Hamsters can be prone to some illnesses in his or her short life as any other living being so you will need to monitor your little one to be sure he/she is healthy. Some illnesses that can affect your hamster are abscesses of open wounds, infections, overgrown teeth that can hinder proper eating, eye problems due to injuries and infections as well as cataracts. Hamsters can also have respiratory infections with labored breathing, weight and appetite loss as well as discharge from the eyes and nose.
Improper damp and dirty housing along with inadequate diet can cause fungal infections. Hamsters can also be prone to gastrointestinal infections. Keep your hamster in a cool, dry area away from drafts and direct sun which can lead to heatstroke. A hamster can die quickly from heatstroke. To help your pet with heatstroke, run your pet under slightly cool water until it is alert and breathing normally. Dry him/her off, place in a clean cage away from heat and offer him/her via eyedropper some water or Pedialyte. If your hamster did suffer from heatstroke, once you have revived your little pet, take them to your veterinarian.
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Hamsters are cute, furry and nocturnal. When you are looking to buy one of these new little pets, there are a few things you should consider. It can be hard since they are nocturnal and are usually sleeping during “shopping hours.” Evening is the best time to select a healthy hamster. Try to check out the eyes to see if they are bright, the body robust and the fur dry and smooth with no bare patches. Although shy and timid, the hamster should not be lethargic. When awake, they are usually very curious. Take note if the rear end is soiled which is usually a sign of diarrhea. Look further at the nose, eyes and ears for cleanliness and no discharge as well as any crusting fur or staining and mats under the chin. Spend time watching the hamster you are interested in to note his/her playfulness and curious nature as well as any signs of stiffness or lameness. As with any pet, it takes time to study the animal and choose one that is happy and healthy.
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There are several varieties of hamsters although the most common is the Syrian, golden or Teddy Bear hamster. Despite their golden color, the Syrian hamsters can come in a variety of color combinations. These particular hamsters should be kept separate from others as they do tend to fight if you choose to get a pair.
Another variety is less common but much more sociable and is known as the Russian or Chinese dwarf hamsters. These little dwarf hamsters are very similar and are usually brown in color with a black striping on the back. Many say they resemble tailless field mice. These hamsters can actually be found in other color combinations, are pretty friendly and do well in pairs, considering they are both the same sex.
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One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to a hamster. How long does a hamster live? Generally, a hamster can live anywhere between 2 and 6 years. depending on the breed The dwarf variety of hamsters live shorter lives than the Syrian hamster breeds. In general most live between 2-3 years. These are such delicate little animals you never know how long their lifespan will be.
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Begin by choosing the best nutritional hamster food you can find and supplement it with small pieces of fruits and vegetables and occasional mealworm or crickets. Many foods for hamsters come in pellet form where healthy ingredients are ground, mixed and formed into these little pieces. Hamsters like to gnaw which is provided by this food as part of a good diet. Some foods also include a mix of nuts, dried fruits and seeds. You can try to add a little Timothy hay or alfalfa to the diet as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, being sure to remove uneaten items daily so they are not left to rot. Along with a variety of foods in the diet as listed above, there are other treats you can give your little hamster a couple of times a week. Most treats are not nutritional like the regular diet and can be sweetened which is why they should be given sparingly. Some of these treats may include nuts, seeds, dried vegetables and fruits as well as the crickets and mealworms that hamsters love. There may be items at home you can provide such as eggs (scrambled or hard boiled,) sugar-free cereal bits, uncooked pasta, dog biscuits and whole wheat bread.
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Some ill hamsters can carry bacteria that can be transmitted to others. Any pet can be a carrier of rabies although most hamsters purchased in clean, reputable pet stores should be free from rabies or any serious disease and illness. If cared for in a safe, healthy manner and clean environment, there should be no danger of your pet carrying any disease.
Just like cats self-groom themselves, so does your hamster. If the pet’s coat begins to look untidy, it may be a sign that your pet is ill and needs medical attention. Whenever you transport your hamster to the vet, be sure the carry case is chew-proof. If you are transporting your hamster in the winter make sure you keep your pet warm. If it is in the summer make sure your hamster doesn’t get too hot.
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people choose a glass aquarium where you can watch the antics of your little pet; it keeps him safe and draft-free and provides a temperature controlled environment. Be sure you provide a wire lid for the top of the aquarium with a heavy object on top to prevent escapes.
Another cage option is the wire cage with plastic which is the cheapest option. The foundation of this unit is plastic with wire and should have available doors to fit your hand in and feed your hamster as well as remove it for cleaning of the cage.
A plastic tube habitat is another fun cage idea for your hamster. This is a little more expensive and difficult to clean. But it provides tubes and tunnels for your hamster’s fitness level as well as your pleasure in watching your pet in play.
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Just as any other pet, hamsters need plenty of exercise and an exercise wheel is a good start. Some cages provide mazes and fitness areas for your hamster or you can construct something to keep your little pet from being bored. Pet stores also have exercise balls for these types of small animals – just be sure to limit the area where your hamster rolls in the ball and this can keep him busy for a long time. You have to exercise caution when doing this to make sure it doesn’t roll down the stairs, or your dog or cat doesn’t get it.
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A food dish and water bottle that are easy to reach are the most necessary items needed in your hamster’s cage. Pine shavings or some other type of bedding are important as well and should be cleaned and changed weekly. Be sure to rinse and change the water bottle as well to make sure your little friend has fresh water as well. For fun and exercise, an exercise wheel is a good option for your hamster.
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Despite all efforts on your part to protect your hamster, they can get injured with broken bones, bites – especially when two hamsters live together – and cheek pouch injuries. To rehabilitate your injured hamster, they need to be separated, remove any objects from the cage like the exercise wheel and allow your pet to rest. Most breaks will heal on their own within a couple of weeks. Bites may need to be cleaned with peroxide. If infections develop, call your veterinarian.
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