Hamsters have so much energy to burn, that’s why it’s necessary to keep them busy. When they’re awake at night, they usually forage for food, run for an extended period on their hamster wheels, do laps in tubes, burrow deep through the bedding, and just be active all throughout.
With that being said, one of the cons of not keeping your hamster busy includes them being stressed about boredom for not having enough things to toys or playtime. Aside from psychological effects, keeping your hamster busy will also be suitable for their immune system, believe it or not. That’s why we compiled a list of pointers on how to keep your hamster busy.
ALSO READ: Essential hamster guide for beginners
WHY YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR HAMSTER BUSY
In the wild, hamsters are primarily active at night gathering food while their predators are asleep. While in the day, hamsters spend it sleeping and burrowing. During this time, they also make cosy sleeping dens that are out of sight of their predators.
Domesticated hamsters are nocturnal and crepuscular, which means active at night and asleep during the day or busy at night, dawn, dusk, and sleeping for the rest of the day.
Burn Extra Energy
Domesticated hamsters have so much stored energy, and one of the reasons is their diet. The way they eat is still pretty much how they would eat in the wild but minus the predators to run away from, which means they tend to eat more than they burn.
Hamsters could run up to 9 kilometres on their hamster wheels every night. That’s why not keeping them busy will only make them feel more restless or stressed because of all the pent-up energy.
Avoid Escape Accidents
Your hamster being stressed and bored would result in many adverse circumstances, one of which is when they try to escape their cages, leading to accidents.
That’s why it’s better to have a well-equipped cage to keep your hamsters happy. Deep bedding for burrowing, running wheels and saucers for running, tubes and tunnels, chew toys, and hiding dens are the most vital yet basic things you can add to enrich a hamster’s cage.
Another result of a stressed, unhappy, and bored hamster is that they will become aggressive and hostile towards you. They might even try to bite you every time you go near the cage, and that could be disastrous. Keep your hamster happy by keeping them busy if you want to avoid these worst-case scenarios. Read our article on how to tame a hamster.
ALSO READ: Why hamsters bite
Hamsters are very prone to obesity – this is one of the most common hamster illnesses. This is why it’s essential to keep them moving, doing something and just generally being active. Start immediately by buying the hamster accessories before acquiring a hamster.
If you wait for a particular time before buying those materials, they might get used to an inactive lifestyle and start gaining weight. Another thing that you should monitor is the foods that your hamster eats. Ensure that they just eat the right amount and food type, don’t let them get used to eating tons of oily, fatty, or sugary food. A healthy and balanced diet for a hamster will go a long way.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR HAMSTER BUSY
We already tackled the reasons why you need to keep your furry friend busy. Now, these are some pointers on how to keep your hamster busy.
Your pet hamster wouldn’t be satisfied with a bare plastic cage. You should also provide them with suitable and deep bedding. But what is the proper material that you could use for making hamster bedding? You could use wooden shavings, but only a specific type. Other kinds are bad for your hamster’s health in the long run, so a combination of shredded paper, tissue and a kitchen towel is a better option. The bedding must also be at least 8 inches deep to allow your hamster to dig and make a cosy nest.
Scattering their food is also a great way to keep your hamster busy. Not only would this activity take up most of their time, but they can also find it quite enjoyable. Hamsters are already used to looking for food in the wild that’s why it will make them feel as if they’re in the wild again and may make adapting to the new environment easier. You can hide their food and treats under that deep bedding.
You may probably be wondering what hamsters like to play with. A couple of items include a running wheel, flying saucer, hideout, bridge, and tunnels. Those are all great toys since they keep the hamsters active. Just make sure to move around the toys or change the cage layout for four to five months to keep your hamster excited and curious.
Also, note that hamster balls are unsafe because heat and ammonia (from their droppings) build up quickly inside the hamster balls. If your furry pet is exposed to it for a long time, it can also be harmful to their health.
You should also setup some climbing platforms and safe ladders for hamsters. Arranging this allows you to maximise the space inside the cage as well.
Unlike human teeth, hamsters’ teeth grow forever, that’s why they need to have chew toys to trim their teeth and keep them healthy. These chew toys will be nibbled by your hamster for hours, and for that reason, you need to choose healthy and safe chew toys.
Let Your Hamster Out Once a Day
We could all agree that we personally get bored staying at home all day. The same goes for a hamster. Your hamster needs to be let out of the cage at least once a day. In this way, they can experience another environment, and their curiosity will perk right up.
You can also play with them during those times and treat that as your bonding time with your pet. This is a great way to earn their trust and stop them from biting you.
Rearrange the cage
Do hamsters like it when you rearrange their cage? The answer is a little more complicated. You should rearrange your hamster’s cage only once every 5 or 6 weeks and not more often than that.
Rearranging the change too often can stress your hamster. Since they can’t see properly, they rely a lot on their spatial memory (remembering where things are or memorising the cage set-up).
Rearranging the cage will help your hamster get curious again with items inside their cage. They will explore the cage as if it were a new place. This will keep your hamster busy and active as they spread their scent in their territory.
It’s best to time the rearranging during the deep cleaning of the cage.
WHAT DO HAMSTERS LIKE TO PLAY WITH
We briefly discussed some toys that your hamster could play with within the previous paragraphs. Here are other additional items that they will surely enjoy playing with.
Your toilet paper rolls can now be helpful as well. Once you’re done with your toilet paper, don’t throw the roll; instead, toss it inside your hamster’s cage and let them chew it for fun. But make sure that they are chewing on unscented rolls and/or prints because these may contain toxic materials that can irritate their breathing.
Also, check if the roll diameter is big enough for your hamster. Especially for Syrian hamsters, since they are much bigger than Dwarf and Chinese. You don’t want your hamster getting stuck in the tube roll.
Even the toilet paper itself can be put inside the hamster’s cage, and your furry pet can also play with it. As long as you’re sure that the roll of toilet paper is scent-free, you can go ahead, put it inside your pet’s cage and let your hamster go crazy shredding those papers.
Another plaything that your hamster will surely enjoy is a maze. You can create or buy one that your hamster can play with outside their cage. Choose a maze that you can move around since hamsters have a sharp memory, and they will most likely remember the maze once they are finished with it.
You can either make one or buy a ready-to-use maze for your hamster.
Creating a playpen is very essential for hamster care. This will be your pet’s safe space every time you take them out of the cage. It can have mazes, toys, and everything you think your hamster can enjoy. Then let them play for around 10-15 minutes. Just keep an eye on them while they’re in the playpen because you never know what might happen, and it’s better to be cautious and alert when your hamster is outside the cage.
HOW TO PLAY WITH YOUR HAMSTER
Having a playpen is the best way to play with your hamster. Get a big one where you can sit inside and let your hamster climb all over you. In that way, it can get more accustomed to your scent. Make sure that the playpen is set up in an open and flat area. You can decorate it with various toys such as tunnels and obstacles.
Before playing with your furry pet, make sure that your hands are clean. If you have a kid, explain the safety rules first before allowing the hamster near them and if you have other pets, lock these pets in another room for safety until the hamster is back inside their cage.
We mentioned this before if your hamster is a rescue or a Robo (roborovski), taming them might be impossible, which means you might not be able to play with them. But it doesn’t mean they can’t have a playpen. A playpen will still help them keep their energy burning and their happy levels high.
Hamsters are enjoyable pets to have, but they have so much pent-up energy. That’s why it’s their owner’s mission to find ways to keep their furry pets busy.
I hope we were able to give you tips on how to keep your hamster busy that are new and useful for you. If you do some other stuff with your hamster and don’t mind sharing it, let us hear it in the comment section below.