Welcoming a new rodent pet into your home is a great joy and responsibility at the same time. Although most people agree that hamsters are low-maintenance creatures and easy to tame, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to a large cage, quality food, and their hamster favorite treats.
Properly looking after a hammy takes time and patience as these creatures are quite naughty and love getting into trouble. Nevertheless, they are extremely fun to have around and create special bonds with their human owners. If you plan on adopting such a creature in the near future, here is everything you need to know about offering it a suitable lifestyle.
General hamster information
There are various hamster species, each with its unique characteristics. They are part of the large rodent family, meaning they have big front teeth that are constantly growing and signature cheek pouches to deposit food.
They come in various sizes and fur colors, with the most popular breed in the world being the Syrian hamster. This furry pocket pet reaches around 8 inches in length at maturity and weighs little over two ounces. It is the number one pet choice for families with children to teach them about responsibility.
Apart from the golden Syrian hamster, there are other four important dwarf breeds. Most of them don’t measure more than a couple of inches and the smallest one, the Roborovski hamster, weighs under one ounce at adulthood.
Depending on each individual, breed, sex, and lifestyle, these creatures live between one and four years in captivity.
Apart from the Syrian hamster that is mainly territorial and should live alone, all other breeds prefer companionship. They need a partner in crime to stay funny, silly, active, and happy so you should consider opting for a pair.
When it comes to the interaction with adults and children, hamsters are docile creatures. They love to be pet, snuggled, and hugged, as long as they trust their owners. It may take several weeks until your hammy warms up to you but you can rest assured that you’ll create a unique bond after that. And, if you want to learn how to spend more quality time with your pet rodent, here are some tips you should consider.
Handling your hamster
Welcoming a new pet into your house is a stressful situation, so you should be patient. Allow the small rodent to adjust to the new environment, including its cage and the surroundings of the room.
Handling your pet is a great way to bond with it but you may receive negative feedback until it gets used to you. Thus, we suggest giving the hammy 12-24 hours to adjust and explore its cage, as well as become comfortable with its features. During this time, it would be best to gently talk to the rodent so that it gets used to your voice. Don’t handle or pet it immediately, and don’t put the hand inside the cage.
Before handling your pet you should wash your hands carefully. Rodents are notorious creatures when it comes to their poor sight, so they will usually pick up smells instead of images. If you just ate something and you go immediately to handle your pet, it may smell the food on your hand and try to bite you.
Thus, it would be best to use unscented soap and warm water to wash your hands before and after handling your hamster to avoid bacteria and scent transfer. If you want to pet more than one hamster, you should wash your hands before touching each individual.
You are allowed to place your hand inside the cage after a couple of days to let your pet get used to it. Put it gently and leave it there while the rodent sniffs and explores. Remember that hamsters are prey animals so they consider everyone a potential predator.
It may take anywhere from a few hours to several days until the hammy gets used to your hand and feels comfortable jumping on your palms. So, if you want to speed up the process, you can always try “bribing” the animal with snacks and sweet treats.
After picking your hammy up you should best stand over a tabletop or sit on the ground as it may try to escape and end up hurting itself in the process. They are quite unpredictable creatures so you shouldn’t leave them unattended even for a second.
If the animal tries to nip or bite, you should refrain from punishing it. You may be inclined to yell and even hit your pet but hamsters don’t usually associate their behavior with its consequences, so punishments won’t work.
What you can do is blow gently into its face whenever it does something wrong. In time, the pet will be tamed and well-behaved, as long as you show it love, compassion, and respect.
Playing with your pet outside the cage
No matter how big the cage is, your hamster will require some daily playtime outside it. As we previously mentioned, these creatures are quite mischievous and fast, so you need to supervise them at all times to make sure they don’t run, hide or injure themselves.
It goes without saying that you should build a proper environment for your hamster to play in. Remove all dangerous items, including wires, electrical machines, and objects with sharp edges. It would be best for your animal to enjoy an open corner of a room, without any obstacles or pieces of furniture.
If that is not possible, you can place it inside an exercise ball and watch its steps as it explores the world on wheels. Since they don’t see too clearly, make sure the ball is made of transparent plastic.
Another way to keep your hamster safe and satisfy its natural curiosity outside the cage would be to place it in a large playpen. Complete it with tubes, tunnels, toys, and treats so that it doesn’t get bored easily. Ideally, you should let it run in an open area for at least 10-15 minutes a day to get rid of extra calories, stretch its paws, and feel free.
What about music?
As odd as it may sound, many owners choose to play music to their hamsters in an attempt to tame them, temper them, and calm them down whenever they feel anxious or nervous. Although there aren’t many studies in the field, recent research does show that a hamster’s mood is influenced by music and surrounding sounds.
Thus, many owners choose to experiment with various music genres until they find something soothing for their pets. Generally speaking, peaceful, instrumental music has proven beneficial in tempering down rodents and making them more docile.
Some owners even noticed their pets fell asleep while listening to classical music. On the contrary, rock or fast-paced music will also stimulate your rodent’s brain to become more active but this might have consequences in the long term. Rodents that listen to this kind of music often enough become jumpier, more agitated, and even aggressive.
If you are a music junkie or even prefer making your own music, make sure you don’t keep your hamster in the same room while practicing. High sounds and deep bass can cause ear problems to your pet.
However, feel free to play the violin, saxophone, cello or the piano in the same room as your hamster as these instruments emit warm vibrations and calm sounds that will make your pet feel more relaxed.
One quick search on Youtube and you will find thousands of playlists dedicated to hamsters so there is no need to search on your own until you stumble across a tune that your pet will dig.