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Getting my 1st Hamster, what do I need to know?

(24 Posts)
Mypopcornface Mon 15-Oct-12 15:36:10

I decided to get a dwarf hamster for the family, (we have a 5 year old child) is there anything I need to know and I don't know yet? I know they have about 2 years life spam and eat special food and need special bedding and a hamster ball. Regarding the cage, can I use a big square fish tank if I add toys, house, and running/climbing equipment? I'm not keen on the colourful plastic cages and I heard they make to much mess when in a wired one..anything else??

Floralnomad Mon 15-Oct-12 15:39:16

Hamsters are solitary , nocturnal and very often quite snappy . Get a pair of rats instead , way more child friendly and interactive

N0tinmylife Mon 15-Oct-12 15:46:43

We've just got a Syrian Hamster, it's lovely. It is nocturnal, but that just means DS gets it out when he first gets up in the morning or in the evening just before bed. It seems to be very friendly, and comes out of its bed when DS calls it. I would have thought a fish tank would be fine, as long as you are sure it wouldn't be able to escape out of the top. They do seem to be very good at chewing, and climbing!

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 15:58:57

Hamsters need a much bigger cage than people realise. Google Hamster heaven. That's the minimum requirements. A fish tank style is fine but make sure there is plenty of ventilation. I have always has wire ones with a deep base ire Tgeres zoozone 2 is fab but you would need to.mesh the top to stop escapes .

Re. bedding. Woodshavings aren't great. Carefresh is fab but quite pricey. Lots of people like megazorb but it can be tricky to get hold of. No cotton wool type bedding! Shredded toilet paper is a firm favourite with lots of hammy owners and its cheap.

If your getting dwarf it may be tricky fir a 5yo to handle. A Syrian would be better imo because there is a bit more to them and they are generally a tad slower.

If you do end up with a dwarf then get dwarf hammy food and be careful if sugar contents because they are prone to diabetes.

You need a decent size wheel. The ones sold with cages are far to small . As a rule the hammy should very able to run flat with no curve in the back. Karlie wondering wheels are the best I have found, wooden, almost silent apart from the patter of feet.

Hammys are nocturnal so very prepared for a bit of disappointment if he can't be seen in the day. Mine have always been training d to get up at 6ish by tapping on the cage and feeding.

Lastly - if you get one, get one for you! You will be cleaning, handling etc when your ds gets bored ire loses interest which there is a high chance he will. I have 2 Gpigs (which are by far the best child's pet-worth looking into) and a hammy . They are mine. Ds (4) like to help and cuddle but not very often. Never get a child a pet unless you want it just as much!

If I think if anything else i will be back!

Try its fab for advice and pictures of cages etc!

Good luck !

Mypopcornface Mon 15-Oct-12 20:02:02

Thanks for the great tips.I will get for the family, husband will be responsible fo it too....--maybe not--....
I was thinking about the gerbils but I really don't like their tails...
Guinea Pigs / rabbits are my favourite but living in a mall two bedroom flat I don't think is appropriate...
Will have a look at cages now

Mypopcornface Mon 15-Oct-12 20:15:24

I really like the Hamster Heaven 80 Cage - 80 x 50 x 50 cm (L x W x H) , is it good enough?? Is it true the litter won't fly out? Which is the best hamster ball?

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 20:19:35

Yes thats the one! Its got a deep base so it should be fine.

Any hamster ball is fine just make sure its big enough for hammy to run flat in.

I don't use them any more I just let ours run in tha hallway with the doors closed.

StillThinkingOfANickname Mon 15-Oct-12 20:35:38

I have had Dwarfs in the past and found them difficult to handle, they are very fast at running so I am back to owning Syrians now. I have found that Syrians are much more sociable.

Wood blocks are also important to keep hamsters teeth worn down, their teeth are growing all time.

I would love Gpigs in the future too.

Notquite Mon 15-Oct-12 20:35:49

Dd's Syrian has a Hamster Heaven, with the little cage we brought him home in attached by tubes, penthouse style, containing a large wheel. Relative to his size, he is the best-housed member of this family.

A word about the tubes - don't use them to start with at least, as they can move into them with all their kit & refuse to come out.

Guinea pigs are lovely, but I'm pleasantly surprised by how much fun the hamster is, very friendly & sparky, & the big house means he's very active & interesting to watch.

StillThinkingOfANickname Mon 15-Oct-12 20:47:09

Yes, we had a cage with tubes going all around the outside. My Syrian would sleep in the tubes, put food in them and and stay in the tubes when we wanted to get him out. Ended up getting a cage with a big base and no tubes.

My DSis's Syrian follows her around her house and will respond to its name when called. She has spent a lot of time training them though.

