Types of hamsters include Syrian hamsters, which are more commonly referred to as teddy bear hamsters, or the dwarf hamster, which are smaller and always have short hair. Hamsters come in a variety of sizes, colors, hair lengths and temperaments. Before adding a hamster to the family, children must be sure that they are ready to invest the time, energy and money it will take to provide a hamster with a good quality life.
Hamsters tend to prefer to live by themselves, notes Disney Family Fun. While several hamsters can be kept in the same cage, it is not generally recommended unless they are dwarf hamsters, in which case they can live in same-sex pairs. According to The Humane Society, Syrian hamsters tend to be territorial creatures and may fight with other hamsters that live too close by. Fights can result in serious injuries and even death.
Since their cage is the only place a hamster will live, it is important to invest in a large enough cage so the hamster has space to spread out and get exercise. The Humane Society reports that in the wild, hamsters tend to find living spaces that allow them to make burrows for sleeping, food storage and waste excretion. Keep the hamster cage away from direct heat sources such as sunlight, fireplaces and heat vents.
If a hamster is overfed, it can become overweight; therefore, feeding a hamster correctly is important. Hamsters have fast metabolisms and do require constant access to food and water, notes The Humane Society. Hamsters should eat about a tablespoon of seeds or pellets on a daily basis with a regular supplement of fresh fruits such as apples or raisins and vegetables such as cauliflower.
The teeth of all rodents are constantly growing, reports Disney Family Fun. Since hamsters are rodents it is important to ensure that their teeth do not grow too long. They should be given products to chew that will help file their teeth down. Special wooden blocks made for this purpose can be found at any pet store. These blocks should be placed in the hamster’s cage and replaced with new blocks as they get worn down.
Hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means that they do the majority of their sleeping during the day and are awake during the dark hours of the night. It is important to keep a hamster’s sleep schedule in mind as you decide on the location for its cage. Hamsters can make a lot of noise at night and if their cage is kept in a bedroom, it may be hard for a person to sleep.
Hamsters generally live for anywhere from two-and-a-half to three years, reports The Humane Society. The lifespan of different hamster species can vary slightly.
Hamsters can be bought at pet stores, but it is important to note that there are also hamsters available for adoption at The Humane Society or other pet shelters, reports Disney Family Fun. Petfinder.com is an excellent online resource for animals, including hamsters, which are waiting to be adopted.