If you’ve never adopted a hamster before, you may have many preconceived ideas about the traits and habits of these furry little creatures. Some of what you’ve heard, in fact, may be right on target.
Let’s take the idea that they’re known for their chewing anything in sight. If you believe this about a dwarf hamster, then you’re right. And you know what you’re getting into should you decide to adopt one.
Hamsters are chewing machines
Saying that hamsters love to chew would be an understatement. These cute little guys even love to chew the bars on the cage. So, rest assured that if your hamster chews incessantly, he’s really not obsessive. A genuine physical reason exists for his habit. He’s only trying to trim his teeth. A hamster’s teeth never stop growing. Have you ever heard the saying he’s ‘long in the tooth” when referring to an older person. It may not make sense when talking about people, but it makes perfect sense when you think about the hamster.
In order to keep their teeth at an acceptably reasonable size, they must constantly chew. But please, don’t let him chew on the metal bars of his cage. This according to some experts can damage his brain.
Instead, provide him with plenty of “chewing material.” You can buy wooden chews at the pet store. You can also let him chew fruit tree branches.
Hamsters are fitness fanatics
You’ve no doubt heard tales of new hamster owners being kept up all night because their pet is busy running on his wheel. So do hamsters really spend that much time running? They certainly do. They enjoy their exercise. An average hamster, in fact, runs about the equivalent of two miles a day. Not bad for a tiny animal that’s barely four inches long himself. There’s no getting around it; you’ll have to include that infamous hamster wheel in his cage.
Hamsters are creatures of the night
And along with the need for exercise comes the common complaint among new hamster owners: they choose to run like the wind in the middle of the night. Yes, this is true as well. Hamsters are nocturnal animals. This means that they’re most active at night and sleep during the day (similar to the average British teenager!)
Now, knowing this, we’ll give you one piece of advice: Unless you are up half the night you probably shouldn’t set up you hamster’s cage in your bedroom. In fact, even before you bring your hamster home, think hard about where you do want it to be located.
Similarly, the cage shouldn’t be in one of your children’s bedrooms either – if, that is, you want your child to get any sleep at night. Instead of trying to curtail your hamster’s activity level, you should be encouraging it. Your job, if you want to be a good hamster parent, is to provide your new pet with the practice for the dwarf hamster marathon that he craves.