'Make sure you purchase a habitat for the hamster that is adequate in space and suitable for the hamster's needs'. Cages sold for rats are only suitable for hamsters if the wires are covered in mesh as hamsters can easily slip though bars more than 1 cm wide. Syrian hamsters love climbing and digging, so offering toys such as bendy bridges and a lot of substrate or bedding is great. All hamsters can be housed in a glass aquarium or bin cage (without the lid or with a mesh top), as most wire cages designed for hamsters are not escape-proof, due to the large spaces between the bars or they are too small for hamsters to live in. The minimum size hamster cage is 360 square inches or 24in long by 15in wide. Remember, length and width are more important than height. This is also equal to about a 20 gallon tank. You should get the biggest cage you can afford as long as it is larger than 360 square inches.
A glass aquarium is the best choice for housing any type of hamster. If you choose one with enough space and set it up correctly, the hamster will have lots of room to explore and cannot escape its habitat.You can also find many DIY cages on the internet, such as bin cages, which are also suitable for any type of hamster.
The aquarium must be at least 24 inches long, 15 inches wide and offer a lot of floor area for a hamster to run around. You are going to need to fit in all of the food, water, toys, an exercise wheel, and sand box (for your hamster to sand bathe/ use as a litter box) while still providing lots of room for your hamster to run around. Use a secure wire mesh lid to make sure that the hamster, a skillful escape artist, cannot escape its domicile. Keep in mind that the minimum floorspace in a hamster's cage in the U.S. is 360 square inches. In the U.K. the adequate floorspace required is 80x50cm.
Place the aquarium in a place that is quiet and free of any other household pets such as dogs and cats. This will reduce the stress of your pet hamster.
You must house Syrian hamsters alone, as they are territorial starting at about the age of 5-8 weeks and will fight, often to the death or at least until one is seriously injured. Many Dwarf hamsters can be housed together, as long as they are properly bonded from a young age. Remember, just because the hamsters will mate together, don't think that they will became friends, it's just by instinct.
The hamster needs room for water, food, toys, and an exercise wheel suitable for the specific type of hamster that you want to purchase. On the ground, there should be a layer of at least 3 inches (7.6cm) of bedding. Use CareFresh, CritterCare, or shredded paper bedding. Wood shavings such as pine and cedar are just not good for hamsters, as they cause many health issues like respiratory problems and contain it harmful oils. However, aspen bedding does not contain the same harmful oils and is perfectly safe for your hamster. NEVER EVER USE COTTON BEDDING. This is very dangerous for your hamster because it is indigestible, and strands of the bedding can wrap around limbs and extremities cutting off circulation and potentially killing your hamster.
The wheels that come with the cages are generally too small and isn't good for the hamster's back. A wheel is too small if your hamster's back curves upwards. Buy one that is minimum 20cm (7.9in) for a dwarf hamster and 28cm (11in) for a Syrian. Don't be afraid to go bigger, though!
Make sure the cage is escape-free! You'd be amazed at how clever hamsters are at escaping, they're like mini Houdinis! Make sure all holes are sealed and make sure that no loose or removable parts can be removed by your hammy. Be sure if you have a wire cage that your hamster can't fit through the bars or get stuck.
Be sure that you have lots of toys for the hamster to enjoy. Toys such as toilet paper rolls, empty tissue boxes, tubes, tunnels, nest boxes, PVC piping, and hamster chew toys are fun for your hamster! Most hamster owners simply give the hamster a wheel and a ball to enjoy. As a result, the hamster will start to have unhealthy habits such as pacing and/or chewing the bars of a wire cage (if housed in a wire cage, that is). Hamsters need far more than wheels and balls to occupy them. Make sure you use the toys listed above for your pet. Have enough toys so that you can rotate them and keep your hamster interested in toys that have been reintroduced after a few days of being absent.
Syrian hamsters are territorial and must be kept one to a habitat; if they are placed together, even with siblings, they will fight and seriously injure each other.Chinese hamsters are also solitary animals, and housing them together, even if they seem to get along, causes them serious stress, which can lead to illness. The three species of Dwarf hamsters (Campbell's Russian dwarf, Winter White Dwarf, and Roborovski) can live alone or in pairs as long as they are introduced to each other properly or before they are seven weeks old. Don't pair different species of hamsters together.
Cages should be cleaned regularly. Do not use soap other than washing-up liquid and even then rinse well after with cold, non-soapy water. Even the tiniest trace of other types of soap (like hand-wash) can prove fatal for your furry buddy. If you use some, use special hamster or rodent cleaning soap which you can buy from all respectable pet shops. Even having a perfectly clean tank all of the time can be bad for your hamster. It lowers their immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.
Old bedding should not be reused. Instead, cheap bedding can be found at most grocery stores and should be replaced when the cage is clean. Another good bedding is shredded tissue; you could also use shredded paper towel. Do not use newspaper, as the hamster will lick the ink off it and this will make it extremely ill. Never use pine or cedar wood shavings, as they are unhealthy for hamsters. Aspen is fine.
