• Hamsters


    Everything you need to know to raise Hamsters

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Raising Hamsters
Little balls of excitement - that's what hamsters are. When they're not busy nibbling on a piece of fruit, they're burning calories scampering to nowhere on the exercise wheel. Looking at them you'd think Mighty Mouse had a less stressful workout everyday! By the way, did you know that a hamster is actually a kind of rodent; that is to say, it's really a different kind of mouse?

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.

A name for your hamster

This is the moment you've been waiting for, isn't it? And if you're really excited, I'll bet you've already thought up a few names. Trouble is, hamsters can be called all sorts of cool and cute names, so picking one is going to be hard!

Here's some help.

Some interesting names for boy hamsters:

  • Hammy Hammerstein
  • Furry Ferguson
  • Randolph the Rodent Ruler
  • Goldie Goldman
  • Samson
  • Mr. Mini-me
  • Sherlock
  • Chewbacca / Chew-chew
  • Hairy Potter
  • Wheeler the Squealer
  • Bucktooth Stanley

Some interesting names for girl hamsters:

  • Harriet-in-a-hurry
  • Pretty Penelope
  • Jogging Jennifer
  • Granny Smith
  • Golda
  • Aurelia Sprocket
  • Nonie the Nutcracker
  • Sylvia Scamper
© 2004 - 2020 Leonard Rego

Before you buy

Before you begin a mouse-hunt ( I just had to say that!) for your hamster at the nearest pet store, first find out whether your mum, dad and your brothers and sisters, if you have any, would like a hamster as a pet. If they're cool with the idea, then go for it. But on the way to the store, or even while you're there, pick up a book on caring for 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.

Choosing your pet

You probably already know that the hamsters' cage at the pet store should not be overcrowded, and should be clean with easy access to food and water. They should be kept in separate cages, and you'd be smart to avoid buying a pregnant female.

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.

Care and feeding

Once you get home, take Harold straight to his new home so he can settle down for a bit. But before you do so, make sure you've furnished his pad with everything in this checklist:
  1. Flooring: Woodshavings from hardwoods such as Aspen. Ask the pet store attendant to give or sell you some.
  2. Nesting material: Un-dyed and unscented toilet paper or paper towel torn into strips.
  3. An exercise wheel
  4. A water bottle or water dish
  5. Chewsticks for him to gnaw on
It'll take him a few days to get used to the place, and he might also find this time a little stessful. Moving home always is, but at least he didn't have to pack his bags!

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.

  1. Never keep more than one Syrian / Golden hamster in a cage together or else they will fight to the death!
  2. Hamsters groom themselves and therefore never require to be bathed, so don't try!
  3. Hamsters typically live for 2-3 years, so decide if it's going to be easy to say goodbye before you buy one.