If you just got yourself a new hamster, good for you! To help ensure that you got everything, here’s a checklist of supplies you need for a hamster:
Hamsters make good pets since they don’t require that much of attention. In exchange for this, you need to supply them their basic needs and a few wants to maintain their physical and mental condition.
So what do hamsters need? The following are the primary things that you should have prior to getting a hamster. They include the necessities to support their habitat, food, and health.
1. Hamster Cage
Choosing the right hamster cage for your pet includes several factors such as the breed type, ease of cleaning, comfort, safety, and size. A rule of thumb for cage size is that the bigger the better.
When you probably go to a pet store, there are tons of choices to choose from especially the colorful ones. Sadly, most of them are not an appropriate and comfortable habitat for your hamsters. You would also have to consider the things that you need to put inside the cage like the exercise wheel, feeding dish, and others.
There are 4 types of hamster cages available and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Hamsters need their own personal space so it is recommended to have a hideout inside their cage. This makes them feel safe and protected from possible predators.
You have an option to buy from pet shops in the accessory section that includes huts made from different materials such as wood, edible hay, or plastic. The better option is that you make your own hideout from materials available in your house such as cardboards or excess PVC pipes.
3. Bedding Material
Be careful in choosing a bedding material for your hamster as some are not suitable because of possible health hazards. Do take note that pine and cedar wood shavings are not the appropriate beddings because they might splinter your hamsters and cause infections.
They may also cause the production of toxic substances from a combination of hamster urine and the chemicals used to process these woods.
Avoid buying fluffy and soft beddings made from artificial fibers because your hamsters may try to ingest them which may give them digestive problems. Their small legs can also get entangled with the fibers and injure them.
Some best beddings for your hamsters are cellulose-based fibers, aspen shavings or just plain paper. Aspen wood shaving is cheap and you have to take into consideration the number of times that you would be cleaning their cages. Plain paper, on the other hand, is not that absorbent so it is likely that you’ll have a smelly hamster habitat more often.
Another thing is to avoid the scented beddings because they might trigger allergic reactions to your hamsters. It is always best to go natural. Sawdust is not fit as well because of its fine particles that may affect their respiratory system.
If you see someone using newspaper, tell them to remove it immediately as the ink can be toxic to hamsters.
4. Nesting Material
A nesting material is slightly different from a bedding material; the former being what hamsters use to build their nest for sleeping. In other cases, female hamsters who are pregnant build a nest in preparation for giving birth.
Safe nesting materials that you can use are shredded toilet paper or facial tissues.
5. Water Bottle
Most enthusiasts prefer a water bottle than a drinking bowl for purposes of sanitation. In an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, the water is safe from contaminants such as the beddings inside the cage. It can also prevent any accidents between your hamster and a bowl of water.
Water bottles are usually made of plastic but you can also see other types made of glass. The attachments of most bottles are for wire cages and the spouts have a ball bearing at the end to regulate the flow of water.
If you have a tank, it is not advisable to use suction cups as this can slide off. There are water bottles that are free standing or you may also find a water bottle holder that you can insert onto the top side of the tank.
Keep their water supply fresh daily by cleaning the bottles thoroughly and using a brush to remove specks.
6. Hamster Food and Food Dish
Have an inventory of pelleted hamster food that will provide complete nutrition to your little ones. This is more preferred than the mixed seeds because hamsters tend to pick out only what they want and leave the others including the nutrients, says Robyn McGeorge of PetMD.
You may also give fruits and vegetables in moderation. And just like with other animals, new food must be introduced slowly into their system to avoid upset stomach. You should take note of hamster fresh food list that is safe for them as some can be poisonous to their bodies.
Look for a food dish that is small to avoid overfeeding your hammies. It is also preferred that a ceramic bowl is used because plastics can be easily chewed by hamsters.
7. Exercise Wheel
This is used to support the health needs of your hamsters by providing them with an exercise machine to keep them fit. Most veterinarians will recommend for hamsters to have an exercise wheel incorporated into the cage. This will also help them de-stress and release boredom inside their cages.
There are many types and sizes of exercise wheels. Before buying one, consider the size of your hamster when they grow. When a hamster has an arched back while using the wheel, this may damage its skeletal system.
For Syrian hamsters, a 12-inch wheel diameter is recommended, while for dwarf hamsters, a 6.5-inch diameter will be good especially for those which can grow up to 4 inches in length.
Also consider the running surface of the exercise wheels and stray away from those that have holes or gaps for them to be safe for your hammies. You may opt for non-slip wheels that have minimal texture to prevent paw bruising.
Hamsters often do their running at night so consider a silent wheel so as not to interfere with your sleep. But of course, this will charge you an extra buck. If by chance you still have a squeaking wheel, you may put olive oil on the spindle connected to the wheel for lubrication.
8. Wooden Chews
In order to keep your hamsters’ teeth healthy, they must be provided by wooden chew toys to avoid having overgrown teeth. This is because their teeth keep on growing and the wooden chews will help ground them down. The worse that could happen to hamsters with overgrown teeth is starvation.
