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Hamster Care Basics

September 15 2016

Are you looking for a pet that is small in size but big in personality? You may want to consider getting a hamster. These tiny furballs are absolutely adorable, and really make great pets. A McHenry, IL veterinarian discusses basic hamster care in this article.


Make sure your tiny furball is comfy and cozy in his cage. Hammie will need a cage that is at least 3 square feet, though bigger is better. A wire cage with a solid bottom is a good choice. You can also get a glass or plastic tank. Be sure to pick one with a mesh or screen top, to ensure proper ventilation.


Once you have the cage, you’ll need to add a good substrate. Aspen is a good choice. Avoid pine or cedar substrates, as they aren’t safe for small animals. Your furry pal will also need a hidey-hole and a water bottle. Hammie may also enjoy an exercise wheel. Choose a solid one, as wire wheels can hurt your pet’s tiny feet.


Keeping Hammie’s cage at the proper temperature is very important. If your little pet gets too cold, he may try to hibernate. This is very dangerous for pet hamsters! Make sure your hamster’s cage stays between 65-75°F at all times.


Hammie can have commercial food for his main meals. This can be either a pellet food, or a seed mix. There are pros and cons to each. Pellets offer complete nutrition, but can be a little boring. Seed mixes taste better, but they make it easy for Hammie to secretly stash tidbits for later, and then beg for more. You’ll want to supplement these things with fresh produce and the occasional treat. Ask your vet for nutritional advice, including serving sizes, safe and unsafe foods, and, of course, suitable snacks.


Offer your pint-sized pal plenty of toys, including lots of suitable chew toys. Many wood, paper, and cardboard items are safe, as long as they don’t have small parts or sharp edges, and aren’t coated in paint, varnish, glitter, or dye. (Tip: cardboard toilet-paper rolls can make great chew toys.) Hammie may also enjoy a runabout, or exercise wheel. Just be sure to take proper safety precautions. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.

Do you have questions or concerns about hamster care? We can help! Contact us, your McHenry, IL animal clinic, today!