Everything You Need To Know About Your Pet Hamster
Adapted from The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Singapore.
If you are unable to keep a dog or a cat due to lack of space, hamsters are just the pet for you as they are small and do not require a considerable area to run around in. They are relatively clean and easy pets to maintain and can give considerable enjoyment to their owners.
Hamsters are by nature friendly but you must handle them gently; these animals are nocturnal (meaning they are active in the night and usually sleep in the day). It is best to buy your pet from a reputable shop (you will find a list of pet shops in the yellow pages); if you notice the conditions of the animals are unclean and smelly, it is best not to buy from such a dealer.
Hamsters should be kept in a cage which is big enough to allow for sufficient exercise. Cages sold in pet shops usually come complete with exercise wheel and bedding material. The cage should be cleaned out once a week; keep it in a draught-free area away from the direct sunlight or dark corners.
As mentioned in the first article in the series, it is advisable to buy a book on hamsters before you take your pet home with you.
DietFresh water must be provided daily in a bottle which can be purchased at the pet shop.
There are commercial brands of grain available from the pet-dealer. In addition to this you can feed fresh vegetables daily, such as lettuce, spinach and carrot. If feeding fresh vegetables it is very important to rinse them first and soak them in water for half an hour (there could be traces of insecticide spray which could hamr your pet). Apple can also be given.
HealthCommon hamster ailments are usually related to skin (hair loss) and teeth. As their incisor teeth continuously grow throughout their life, you must obtain a wood block (from the pet shop) to aid in keeping their teeth trimmed.
You should ensure that your hamsters are given vitamins; sometimes the food that you buy will contain the necessary vitamins your pet needs. If you fail to provide vitamins for your pet it could result in loss of hair and inactivity amongst other things.
If your hamster develops diarrhoea, check the cage for stale food and remove immediately. If the diarrhoea persists consult a veterinarian.
Skin problems must also be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you keep more than one hamster, they may bite each other. If this happens, it is advisable that you consult a veterinarian before infection sets in.
When you take your hamster to the veterinarian it should be placed in a well ventilated box. While removing your pet from its cage you must take every precaution not to let it fall on the floor or get lost.
BreedingHamsters breed very often, the pregnancy lasting only 16 days. It is wise therefore not to keep males and females together, otherwise you will soon have countless numbers in your hands.
Last update @ November 13 1996.
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