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CARING FOR YOUR
HAMSTER

One of the joys of being a Hamster Pet Parent is how easy they are to take care of. You can get all of the food, treats, bedding, and habitat supplies your Hamster will need at your local PetSmart store or on PetSmart.com.

FIRST DAY

Before you bring your new Hamster home make sure to have the habitat and all your other goodies and supplies set up to ensure a smooth, undisrupted transition to his new home.

Your Hamster can live in a wire habitat with a solid bottom or a glass aquarium with a well-ventilated wire mesh top. Don’t choose a plastic aquarium because Hamsters can easily chew through them and escape. Line your Hamster’s habitat with 1 to 2 inches of clean aspen, pine or recycled paper bedding. All habitats should have an opening that’s large enough to fit your hand through.

  • Well ventilated home (minimum size 12x12x12" with wire spacing no more than 1/2" apart)
  • Water bottle
  • Heavy food bowl (can be attachable to the habitat)
  • Exercise wheel
  • Hide house or tunnel
  • Chew toys
  • Nesting material and bedding (avoid cedar which can be toxic)
  • Timothy hay, orchard grass, brome hay, botanical hay, or oat hay

Before you bring your new Guinea Pig home make sure to have the habitat and all your other goodies and supplies set up to ensure a smooth, undisrupted transition to its new home.

Helpful Hint: Your Hamster may have a much easier transition to his new home if you incorporate a handful of shavings from his previous habitat into its new habitat.

The Set Up
Find a place for your Hamster’s habitat that’s secluded from your other family pets, especially cats and dogs, and away from a window (Hamsters do not do well in direct heat, cold or drafts).

During your Hamster’s first day allow him to adjust to his new surroundings by only taking him out of the habitat once for a few minutes. You can sit near the habitat and talk softly as he explores, and when you’re ready to pick him up for the first time try offering a piece of food and gently stroke its head while he eats. If your Hamster scurries away, just be patient and try again in 10-15 minutes. Always make sure to scoop up the Hamster gently and to avoid picking him up when he’s been sleeping (Hamsters can be grumpy and may bite when awoken).

DAY TO DAY

Your new pet will be relatively low maintenance, but will require specific daily care, keeping in mind that the first three weeks of your Hamster’s new life will be a big transition for you and him both.

Feeding
Place your Hamster’s kibble or block feed in a food bowl never on top of habitat bedding – you don’t want your Hamster to ingest bedding. Try choosing a complete, fortified pellet to prevent your pet from picking out his favorite pieces and leaving healthy pieces behind.

Refresh food daily, keeping the bowl approximately three-quarters full. Every other day you can offer fresh vegetables (to make up 20 percent of diet), including dark, leafy greens like kale and collard greens as well as vegetables like zucchini and shredded carrots. Only offer an amount that can be consumed in four hours and check the habitat for stashed food; Hamsters are notorious hoarders. Always make sure your Hamster has plenty of water to drink.

ONGOING

It’s best to establish a veterinary relationship when you first get your Hamster; you may want to consider a specialty small pet vet. Check your local PetSmart Banfield Pet Hospital to see if a small pet vet is on staff. Bring your Hamster to the vet at least once a year for an annual check up as well as any time your Hamster exhibits out-of-the-norm behavior, including:

  • Loose stools
  • Blood in urine
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bald patches of fur
  • Sores on the feet
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Irregular eating or drinking

Feeding
In addition to your Hamster’s daily diet of pellets and vegetables you can feed fruit, including papaya, banana, and mango, once a week (5 percent of diet). Your Hamster’s teeth never stop growing so providing hard, crunchy treats offers not only a yummy surprise for him but also helps keep his teeth trimmed.

Cage Maintenance
Bedding should be spot cleaned weekly and completely changed monthly.

Playing/Grooming
Provide daily exercise for your Hamster to promote good health and good behavior with an exercise wheel or ball. Never leave your pet unsupervised inside an exercise ball. Hamsters are very clean animals. They engage in an elaborate, and often adorable, cleaning ritual that involves them washing their face and ears with both hands and cleaning out their ears with their feet. There’s no need to worry about grooming or bathing your Hamster.