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Friday, October 26, 2007
Hamsters Hamsters are one of the most popular pets because they are small, adorable and do not have the long tail like mice and rats. The hamster is a nocturnal animal, which means it is most active at night. They are solitary rodents with a lifespan of 2 to 3 years. They come in many types, such the Teddy bear and Chinese, with the most common being the Golden (or Syrian) type. Housing two or more adult hamsters together will always result in fights, regardless of sex.
Contrary to their name, ‘pocket pets’ should not really be kept in your pockets. Housing is an important consideration because their little cage is essentially their entire world. The environment that you provide for them greatly influences their behaviour and well-being. Temperatures at about 21 degrees Celcius is ideal (i.e. normal room temperature for humans). It is best to place the hamster’s cage in an area that is free of drafts. Although they cannot tolerate cold, they also cannot tolerate temperatures above 32 degrees Celcius. Keep in mind hamsters will hibernate if temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celcius.
Ideally, the cage should be made of metal so it cannot be chewed, but suitable cages can also be made of plastic. The cage should include a running wheel that allows the hamster to exercise freely and a nesting area with cotton or other soft bedding material. Hamsters also enjoy exploring tubes which can be made of plastic or toilet paper rolls. Remember to purchase a cage with good latches to keep openings securely locked, because hamsters make good escape artists. At least once per week, all old bedding should be removed and replaced with fresh material.
Hamsters are omnivorous, which mean they eat both meat and vegetables. Pre-mixed hamster food can be purchased at any pet store and often consists of various seeds, corns, oats, wheat, and pellets. Hamsters enjoy fresh vegetables, but they must be given in moderation. Variety in the hamster’s diet is important. Do not feed your hamster chocolate or other excessively sweet or salty foods. Ensure fresh water is available at all times. Having the water in a drip bottle that can be attached to the side of the cage is best to keep the water from getting contaminated with food or shavings. Hamsters often store food in their cheek pouches for eating at a later time.
Despite their popularity, hamsters may not make the best pets for young children. They have a tendency to bite more than other small rodents and are less interactive. When compared with other small rodents, they are more difficult to train and do not have a tendency to form close bonds with their owners.
by : Amy Cheung - Pets.ca writer picture : www.hamsteronline.org site : www.pets.ca