Scientific Name: Subfamily- Crecitinae (25 Species)
Originates From: Asian Deserts
Average Adult Size: 1.5-5 inches
Average Lifespan: 2-3 years
Hamsters are a low-maintenance pet whose cage-cleaning and daily feeding is easily managed by young children. Taking to frequent use of exercise wheels, tubes, and Run-About balls, Hamsters are very entertaining to watch. Because they are nocturnal, when they are not exercising, they are generally napping in a nest they build out of their bedding or given nesting materials. Some Hamsters house together well. If you want to keep multiple Hamsters in the same cage, be sure that they are the same gender and try to choose from ones that are currently living with each other – it can be difficult to introduce new Hamsters to each other. Hamsters can be easily startled, but a gentle touch and some treat bribery can encourage a bond with their caregiver.
Hamster size varies depending on breed. Standard size Hamsters, like Syrians, typically are more robust (the size of a lemon), while dwarf Hamsters, like Robos, are much smaller (egg to kiwi size). While the standard Kaytee Critter Trail Hamster Cage (20”x11”x11.5”) will suit almost any type of Hamster, keep in mind that some species may be too large to use the tube attachments and could potentially get stuck or injured. Larger cages should be used when housing more than one Hamster. The Kaytee Tank Topper is a wire cage add-on which quickly converts a 10 gallon glass aquarium into a multi-level cage, complete with ramps, additional levels, a hut, and a water bottle holder. If the cage style you chose does not come with an exercise wheel, hut, water bottle, food dish, or nest, add these to your enclosure. Tubulars make a great chew toy that doubles as a hut and nest area. Be sure to provide wooden chew toys. Hamsters’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. Chew toys help keep their teeth filed down to an appropriate length. Be sure that whatever cage you choose has very narrow bar spacing so that you do not have any escapees. Line the bottom of the cage with paper-based bedding, such as Clean and Cozy, CareFresh, or aspen shavings (do not use cedar or pine shavings due to the oils and dust content). Spot clean bedding daily. Wash surfaces and fully change bedding every 1-2 weeks.
Lighting and Heating
Maintain a constant room temperature of about 65-75ºF and keep the cage away from drafty areas. Provide an approximate 12-hour photoperiod using natural light or houselights, turning them off at night to simulate a day and night cycle.
Hamsters perform well in Idaho humidity and do not require modifications.
Being omnivores, the Hamster diet consists primarily of plant matter with some protein. Hamsters should be fed a high-quality Hamster food, which generally consist of grains, seeds, and nuts. Fresh or dried fruits and vegetables can be offered in moderation as treats. Yogurt chips are a favorite. Because they are omnivores, you may feed your Hamster a few live crickets or mealworms on occasion as a treat.
Hamsters maintain good personal hygiene. However, dust baths can be offered periodically to help keep the coat shiny and clean. A small ceramic container, called a Critter Bath, can be filled with Critter Bath Powder and placed inside of the cage. The Hamster will instinctively use the bath by entering, doing a few somersaults, then exiting. After the bath, remove the house for later use.