Some simple steps to help keep your hamster as healthy as possible.
It can be very upsetting if your pet hamster becomes ill, but Fortunately, there is lots you can do to help keep you hamster happy and healthy.
Pet hamster care should include the following:
A daily health check:
Keep a close eye on your hamster’s general health and give them a quick check over every day. By getting to know your hamster’s normal behaviour and habits, you’ll quickly be able to spot if anything’s not right. This handling will also help you and your hamster gain trust in each other.
Visit your vet if you notice any of the following:
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Drinking much more or less than normal
- Lack of energy or sleeping more than usual
- Unusual swellings or lumps
- Skin conditions
- Unusual bleeding
- Signs of pain, such as sensitivity to touch
- Runny eyes or nose
- Overgrown teeth
- Changes in your hamster’s behaviour can also be a sign that they are not well.
Stopping your hamster getting bored:
Boredom can be a very big problem for small pets. If your hamster does not have enough to keep them occupied and active, they might eat too much to fill their time or become more aggressive than is normal. Boredom can also lead to them developing other health problems or issues with their behaviour.
You can keep your hamster active by giving them lots of suitable toys and activities:
- Give hamsters lots of things to climb on and explore in their cage as they are very active. Don’t forget hamsters can travel for miles at night in the wild.
- An exercise wheel is ideal, but make sure that it has no spaces between the rungs which could injure their legs.
- Cardboard rolls and boxes are great for hamsters to hide in and chew.
- A gnawing block helps them wear their teeth down.
- Make sure they have shavings or compost to burrow in. Hamsters really love to dig!
- Make feeding fun. Scatter some food around the cage and hide some in tubes, so they have an interesting treasure hunt.
Taking care of their teeth
You can help to keep your hamster’s teeth healthy by:
- Giving them plenty of things to gnaw on, like untreated softwood branches. You can find out more about suitable things for you hamster to chew in our hamster diet information below.
- Don’t feed them muesli-style food mixes. They tend to leave the healthier parts and eat the sugary parts instead. This can lead to painful dental disease.
- Avoid giving them too many sugary treats.
Your hamster’s diet
This is vets advice on making sure your hamster has a healthy and balanced diet.
The ideal diet for your hamster:
Hamster are ‘omnivores’ – this means wild hamsters would eat a mixture of plants and insects. The best diet for you hamster is one that’s similar to what they would eat in the wild to include fresh veg and protein packed treats like mealworms.
Hamsters love to hoard their food. They pack extra food into special cheek pouches and then store it around their cage for later.
Top tip: don’t feed your hamster a muesli-style food mix. They leave the parts that are high in fibre and eat the bits that are high in sugar. This can cause painful problems with their teeth and can also mean they put on weight.
The ideal hamster diet will include:
- Commercial hamster pellets (not a muesli-style mix). You can buy these in reputable pet shops or online.
- Small amounts of fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs (too much can cause problems with diarrhoea)
- Timothy hay. This is a special variety of hay that’s full of fibre and is ideal for small pets. You can buy it in pet shops and online.
- Occasional treats, like nuts, boiled egg or mealworms.
- You hamster will also need constant access to clean, fresh water. It should be in a water bottle with a metal spout.
Make feeding fun!
Hamsters in the wild will spend a lot of time searching for food. Making them work for their meal is a great way to keep them occupied and stop them from getting bored.
You can try things like:
Scattering some of their food pellets around their cage instead of feeding them from a bowl. This is a really good idea if you have one hamster that is very protective of the food bowl and won’t let other hamsters have their fair share of the meal.
Hiding hay, food pellets or fresh greens inside paper bags or cardboard tubes or boxes. Your hamster will enjoy searching for their food and can also gnaw on the packaging you hide it in.
Healthy fruit, veg and herbs.
These fruits, vegetables and herbs are all suitable for your hamster. Make sure you give them a good wash before you feed them to your hamster and only feed a small amount each day.
Don’t feed citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons or grapefruits, to your hamster.
Things to chew and gnaw:
Hamsters love to chew and gnaw on things. It’s a natural behaviour that helps keep their teeth healthy and stops them getting overgrown. It also gives your hamster something to do and helps to stop them getting bored.
Hamster love to shred and chew things like:
They can gnaw on untreated softwood. Before you give them any softwood branches to chew, bake them on a low heat for an hour and give them a good wash to make sure they’re safe for your hamster. Good woods to use are:
Elm & Red Elm
Grape & Grapevine
Willow (goat, weeping, or pussy willow)
For our guide on choosing a pet hamster cage, please click here.
We hope you have found the above information useful. Please feel free to comment below with any feedback or if you would like any further information.