How to Keep and Breed Hamsters V
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Different sizes for regular and dwarf hamsters. They come in plastics also.
Hamster Wheels. Most commercial hamster cages include a wheel. We recommend them. Why? As we said earlier, hamster run three miles per night. Pregnant hamsters run six.
When you put a wheel in with a hamster which has never in its entire life seen a wheel, it only takes him about 30 seconds to figure out how it works. (Provided he’s awake, of course. It takes longer if he’s still asleep.)
Wire cages come with a fairly noiseless plastic wheel. Hamsters seem to love the taste of those plastic wheels. Luckily, replacements are cheap. Module cages come with a hard-to-chew, longer-lasting solid plastic wheel. You can find all sorts of replacement wheels. Most people select the metal ones. Use a little dab of petroleum jelly to help quiet it. And you can find glow-in-the dark plastic wheels also.
Hamster Running Balls. Several types of see-though hamster balls enable you to open the ball and put your hammie inside. He can then run around the house well protected from other pets and safe from being stepped upon.
Warning: Keep him away from any stairways. Hamsters have no concept of stairs. Hamster balls also come in a glow in the dark model.
Water Bottles. Use the glass tubes carefully. Many of them drip. Wash them very carefully. All of them break. By the way, you can use heavy, non-tippable bowls to hold their water. Forget cereal bowls. They tip too easily. Unfortunately, hamsters like to kick litter (among other things) into these bowls.
Hanging water bottles keep your hamsters’ water free of pollution. You can find several styles of these – even colored bottles. If you use them inside their cage, provide a protective holder.
Hamster Foods. We prefer the chunky block foods specifically made for rodents. They are hard enough to wear down their teeth as they gnaw on them. Their large size makes them difficult to hide in the litter. They contain next to no waste and provide a total diet.
Nutrition Note: Most rodents defecate in their food to aid in their absorption of certain B vitamins. Luckily, they produce little dry pellets.
Seed foods are small enough that hamsters hide them all over their cages. (Hampster is the German word for “hoarder.”) Hamsters also like to pick out their favorite seeds and don’t necessarily eat the balanced diet you selected for them. Both types of food work fine if you can’t find the one you prefer. Some people prepare their own mix of ingredients. We used to have our own mix made up with added anise oil (because we liked the licorice smell). However, hamster food costs too little to make your own.
Treat Foods. Hamsters enjoy a little change in their diet once in a while. Offer yours a treat food. In addition to the boxed treats, you can find several types of seed-filled “honey sticks” specially made for them. They also like the bird honey sticks. Secret Food: They also like Cheerios and dry dog foods. Just don’t give them too much of these treat foods, and your hamster will fare fine.
Chew Toys. Rodents’ teeth never stop growing. Their constant gnawing keeps them ground down. (If your hamster ever gets overgrown teeth trim his teeth with fingernail clippers.) Hamsters need chew toys to help grind down their teeth. Hard foods help. Chew toys finish the job. You can find a tremendous variety of chew toys from which to choose.
Caves. Hamsters love to pile into a little cave – the more the merrier. We like the wooden and ceramic ones because they can’t push them around or chew them into memories. Of course, the hamsters like the cardboard, plastic and wicker caves/homes for exactly the opposite reason. No matter which hamster home design you prefer, your hamsters will all pile into it and snooze away until about 8 that evening.
Fluffy Bedding. Several companies make what they call hamster fluffy beds. Hamsters love these compressed fibers from which they make mountains out of molehills. They start ripping them up and make a bigger and bigger pile the harder they work. Pregnant moms get the most mileage out of these special beddings. Chalk them up under “not necessary but extremely fun to watch.” Change their fluffy bedding when you change their litter.
Cage Litters. We like the pine chips. The compressed blocks go the furthest. We rip them apart like hamsters tear up their fluffy bedding. Some people prefer cedar. They like the smell. Cedar can cause big problems with rodents. Others prefer corn cobs. Corn cods mold when they get wet. Oat hulls and ground walnut shells work fine also. Aspen chips top the list. You could probably use newspaper temporarily if you ran out of your regular litter, but the ink darkens them up on their undersides. You can also find newspaper pellets and aspen pellets. Lots of choices.
Change Their Litter. Change their litter weekly or as often as your nose says “go for it.” Hamsters kick out very little odor compared to mice, but you still need to practice regular hygiene. You can delay your changes quite a bit if you use one of the odor killers. Or, scoop out the spot where they urinate. Hamsters try to keep their quarters clean if you help them a bit.
Use Your Litter. Dispose of used hamster litter in your garden. It mulches the soil and fertilizes at the same time. My garden looks like it contains no dirt. Wood chips also cut 90% of your weeding work.
Cage Sprays. Supposedly for fleas (which I’ve never seen on a hamster), these sprays work fine on the tiny little mites that sometimes show up in crowded or uncleaned cages. If you can’t find a rodent spray, use a bird spray. Both labels say they are harmless, but I’d sure avoid spraying them anywhere near your hamster’s eyes.
Vitamins. Pet store foods contain all the vitamins your hamster needs. If you want to make sure (or you feed a grocery store brand), give them a tiny bit of vitamins. Don’t overdose them on vitamins. Just a trace is all they need.
Salt Wheels. Forget them. I’ve never seen a hamster even taste a salt wheel. For guinea pigs and rabbits, yes. For hamsters, no.
Last Words. So much for today’s lesson. Have fun with your hamster(s). LA.
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