Hamsters are usually seen as easy-to-care-for pets. As compared to dogs and cats that need regular exercise and even grooming, all you seem to need is just a simple cage and sufficient food and water for these little critters, and you’re good to go. However, don’t forget that hamsters are active little creatures that usually require plenty of toys and playtime to keep entertained and engaged.
For those unaccustomed to the whole new ball game that is ‘hamster fun’, we break it down here for you. Besides the basics of providing food, water and a shelter over its head, learn what else you can do to keep your hamster happy!
The exercise wheel is the quintessential hamster toy, as it allows your hamster to exercise and run as much as it would in the wild (Did you know? Hamsters can travel more than 8 km per day in the wild just to find food!) Moreover, it also helps to wear down a hamster’s nails as it runs, allowing them to be trimmed less regularly. If you want to let your hamster exercise outside the confines of its cage, you can even consider a plastic exercise ball that gives your pet free reign to explore your home. Doesn’t that sound like an adventure for Hammie? Do always remember supervise your hamster when it is rolling about the house to prevent it from getting stuck in narrow areas, though.
Chew On It
Do you often witness your hamster chewing on the rungs of its cage? A hamster has a natural instinct to chew, as they originated from wild rodents that chewed on sticks or pinecones in order to grind their teeth down naturally. As such, your pet will need something to chew on in order to keep its teeth sharp and prevent them from being over-grown. These can come in the form of wooden toys such as planks, which are hard enough for grinding purposes, and yet not overly tough such that it would cause teeth problems.
Every time you select a toy – be it a wooden chew, or something else – it’s always important to keep safety in mind, as your pet has the potential to misuse every plaything that comes its way. Make sure that chew toys come without any varnishing, as paints could contain toxic chemicals. Alternatively, you can consider other things that your hamster can chew on such as cardboard tubes, wooden branches or even dog biscuits. All toys should also be durable enough to handle some rough treatment, without splintering into small pieces that could be swallowed or even become lodged in your hamster’s cheek pouch.
It is important to get your hamster accustomed to your scent, voice and general presence. Start with feeding your hamster small treats, such as sunflower seeds, by hand. While cleaning its cage, you may also touch your hamster gently and speak to it softly to improve recognition and association. When your hamster seems comfortable and familiar with you, you can even try gently petting it, and gradually start to pick it up. Just be sure to wash your hands to prevent lingering food smells that might invite an unwanted ‘taste test’.
Another thing you need to remember about your hamster is that it is mostly nocturnal, meaning that it will be active mostly in the evening and at night. If you disturb your hamsters while they are sleeping in the day, they might resent it and even nip you! However, in the event that your hamster does bite, always remain calm and refrain from flinging your pet off your limbs despite the pain. After all, hamsters bite out of fear and a sense of vulnerability, so you should do all you can to ensure that your contact with it is always positive and reassuring.
Just like any other animal, hamsters need kind and careful attention to become the loving pets that they have the potential of being. As such, even with these toys and tricks up your sleeve, remember that paying close attention to your hamster’s needs (be it food, water or exercise) is still the overall priority for a happy, healthy, Hammie.