Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

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Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by MesaMouse on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 3:47 pm

I've been mouseless for 3 weeks now and am desperately missing rodents! For easier care (for my arthritic self), I've pretty much settled on getting a female Syrian hamster -- and it's probably all Splotchy's fault, scaredymouse!! As I already have a 20L with a heavy hinged mesh lid, wheels, bowls, hides, a coconut, fleece hammocks, TP and wood tubes, wood chew blocks/sticks and a bit of Clean and Cozy, all I'll need to welcome the newbie will be a water bottle and holder, food and more bedding.

Here's what I'd like to know: (1) do Syrian hams like roller balls and, if so, what size is suitable? (2) do they like sand baths? (3) Mazuri lab blocks seem to be well-regarded as a protein supplement for a standard food like Higgins Sunburst Gourmet but Mazuri doesn't seem to make a Hamster-Gerbil formula -- is the Rat and Mouse formula OK? and (4) how in the world does one of those metal water bottle guards attach to a tank as they seem designed specifically for cages?

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by AnonONIagent on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 4:08 pm

I've never owned a Syrian, but I've pet sat a couple. I don't remember what they were being fed, so I can't help you with food, but every Syrian ham I've cared for seemed to love their exercise balls, and at least one of them seemed to enjoy sand baths. My dwarf ham Lola also loves sand baths. I do know that for hamsters, you want to use sand specifically, not dust (as in chinchilla dust), as the dust is bad for their respiratory system.

As for bottles, I just duct tape a paper clip to the back of the bottle, and I hang it from either a suction cup or a makeshift hook hung from the cage lid.

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by CallaLily on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 6:11 pm

This kind of metal water bottle guard?

If so, there's a bit of metal on the back that swivels around and then can be bent over the top of a tank.

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by MesaMouse on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 7:16 pm

@CallaLily wrote:This kind of metal water bottle guard?

If so, there's a bit of metal on the back that swivels around and then can be bent over the top of a tank.

Ah! Thanks for the clarification. Pictures never show the back and just say that it fits between the bars of a cage. I feel better about going ahead and ordering it now.

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by MesaMouse on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 7:22 pm

@AnonONIagent wrote:I've never owned a Syrian, but I've pet sat a couple. I don't remember what they were being fed, so I can't help you with food, but every Syrian ham I've cared for seemed to love their exercise balls, and at least one of them seemed to enjoy sand baths. My dwarf ham Lola also loves sand baths. I do know that for hamsters, you want to use sand specifically, not dust (as in chinchilla dust), as the dust is bad for their respiratory system.

As for bottles, I just duct tape a paper clip to the back of the bottle, and I hang it from either a suction cup or a makeshift hook hung from the cage lid.

Thank you for your input, especially re the exercise balls and attaching the water bottle guard. CallaLily posted a photo of the flange on the back of the bottle guard so I can now see how that would "officially" work but I was initially inclined to cobble together paper clips and picture wire to create what I need -- the MacGyver of mouse tanks Laughing !

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by AnonONIagent on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 10:48 pm

Oh, as for what size ball to use, I'd use whatever is small enough that they can move it easily and whatever's large enough that they don't hurt their backs.

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My current mice: Sally (PEW), Sarah (PEW), and Selina (Broken Black)

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by CinnamonPearl on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 11:24 am

It makes me happy to see you're getting back in the rodent hobby, Mesa! ^.^

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by scaredymouse on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 2:03 pm

@MesaMouse wrote:Here's what I'd like to know: (1) do Syrian hams like roller balls and, if so, what size is suitable? (2) do they like sand baths? (3) Mazuri lab blocks seem to be well-regarded as a protein supplement for a standard food like Higgins Sunburst Gourmet but Mazuri doesn't seem to make a Hamster-Gerbil formula -- is the Rat and Mouse formula OK? and (4) how in the world does one of those metal water bottle guards attach to a tank as they seem designed specifically for cages?


Most Syrians like roller balls, of course you know, never force any animal into a ball if they don't want to go.  I use the 8" ball.  It's a touch on the small size for some hams but perfectly adequate for a little roll around on occasion.  But what they love more than that is free range time!  if there is any ways you can ham-proof a room and let them run around, they love it.  Keep in mind they don't poop and pee everywhere like mice do, so it's a much different experience to let a hamster run around your room for 1/2 hour.

Yes, Mazuri blocks are perfect and you are supposed to use the rat/mouse ones.  And Higgins Sunburst is an excellent base food.  Then hams eat basically all the fresh stuff that mice do and treats like gerber puffs, cheerios, nuts, etc.


Lol, the water bottle.  yep, just slide the metal to point upward and then bend it over the side.  

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by MesaMouse on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 5:11 pm

@scaredymouse wrote:Most Syrians like roller balls, of course you know, never force any animal into a ball if they don't want to go.  I use the 8" ball.  It's a touch on the small size for some hams but perfectly adequate for a little roll around on occasion.  But what they love more than that is free range time!  if there is any ways you can ham-proof a room and let them run around, they love it.  Keep in mind they don't poop and pee everywhere like mice do, so it's a much different experience to let a hamster run around your room for 1/2 hour.

