Hamsters aren’t just cute and cuddly; they also need the proper care that many new hamster owners fail to give. If you are buying out a hamster without doing your research, you will most likely impulse buy or receive a pet hamster as a gift from a friend. This leads you not to know the primary key do’s and don’ts of hamster care.
If you’re planning to give hamster as a present to a friend or family, it is essential to make sure that they have done enough research or the person is ready for this kind of commitment.
Making mistakes is okay, after all, we’re all humans, and we learn as we go. We made a list of the common mistakes new hamster owners make, so keep reading.
COMMON MISTAKES NEW HAMSTERS OWNER MAKE
Many of these mistakes have severe consequences and can make your hamster unhappy. It is, therefore, essential to research before you head to a pet store or rescue a hamster.
This article compiles the list of common mistakes new hamster owners make. We do this because we know many first-time hamster parents don’t know the kind of commitment they have to do.
Buying Unsuitable Cage Size
You can place some pets in a small cage. Unfortunately, not for hamsters. This rodent needs physical exercise; hence, they need more space. Hamsters naturally run seven to twenty-one miles every night, a more spacious cage is better.
The right hamster cage size is 80x50x50 cm (4000 cm2) or 31.5x20x20 in (620 square inches). The floor should be even (not wired like the photo below). The hamster cage doesn’t have to be with multiple levels, the width and depth are much more important.
TIP: Here is a list of our recommended suitable and safe hamster cages
Housing More Than One Hamster in One Cage and Keeping Males and Females Together
Hamsters can live happily alone, unlike any rodents who get bored quickly without a companion. Your hamsters most likely want to be left alone and can get depressed and territorial if you put more hamsters in their living space.
Another case about housing hamsters together is the chance of unexpected pregnancy. The truth is hamsters’ mate and gets pregnant very fast (as early age as 8 weeks), and you’ll end up with lots of baby hamsters in a short time. And get this, you should know by now that hamsters can give birth continuously as many as 20 pups at a time. Separate your hamsters as soon as they hit 6 weeks-old marks.
Read this article on why hamsters fight and what you can do about it.
Choosing the Wrong Bedding
Bedding gives your hamster the means to burrow and nest-like what they do in the wild. They also need bedding to dig and bury things or hoard food. The right beddings also keep your hamster warm on some cold nights. To help first-time owners with the hassle of choosing different bedding types and knowing what will work, we already researched it for you.
Cat litter and corn cob are the wrong choices when it comes to hamster bedding. Do not go with scented bedding, too, unless you want your hamster to start sneezing one morning or shredded pine wood that can cause respiratory problems.
Some particular materials that are great for hamster bedding are soft toilet paper, Kaytee’s or CareFresh’s bedding. Both of these materials are soft and make for a comfortable place for your rodent after a tiring run. Read our list of recommended hamster bedding.
Not Educating Themselves
If you have other pets in your home, do you know that having a hamster is relatively easier to maintain compared to other pets? However, like any other animal, they still need a lot of caring and can be delicate if you don’t know what you’re doing.
As a hamster owner, you need to be well aware of the common mistakes new hamster owners make. Because they are so tiny and frail, any other early signs of distress should be taken seriously. If your hamster got sick, the sooner you treat it, the better. Some of their common diseases show the following symptoms include diarrhoea, aggressive behaviour, drinking more than usual, mood swings, and appetite loss.
One example, hamster exercise ball has always been a debate and so far, there hasn’t been a scientific study to prove it it’s either bad or good for a hamster. So, as a hamster parent, you need to do your own study and observation with your hamster and make the judgement call. You can read more about the pros and cons and how to tell if your hamster should use a hamster ball or not.
Another way to educate yourself, read or watch some educational books or videos of hamsters in the wild. While domesticated hamsters are very different from wild hamsters, there are still many instincts that domestication didn’t erase. In this way, you will be able to understand why hamster behaves the way they do.
ALSO READ: Facts about hamsters
Not Taming their Hamster
Not many people are aware that you can tame a hamster. Well, technically, you can’t full tame them so they can do tricks. The biggest goal of the taming process is to introduce your scent to your hamster and gain their trust.
Hamsters are born with trust issues with everything and everyone around them because they are such prey in the wild. Which results in many first-time hamster owners abandoning their pets because they couldn’t stop them from biting. It’s important to put the effort into taming your hamster but it is also vital to know that not all hamsters are tamable.
There is time to stop trying and just let your hamster be themselves. This might mean you can’t play or cuddle with them but that’s okay. Leaving them alone in their fun and the safe cage is much better than abandoning them altogether.
You can read more about why hamsters bite and what you can do to stop this.
Using Too Small Exercise Wheel
Hamsters need to exercise regularly, and a wheel allows for that to happen. However, using an inappropriate one can injure your hamster. Furthermore, a wheel too small can end up doing more harm than good. A small wheel forces your hamster’s spine to curve when running on it, which can be incredibly bad for its health.
