Tips for a first time hamster owner?

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Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MouseLover on Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:31 am

I know this is pretty off topic for a mouse forum, but I'm sure a few of you must have had hamsters before, and I trust you guys Very Happy

Well, if everything goes to plan, I should be getting a dwarf hamster this weekend Very Happy He's a winter white, russian dwarf hamster. He's 7 weeks old tomorrow. I've never had a hamster before, and I just love my little rodents, so I'm really excited!

If anyone here has had hamsters before, do you have any tips for me? I'm so excited Dance

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by EverythingAnimal on Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:17 pm

The only thing I want to mention from my first ever hamster when I was very young is, well, don't feed it pretzels. Yeah that hamster didn't last long and my parents knew even less than 5 year old me did.

They can be a lot nippier than mice from the start, so go slow with the taming! Other than that congrats and I wish you luck!

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by GabbiLuvsMice on Tue Jun 07, 2016 4:26 pm

I would recommend the YT channel ErinsAnimals. I watch her vids even though I don't have a hamster. She gives really good, simple advice and has a winter white I think.
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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MesaMouse on Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:32 pm

ScaredyMouse is the Queen of Hamsters on this forum so wait for her reply. Check out the "Splotchy" posts in the Members' Lounge to meet two of her current hams!

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by goldfishfanforever on Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:52 pm

Okay so I believe in the UK the recommended minimum is an 80x50cm cage however on the forum hamsterhideout they recommend 450 square inches as a minimum. If you go on Argos and look up 189 litre box that is a great size for a bin cage for a hamster and is around 900 square inches. Winter whites are prone to diabetes so no feeding store bought treats but fresh veg and mealworms are okay. I would use burgess dwarf hamster harvest with supreme science hamster selective as they are both good foods.
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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by scaredymouse on Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:23 am

Tis I, Queen of Hamsters. Dwarf hammies are my favorite. But I've also got a couple Syrians and Robos. I'm not sure of your measurements over there, but the minimum tanks size for hams is 20 gallons. But they are happy to have more space, preferably 40 gallon. Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes, so be careful of store bought treats, they often have a lot of sugar in them. They need between 17%-22% protein, so if you find a good food that is a little low on protein, you will need to add a good high protein lab block.

Here's a link that thoroughly discusses diet and food options:
http://hamsterhideout.com/forum/topic/102520-hamster-nutrition-iv-commercial-hamster-food-list/

Dwarf hams *love* sandbaths. I always leave a little sandbath in the tank with them. I saw it was mentioned already, but they do bite. And they aren't shy about it. And not just when they are scared but also if you wake them up or peach them off. I love their little personalities! They can be really grouchy, it's adorable. Anyway, if you happen to get a chomper, you can easily break the habit. They love fresh foods a few times a week. My hams have all enjoyed time in the roller ball but even more than that, they appreciate free-range run around time. I have a secure room they can run around and also have a playground set up. They are big chewers. So if you do let them run around, you'll need to keep all cords/wires/dangerous stuff out of reach because they like to explore the world with their teeth (more so than mice). They enjoy the same sorts of treats as mice: nuts, mealworms, flaxseeds, cheerios, oats, millet sprays, etc.

Feel free to ask any questions here in the member's lounge. I love my hams and I love talking about them Smile



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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MouseLover on Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:18 am

Cheers guys, great info Smile I have heard dwarfs are very bitey! The little guy I'm getting has been handled from very young, and is bred from show winning lines, so hopefully he'll be a little less bitey than your average dwarf! Laughing

I have a tank/cage thing that is 71cm x 46cm (roughly 28 by 18 inches). That's about 506 square inches. By comparison a 20L gallon tank is 360 square inches. I'll see how he gets on with that, but if he seems bored I'll think about upgrading him.

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MouseLover on Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:11 pm

Sorry for the double post - I have some questions for the hamster queen Wink

Scaredymouse - do you make MES's for your hamster cages? if so, generally speaking, are the usual mouse-safe materials safe for hams?

Is there any difference between the types of toys they tend to like? I've noticed hamsters seem much more clumsy than mice (lol) so perhaps less high/climby toys?

Do you find they get stressed more easily than mice, or about the same? I have seen a lot of mention about stress in relation to hamsters so it had me wondering whether this was a bigger concern for them.

Also (potentially stupid question sorry), is there anything I need to be aware of regarding their pouches, as obviously mice don't have them Laughing

EDIT: Obviously anyone else who has had hamsters is welcome to answer!

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by goldfishfanforever on Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:08 pm

Hamsters aren't natural climbers so try not to have toys that are super high and I have seen some people use MES's but I have never used them before with any of my hamsters and my hamsters don't usually get stressed out too much unless I spook them by moving too quickly. There shouldn't be a problem with hamster pouches but sometimes they may get damaged just like any other part of the body so if that happens seek veterinary treatment.
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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by Bandit Cat on Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:15 pm

Don't feed sticky treats, as if the hamster puts it in their cheeck pouches, it could get stuck.

Good luck on your new hamster! Very Happy

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by scaredymouse on Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:17 pm

506 sq inches should be perfect for a dwarf hammie, if you were getting a Syrian, I might suggest bigger.  I don't make MES's for the hams because they are definitely clumsier.  But I do make shelves and ramps.  Here are a couple of different set ups of my dwarf tanks. For the ramps, I use cardboard covered in fleece.



my robos are in a split tank, but they also have a shelf and love wheels so much they have two each.



my hams love to run... so more than actual toys, they really appreciate more wheels. for dwarf hams, they like chew toys, wheels, sand baths, and free range time. They love whimzees which is a dog chew treat but hamster safe. As far as getting spooked, it depends on the hamster. I find though that my dwarfs are braver than my bigger Syrians, but it depends on the ham. Dwarfs handle stress pretty well. Syrians however, if they get really stressed out when you first get them, they are prone to getting wet tail due to the stress of a new environment.

Pouches- be careful with sticky foods like peanut butter and sharp/scratchy foods. For instance, all my critters love uncooked spaghetti noodles. I put a long uncooked noodle in with my ham and dear god, she tried to put it in her pouch. I watched her shove that sharp noodle deep in there. I cringed the whole time until she figured out that it wasn't going to work. Safe woods/fabrics are the same as mice.

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MouseLover on Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:38 am

Thanks for the info guys, great stuff Smile love your set-ups scaredymouse, so cute!

I'll post a picture when I get him Very Happy

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by despereaux on Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:12 pm

All my hamsters have been super into burrowing and building nests. I give my dwarf probably twice as much bedding as I give to my mice. I've noticed she likes the "sturdier" paper brands more because it's easier to build tunnels and such with. Another thing you can do is bury tubes under the bedding that go from one hide to the next, my hamster goes nuts for that! Good luck with your new hamster, they are awesome pets! Smile

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Re: Tips for a first time hamster owner?

Post by MouseLover on Fri Jun 10, 2016 5:27 pm

Thanks despereaux! I was actually thinking about burying some tubes! Very Happy
I use barred cages for my mice because they love to climb, but I have specifically bought a plastic tank type cage for the hamster so I can give it a really thick layer of bedding for burrowing Very Happy

I also bought this cool "labyrinth" house cuz it looked like something a hamster would love (if I put my hamster hat on and think like a hamster!)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000OLZIWU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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