owner.
There are 16 known breeds of hamsters, but only 4 are commonly sold as pets. These 4 breeds come with differences in size, appearance, and demeanor:
Like all rodents, hamsters have a pair of upper and a pair of lower teeth that never stop growing. Your pet needs to have chewing blocks and toys they can use to grind their teeth down and prevent overgrowth. Toys as simple as wooden blocks and toilet paper rolls will help with the maintenance of your hamster's teeth.
Hamsters are quite the tidy little fellows. They keep themselves very clean and odorless. They even designate a corner of their enclosure as a bathroom to keep their droppings in one spot. Ensure your hamster habitat has plenty of room and shavings so they can keep a clean house and stash all their treats. abalcazar / Getty Images
Hamsters are prone to anxiety, so building up a routine with your hamster is very healthy. Be sure to clean the cage on the same days every week and fill their food at regular times. Giving your hamster a sense of routine gives them comfort.
You can train your hamster to be very interactive and sociable. Start when the hamster is young by placing a treat in your palm and encouraging the hamster to climb up to get it. Repeat this frequently until they get used to standing in your hand. As they grow, they'll come to enjoy playing with you and being held.
A proper hamster habitat is crucial to their health and happiness. A large cage, bedding and nesting materials, running wheel, food bowl, water bottle, hideout structure, and toys are all crucial elements of a good hamster home. If your cage has a ledge or elevation, be sure that the ramp or ladder is sturdy and safe for their little paws to climb on. Bartolome Ozonas / Getty Images
There are some common health issues you need to watch out for in your hamster. Like most rodents, they are especially prone to respiratory illnesses, abscesses, digestive illnesses, and skin diseases.
Keep an eye out for signs that your hamster is ill. Some symptoms are loss of appetite, watery eyes, dirty coat, hair loss, or excessive itchiness.
Hamsters have a relatively short lifespan compared to other common pets. Each of the 4 breeds of hamsters has a slightly different lifespan, but a hamster will live between 2 and 3.5 years on average. It's not uncommon for a hamster to live up to four years, if given proper care.
A common trait among rodents is intelligence, and hamsters are no exception. Your hamster is a curious and creative critter. This makes them very clever escape artists if they get bored, so keep them entertained! Give them plenty of new and interesting things to explore, such as toys with strange smells and hideout buildings.
Your hamster is a natural hoarder, and their bodies are equipped for it. They have special pouches in their cheeks that expand to hold food. Hamsters like to carry their food to hiding places for late-night snacks. If you notice your hamster stuffing their cheeks and stashing food, don't be alarmed — it's a natural instinct.
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