How To Take Care Of A Hamster [Beginner’s Guide]

girl with hamster

Have you just welcomed a fluffy ball of fur with bright eyes into your family home?

Then, way to go! You are now the proud parent of a pet hamster.

But, hang on a second.

What if you’re not sure how to take care of a hamster?

Not to worry! You have a comprehensive guide in front of you that has all the information you require on this small pet.

Feed your hamster a pelleted diet with some fruit and vegetables. Put him in a cage that measures at least 24x12x12 inches. Put toys and an exercise wheel in his cage and keep it in a cool, quiet room. Change his bedding at least once a week.

Do you still have questions about your hamster’s health, how to look after his cage, and what you must feed him? Then we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this pet in the next section of this article.

How to Take Care of a Hamster for Beginners

Have you just become the proud owner of a brand-new hamster? I bet you just couldn’t wait to bring him home from the pet store and settle him into his cage.

But… what if you’re a bit of a rookie when it comes to hamster care?

If you’re a first-time hamster owner, you might be wondering how to take care of a hamster.

What should you feed your hamster and how?

What kind of cage should you buy? What should you put in it and where should you put it?

Don’t worry! Hamster care is a walk in the park.

But to make it even simpler, we’ve put together a guide on how to take care of hamsters for beginners that includes everything you need to know about looking after your hamster. (Including the stuff they don’t tell you in the pet store).

Intrigued?

Then let’s get to it!

What to Feed a Pet Hamster

No matter what breed your hamster is, he must eat a tablespoon of food daily. And like all of us, your hamster loves tucking into a plate of tasty grub.

But what kind of meals should be on your hamster’s menu?

Let’s check out some of his favorite dishes.

  • Pelleted food
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Hay
  • Treats
  • Freshwater

Your hamster’s main course should be hamster pellets. Commercial pelleted food is full of the nutrients which he needs to stay fit and healthy.

We recommend hamster pellets like these on Amazon.

Fruits are like side dishes in your hamster’s food bowl. When you prepare his fruit, make sure you wash it, cut it into small pieces, and remove the seeds.

What kind of fruit will your hamster eat?

Add these to your shopping list.

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Raspberries

Hamsters love stuffing their cheek pouches with a side of delicious veggies too. You must wash and cut these into bite-size pieces.

What kind of tasty vegetables will your furry friend fall head over heels for?

Make sure you pick up some of his favorites.

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Chicory and other leafy greens

We all love to snack throughout the day and your hamster does too! Hamster owners do well to provide their pets with Timothy hay for snacking on between meals.

Not all hamsters eat hay, some only use it for nesting and bedding. Either way, it’s excellent for you to put a little hay inside the cage to keep your hamster occupied.

Now we’ve reached our favorite part of the menu…treat time! Yes, your hamster will love it if you leave the occasional snack in his hamster home for him to nibble on.

What kind of snacks will your hamster be itching to fill his cheek pouches with?

You can’t go wrong with some of these to enrich your hamster’s food from time to time.

  • Boiled egg
  • Nuts
  • Mealworms

Last but not least, your hamster has only one drink on its menu. That is clean, fresh water from a water bottle.

How to Feed Your Hamster

Your hamster will enjoy tucking into a varied menu.

But how should you present it?

No, don’t worry, we’re not talking about putting forks on the left and knives on the right, but rather the method you should use to give your hamster food and drink. He’ll no doubt pass on the fancy cutlery for now.

Key Takeaway:

Put fresh food into your hamster’s bowl. This will prevent you from accidentally putting it into an area he might use for soiling.

Put your hamster’s water into a water bottle. Although your hamster can drink from a bowl, you should put his water in a bottle.

Why?

To prevent him from contaminating his water with nesting materials. Using a water bottle will also prevent your furry friend from knocking it over and wetting its bedding.

We recommend a water bottle like this one on Amazon.

What Should Your Hamster Cage Look Like?

When choosing a cage for your pet hamster, it is better to go up a size rather than down a size. Your cage needs to measure a minimum of 24x12x12 inches.

Smaller breeds of hamsters like the Roborovski dwarf hamster will not need a large cage with lots of floor space. But the bigger the hamster, the more room he will need.

What should be inside your hamster’s wire cage?

Equip it with the following.

  • Hamster wheel (exercise wheel or hamster ball)
  • Fresh food in a food bowl
  • Fresh water in a water bottle
  • Bedding
  • Nest box
  • Toys
  • Gnawing block

Not sure where to go to get your hamster cage kitted out?

You will be able to find everything you need for your hamster at most good pet shops.

