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FUN FACTS
  • There are 24 species of hamster and they belong to the family Cricetidae. The Syrian, Russian Dwarf Campbell and Roborovski breeds are the most popular for pets.
  • Hamsters enjoy exploring and use their whiskers to help them sense objects in their environment.
  • A hamster's teeth never stop growing and they have a 'self-sharpening' system where the incisors grind against each other while gnawing, which wears the teeth down.
  • Hamsters are nocturnal, with large eyes and a retina dominated by rods - the part of the eye that can function in lower light.
  • Hamsters usually live for up to two years, although some may live for longer.
A HAMSTER'S DIET

Hamsters can do very well on a commercial rodent chow supplemented with vegetables and a small amount of fruit. Hamsters fed seed-based diets are very sensitive to Vitamin E deficiency.

Always keep a close eye on the amount your hamster eats and drinks. If they start eating less, their droppings become moist or their hind-quarters become soiled, talk to your vet immediately. Avoid sudden dietary changes and stale food, as this can upset their stomach.

HOUSING
  • A wire cage or a ten-gallon aquarium with a wire-mesh top. The fancier cages with tubes, tunnels and hideaways are also good.
  • Hamsters are nocturnal. As desert animals, the Syrian hamster instinctively burrows and hoards food. Adult Syrian and Chinese hamsters are fiercely territorial and should be housed singly.
  • Winter white Russian and Russian Campbell hamsters are social, however it is still ill advised to introduce new individuals to a group.
  • Syrian hamsters will hibernate if kept in a cool area with limited food
HEALTH CHECKS
  • Hamsters have high metabolic rates and can lose condition quickly if they're unwell. They don't show outward signs of pain, so may suffer before you realise. Stressed hamsters are likely to become ill, so keep a close eye on them and look out for them behaving differently - such as developing repetitive behaviour - as this can show that something's wrong. 
  • Hamsters can be affected by many diseases, and tumours aren't uncommon, especially along the underside of the abdomen. They can become infected by contaminated food, water and litter material, and you should also keep them away from poisonous materials such as poisonous food, plants and chemicals. Consult the vet immediately if your hamster shows signs of illness or poisoning.