On an aquarium floor, there should be a thick layer of fresh, clean, unscented, and safe bedding. A 3-inch (7.6cm) layer is generally satisfactory, but a generous layer of 4 to 5 inches (10.1-12.7cm) of bedding is welcomed enthusiastically, as hamsters love burrowing, digging, and making their own nests. CareFresh, CritterCare, and shredded paper are the best types of bedding; they are safe, clean, and superb at odor control. Never use wood shavings; many contain harmful chemicals and oils that are too intense and even toxic for hamsters. Never, ever use cotton bedding. This is a choking hazard, and cotton can be very dusty and cause respiratory illness.
A small hamster house is necessary. Hamsters enjoy their privacy every bit as much as we do. They often get excited over an overturned butter bowl with an entry hole in it, or a home crafted shelter. Some hamsters will build their own nests even if you provide them with a house though. This is slightly unusual, but not abnormal.
Leave out toys and things for your furry friend to do. A block of wood keeps their teeth trim, while providing hours of entertainment. A toilet paper roll gives them something to chew on and they love to crawl through it. An old rag gives them something to chew up and use for a nest. Sometimes, you can even take little branches from trees for your furry friend to chew on! There are also many other toys your hamster will love!
The exercise wheel is useful due to the fact that it helps to prevent a hamster from becoming overweight. However, it should not be the only toy in the hamster's habitat. Hamsters will often become addicted to wheels if not offered enough toys, enrichment, or attention. As a result of using the wheel too often, they may become exhausted and dehydrated. Offer the use of the wheel each day, but only for a few hours.
If you're housing two Dwarf hamsters together, have two water bottles, two of each toy, two nest boxes, two wheels, and enough food for both hamsters.This can help overcome territorial issues.
OTHER PETS AND HAMSTERS-
Do not allow other pets such as cats and dogs to go near the hamster, the habitat, playpens, or the supplies.
Do not let your other pets have access to the same room as the hamster; the hamster will become stressed even in the safety of its own habitat, which can lead to illness. The other animals could also harm or even kill the hamster.
Never let your other pets "meet" your hamster.
House Syrian hamsters alone.
If you want to house two Dwarf hamsters together, make sure they are the same species of Dwarf hamster, are young, and do the introduction very slowly.
Spend at least one hour with your hamster during the day.
Always supervise the hamster when it is not in its habitat.
Clean the play areas regularly.
PREVENTING CAGE CONFUSION-
To prevent cage confusion, keep the set-up in the cage the same. In this case though, your hamster could get bored and chew on the cage. To prevent this from happening, change one little thing at a time (for example, move the house to a different area, add a different chew toy in, etc.). Do not move the food or water. Hamsters are very territorial and like their food to be organized.
If your hamster gets signs of stress, such as sleeping more, not exercising as much, etc., move everything back to how it was. So you don't forget, before you change the cage around, take a photo.
If this doesn't help, bring your hamster to the vet immediately.
Let him or her climb on you but be careful because they have sharp nails.Have him or her climb on your hands by putting them one in front of the other. This is a good form of physical exercise especially when you have limited room space. It will also help your hamster become tame.
Set up the cage. The minimum cage size should be 75 x 40. There are many different types of cages on the market. Some come pre-built with tunnels, running wheels, and homes, which hamsters will love if filled with bedding (remember the good bedding only please! No cedar or pine; also, it will like the cage more if you put in some tunnels. Please get a wheel which has a solid plastic base to avoid bumblefoot.
Give your hamster much comfort by cuddling it gently. Do this everyday so it will get used to human contact and won't bite!
Make your hamster a maze, and guide it through with your hand or finger.Have a piece of fruit or vegetable treat to indicate that he has done a good job. Or each day move the treat a little further into the maze to train your hamster.
Treat your hamster. A perfect treat is cheese, as most hamsters love it! Despite what some people say, my experience is that hamsters are not allergic to dairy products.
Please remember that hamsters are nocturnal and do not take kindly to be woken up before noon. Your hamster will no longer be happy if it is awakened before being fully rested or has become exhausted from exercise, play, or too much handling.
Be ready for bites! A hamster may bite you unexpectedly sometimes when it is hurt, frightened, angry, and sick or perhaps if it has been woken up early. If it nips you, do not drop or throw the hamster even if you are startled! Simply blow on its face gently. Don't punish your hamster even if it bites you. If you do, the only thing that will happen is that it won't have trust or respect for you, and it will just keep biting you.
If the bite bleeds, calmly put your hamster in its cage, and carefully close the door. Wash the bite with soap, then put a bandage on it and you're good to go!
Help your hamster exercise. Hamster exercise balls are a perfect means of allowing hamsters and other small rodents to maintain their fitness. Put the ball (with the hamster in it) in a spacious room with no clutter. Otherwise, the hamster may become upset if it keeps bumping into objects. Now your hamster can have fun rolling around without bothering people. Be mindful that your hamster's time in the ball is no more than 30 minutes maximum.
The kinder you are to your hamster the more respect and trust you earn. To be kind and caring is in your best interest.
A good toy for your hamster is to stick a toilet paper roll in his or her cage, or put a stick of apple wood in, your hamster will love to chew on it!