Everything you need to know to raise Hamsters
Think about it - a rat that's as cute as a teddy bear! No wonder kids all over the world love keeping hamsters as pets. And if you decide on bringing one home, you'll need to read up a bit on the what, when, where, why and how of keeping Harold happy (if that's what you decide to name him, of course).
Just so you know, hamsters have large incisor teeth that never stop growing, which means they have to keep gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing and ending up looking like Roger Rabbit's. In fact, the word rodent comes from 'rodere' which is Latin for "to gnaw".
OK, I know you're excited, but this will only take a few minutes, so cut yourself a wedge of cheese and say hello to the Syrian or Golden hamster, the most famous of the lot.
Here's some help.
Some interesting names for boy hamsters:
Some interesting names for girl hamsters:
Here's the deal: mum and dad could pay for the book, and at least a suitable cage with a floor covering and nesting material, an exercise wheel, a water bottle and some food. You and your siblings could pool your weekly allowance together to buy your new golden-furred pet.
Hamsters are nocturnal, so don't be disappointed if yours sleeps a lot during the day and wakes up in the evening. That's probably a good thing if you get back from school in the evening, because he or she will rise and shine to greet you then! By the way, they have terrible eyesight, but a superb sense of smell and terrific hearing.
Besides, your hamster should be not less than 5-6 weeks old, and should look healthy, bright-eyed and sprightly. If he or she has eyes that are runny or ooze a sticky substance, or if you see sneezing, clumpy fur, or a wet or dirty bottom, these are signs of sickness, and you'd best pick another one.
Ask the pet store attendant if you can pick up the one you like, and see how it behaves. It should be tame and docile. Also check if its body is firm, as an unusually soft body could mean that it is sick.
You should be able to find a golden hamster for between 8 and 15 dollars (just ask your dad to help you convert this amount into your country's currency). Keep just one as a pet, as they dislike being kept with other hamsters.
It's best to leave him alone for a few days, and during this time, you'll probably see him scurrying all over the place, changing his nesting area several times, and then slumping into a slumber after all that exertion. After a few days, though, he'll settle into a routine, and will be ready to meet the family.
Food-wise, hamsters are picky, and each one may have different tastes from others'. They have cheek-pouches to collect food like hamster-mix in, which, like the name suggests, is a mix of all kinds of delicious hamster foods. You can buy this at any good pet store.
They can also be treated to fruits and veggies, although you must be careful not to feed them kidney beans (raw), onion, potato (raw), potato tops, rhubarb (raw) and tomato leaves.