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5 Myths About Caring for a Hamster

Cane Bay Summerville - HamsterAlong with dogs and cats, we care for a variety of animals here at Cane Bay. We also watch and take care of exotic animals, reptiles, rodents, birds, turtles and more.

As hamsters are rather common pets, especially among families with children, we thought it might be helpful to debunk a few myths about caring for a hamster.

1. “Hamsters Need Small Cages”

Most hamsters may be small, but they expend a lot of energy exercising and running around each day. The larger the cage, the better. One website, Pet Hamster Care, suggests having a cage that is at least 15 inches long by 12 inches high for a single hamster or two dwarf hamsters.

A variety of cages are acceptable, including tube cages, wire cages or even aquariums. Just be sure the cage is sturdy enough to prevent the hamster from chewing through it, and if you choose an aquarium, it is important to make sure that it has a screen on top so your friend has enough ventilation for breathing.

2. “Hamsters Are The Optimal First Pet For Children, Because They Are Easy To Take Care Of”

This is not necessarily true. My younger sister’s first pet was a hamster, and she did a great job caring for it. The responsibility of caring for a pet was good for her. However, taking care of a hamster is perhaps not as easy as one might think. It requires cleaning out the cage weekly, changing the bedding, washing the food dish, using soapy water to clean any areas that smell and allowing everything to dry before putting the cage back together. Throughout the week, it is important to constantly check your hamster’s water and refill it when it gets low, along with the food.

As most children want to play with pets, it should be noted that hamsters tend to play the most at night. Hamsters may be active during the day, but they are generally more docile and sleep more when the sun is up, and they tend to scurry around and exercise the majority of the night. I have a bedroom across from my little sister’s room, and I still remember hearing the squeaking of the hamster wheel, which was attached to the side of the cage, each night before I went to bed.

Hamsters can be amazing pets for children, as kids can learn about responsibility while having a companion. However, hamsters are not always low maintenance, and the parents may have an active role in helping care for the hamster.

3. “Dwarf Hamsters Bite People Out Of Aggression”

Dwarf hamsters are sometimes known for their biting, but they do not tend to bite out of pure aggression. Most bites do not draw blood, but it is still important to be aware that this does occur. The majority of the time, dwarf hamsters bite out of fear. If a hand reaches into the cage from above to pick up the hamster, the hamster may assume he is being threatened and a predator is coming at him. Therefore, biting is oftentimes used as a defense against potential danger.

Dwarf hamsters will also bite at your fingers if your hands smell like food. He may mistakenly assume you have food in your hand and help himself to whatever you’re eating, only to realize you don’t have any food, and he is actually biting at your finger.

In order to avoid these types of behaviors, always wash your hands before handling your hamster. Be cautious and gentle when you approach your hamster or hold him, and just be aware that dwarf hamsters may bite, so use caution.

4. “Hamsters Are Herbivores”

Hamsters are actually omnivores, meaning they eat both produce and meat. Hamsters receive a well-balanced diet from store bought pellets, because most pellets have a variety of ground up food and nutrients in them. According to Pet Hamster Care, supplementing your hamster’s diet with different kinds of fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, and even providing your furry friend with a mealworm or cricket every now and again can be a beneficial part of his diet.

5. “Hamsters Never Need To Visit The Vet”

Hamsters, just like any other animal, can become sick. When this happens, taking him to the veterinarian is always a good option to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being. Some illnesses or injuries that may arise include broken bones, cuts due to any sharp objects in the cage, uneven front teeth, which may cause damage to the roof of his mouth or his cheeks, and heatstroke. There are a variety of other illnesses or injuries that may occur.

If you notice any labored breathing, weight loss, diarrhea, red skin or lethargy, it is important to take action and be proactive by going to the vet to keep your pet healthy.

We hope you enjoyed our article regarding myths about hamsters. Please feel free to share our article with your friends or anyone considering buying a hamster.

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