Over the years, hamsters have become quite famous as house pets due to their quiet and docile nature. Although most come into our homes untamed, they can be quite a pain if not supervised properly. However, if you’re thinking of adopting a hamster, there is no need to stress yourself out because they require very little maintenance and are the most adorable creatures that you’ll ever come across in your life.
Making Your Hamster Comfortable In Its New Home
If you have welcomed a cute little hamster to your family for the first time, chances are you are clueless about the dos and don’ts. Hopefully, the list below is all that you’ll need to get through the first few months of adoption.
Giving your hamster a humble abode would be the first step to taming him/her. Pick a place which isn’t too loud or noisy and make sure the cage is big and comfortable enough for it to stay. For a regular sized hamster, a 400 square inch cage is suitable enough. However, the size may vary depending on the size of your hamster.
While living in the wild, hamsters usually dig up the grounds to make their homes. But inside your home, they need more practical solutions. The first step is to make sure his/her bedding is absorbent, soft and comfortable. To ensure this, most owners use wood shavings as their bedding. But even then you must be careful – some like pine and cedar often have sharp pieces or are reactive with hamster urine emanating deadly fumes that would harm them.
Instead use hamster-friendly wood shavings, cellulose or plant-based paper fibered bedding or wood pulp bedding. If you are looking for something cheaper you may use aspen shavings or even paper, but these do not absorb much and tend to get malodorous. Furthermore, abstain yourself from using artificial and scented beddings, cat litter, corn cobs etc. as bedding. Your hamster may perhaps choke on these and in turn, get sick.
However, no matter what bedding you choose you will have to spot clean it daily and change the whole bedding once a week because hamsters make double use of it as bedding and restroom. And also make sure to keep it dust and parasite free
Provide sufficient food and water every day. Though hamsters are omnivorous, most owners prefer to give them dried hamster food bits but you can also give them some fruits and veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, peach, pear, bananas or carrots. Avoid citrusy or acidic ones and make sure they are not too sweet as hamsters are prone to diabetes. Do not overfeed them by giving extra meals. Limit the feeding to two times per day (they eat about 10 grams of food pellets each meal).
For those living in tanks of plastic cages, they can be fed insects that they can digest. Do not forget to change his/her water every day as it may encourage the growth of bacteria if it becomes stale.
- Optional Touches
In addition to the necessities mentioned above, you may keep some other things in your pet’s cage. These may include a wheel, a hamster ball or chew toys to keep it occupied and exercising while it gets settled in its new environment.
The Beginning of a Journey
Now that you’ve built your hamster a comfortable and cozy home with all the necessities in place, it’s now time for you to deal with your pet. You cannot expect your hamster to immediately fall in love with you. You have to give it time to adjust in its different surrounding.
It is very natural for your hamster to get scared or attack you, during the first few days but it’s only because he’s scared. Pushing yourself onto the poor hamster or rushing things won’t help. Be patient and give the petite one much needed time to adjust.
However, if you follow the steps written below, you will have a hamster to play within no time:
First Step: Getting Through The First Week
- It is recommended that in the first week of the hamster’s arrival, you must be distant from it. Immediately trying to cozy up to it by touching, patting or trying to hold it won’t bear fruit. Mostly you’d end up terrifying the little guy and it will attack you in a defense mechanism. If you try to hold it, they may even urinate on your hands because they’re petrified! So beware and keep your eagerness in check!
- While feeding him twice every day during this period, do not attempt to touch it. Keep the food bowl in his cage and leave immediately after so he knows you mean no harm. If you stay, your presence might keep him/her from eating the food and scare
- What to do when you have to spot clean the cage every day in the first week? Depending on your hamster, the reaction may be different but mostly they’d be terrified. But in order to keep their cages clean, they have to be taken out. At this point, it is best to wear gloves and hold it carefully. Put them in a temporary box and after you’re done the cleaning, put them back. Make sure not to drop your hamster on the floor while doing so – they have fragile bones and may hurt themselves.
Second Step: The First Interactions
- After a week has passed, start spending more time with your hamster. Stay around during meals but do not force it to interact with you. You may not face much trouble while feeding him/her or while changing the bedding now. Chances are, he/she has gotten used to the routine by now.
- At this point, you could spend a particular amount of time with your hamster almost daily. Familiarize the little friend with your voice by gently talking in whispers. If you find talking difficult you may even read a book aloud or sing a song in a soothing It will establish that you are not someone to be afraid of but just a friend!
- Now, this step will play a crucial role in helping you make a new comrade – giving treats without overfeeding them. Use dried fruits or nuts, biscuits, pieces of carrots or cooked potato. A small trick would be to rub these treats on your hands. If you’re feeling brave enough, you may even put your hand in the cage with treats on the palm. This will bring your hamster closer to you without any provocation on your part.
- Another trick you can try is to spread your scent on the bedding every once in a while. Put your hand in the material for a short while and run the material through your hand which is sure to retain your scent.
- Before your first few ventures at holding them, wash your hands. This will drive away any smell of food from your hand. If you’re wondering why you should do this, the reason is simple – when your hands smell like food, it’s very likely that the hamster will bite you. However, wearing gloves works too!
- Your hamster may not come to you in the first few tries (make sure that your ventures are at least a week or two apart), but each day, put your hand in his cage and wait for him to voluntarily come to you. You may use treats to lure him but if he refuses, you know what to do. Sudden attacks may be thrown at you too but do not withdraw your hand even if that scares you. He/she will think you are retaliating and back away from you further. Use subtle touches to acquaint them with your contact at first and then try holding him/her in your palm.
- On the contrary, if you succeed, then gently place your hand in front of them and let them climb it only if they are familiar with your contact. Hold them firmly but not tightly and if possible, sit down while doing so because the height may scare them and if they fall, they won’t get hurt.
Third Step: The Bonding Time
- If you’ve had a massive success in the last step, you can now start bonding with your hamster. Gradually you’ll see him visibly relaxed around you now that you’re both comfortable with each other. He/she will no longer hesitate to come to you and enjoy being around you. However, some hamsters can still show anxiety at times. In cases like this, it’s your job to make him/her feel safe.
- Previously, you had kept your ventures sparse but now to establish a good bond and trust, you must try holding him/her almost every day. His confidence in you will further grow when you devote some more time than usual. If possible, play with him with hamster balls or get him a wheel fit for his size.
- At this point, you’re no longer allowed to call your hamster untamed. With you playing and feeding him (now you can offer some food on your own palm) an official understanding will have been built. Show him enough love and care for him.
However, just because now he’s been tamed doesn’t mean your duties towards him will end. Show enough dedication and give him treats every now and then! Whether he’s tame or not, loving it is what counts.
During this whole process, you will face a few things that will make the whole experience troublesome. For example as a part of their defense mechanism, the hamsters may bite you! In that case, try not to push him but instead take baby steps and start with patting then to holding. Otherwise, in the long run, you will face difficulty in making him/her like you.
Never get violent or wake a sleeping hamster up. They tend to get very frightened. They may also get sick from time to time with dehydration, diarrhea, infections, coughs and cold, eye protrusion or eyelid rub. In such cases, take it to the vet immediately.
Other than these problems, those who have multiple hamsters may face the trouble of ‘fighting hamsters.’ Hamsters in general do not like others in their space and as a result, they fight amongst one another. Pay close attention to your hamsters and if things get out of hand, place them in different cages. But if you do not want to take up the trouble of cleaning more cages, you can try sectioning their cage into separate parts. To avoid further conflicts, give each of them their own food bowls and water to drink. Also, it is best not to keep more than two hamsters in the same cage.