Yes, Mazuri blocks are perfect and you are supposed to use the rat/mouse ones.  And Higgins Sunburst is an excellent base food.  Then hams eat basically all the fresh stuff that mice do and treats like gerber puffs, cheerios, nuts, etc.


Lol, the water bottle.  yep, just slide the metal to point upward and then bend it over the side.

I knew you'd chime in, scaredymouse! Thank you for giving the OK to the Mazuri lab blocks, Higgins Sunburst and roller ball (and the graphic illustration of how to mount the metal bottle guard to the tank!). I've just placed an order with Petco for the two foods, water bottle, bottle guard, wooden ladder-bridge and two large bags of Clean and Cozy (hit the $49 Free Shipping - yay! Bliss). The roller ball I'd like to check out in person; there's no hurry on that as there's no beastie yet but I certainly want to get the tank fully outfitted in case I find a lovely lady right off. Figure I'll start looking in the nearby PetSmart this weekend as they carry female rodents that always look in far better condition than the ones at the closer Petco.

As to hamster-proofing the room she'll be in, that's just not physically possible for me to do. I'm looking into getting a larger (lower and longer) Sterilite bin than the deep one the mice used as a playpen: it can sit atop the wire shelving unit across the room from the tank table and can be used as a playpen/change of venue along with the roller ball.

Again, thanks to all and hopefully I'll be introducing you to a sweet (fingers crossed) Syrian ham soon.

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by EverythingAnimal on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 5:35 pm

My family had a Syrian a really long time ago. It didn't end well, I was around 5 or 6 and my parents hadn't even bothered to google "hamster" before rushing to petland. If I had learned anything from that experience though, it would be not to feed it pretzel sticks. Yeah, that poor hamster didn't last a month. Looking back at it now that I know how to care for them, wow, we were terrible hamster owners.

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by scaredymouse on Wed 05 Oct 2016, 11:25 pm

You can always look for a rescue ham! Sometimes they have beautiful young sweet hammies that need homes. Also, FYI, females smell more than males. I'm not sure if Splotchy is super, er, frisky.... but she gets pretty funky sometimes. I mean, who cares, but I thought I would mention it. It doesn't stink up a room or anything but if you go to give a kiss, you stop immediately and go "icky"!

I'm getting some hammies delivered on Friday. I was going to get a baby from an accidental litter at a rescue. Well, then I was like, aw I'm gonna take momma too. Then the rescue asked if I wanted a third ham. There were two females from the litter... so now I'm taking the momma and her two baby cubs. They can all live together. They better not fight!

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by MesaMouse on Wed 05 Oct 2016, 11:59 pm

@scaredymouse wrote:You can always look for a rescue ham!  Sometimes they have beautiful young sweet hammies that need homes.

I've been checking the listings at local shelters with no luck. There was a Phoenix area hamster rescue, primarily dealing with dwarf hammies, but they closed earlier this year. Craigslist had three listings for Syrian hams: I emailed the person with a golden female Syrian that "had to move asap" because the daughter wasn't taking care of it but never heard a word. Another craigslist posting wanted $30 for a female Syrian 2 or 3 months removed from PetSmart -- it may sound heartless but I really didn't want to pay twice as much as PetSmart's selling price. The third posting was kind of "iffy": an odd angle distant pic of an all-white alleged Syrian that looked more like a rat to me.

On the upside, my Petco order shipped today so I should be able to finish setting up the sparkling clean 20L by the early weekend and then hit PetSmart to see who is available. Not that I'm over-eager but if I find a lovely girl this weekend, it would be my birthday present to myself!

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Re: Some Questions for Syrian Hamster Owners

Post by scaredymouse on Thu 06 Oct 2016, 12:17 am

If you wanted to go through the trouble... I'm sure the craigslist ad for $30.00 is a deterrent to anyone who wants a hamster for anything nefarious. I would be willing to bet if you messaged her and said that you were planning on getting a hamster this weekend but thought you would rather adopt but will only pay the Petco price. You know, tell her you know the price is a deterrent and fair enough but you have already spent enough money on a 20g tank and all the fancy stuff a ham could want. Most likely an honest conversation would get that hamster.

Or just get one at Petco. The all need homes and they all came from the same place. I wouldn't spend $30.00 for a hamster either but I would probably try to talk them down on the price. The price just means that they actually care about their hamster which is nice Smile

I can't wait to see what you bring home!




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Gentleman mice:  Lil Smokey, Magnus, Norman, Alexander
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Other pets: Little Buddy, Kevin (cats) Sherberta, Dustin, Lidiya, Chip, Squiggy, Nina, Harold, Spike, Mia, Mim, Henrietta(hamsters), Chloe and Zoey (chinchillas), Herman/Figaro Whooopers/Burlington (guinea pigs)
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