Tuttutitlookslikerain Mon 15-Oct-12 20:53:48

We have had Syrians and Chinese Dwarfs, the Syrians are easier to handle. The Syrian we have now, we bought when he was 5 weeks old. He is very, very tame. He absolutely hated going in his ball so we don't use it. We just let him out for excerise. DH likes messing about with wood and I joked about making him a run, next thing in he came with a fold away run the size of a single bed!grin

We don't have any tubes or anything in his cage because he sleeps in them and gets really hot and sweaty. He likes climbing so we bought him this cage. He likes swinging from the bars! We have trained him to use a hamster toilet and we change the sawdust in there everyday so his cage doesn't get smelly. I would buy the biggest cage you have room for and you can afford. We bought a silent wheel for ours as well, because he loves running in it and his old one was quit noisy. He, also, has a see-saw and a climbing frame which we rotate so he doesn't get bored!

When ours was a baby we used to get him out and handle him, then give him a treat when he went back in his cage for being a good boy. Now everytime he comes out he has to have a little treat. His favourite is a custard cream! When I prepare the vegetables at dinner time I always save him something! Today DS was cleaning him out and he has a little fluffy snuggle pouch, he went in there and fell asleep on DS1's lap for an hour.I absolutely love my hamster, I can never imagine a time when I don't have one, and it is surprising how attached you become to them. If you are lucky they can live for about 3 years.

Mypopcornface Mon 15-Oct-12 22:28:35

I love the Alexander Small Pet Cage too, now I am torn beteween the cages but changed my mind about the dwarf an will get the syrian.
Some more questions: does it make any difference if the hamster is male or female? can I just walk into a pet shop and buy? what to look for?

how to train a hamster to use a hamster toilet? where to buy and put the silent wheel?

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 22:36:11

Zooplus is great for cages and wheels.

Theres not much difference in M or F, I have had both but some peope say males tend to be a bit dozier. My boy is more lively than my girl was .

Please avoid pets at home, try a recommended independent pet shop or even better try a small animal rescue or a breeder.

toilet, just pop some soiled bedding in the toilet, then pop the toilet where they wee and they should pick it up fast unless your my boy and pee everywhere but .

Look for bright eyes, shiney coat etc.

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 22:39:53

When you get them home pop them straight in the cage and leave well alone for a few days. Its good to start in a quiet room and then move them somewhere where there is more going on , living room , kitchen etc.

Once they feel abit more secure, the best way to tame is in the bath (no water obv) . Pop a blanket on the bottom and sit in there with hammy and let him run over you , sniff etc. Once they are more confident then let them crawl on your palm and work from there.

twooter Mon 15-Oct-12 22:43:22

Seriously, go for a Syrian rather than a dwarf. You will get far more pleasure from it.

twooter Mon 15-Oct-12 22:45:38

The rotastak ball from tescos, is far superior to the pets at home ones.
Our hamsters came fom pets at home, and we've been quite impressed with them tbh.

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 22:47:51

Pets at home are horrendous.

Yes you can get some ok animals from there but if you do your lucky. You do not have to go far to find someone with a bad experience with animals either dying/vet treatment etc.
Not worth the risk and heartache imo.

I avoid them at all costs!

twooter Mon 15-Oct-12 22:48:28

WeVe got a ferplast duna fun cage, which is great. Some tubes, but not too many, good ventilation and bars to play on.

Roseformeplease Mon 15-Oct-12 22:53:19

The thing to note about Syrians - and I am not joking here - google it: they can come back to life when dead! Ours was 3, clearly dead, stone cold and stiff as a board. My husband, a biologist, examined it carefully. It was put to await burial in the morning, in the shed, and by morning was running around quite happily. Read online about one that dug itself out of a grave. If and when it dies, wait at least a couple of days to be sure. When ours did finally die we waited until we knew for sure the 2nd time - it had gone mouldy.

Oh and your child will get bored and you either become a nag, ignore animal welfare or deal with it yourself.

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 15-Oct-12 22:55:28

Rose They can hibernate! grin
You need to pop them in a warm place, a pocket or the airing cupboard to bring them out of it.

Yes you do need to be careful and double check.

Tuttutitlookslikerain Tue 16-Oct-12 09:01:53

We bought the silent wheel from amazon.

twooter Tue 16-Oct-12 09:25:14

1 year on, and my dc are definitely not bored. This morning they have both been out their cages for about an hour each.

Hamsters, that is, not dc.

directoroflegacy Sat 20-Oct-12 04:46:59

Reading with interest as we too are looking to get DD (7) a Syrian hamster.
Didn't realise they can be toilet trained, has anyone else done this successfully?!

Leftwingharpie Sat 20-Oct-12 05:05:30

Agree definitely Syrian rather than dwarf. Dwarves are cute looking but difficult to handle, able to slip under doors and through cage bars and very fast, not such good all round pets. If I had my time again I'd give those fancy connector tube cages a miss and buy whatever gives the best access for cleaning and handling - probably a tank. Much less stressful for hammy and you'll build a better relationship if you can easily handle him frequently.

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