Before you even adopt a hamster as a pet, you will want to think about the type of habitat or home that you will get for him. Keeping small rodents as pets often involves finding an enclosure that will not just meet the unique needs of the animal, but that will also provide a safe and secure living space. Hamsters have a reputation for being able to “break out” of enclosures, so it is important to first find something that can’t be easily opened. You will also want to think about how much you have to invest into the enclosure, as well as ongoing maintenance and size, to ensure that the habitat will last your hamster for many years.
Visiting a South Coast Veterinarian
If you are new to caring for small rodents as pets, consider making a visit to your trusted veterinary clinic in Dartmouth for some advice. Syrian hamsters are the most common variety sold at pet stores across the United States, but in spite of the advice that you will often get from these establishments or the example that you see when you pick out your new furry friend, they should never be housed together. These creatures are very solitary and territorial. They are missing out on nothing by being alone. In fact, if you put them together they can hurt each other very badly.
Just like cats and dogs, small rodents require regular veterinary care. It is important to find a South Coast veterinarian that will perform exams and services on small rodents. Even better, it pays to find a clinic that specializes in pocket pets, like Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. You want the veterinarian to have experience working with small animals, as they have different needs and requirements than larger domesticated pets.
Primary Needs for Hamster Habitats
When it comes to finding a good enclosure for your hamster, make sure to find an option that will give them room to burrow, nest, and spread out a little. Remember that the hamster will spend a majority of his lifetime inside this cage, so the bigger the space, the better. The different types of cages used for hamsters and other small rodents kept as pets include: aquariums, wire cages, plastic modular cages and hybrids that include elements of wire, plastic and aquarium enclosures. Think about where you will keep it, how you will clean it, and what – if any – modifications you will need to make to meet the needs of your hamster.
- WIRE CAGES – This is a popular option that is seen often at pet stores. However, it is important to know which type of wire cages are best for keeping small rodents as pets. Your South Coast veterinarian can help you choose a wire cage based on the species of hamster that you have. For all hamsters, tall cages are a bad choice, as they can get seriously hurt if they fall from a tall platform or stairway. Bars need to be a half-inch or less to prevent an escape and solid flooring, ramps, and platforms must be used to provide a more comfortable surface for your little friend.
- GLASS AQUARIUMS – Another common habitat enclosure for hamsters is the glass aquarium, which is usually topped with a metal mesh cover that features a lock. Rodents are excellent at escaping and you don’t want to take the chance of your little guy getting lost somewhere in the house. While you won’t find aquariums that are designed specifically for hamsters, most 10-20 gallon tanks will work just fine. It is important to note that cleaning the aquarium is vital to the health and welfare of your hamster. Because there is no ventilation, as is available with a wire cage enclosure, odors from the ammonia that come from the hamster’s urine can become strong and dangerous to your new pet. Speak with a local veterinary clinic in Dartmouth if you aren’t sure about proper care and cleaning for your new hamster.
- PLASTIC ENCLOSURES – Marketed widely as “hamster habitats,” these tunnel-based enclosures are popular with children. Bright colors, unlimited options for set-up and expansion, this may seem like the best option for keeping small rodents as pets. However, many hamster experts are now recommending that new pet owners stay away from these solutions, particularly because they lack ventilation, are difficult to keep clean and can be easier for hamsters to escape from than aquariums or wire cages.
- HYBRID SOLUTIONS – You might want to consider a hybrid solution for your hamster that provides the best options from the above enclosure choices. A glass aquarium, which features a plastic tube expansion that leads to a wire cage is not out of the question, as long as you are able to ensure that everything is tight-fitting and safe for your little furry friend.
Other Things to Consider
In addition to the style or type of enclosure, you will also need to think about bedding, any hamster “furniture” that you want to include, and the location of the cage within your home. Make sure that you find a spot that will keep your new hamster in the temperature range of 65-75 degrees. These are ideal conditions for the health and welfare of your new pet. South Coast veterinarians will also usually recommend that you keep them away from heat sources, such as direct sunlight through windows or close proximity to fireplaces or stoves. The location should be draft-free and in a safe area of your home, away from very small children and other pets.
Contact Anchor Animal Hospital
Schedule your new hamster for a veterinary check-up to get more summer and winter tips for small pets, as well as all of the information and support, needed to successfully care for small rodents as pets in Southeastern Massachusetts. To contact our veterinary clinic in Dartmouth, give us a call at 508-996-3731.