Hamsters need to stay entertained so an exercise wheel is really important. But asides from an exercise wheel put hamster balls and other toys in your hamster’s cage for his entertainment.

Hamsters love digging, so escape-proof, wire cages with a deep plastic base are ideal for them to burrow and root around in as they would in their natural habitat. The right cage will be deep enough for you to include various layers of aspen wood shavings and potting compost at the bottom.

toys hamster

Where Should You Put Your Hamster’s Cage?

It’s important you put your new pet in the right spot in the house so he can feel as comfortable as possible. Most hamsters are nervous creatures, so you need to treat them gently.

Here’s what the perfect spot for your little furball should look like.

  • The cage should be out of direct sunlight
  • Your hamster’s home should not be in a room where it will hear a loud television or other startling noises.
  • The cage should be escape-proof

How Should You Make Up Your Hamsters Bedding?

You need to change your pet hamster’s bedding weekly. If you have two hamsters in one cage, you will need to do this more often.

But how? What type of bedding should be on the floor of your hamster’s home?

Your tiny rodent loves to dig and burrow as he would in his natural habitat. So, line his hamster home with the right materials that will help him to do that.

Here is a list of some of the best materials for their floor space.

  • Aspen bedding (not cedar or pine shavings)
  • Shredded tissue
  • Shredded paper
  • Light cloth

Wire and plastic cages are the best for hamsters. The plastic base gives them room for digging as they would in the wild.

Top Tips for Looking After Syrian Hamsters

You may also know the Syrian hamster by its other name, the golden hamster. Although they also go by the name golden hamsters, they come in many different colors.

Syrian hamsters are identical to Teddy bear hamsters, the only difference between them is the length of their fur. A Teddy bear hamster has much longer fur than a Syrian hamster.

Syrian hamsters are nocturnal animals and have an average lifespan of one to two years. Looking after these small pets is very rewarding.

Care methods do not vary much from Syrian hamsters to other breeds of hamsters. But here is a tip that is especially important when it comes to looking after this breed.

Syrian hamsters are energetic, they love running around. They need a hamster wheel in order to remain stimulated throughout the day and night.

Your Syrian hamster’s wheel must be at least 30 cm long. This is because a smaller wheel could force the hamster to arch its back as it runs and lead to permanent spinal curvature.

Giving Syrian hamsters enough space to run around and explore is essential for their health.

How to Look After a Dwarf Hamster

What breed of Dwarf hamster do you have?

Here are some of them.

  • Winter white dwarf hamsters
  • Roborovski dwarf hamsters
  • Chinese hamsters
  • Campbell’s dwarf hamsters

You must look after your dwarf hamster in the same way you would care for other hamsters. But, there are a couple of tips that will help you give your dwarf hamster the extra special loving care it needs.

The coats of winter white hamsters change in the cooler weather. So, don’t worry if your hamster turns from brown in the summer to ash gray in the winter!

He’s simply got one color jacket for the hot weather and another for the cooler weather.

Now that’s a stylish hamster, right?

Most hamsters love digging, but the Chinese hamster is a digging pro. So, make sure you provide it with lots of bedding materials for it to rummage its way through day and night.

Is a Hamster Easy to Take Care of?

Are you looking for a low-maintenance pet to take care of?

Well then, what about a hamster? Hamsters are easy to take care of.

Why do we say that?

Here are a few reasons.

  • Hamsters exercise on their own in their cages. A hamster ball or wheel is enough for him to do his workout day in and day out.
  • Hamsters don’t need entertaining. Some pets crave human attention, but hamsters are good at keeping themselves busy as long as they have enough toys in their cage.
  • Hamsters do not need washing. They do their own pruning.
  • They don’t eat a lot. Just one tablespoon of grub is enough food for one day for this tiny pet.

So, is there anything complicated about looking after a hamster?

Well, not really. The most important thing to remember is to keep his cage clean.

You will need to completely change his bedding at least once a week. If you have two pet hamsters in one cage then you will need to do this more often.

What Do I Need to Know Before Getting a Hamster?

Would you like a hamster to be the new addition to your family home?

If this is the first time you’ll be taking care of a hamster, then you’re no doubt keen to find out everything you can about this sweet pet so you’ll be all prepped and ready for his arrival. That way, he’ll get settled in and comfortable as quickly as possible and you’ll be feeling confident about the road ahead. 

So, what do you need to know before you bring your new hamster home with you?

Coming up, we’re going to cover the fundamentals of hamster care. Bookmark this section so you can tick things off of your prep list as you go!

The Lifespan of a Hamster

So, what’s the first thing you need to know about your hamster? 

As with any animal, you will need to invest in your new pet time and money. That’s why it is good to know the lifespan of your new hamster so you can decide if you will be able to look after it. 

