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  • I found to keep cleaning an easier chore, to get a cage with a removable bottom, so you can pull it out, change the bedding and shove it back in, without having to uproot your hamster for the two hours it will take you to properly clean and sterilize its house

    • by Nikki Hanna

      I purchased my first hamster at the tender age of twelve. I saved up my allowance to buy the hamster, the cage, all the items you need to raise a healthy and happy critter. Back in those days, the cages didn’t come with all these fancy tubes, which ended up creating a hamster playscape the size of a small child’s playground! No, we had round or square cages big enough for a bird, with some shredded paper for padding, a water bowl, and a wheel. And even today, these elements are good to have in your hamster habitat. As a matter of fact, having owned hamsters on and off for many years in my life, I actually believe that less is sometimes better, and I’ll explain why.

      Though I do believe that hamsters need space to move, run around and be nosey and investigative, you can usually accomplish this without all the hoopla most pet stores will try to sell you on. They don’t need heat lamps or specific kinds of bedding, though a shredded type of paper is most sought after. They are messy critters, and if you have a cage type of setup, they like to hold on to the bars of the cages and actually urinate outside of their cage. By cleaning the cage once a week, you can limit this a lot, as they don’t particularly care

      for living in their own filth. Water needs to be changed regularly if in a bowl, and at least once a week if in a water tube. The water can become stale if it takes too long for the hamster to drink it, and this can cause infections.

      They live up to five years, usually, though some can be more and some can be less. They don’t care too much for loud noises, which can send them scuttering into hiding, and they do love to have things to crawl through and hide in. We once had a huge hampster playscape with a bunch of tubes that made it impossible to put back together once it had been taken apart to be cleaned. And boy does it need to be cleaned! Those tubes can get very disgusting as hamsters don’t use the bathroom in a specific place… it’s pretty much anywhere they happen to be when they feel the need arise. I found to keep cleaning an easier chore, to get a cage with a removable bottom, so you can pull it out, change the bedding and shove it back in, without having to uproot your hamster for the two hours it will take you to properly clean and sterilize its house. For tubes, plain toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls work wonders. Not only is a great place for ...

      • them to crawl through and hide in, they are perpetual chewers, and it will give them a little something to gnaw on when the urge arises. If you get a cage, verses an aquarium type of habitat, make sure the bars are close together, as hamsters can squeeze through relatively small spaces and are escape artists by heart. We once found our hamster just running through the living room. Its cage was on top of a six-drawer dresser. We don’t even know how he got out much less how he got DOWN! If you chose an aquarium, a 10 gallon tank is too small. You need at least a 20 gallon tank, though I’d prefer something larger. And having the glass walls will prevent them from climbing up and finding a way out the top. However, personally, I find the cages are nicer to the hamster, because they love to climb, and I can’t see making that more difficult for them. The colorful plastic tubes are a big no-no in my book. Not only are they difficult to clean properly, but they tend to come apart giving your hamster ample opportunity to escape, and there is insufficient ventilation. If your hamster is a perpetual tunneler, it could die while in the tubes for too long. If you are worried about putting items in your habitat that might damage the hamster if
        it chews, then you can use PVC piping for tunnels, just laying in sections throughout the cage, and these can usually withstand the gnawing. Hamsters also need protein of at least 14% in their diet, and fresh veggies is also a good staple to add. Carrots are great, because it lets them get out their gnawing tendencies and gives them something to eat. They like to sit in their food bowls as well, sometimes sleeping there, so be sure to change the food regularly, even if it’s uneaten. If you get an exercise wheel, which is recommended, do not get one with plastic or metal bars, which can harm their delicate feet and legs. Instead get a wheel with a solid surface. They also need time outside of their cages at least once a day. Create some sort of hamster play area in a room of your house free of other pets or distractions, and make sure your hamster cant escape the play area. They like to run and are used to foraging and going long distances for their food, so give them something to do and place small bits of food and play objects throughout the play area. They will have a ball.

        Hamsters are not necessarily easy pets to care for. They take dilligence and love and attention. If you are willing to do this, they will make excellent pets!

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