frequently asked questions
Which Sex Makes the best pets?
As a general rule there is not that much difference, males tend to be slightly more ‘laid back’, females are usually more active so it depends really on what you feel happiest with
Syrian or dwarf? Which is best?
For first time hamster owners we would probably recommend a Syrian, purely because of size and speed! Dwarfs are very quick, and unless you know how to handle them correctly can be injured by being grabbed by a panicky new owner. We are not saying that Syrians are slow (far from it), but they are usually the better of the two types for a beginner.
Can I keep two Syrians together?
NO, never – they are solitary animals and will fight with any other hamster; this could result in the serious injury, or even death of one or both.
Can I keep two dwarfs together?
Dwarf hamsters can be housed together; however, due to the fact that in most cases there will be a dominant animal, bullying can occur, so watch your hamsters very carefully to establish if there is any undue stress on the lower ranking one; if there is, remove it to a cage of its own. Sometimes dwarfs will spend anything up to a year living happily with each other (apart from the odd squeak and scuffle) and then for no apparent reason will attack each other viciously, causing serious injury to the under belly, rump or armpits. So be vigilant, if serious fighting is noticed, and definitely if you see blood or bites, remove one immediately to a separate container.
Short or Long Hair Syrian ?
Again, this depends on your preference. Short hair hamsters keep themselves neat and tidy whilst the long hairs may need to be groomed regularly. As a general rule long hair females do not get any length to their coats, they are more fluffy Long hair males sometimes develop long “skirts” and these can easily become tangled with shavings. We would recommend that all baby long hair hamsters are introduced to being combed from an early age to allow you to keep the coat in good order. We use a metal dog comb to groom our animals which works very well. .
What type of cage?
This depends on the type of hamster you have chosen to become your pet. Syrian hamsters are really happy in cages with wire bars and cat litter type tray base. They can also be housed in the all plastic “Roddy” type cage/tank; the advantage of this type of home is that shavings and food cannot be pushed out to create a mess. Although the pod type cage with lots of tubes can be fun for the hamster, once a baby decides to retire into the tubes, the only way of extracting it is to dismantle the entire set up, so we would not recommend this type for youngsters.
If dwarf hamsters are to be your new pet, then cages with narrow bars are a must. Those cages sold as suitable for mice/dwarf hamsters are the ones to choose. Again, the “Roddy” type cages are a really good choice as it gives your hamster a secure environment to live in. A fish tank would make an ideal home for Syrian or dwarfs as long as it has a well fitting mesh lid. The thing to remember that any cage/tank you purchase must be secure so your hamster cannot escape and also big enough for the species you have chosen. Also, the “tank type” containers should never be left where they are in full sunlight as they can become very hot inside which could result in the death of your hamster.
I have a cat will a hamster be stressed by it?
We both own cats and our hamsters do not appear to be worried by their presence in the hamstery. There have been many occasions when a cat has had a lucky escape from a particularly fiery hamster which has almost managed to bite some part of the poor cat’s anatomy!! If your cat is a particularly good “hunter” then it would be wise to allow him/her to meet the new hamster (supervised of course) on the day you take it home. Cats by nature are curious, so you should allow both animals time to see each other. Obviously, this should be done with the hamster in the cage and on the floor, so that the cat can see there is no way it can open the cage to obtain the ‘contents’!
Should there be a serious problem, we will happily take any youngster back if “peace” has not been established within a month, to save stress on all parties (cat, hamster and human!!).
What about when I go on holiday?
If you are only going for a weekend, then as long as you make sure the hamster’s bottle is filled and that it has lots of food, it will be ok, although will obviously miss you! Should you be away longer than that, we would recommend that you ask a trusted relative, friend or neighbor to look after your hamster. Should you have any problems finding someone suitable to look after your pet, please contact us as we might be able to help .
Can I let my hamster run free in the house?
Probably not a good idea unless VERY well supervised due to electrical wires, carpets and furniture all of which can (and will) be chewed, also for fear of escape under the floorboards and down holes for water pipes etc. The best thing to do if you want to give your hamster a different environment is to provide a play box. This can easily be made from either a plastic stack and store box or large cardboard box
What should I give the hamster to eat?
By nature hamsters are omnivorous, meaning they will eat anything! Our babies are reared on good quality hamster mix together with any fruit, vegetables and cereals we can provide. They all appreciate a bowl of Weetabix with milk as youngsters (and adults) and any protein enriched food such as scrambled egg, fish or meat, all given in tiny amounts. Basically, we say “Anything you eat (within reason) your hamster will almost certainly eat too”! Foods that really should not be given include chocolate, toffee, onion, hot curries (although the rice would be appreciated), citrus fruits, etc. If in doubt, leave it out. .
How long do hamsters live?
We usually say around two years, but like humans they can live longer or shorter lives. In the wild due to the fact they are prey animals they probably would be lucky to live to 6 months, so a two year old hamster is something to be really proud of.
Are there any health problems I should be aware of?
Hamsters are generally healthy robust little creatures.
The move to a new home is probably the most stressful time of life for the hamster, and they might suffer from a form of enteritis – if your hamster develops a messy bottom, we would suggest you feed only dry hamster mix for a few days; if the problem persists, please phone a Vet for advice. Both species of hamsters have scent glands. In the Syrian they are situated on each hip and are more prominent on males than females; in dwarfs the gland is on the belly. In elderly male dwarfs this gland can become quite large. In both species it is NOT cancer! However, in later life Syrians and dwarfs both have a tendency to developing a form of heredity cancer (just like humans); this in no way affects them unless there are large tumours that are open and sore, in this case we would recommend euthanasia as the kindest option.
Why is my new hamster afraid of me or trying to bite?
In the wild hamsters are bottom of the food chain and are eaten by almost anything carnivorous. Therefore until your baby is confident that you are not going to eat it, it may be afraid of you. They show signs of fear by shrieking, rolling over on their back and showing their teeth when objecting to being held. Our baby hamsters are all handled from an early age, but they know us confident, gentle handling. You will soon have a hamster that is fully tame. Before 5 or 6 weeks they have not had much experience of life and will panic at almost every new situation, but after that they seem to settle down and realise that not everything is about to try to eat them!
What happens if my hamster goes into hibernation?
If the temperature in the room where your hamster lives drops too low it could well go into hibernation. If you find your pet stiff, cold and apparently dead, don't bury it until you have followed the suggestions below.
1. Check to see if the hamsters whiskers are moving as even in hibernation they still move, but very slowly.
2. Check the nail beds, if there are dark marks on them this could well indicate that your hamster has died as these marks are blood clots.
3. Even if there are blood clots, before burial, try putting the hamster in a warmer room if possible with a hot water bottle under the cage. If it is in hibernation, your hamster should start coming round in about 10-15 minutes. Warming the hamster up slowly is the best method of "thawing" - you could hold it in your hands and use your body heat but in our experience the hamster sometimes bites (very hard) as it comes round because it is confused and does not know what it is doing.
If after all the above your hamster is still cold and stiff, then this is the time to bury it.
Are my hamsters teeth too long ?
Look at the pictures below.
1 & 2 too long 3 correct