Hamsters do not have a long lifespan. The average hamster in captivity will live for just 18 to 36 months. 

A hamster is elderly when it is just 18 months old. It is possible for your hamster to live for longer than 36 months but it is not very common.

But what if a lifespan of just 18 to 36 months seems just too short to accept?

Then why not choose a breed of hamster that usually lives a little longer? Here are a couple of options. 

  • Dwarf hamsters. They can live for up to 4 years in captivity. 
  • European hamsters. They can live for up to 5 years in captivity. It might be a little trickier for you to get hold of this breed of hamster as they are not common in pet shops.

So, what can you do to make your hamster’s life as fulfilling as possible?

Make sure he has enough to eat and drink and that he has things to entertain him in his cage. (More about this in just a mo).

What to Feed Your Hamster

What’s the next most important thing you need to know?

What you should feed your hamster and how much food you must give him. Pets love a good meal and your hamster is no exception!

Your hamster needs to eat the equivalent of one tablespoon of food per day. That might seem like it’s not enough but, it really is!

Since he’s only getting one tablespoon of food a day, we need to make it count. 

So what can we pack into this?

Here’s a list of some of your hamster’s favorite food. Make sure you add these to your shopping cart in time for the arrival of your new pet.

  • Hamster pellets
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Hay
  • Treats like mealworms, boiled eggs, and nuts

The main bulk of your hamster’s diet should be hamster pellets. As a small side, feed them fruit and vegetables. 

How should you prepare the fruit and vegetables? 

Here’s a step-by-step guide. 

  1. Wash your fruit and veggies
  2. Cut them into small bite-size pieces
  3. Remove any seeds from them
  4. Place them into your pet’s feeding bowl

Your hamster likes to have access to hay for nibbling and for making nests. They also like to snack on the occasional treat.

Your hamster needs to have access to fresh, clean water. 

Where to Put Your Hamster’s Cage

Hamsters, unlike other larger pets, are shy and nervous animals. They will be most comfortable in a quiet and cool atmosphere. 

So, where is the best spot in the house for you to put his cage?

Put the cage in a location that meets the following criteria:

  • A quiet room. It should not back onto a busy road. Loud music should not play near the hamster.
  • A cool room. Your hamster likes temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. Do not leave the cage in direct sunlight.
hamster in cage

How to Take Care of Your Hamster’s Cage

Before you bring your new friend home, you’ll need to get his cage ready. A cage with a plastic base and a wire top will be the best for him to dig around in and get enough ventilation.

But how should you prepare the cage ready for his arrival?

Line it with the following materials.

  • Aspen (not cedar or pine shreddings)
  • Shredded recycled paper
  • Timothy hay

You will need to clean the cage once a week. This means removing all of the bedding, disinfecting the bottom of the cage, and replacing the bedding layers. 

But what else should there be in the cage?

Hamsters are active creatures, they need things in their cages to keep them occupied and stop them from becoming bored. Here is a list of pastimes your hamster will love.

  • Hamster running wheel or ball
  • Toys
  • Nest box
  • Gnawing block

Where Can I Get a Hamster?

We hope the information in this guide has helped you to see that looking after a hamster is both simple and rewarding. Now you’re feeling a little more confident…

…are you ready to bring a hamster home?

That’s great! Now, you just need to get your hands on one. 

Where can you get a hamster?

You will find these irresistible pets in the following places.

  • Local pet stores. These shops will have a modest variety of colors and breeds for you to choose from. The most common are Syrian and Dwarf hamsters. They usually get their hamsters from local breeders. 
  • Rescue shelters. Some rescue centers adopt animals that received abuse in their former residencies. Giving a home to a rescue pet hamster is very gratifying. But remember, he’ll need lots of extra love and attention!
  • Pet store chains. At larger stores, you will have a bigger variety of breeds and colors of hamsters to choose from. You may also find variations in the hamsters’ fur length. 

The Best Guide to a Healthy Hamster

Hamsters make excellent pets. They do not require a lot of maintenance or a lot of space.

But, if this is your first hamster, you might feel a little unsure about how you should look after your new friend. Thanks to this article, we’ve seen a whole list of things your hamster likes and what you need to do to keep him happy and healthy.

You now know that your hamster needs to eat commercial pellets and drink water. It needs a cage with a plastic base and a wire top that is big enough for his wheel and other toys on the inside. You know you’ll need to change his bedding each week and what kind of bedding you need to put in the cage.

Have you found the information in this article useful? Then check out some of our other odd pet guides on our Oddly Cute Pets site where you’ll find guides for other small animals.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Comment