HAMSTERS

HamsterHello, hamster lovers, wherever you are!

 So, you are thinking about getting a Hamster.

ADVANTAGES

Easy to look after. Cheap to buy. Hardy creatures.

DISADVANTAGES

Short life cycle could be upsetting if you get too attached. Nocturnal so usually come out when the kids have gone to bed.

SYRIAN (Golden) HAMSTER

LIFE SPAN - A Syrian Hamster can live up to 3 years.

Syrian hamsters are solitary creatures and should be allowed to live alone.

RUSSIAN (Dwarf) HAMSTER

LIFE SPAN - A Russian Hamster can live up to 2 years. The average life span is 18 months

Russian hamsters will live quite happily with other Russian Hamsters but be careful about putting mixed sex hamsters together or you could be overrun with babies.

CARE

Since the Hamster is likely to spend the majority of its entire life in a caged environment it is particularly important to provide it with as large and interesting a home as possible. There should be ramps, ladders, galleries, tunnels, a wheel and any other wooden object that it could gnaw at to wear down its growing incisor teeth. Many pet shops now sell hamster 'cities' which are all interconnected by tubes. However, these can be a costly investment compared to the hamsters life span and just as much fun could be gained by creating your own hamster city.
 
EXERCISE

Recent research has shown that a Syrian Hamster will run as far as 8 km in a night on its exercise wheel. It is therefore important that there is a wheel in their cage. However, supervised runs around a safe room or 'play-pen' will always be appreciated.
 

FEEDING

Hamster eating

Pet shops sell hamster mix which can be supplemented with nuts, raisins, etc. It is amazing what these little chaps will eat. Their hamster mix should be supplemented with fruit, vegetables, nuts, boiled egg, cheese, flakes of cooked fish, small pieces of boiled ham, etc. The only food you should not tempt them with is chocolate (melts in pouch) and citric fruits. Have fun seeing what you can tempt your little pet with!

CLEANING

The cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned once a week. However, leave a bit of the food its stored in its bed. Daily duties include removing and replacing any uneaten fresh food, changing the drinking water, topping up their dried food and cleaning out their damp 'toilet' corner.
 

AILMENTS

WET TAIL

This is characterised by a pale discharge from the anus, although the initial symptoms are lack of condition and loss of appetite. Decline is rapid and only hamsters which receive prompt veterinary treatment have any hope of recovery. Because the disease spreads rapidly, the strictest hygiene with thorough disinfecting of the cage and burning of bedding is essential, especially if more than one hamster is kept, or if the case is to be re-used.

COLDS

If exposed to draughts, dwarf hamsters can catch colds which may turn into pneumonia. Always keep its cage in a draught proof place, not too close to any window or door. A hamster with a cold will be lethargic, perhaps huddling in a corner of its cage. It will have a rough, unkempt looking coat and its back will be hunched up. The nose and eyes will show a discharge and the hamster will breathe noisily. Place the cage into a warm spot, and give the hamster some lukewarm milk mixed with water and a bit of honey. If the hamster will not drink, you must feed it with a syringe or eye dropper. If there is no improvement with 2 days, see your vet.

DIARRHOEA

Symptoms are loose and watery droppings, usually caused by overfeeding with wet vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes, but can also be caused by stress. It is best treated by withdrawing the fruit and vegetables until its stomach settles, just feeding a dry mix and water.

CONSTIPATION

This is likely to be caused by a lack of green stuff and water, and should be quickly cured as the diet is adjusted.

POUCH ABSCESSES

As there is no saliva in the hair lined pouches to clean a wound, the smallest scratch from a sharp seed or thorn can quickly become infected. Symptoms are a swollen face, discharge from the eyes, and laboured breathing. Once the pouches become too sore to use, the hamster will not feed and decline can be rapid. Take it to a vet.

ABSCESSES and WOUNDS

These are usually the result of a wound inflicted by another hamster. Bath the wound with a mild antiseptic until the wound heals, and abscess breaks and all the pus is cleaned away.

TUMOURS

These sometimes occur and show as a swelling or lump anywhere in the body. It is virtually impossible to remove a tumour successfully from such a small animal so it is best to leave it alone. If the tumour appears to cause the hamster pain, or grows so large that the hamster finds it difficult to move, it is kinder to let your vet put the hamster to sleep.

OVERGROWN CLAWS

This sometimes occurs as the hamster reaches an advanced age. Carefully trim the claws with a pair of nail clippers suitable for babies, cutting just above the quick. If unsure, seek a vets help.

LINKS:

Hamster Club Website