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What Do Hamsters Need to Live?

Last Updated: 27.02.20


In case you are thinking about getting a hamster and you are wondering what these little rodents need in order to live long and healthy lives, you’ll be happy to hear that things are not as complicated. However, they do need more than just a good hamster house, and in this article, we’ll explore in depth what you should provide for these small and fascinating creatures.

Before going into details, it’s important to mention that hamsters also make a very good choice if you have a child and you want to teach him or her a little bit about responsibility. Having such a pet around can help you instill a sense of what it means to take care of another living creature, but doing this in a fun and a rather easy way.

Hamsters are known for being low-maintenance pets, most of the times, which is one of the key aspects that make them such a popular choice. Their lifespan is normally around two years, come in a variety of breeds and colors, and they sometimes have some distinctive traits as well.


Main hamster types

Since there are several types of hamsters you can choose from, it would be a good idea to know a few things about each one before making up your mind. The Chinese hamsters are small and somewhat less-known compared to other breeds. Many times people mistake Chinese hamsters for dwarf ones, but they do not, in fact, belong to the same breed.

They usually grow around 4 inches long, and they can be a very good choice if you do want a hamster, but you want to have a rather special one. On the other hand, since they are rodents, you can expect them to very much enjoy escaping their house and chewing on stuff at any given time. This can be one of the things that make these pets simply cute and adorable.  

Going on to dwarf hamsters, it’s good to know that they actually come in several varieties as well, including the Russian and the Roborovski ones. They are similar to Chinese hamsters, but a lot more popular around pet owners and commonly found around pet stores.

The third type features the Syrian hamsters, and the interesting thing about these little guys is that they come in different colors and are also called by various names, such as teddy bears, goldens, or pandas. The Syrian individuals are much larger than Chinese or dwarf hamsters and are the most common type.

The habitat

Now that we have an idea what the general types of hamsters are, let’s consider the article’s main question, namely, what is it that these little fellows need in order to live? For this, we’ll take an in-depth look at various elements such as their habitat, toys, bedding, and other aspects that have a significant impact on the quality of their life.

The habitat is, of course, one of the first things that come to mind when we’re talking about pets. In the case of hamsters, this means having a comfortable cage. We know that the terms “comfortable” and “cage” don’t seem to go together that well, but these rodents love climbing onto things, and keeping them in one place is a matter of safety as well.

Moreover, by keeping them in a cage, you also avoid any unpleasant surprises that involve pretty much any item in your house (including electrical wires) and their passion for chewing. With this in mind, it’s good to know that hamsters are also very active animals. This is why you should choose a cage that includes a piece of built-in exercise equipment.

Some models on the market are standard wire cages, while others are much more complex habitats. The final choice is based on the budget you want to allocate for your pet, and of course, the little guy’s preferences, if you’ve been living together for a while and you know him/her.

One caution, when it comes to cages and habitats is that you should steer clear of those models that include elaborate tubing. They might look tempting and a lot of fun, but the tubes can many times be rather unstable, which means that such an element might come loose, allowing the active rodent to escape and get hurt in the process.



Depending on your lifestyle and on how much time you dedicate to your hamster, he or she might not spend that much time outside the cage. This leads us to the next topic that you should consider when thinking about creating a comfortable environment for your little friend, namely toys.

You might already know that one of the most popular types of toys is the hamster wheel since it ensures both entertainment and the necessary workouts for the little guy. Moreover, many cage models available on the market already include such an item. If the particular product you intend to purchase doesn’t, there’s no need to worry about it since you can always add one.

Chewing toys fall into the same ‘must-have’ category. It’s well-known that hamsters are exactly the type of active rodents that love chewing stuff. If you don’t provide the necessary materials yourself, your hamster will try to solve the problem on his or her own. Therefore, it’s definitely advisable to get new chewing toys whenever necessary.

Not only does this ensure their mental balance by keeping them calm and occupied, but it also helps maintain their oral health since otherwise, their teeth might overgrow, leading to a completely different and more complex type of problems.

The last, but certainly not least, type of toy you should add to the shopping list is a small house within the cage, that he or she can use to climb onto or burrow into the bedding inside. That’s the type of addition to a cage that allows hamsters to feel safe and that also ensures a bit of privacy, which is something that comes in handy, especially if they get scared by something.


A few words about bedding

We know that the part of cleaning up a pet’s waste is surely the most unpleasant one, but you will need to do this as often as it’s necessary, which means at least once a week. If not, the little friend will be bothered by the smell and, if his or her environment is not properly cleaned and maintained, skin issues might appear as well.

On the other hand, the good thing is that some of the hamster bedding you can find for sale comes with built-in odor control, which means that the smell builds up at a slower rate, keeping the little pet more comfortable in the process.

Moreover, since pet products evolve constantly, you might be happy to know that environmentally friendly alternatives are available for sale, and they usually come in the form of soft granules that quickly absorb any moisture. Plus, these are flushable, which means that cleaning up can turn out to be a breeze.

Of course, besides their habitat and bedding, hamsters also need access to water, as well as high-quality food. You want to make sure that the container is not jammed and that you constantly change the water so that it remains fresh all the time.

As for the diet, a varied one made of a mix of pellets and fresh food is the best policy to keep the little guys healthy. You want to make sure that if you change his or her food, you gradually do this over the course of several days, so that no serious digestive issues appear, as it’s sometimes the case for rodents.





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Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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