Hamster have 5 specifications of species. Each species has their own behavior and different set of needs.
Hamsters are Crepuscular
Hamsters are crepuscular, which means that they are active from dusk to dawn. The reason behind this behavior is because hamsters are prey animals. They only go outside at these times to avoid predators and also to avoid heat stress from their environment. Knowing this, it is best to play with them during the times that they are awake.
Hamsters don’t bathe in water
Hamsters have natural body oil. These oils keeps their body heat temperature normal. Without these oils, they can easily catch colds. Sand baths help them clean, and at the same time their natural oil can still remain in their body. They also love to roll over the sand for leisure.
Syrian Hamsters are Solitary animals
Syrians are solitary creatures, meaning when they are 2 months old and older, they are meant to live alone. Territorialism is biological and instinctual, meaning you can not change their innate behavior. Syrians need to live alone, they are not social animals. Their solitary nature has been proven through scientific studies and can also be witnessed in the wild.
Dwarf hamsters can be social
Unlike Syrian hamsters, Dwarf hamsters live in pacts. They can be housed together for as long as they are of the same gender (to prevent them from breeding that may cause genetic disorders), from the same litter and they are of the same age. Please take note that there are instances where dwarf hamsters fight when they become mature (within 4-8 months). If there are signs of fighting, separate them asap. It is best to keep them alone, as they can still thrive without a companion.
Front teeth never stops growing
A hamster’s front teeth grows indefinitely. It is important to provide a chew toy that is safe for them. A good chew toy they can have is cardboard tissue rolls, apple sticks, wood toys, or Whimzees. Never use mineral stones as chews for this contains excessive minerals that hamsters don’t need. This may cause kidney problems.
Potty / Litter train
Hamsters can be trained to pee in one area, this is called potty training. A hamster that is potty trained is ideal to maintain cleanliness of the cage. With a potty trained hamster, we will only be cleaning one specific area of the cage which we call spot cleaning. To train them, make sure to check where they pee. Take the substrate with pee and place it inside their potty jar / sand bath tub. Wait until they get the habit of peeing in those area.
Hamsters love to burrow underneath the substrate. They have this instinct to protect them from predators. They burrow underneath to hide and feel more secure. They also make their nest underneath burrow areas. It is best to provide deep beddings for them to burrow and enjoy.
Hamsters are active animals. They are fond of exploring areas to hunt for food (also the reason why they are escape artists). They can run 5 miles a night. It is best to provide them huge suitable cages so they can explore more. Also it is good to provide a variety of toys and other items to provide them opportunities for exercise, explore, and play. This will also help them stay occupied during the night.
A hamster bite is not fatal. They don’t have rabies like other animals. BUT a hamster bite could lead to an infected wound if not cleaned and treated. There are numerous reasons why they bite. First is that they feel threatened. Second is your hands may smell food. Third is when they get surprised. Sometimes they do nip your hands (it’s a soft bite that doesn’t wound) to show affection or trying to check if your hand is edible.
Hamsters live an average span of 1.5-2.5 years. Because of this, we need to give the best care possible to maximize the years they have on us.
Hamster came from the German word “hamstern” which means to hoard. As part of their survival instincts, hamsters have expanded cheek pouches to store food. These cheek pouches can store food up to 1/3 of their total mass. These food collected are placed in their stash. They hoard as much as they can so that they can survive.
Hamsters are prone to stress. When they are stressed, their immune system goes down making them vulnerable to sickness such as wet tail and many other more. One of the cause of their stress is when they are placed in a new environment. Newly adopted hamsters must be placed in their new cage and left alone for 2-4 days. Let them settle to get used to their new environment, build nests, and scatter their scent all over the cage. Another factor is when they are caged in a small cage or substandard sized cage. They are active animals and require suitable space to roam and be active.
Handling a hamster can be enjoyable but not all hamsters enjoy being handled. Some hamsters need to be tamed before we can enjoy their company. Taming them takes time and patience to truly get their trust.
They don’t hibernate
Hamsters in the wild regulate their own body temperature by burrowing underneath the ground where the soil serves as an insulation to keep them warm. Hamsters do not hibernate in the traditional sense, but rather they enter a state of torpor. Torpor is also a type of hibernation but torpor in involuntary. They enter a deep sleep due to extreme cold weather (15 degrees celcius or below), lack of food, etc. This usually takes an hour. On the other hand, hibernation is an active process done purposely. Through domestication of the hamsters, they have lost the ability to snap out of torpor that is why this is a real danger for our hamsters.
Coprophagy is a term that means “eating poops.” A hamster’s digestive system is inefficient and does not absorb all the nutrients of their food on the first intake. The first pass poops still has nutrients, therefore eating them gives them substantial amounts of nutrients. So don’t get shocked or disgusted when they eat their poops.