Most children at some point or another, have a furry little hamster as a pet. Whether at home or in the classroom, hamsters make an excellent educational pet that can teach children a lot about caring for something smaller than themselves. However, despite the fact that most people have had a hamster at some stage of their lives, many don’t know how to take care of a hamster, what to feed it and the other essential things they need to live a long and happy life.
This article will help you take better care of your hamster. A small animal care guide will be provided with tips on supplies, food, handling and information about vets that take hamsters in Dartmouth for regular check-ups or illness. Once you understand what hamsters need and don’t need, it becomes easy to provide everything your small, furry friend needs to survive.
What You Need
There are a lot of misconceptions about what a hamster needs. Everything from cages to substrate to food and other accessories, must be taken into consideration when you are learning how to take care of a hamster. The supplies you’ll need to set up a good home for your new pet makes up the first part of our small animal care guide.
- Habitat – Believe it or not, a cage with all those plastic tubes attached to it, is not the most ideal hamster habitat. Aquariums are much better than metal or plastic cages, because the bars on the floor of those cages can cause injury to your pet. Make sure to also purchase a top that is well-ventilated, but that has a lock so your little escape artist can’t get out.
- Substrate – The materials you use to line your hamsters cage are known as the substrate. Most people use the purchased shredded bedding to help keep their hamsters cage clean smelling and dry. You can use shredded paper or recycled paper bedding as well. Do not ever use shavings, such as the cedar that is sold in pet stores, as they can cause illness in your hamster.
- Food – See below for more details on the type of food you will want to get for your hamster. Hamster pellets are by far the best, most balanced food you can feed your pet.
- Bowl – The bowl you choose should be tip-proof to prevent spilling food in the tank.
- Water – A water bottle that attaches to the side of the aquarium is ideal.
- Toys – Hamsters need wooden chew toys that are designed specifically for use to keep their teeth from overgrowing. An exercise ball and a smooth-sided wheel will also be required for playtime and exercise.
Things to Avoid
Unfortunately, there are a lot of items that are marketed for hamsters that these small animals shouldn’t be given. While a lot of the thinking behind these things to avoid has changed over the years and new things have been added, a lot of people just continue to purchase the same things for hamsters today as they did when they were little kids, putting these small creatures at risk for health issues. Take a look at the list below to see just how many things we “got wrong” as pet owners over the years.
- Salt – Pet stores used to provide a “salt lick” for hamsters with new pet kits, but now veterinarians know that too much salt is bad for our furry friends. Watch out for hamster food or treats that are high in sodium as well.
- Sugar and Carbs – While your hamster may love to have a bite of your cookie, you are much better off giving him a hamster-specific treat instead. Foods that are high in sugars and other carbohydrates can be dangerous to hamsters.
- Leaves or Grass – If you take your hamster outdoors to play, make sure he isn’t eating leaves or grass from the yard. Not only will you find fertilizers and pesticides in most lawns these days, but these items can be dangerous to your pet in other ways.
- Dried Fruit – While many hamster formulas today come with added dried fruit, make sure your pet isn’t getting too much in his diet. Too much dried fruit can actually lead to intestinal issues in hamsters.
- Yogurt Drops – Many hamster treats aren’t actually safe, but in particular yogurt drops. While hamsters love them, they are not good for their sensitive systems and can lead to illness or death. Speak with your veterinarian who specializes in small pet care in Dartmouth for ideas on healthy treat options for your pet.
- Poisons – Many houseplants, soil, nicotine and vitamins can be poisonous to hamsters. Even if the vitamin additive, which is usually mixed with drinking water, says it is specially formulated for hamsters, check with your vet first or avoid it completely.
Small Pet Care in Dartmouth
Each day you need to provide your hamster with a pellet diet and fresh water. Scoop up any bedding that has been soiled and supplement your pet’s diet with carrots, spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens. Most hamsters are nocturnal, so feeding them at night is your best bet for providing fresh food. Hamsters must eat every day to avoid becoming hypoglycemic, due to their extremely high metabolisms.
Temperature is extremely important to the overall health of your hamster. Usually, temperatures that are comfortable for humans are good for hamsters. Don’t let it get too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. If you don’t have air conditioning, use fans to keep the air moving and consider getting a temperature controlled tank for your pet.
The habitat and all of your hamsters plastic toys, wheels and exercise balls should be cleaned once a week with soapy, hot water to prevent illness. An annual check-up with the local veterinarian is suggested. You might be surprised to find out that there are vets that take hamsters in Dartmouth, such as Anchor Animal Hospital. At your visit, the vet can trim your hamsters nails, examine them for any illnesses, check weight and overall health.