Make sure to choose the proper one and the right size. For Syrian hamsters, the suitable wheel size is 12″ (28 cm) and up while for a dwarf, don’t get anything lower than 8″ (20 cm). The wheel should also have a solid base, not those with mesh/wire ones. Those are harmful to the hamster and can cause injury to their feet.
ALSO READ: Here’s how to choose the right hamster wheel
Adding Unsafe Hamster Toys and Features
Your hamsters, just like any other pet, get excited with new toys too. Hamsters need the right level of environmental stimulation to keep their small bodies and mind healthy and active.
A running wheel, tunnel systems, bridge, and chew toys can keep your hamster busy, healthy, and entertained throughout its waking hours. However, to tend for your furry critters, it is best to choose the toys they prefer. Moreover, because hamsters are a nocturnal species, it is best to buy toys quiet enough not to disturb you or other people in the house at night.
Choose toys that are engaging and keeping them stimulated, but most importantly, make sure the toys are safe for them to play with to prevent significant injuries and infections. Make sure you’re also installing cage enhancement as safe as possible. Wired stairs or uneven cage flooring can cause bumblefoot.
Not Cleaning the Cage Enough
Cleaning the cage regularly keeps your hamsters healthy and happy. Like a human home, a clean environment prevents disease and infection build-ups. Make sure to clean your hamster cage at least once in 4-5 weeks thoroughly or do spot cleaning once a week. Read this guide on how to clean a hamster cage.
A tidy home makes your hamster feel more relaxed and healthier. When they are stressed, they tend to be moody and bite you. Bacteria build-up can also cause health issues.
If it is a cleaning day, it is ideal to own two cages or have a safe and escape-free playpen. To make it easier for you, transfer your hamster to another cage or the playpen while you clean the main cage.
However, you should remember to put just the right amount of old bedding back into the cage so that your pet can recognize its scent and be comfortable back at it again.
Allowing Your Hamster to Get Fat and Not Providing Healthy Diet
Many pet owners think it’s cute when their pets get so fat, but this is very dangerous. Unconscious feeding of pet owners to hamsters results in overweight.
To prevent them from gaining unhealthy weight, make sure to feed your hamster a healthy diet, and give them plenty of exercise in a wheel or playpen. Please take note that an overweight hamster is not healthy and are prone to disease and illness. It is best to weigh them every couple of months to ensure they are just receiving the proper food.
ALSO READ: Best hamster food diet and dry mixes
Not Letting your Hamster Out of the Cage Once in a While
Not letting your hamster out or not correctly taming them could face some negative consequences. A spooked hamster often bites when they are not familiar with your scents.
Holding your hamster every day could help to tame them. Do this at least once a day and every day so that he can gradually remember your scent. You can use a playpen to tame, play, cuddle, and bond with your hamster.
Much like humans, hamsters need to freely move outside their steel-enforced cages for a change of the environment. This is also a good way to spend time with them and do some taming tricks.
Remember, do not put your hamster in a situation where they can escape or be exposed to harm. During their playtime, put your hamster in an environment that you have 100% control over.
TIP: Get an escape-free playpen and bond with your hamster
Buying in Bulk
I know how easy it is to simply buy in bulk especially when there’s a big sale in the shop or the nearest pet store is quite a drive from you. However, you should only do this once you are sure that the product or toy is safe for your hamster and you know that your pet likes them.
For example, only buy one pack of bedding or sand bath and test if your hamster doesn’t develop any irritation or allergy from it. Once you let your hamster try these new products, observe their behaviour for 2-3 weeks, if they seem to be happy, energetic, and healthy, go ahead and stock up.
TIP: Remember this rule when you switch to a new brand in the future
Thinking that Bar Chewing is Cute
If you are an inexperienced hamster parent, the first time you see your hamster chewing on the bar of its cage, you think it’s cute. Maybe yes but not it’s not. A hamster chewing a bar cage means many things. It can be a sign that their cage is too small and they want to get out or there are no enough toys to entertain them or chew on. It can also mean that the cage needs some cleaning as it has become smelly and uncomfortable for them.
The most important thing you need to remember is to find out how to stop the bar chewing. If your hamster keeps doing this, it will hurt its nose or nose bridge which can also result in nose balding. The paint on that metal bar is more likely bad for your hamster if swallowed. The worst case is your hamster chew too much on it that their teeth fall off.
Giving hamster as a gift
During holidays like Christmas or birthdays, parents or adults tend to give their family members pets as a gift. This is a very dangerous thing to do. For one, because of all the things that were listed above – the new hamster owner needs to educate themselves and do deep research before committing to having a pet animal.
Second, because pets like hamsters are often the ones being abandoned or killed by inexperienced hamster owners or uneducated hamster owners or simply people and kids who lost interest in their hamster. For more reasons why you shouldn’t gift a pet, read this post.
Many new pet owners are at risk of making these common mistakes. Where hamsters ended up suffering the most. A lot of uninformed hamster owners who didn’t take time to educate themselves end up injuring or abandoning their hamsters or worse, killing them.
We hope that this article about common mistakes new hamster owners make has been useful for you. If you have more ideas to add to the list, let us know in the comment section below.