Check the source of your wooden chew toys and choose those that are untreated and natural. Pear and apple wood are good chew sticks for your hamsters.
It is important to clean their cages weekly to avoid any illness to your hamsters. A good and safe disinfectant cleaner is needed to ensure that no bacteria or molds would thrive inside the cage and other things that are in direct contact with the hamster.
There are disinfectant cleaners for small animals in pet stores that are safe to be sprayed on their cages including water bottles and feeding bowls. You may also spray homemade diluted white vinegar to disinfect the habitat. Make sure that everything is dried up before putting back the hamster.
10. Veterinarian for Exotic Pets
It is important that you have a contact with a veterinarian who’s an expert or at least has some experience with hamsters. It is quite difficult to find a vet that specializes in exotic mammal medicine so it is best that you locate one near you first before owning one. Choose the nearest location for emergency purposes.
You may contact the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians to inquire about a doctor nearest you. After locating one, assess the clinic by asking how many hamsters they see on the average or the cost of hamster spaying. This is for you to have an idea how experienced the clinic is in handling hamster health problems.
A hamster should be checked once or twice per year by a veterinarian.
11. Travel Carrier
You may have to pay a visit to a veterinary clinic or move to a new home; and in order for it to be stress-free for your hammy, a travel carrier is needed. It should be escape-proof and sturdy so make sure that it cannot be easily chewed on by your hamsters.
It is better to choose a carrier made of plastic because a wire-based one can easily expose them to environmental elements that may cause stress.
It is usually smaller in size and is properly ventilated by having openings on top. A travel carrier can also double as a temporary living space for the hamsters while you are cleaning their cages.
These things can be included in the dwarf hamster supplies checklist even if your hamster is already a week or two into their new home.
12. Sand Bath
Providing a sand bath section inside their homes can help their grooming habits. Hamsters will usually roll around the sand where it absorbs the excess oils and moisture found in their furs.
A chinchilla sand bath may be used and placed in a stable bowl. Make sure that it is not a dust bath that you’re purchasing because this may cause respiratory problems in hamsters.
13. Toilet and toilet litter
Hamsters are easily litter-trained since they are normally clean mammals. They only use one or two sides in their homes as urine station. If you want to help them get cleaner and to avoid frequent cleaning, provide them a toilet space with toilet litter.
There are available litter boxes in the market specifically made for hamsters but you can also use cardboard boxes, glass bowls, ceramics or plain plastic containers.
As for the litter options, there is a paper pellet litter that is easy to clean and absorbs well. If they already have a sand bath in place, you should look out if they are using that area as their toilet instead.
Hamsters are omnivores so you may also give them mealworms and crickets as treats. Syrian or dwarf hamsters are particularly fond of these types of food.
If you prefer a commercial treat, make sure to read the label first to ensure that you are not about to put junk food into their feeding bowls. Commercial treats usually have a high sugar content and other additives.
Treats should only comprise 10% of a hamster’s total diet so give them sparingly.
15. Hamster Ball
In case they get bored with the exercise wheel, another option would be to get a hamster ball. This would be enjoyable for them as they get to run and explore your house at the same time without escaping. Just like the exercise wheels, it is best to get the largest possible ball you might see.
16. Hamster toys
There are numerous toys that are specifically designed for small animals like the hamster. Toys make your pets happy and satisfied, so if you want to spoil them more, there are a lot of options to choose from. There are wooden ladders and even seesaws, wooden bridges, and hanging toys.
Keep a close eye if you’re using hanging toys to make sure it does not entangle with your hamster. Plastic toys are also available such as tunnels that you can use to extend their cages. Though be aware that they can chew this away so if this happens, throw it immediately to prevent swallowing of plastic pieces.
17. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
This has to be cleared first with your veterinarian before giving it to your hamsters. There are available supplements specific for hamsters such as calcium, probiotic, and trace mineral powders. Only use them in moderation and again, under a supervision from your veterinarian.
These are optional things that you can buy given that you have the budget for them. If you don’t, it wouldn’t really directly affect the living condition of your hamsters.
- Hamster book
It would be good to be more knowledgeable about your pets to keep them safe and help extend their lifespan. There are a lot of books about hamsters – even specific to every breed, which can help you understand their behavior and needs.
A book will also serve as a guide to assess the current physical and psychological state of your pet.
This is just another type of toy that your hamsters will enjoy that can be placed inside their cage. There was a study conducted at the Liverpool John Moores University about hamster happiness.
The result was that those that have cages equipped with extra toys and beddings make more optimistic judgments in their environment. It wouldn’t hurt to have an extra hammock for your hamster to rest on.
This is specific only for long-haired breeds to help with their grooming and removing matted furs. Use only a soft-bristled, unused brush to keep them clean. Some hamsters will also enjoy the act of grooming and staying still.
Keep this list in check to ensure that your hamsters are well-provided and will live longer as they deserve. There are now many options to choose from for every single thing in the list so plan well and stay on the budget if you have any. Your hamsters will give you back the comfort that you allot to them by keeping you entertained and happy as well. Just give hamsters what they need!