Just looking at your pet Hamster can tell you quite a bit about its characteristics. First, look at those large soulful eyes. Gorgeous, aren’t they? While the eyes may be the mirror of the soul, in the case of the Hamster, it’s the mirror of the hours they keep. You can tell merely by the large size of the eyes that your Hamster is a nocturnal creature. It’s an animal that stays awake at night and sleeps during the day.
Originally Hamsters lived in the desert, their ancestors – and contemporary cousins travel the arid range at night when the temperatures are cooler. During the day, they sleep.
Next, examine the Hamster’s ears. Positioned high on the rodent’s head, their ears indicate an animal who possesses a keen sense of hearing. They’re set high on the head to take advantage of that very trait. They needed this for protection from various predators in the wild.
Whiskers perform a precious task. Their whiskers are more than just an attractive appendage. They’re essentially the way that Hamsters touch the world. Hamsters use their whiskers – called vibrissae in the zoological world – to guide them along. Their faces aren’t the only place you can find whiskers. They also have these valuable tools on the sides of their bodies. Hamsters rely quite heavily on these whiskers to help stop them from falling off or bumping into objects. Because Hamster eyesight isn’t all that good, these whiskers help them during the day and at night when they are tunnelling when it’s virtually impossible to see because of the dark.
Hamster sense of smell.
Perhaps Hamsters can’t see very well, but they have honed their sense of smell to a great degree. Hamsters depend on their sense of smell to lead them not only to food but water as well.
Their nose also warns them of impending danger. It helps to identify other animals, helps them find their way back home, and it also helps to tell them the right time to breed. In more ways than one, a hamster’s very survival depends on its sense of smell.
Hamster scent glands.
Hamsters have scent glands. These scent glands produce a musk-like fluid, which is primarily used to attract the opposite sex. They are also used to mark and identify their territory and individual hamsters. Some species of hamsters also have a second set of scent glands located on either side of their bodies. These are called midventral scent glands. This particular type of gland is larger on the male than the female.
You can recognize these glands in the male. They’re the dark pigmented areas on the side surrounded by dark, bristly hairs. In the female, the hair around the side glands is softer. If you can’t see them right away, watch a hamster groom himself. He spends a lot of time grooming these glands.
The Hamster’s need for speed.
The scarcity of food in their natural habitat contributes to another physical trait: the need for speed. The stereotype of a hamster running on a wheel getting nowhere, while humorous, is highly accurate. When you adopt your pet Hamster, you’ll know just what we mean. You’ll discover that your hamster needs exercise – and plenty of it.
In the wild, Hamsters need to travel vast distances in relation to their size just to find enough food. In the desert, where food can be hard to come by, storing what you do find for later only makes sense from a survival standpoint.
Animal behaviourists don’t know as much as they would like about the pet Hamster’s wild relatives. As natural burrowers, wild Hamsters spend much of their time underground. They prefer to hide in the cool recesses of tunnels, far away from the glaring sunlight.
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 may be right on target.
Let’s take the idea that they’re known for chewing anything in sight. If you believe this about a 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 creatures even love to chew the bars of their cages. A physical reason exists for this habit. Your Hamster is simply trying to trim its teeth because Hamster teeth never stop growing. To keep their teeth at an acceptably reasonable length, they must constantly chew.
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 runs about the equivalent of two miles a day. Not bad for a tiny animal that’s only a few inches long. There’s no getting around it, you’ll have to include that infamous hamster wheel in his cage.
Hamsters are creatures of the night.
Along with the need for exercise comes the common complaint among new hamster owners: they do all their running in the middle of the night. Hamsters are nocturnal animals. This means that they’re most active at night and sleep during the day.
Now, knowing this, we’ll give you one piece of advice: Unless you usually stay up half the night, you probably shouldn’t set up your hamster’s cage in your bedroom. Even before you bring your hamster home, think hard about where you 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. If you want to be a good hamster parent, your job is to provide your new pet with the practice for the hamster marathon that he craves. Instead of trying to curtail your hamster’s activity level, you should be encouraging it.