Small, cute, and round, these tiny creatures can make great first-time pets and can be simple to look after once you understand what they require to live happily and healthily.
Syrian hamsters may be small and easy to keep, but you will still need to provide for them, have adequate times to care for them and have the necessary space to home them. As with all pets there is a certain level of responsibility.
This blog is here to help you understand what you will need to look after a Syrian hamster as well as any particular needs they have.
In This Blog
About the Syrian Hamster
Also known as the golden hamster, these pets can be quite easy to care and look after. This makes them ideal pets for beginner owners and children under the supervision and guidance of an adult.
They typically grow to be between 5-7 inches long and can weigh up to 7 ounces. Whilst these pets are great for a first-time pet owner, the drawback is their short life expectancy. On average they can be expected to only live for 3-4 years.
These pets can be very territorial, so it is recommended that you do not house them with any other animal to prevent fights from breaking out with one another.
For Syrian hamsters this is goes to the level where if they can even smell another hamsters scent within the same household, they may become distressed and upset. It is always best to just stick with one hamster in the same house.
One problem you may face when owning a hamster, especially if they live in a child’s bedroom, is that they are nocturnal animals. This means they sleep through the all the daylight hours and only become active at night.
As for habits, they love to climb, chew on things, dig and run in their wheel which unsurprisingly could keep you up for hours each night.
If you place them somewhere away from your bedroom, be sure not to place them in the way of direct sunlight or near any blowing draughts. They should be in an area with a steady constant temperature.
Also, if you have any other pets like a dog or a cat, make sure your hamster is nowhere near the reach of their swiping paws. Making sure the cage is fastened securely is vital to preventing your hamster from becoming a meal.
If you’ve treated your hamster properly from the very start, then you will be receiving the gift of having an active best friend who is full of personality and affection.
However, be sure that you handle them correctly and take your time with them. Read about how to handle your hamster correctly here.
How to Handle my Syrian Hamster
So, you have just bought a new Syrian hamster and you are so excited to get them home and make them part of the family. You may want to just wait a minute and hold your hamsters (not literally). When you bring them home, they will need to become acclimated to their new surroundings and settle into their new home before you start playing with and handling them.
Offer them an adequately sized cage to allow them to run around and find their favourite hiding spot. This step will provide them a much-needed safe space to hide away from the hustle and bustle – it will also greatly aid them in falling asleep. You need to try and avoid interfering with them during the day as this is when they are sleeping, and every pet and human alike needs their beauty sleep.
Something which won’t surprise you…treats work for nearly everything! Including us humans!
Start by offering them treats through the bars of the cage. (If you do not have bars on your cage, just offer the treats at the door). Once you have done this a few times, move to the door and offer treats out of your hand there. You should allow them to come to you and avoid the temptation of stroking or grabbing them.
Encourage your hammy onto your hand with a treat until they are sat on your hand eating. From here, you can progress to taking them out of their cage and into the big wide world of your home.
Everything you do, and every step you take, must be done in a considerate and gradual manner. Never rush things or be rough and clumsy. Hamsters are very small and delicate animals after all and can easily be injured.
Potential Health Problems
Whilst Syrian Hamsters are bold little creatures, they can still develop health conditions like any animal. Some health conditions can be minor and easily treatable, whereas others are more concerning and can affect their long-term health.
A minor condition your hamster can develop are mites. These can be found in both their ears and their fur and is very common.
Whilst some hamsters aren’t bother by mites, irregular grooming, unsanitary living, or a weakened immune system can increase the numbers of mites in their coat and compromise their health.
They can usually be straight forward to remedy and shouldn’t affect your hamsters long term health. Regular cleaning of their cage and fresh bedding should prevent this. If you notice any hair loss or rough dry skin showing, contact your vet for advice.
A more serious condition is known as Wet Tail. This is a well-known infection which gives them a wet tail as a result of diarrhoea. They can develop this for multiple reasons, but the most prominent and common trigger is high stress levels.
A young hamster which is moved from place to place regularly, with no companion, eventually ending up in the hands of a new owner is a prime candidate to experience Wet Tail.
Circumstances such as those just mentioned are bound to increase stress levels. Consequently, your poor hamster will overproduce bacteria in their intestine which will lead to them having diarrhoea.
If you believe that the reason they have loose stools is from Wet Tail, then contact a vet to consult and potentially prescribe you with antibiotics.
Older hamsters can be susceptible to growths on their body. These can be benign or malignant tumours. If you notice any unusual lumps on them. Contact a vet to discuss treatment options.
What will you need for your New Pet Syrian Hamster?
We have come up with a list of things you will need for your hamster and things your hamster may enjoy if you got them it.
- Cage: You will need a home for your new pet. This must be a minimum of 24 inches by 12 inches and at least 12 inches tall. But the bigger the cage, the better and multiple levels will make your hamster even happier.
- Bedding: Your hamster must have bedding in the bottom of their cage. You can use things like toilet paper, kitchen roll, wooden pellets, or wood shavings. Avoid using bedding like pine or cedar shavings as this can damage their lungs or splinter and harm them.
- Food Bowls and Water Bowls: Make sure that their bowls are made of ceramic or glass as they love to chew on everything. These will be easier to clean and less likely to be tipped over and make a mess of their bed.
The size of their bowl should be shorter than the hamster, however, not too shallow. Don’t get anything bigger 4 inches by 3 inches by 4 inches tall. These should be emptied and cleaned daily.
- Water Bottle: These will prevent your hamster from falling into the bowl and getting wet as they hate getting wet! This will also prevent the water from being contaminated with particles from dirty bedding or dropping. Do note that this bottle should be emptied and cleaned daily.
- Food: Feed them correct hamster feed and a mixture of timothy hay as well as a small amount of fruit and vegetables. (Make sure that the fruit and vegetables are good for hamsters to eat.)
- Wheel: In the wild, hamsters run for several miles foraging for food. By offering them a wheel, this allows them to get the exercise that they need and allows them to be active.
- Ball: By offering your hamster a ball, you are allowing them to stretch their legs and become active. Inactivity in hamsters can lead to health conditions like obesity and will reduce their lifespan. Always monitor them whilst they are playing in the ball.
- Chews: Offering your hamster a chew will help to keep their teeth from becoming overgrown and wear them down whilst they chew on them. Be sure to purchase these chews from a pet store as there are certain types of wood which can be harmful to your little friend.
- Treats: We love to treat our pets every now and again with tasty treats, so why not our special Syrian hamsters? There are many treats out there for them which are healthy and beneficial to their care. Don’t overfeed them as this can cause health issues. Only feed them once or twice per week.
- A House for Inside their Cage: Hamster’s love to hide in their cage. By offering them a house, it means they have somewhere dark to go to sleep and hide away from everything.
Whilst this may make it seem like they need a lot of things, once you have purchased the necessities, they won’t need much more. After this are just the basic necessities such as food, water, and bedding.
Another thing your wallet would like to hear is that due to them being so small, they don’t require much feeding. This means food costs less than many other pets.
Hopefully you will feel more confident in owning a hamster and you will have everything you will possibly need to offer your hamster the best life full of happiness and joy. We hope you have fun caring for your Syrian hamster and this blog has helped you get started on your journey!