Hamsters are the rodents that are commonly owned in households as pets. These small furry animals are friendly to humans. Young children can also learn to take care and clean the cage by having a little pet as its responsibility can be much less than a cat or a dog. There are many varieties of hamsters with almost similar characteristics.
Characteristics of hamsters
The all-round characteristics of hamsters are briefly described here under for your consideration.
Physical characteristics: Normally, 5-7 inches long hamsters have small eyes, short tails, and a furry coat of various colors like brown, black, white, grey, red, or yellow. They have cheeks with large pouches to collect and transport their food from one place to the other. Their hairless and wide feet include five toes on the rear feet and four on the front feet. They have incisors or chisels like teeth on the front which continue to grow during their lifetime.
Habits and personality: Normally hamsters like to live alone due to their solitary nature. They can kill each other if two adult hamsters are kept in one cage. But they are usually docile and friendly with humans. You can handle them easily without being afraid of their biting as they are not habitual to it. By nature, they are active at night and sleep during the day.
Longevity: The lifespan of hamsters in the wild is nearly 2-3years but they live for a shorter time when raised in captivity. Their lifespan also depends upon various factors like their genes, upbringing, and breed. You can increase their life by providing them fresh vegetables and fruits to eat and a large cage to do a lot of exercises and remain active.
Differences in hamsters: Hamsters can be classified into a dwarf, medium, and giant species. Popularly medium and dwarf species are owned by people as pets. Normally thee hamsters are peaceful by nature while living with the hamsters of the same sex. Another difference in hamsters is due to their hair as some have short hair whereas some long hair. Hamsters with short hair are velvety and smaller in size whereas hamsters with long hair are fluffy and thick.
Price of a hamster
The initial price of a hamster can be nearly a hundred dollars but the overall cost of having a hamster as a pet can be nearly $250-$350 in the first year. This cost will include the cost of a cage, toys, and other supplies as well as making adjustments in the cage to keep your pet active and healthy. The average annual cost of the food of a hamster can be nearly $50 if you buy a basic mix for the hamsters from a pet store. To keep them active and help them in growing their effectively you should give them some toys to chew regularly. The cost of their medications can be low as they rarely need a vet unless they eat their food effectively.
All types of hamsters cannot be cared for similarly as all of them are unique by nature. But while taking care of your pet you must ensure to meet their needs. By nature hamsters like to live alone so you should provide them a safe home in the form of a cage with tightly tied wires so that it cannot squeeze them to escape out of it.
Their cage should be put in a place with moderate temperature and proper lighting but away from cold spells and direct sunlight. A thick layer of hamster litter or bedding should be laid on the floors of the cage. You can search online to know about the nesting and bedding materials and their substitutes to be used on the bottom of the cage of hamsters to make them feel comfortable. You should clean its cage regularly by using soap and warm water and change its bedding once a week at least. In order to explore the environment of the cage hamsters uses their vibrissae or whiskers to help in detecting certain objects.
They have to sharpen their teeth themselves as their incisors continue to grow throughout their life. So they need something to chew in their cage to grind their teeth and sharpen the wear out teeth. Being nocturnal by nature hamsters sleep during the day and active at night. The retina of the large eyes of hamsters is dominated by rods which makes them more functional when the light is less intensive. Tough hamsters are sociable animals but not all. Dwarf hamsters from Russia are more sociable than the adult hamsters from Syria as they like to live alone in burrows.
Though the appetite of hamsters can be satisfied easily still they should be given a balanced diet to eat so that they can remain healthy throughout their life. Most of the standard hamster foods available on pet stores include almost all the nutrients required for them. Still you can add fresh food in their regular diet to keep them healthy and active. According to experts, you should give them fresh vegetables and fruits like spinach, broccoli, cucumber, pear, bananas, and apples, etc. along with limited amounts of Timothy hay and grains. The quantity of gains and hay should not be more than 10% of the entire diet. You should avoid giving them raw potatoes, sweet fruits, cabbage, caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate as they can disrupt their digestive system and can cause serious health problems. While feeding your pet hamster you should change their food and water every day. You should give them fresh food to eat and chlorine-free fresh filtered water to drink. The fruits and vegetables not eaten by your hamster should be discarded after 24 hours.
Hamsters love to run and do a lot of exercises to remain active. So while in captivity with you, it should be allowed to do exercises as well as play with certain toys specially designed for hamsters like a hideaway igloo, exercise wheel, hammock, rain bo play bridge, tunnel system for natural living, etc. It will keep your pet happy and healthy.