How to Set up a Hamster Home
They are great diggers who will build their own little holes with one or more entrances and with other rooms connected to each other for nesting and food storage. Hamsters are famous for storing up large amounts of food, because of their natural instinct from the wild. So it’s ok if you leave your hamster alone for a few days if you need to go somewhere.
A hamster’s home, or cage, needs to be at least 12 x 18 in, and 12 in tall. Dwarf hamsters need even more space than their larger relatives because of their high activity levels.
They, like most rodents, are big time gnawers ! They need something like an edible gnaw toy or an unpainted wooden block in their cage to chew on. Their chewing teeth [incisors] grow continually. If they become too long it gets really hurtful to the hamster and can even cause them to stop eating.
Hamsters love to build nests. Give them strips of tissue or toilet paper so they can build one. Do not use newspapers because of the ink. Also stay away from “bleached-white” toilet paper. Lint can also be bad for them if they eat it [can hurt their tummy]. They’ll also need some “chinchilla sand”. Hamsters love rolling in the sand to keep their fur clean and dry. Hamsters can not be given water baths, it can stress them out and cause wet tail, and it also increases the risk of them catching pneumonia.
The floor of a hamster's home is usually covered with a layer of litter. Litter made from recycled paper or wood [without any oils] is best for them. Stay away from regular cat litter … it can realy hurt a hamster. Your local pet store will have what you need.
Be sure to put your hamster's home out of strong sunlight that could cause dangerous overheating.
Like all pets, hamsters need exercise and entertainment to stay happy and healthy. “Exercise wheels" let them run at full speed. Remember to get a wheel that will be big enough for your hamster when they are full grown [a Syrian hamster needs a wheel at least 8 inches in diameter]. Use olive oil [harmless to a hamster] on the axle of the exercise wheel to reduce friction and cut down on turning noises. There are also big plastic balls that your hamster can go right inside of. This let’s them “run around” the house without getting walked on or eaten by a hungry cat !
In the wild hamsters will eat any wheat, nuts and small bits of fruit and vegetables they can find lying around on the ground. They sometimes will also eat small insects like crickets or mealworms. Berries, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables [celery, green beans, carrots, brocolli] are also really important for them. Stay away from things like sweets made for humans, oranges, lemons, kidney beans, onion, garlic and iceberg lettuce.
Remember to wash fruits, vegetables and greens before feeding, as they can have traces of pesticides.