Some of our tiniest patients are gearing up for an exciting day. April 12 is World Hamster Day! Hamsters are very popular kids’ pets. It’s not hard to see why: these little balls of fur meet all of the requirements for what one would look for in a kid’s buddy. They don’t require a lot of space, and are gentle, adorable,  inexpensive, and easy to care for. Continue reading to learn more about the hamster from a local Dahlonega, GA veterinarian.

Hamster Overview

Hammie is a cute little guy who lives in many parts of Asia and Europe. Hamsters live for an average of two to four years.

There are around 20 different types of hamsters. The largest is the European Hamster, which is also known as the Eurasian hamster, black-bellied hamster, or common hamster. They can grow to be 8 to 11 inches long and can weigh up to a pound! Roborovski hamsters, often known as desert hamsters, are the smallest. These tiny furballs grow to be only one or two inches long! The Syrian, Russian Dwarf Campbell, and Roborovski breeds are the most often kept as pets.

What Should I Feed My Hamster?


Hammie’s menu should be largely commercial food, supplemented with safe vegetables and modest amounts of fruit. Hammie will also enjoy the occasional snack. You should consult your veterinarian for precise guidance, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for a mix of 80 percent pellets, 15 percent vegetables, and 5 percent fruits and treats. You’ll also need to bring a water bottle, which you should clean and replenish every day.


Safe vegetables include spinach, broccoli spears, Romaine lettuce, dandelion greens and artichokes, carrot tops, cauliflower (restricted), sweet potato, squash, and yellow peas. Apples, bananas, strawberries, and pears are good fruits to give your little friend. There are also various treats that can be given on occasion, such as small pieces of egg or cheese, cooked chicken or turkey, or even dog biscuits. You’ll also want to be cautious with seeds. For example, many hamsters enjoy pumpkin seeds. Several other forms of seed, however, are harmful.

It’s also crucial to understand what not to give your small friend. The list contains the following:


  • Garlic
  • Raw beans or potatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruit
  • Rhubarb
  • Surgery foods
  • Salty foods
  • Junk food
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

That is just a partial list: you’ll of course want to get specific nutritional advice from your vet. 


Keep in mind that Hammie is a talented beggar. He is quite excellent at persuading his owners to give him tasty treats, just to save them for later and restart his antics. (Fun fact: Hammie’s name is derived from the German word “hamstern,” which means “hoard”.) Be mindful of serving sizes, and resist the temptation to give in to that adorable face!


Do I Need To Groom My Hamster?

One good thing about having Hammie is that he is very clean. He won’t need baths. He will clean himself, much like cats do. (This is really cute to see.)


Is a Hamster A Suitable Pet for a Child?

Hamsters are often picked as children’s pets. Hammie is an excellent choice for many families. However, you should keep a few things in mind.

  • Small children must always be supervised when handling Hammie. You’ll need to teach your children to always hold Hammie softly and correctly, and never pull his tail or fur.
  • Hamsters are most active at night. If you place Hammie in a child’s room, he might keep the young one awake at night.
  • If your child is still very young, have them sit or kneel to hold their tiny friend. That way, if the hamster falls or jumps, he won’t fall too far.
  • Like all animals, hamsters can carry viruses, fungi, bacteria, or parasites. Always wash your hands before and after touching your hamster and/or his things. (If you’re getting a hamster for a child, you might need to supervise this step.)

Can I Have More Than One Hamster?

You can, but you’ll likely have to get them different habitats. Syrian hamsters, the most common pet hamster, must always live alone. Though amiable with humans, they dislike roommates. Some of the other kinds of hamsters, however, can make friends. Before adopting one, do lots of research, and get some specific advice from your Dahlonega, GA veterinarian.

What Sort of Cage Do Hamsters Need?

When it comes to hamster care, choosing a quality cage is half the battle. Choose something with a mesh or screen top to ensure your pet has adequate airflow. It should have a solid floor; wire floors do not retain substrate and can cause paw and tail injuries. You’ll need to include a suitable hidey-hole, as well as toys and accessories.


How Do You Pamper a Hamster?

We think that all animals, large and small, deserve to feel safe, comfortable, loved, and happy at all times. Making Hammie happy does not require a significant investment of time or money. Small touches can go a long way!


Here are our tips:


Offer Hammie Lots Of Toys

Toys have multiple uses for hamsters. Chew toys are essential for your pet’s oral maintenance. If Hammie is unable to wear down his teeth, he could develop severe dental problems. Many of your pet’s chew toys can be made from simple everyday items like plain paper or cardboard. There are plenty of ideas available online.  Be sure to avoid anything with sharp or tiny bits. Ask your vets for advice.


Get A Hamster Runabout

The hamster is a highly curious little guy who enjoys exploring nooks and crannies.  You can let your furry friend explore with a runabout. Just remember to put safety first! Make sure to purchase a runabout that is the appropriate size. Do not allow your pet to roll around near stairs, pools, fireplaces, or other pets. Also, avoid leaving your hamster inside it for too long.


Exercise Wheels


These are extremely popular among little animals. It’s also really lovely to see Hammie joyfully running on his wheel. Make sure to pick a substantial one, as wire ones might injure their tiny paws and tails.


Create A Maze For Your Pet


Hamsters especially adore mazes and labyrinths. You can purchase these, but you can also create them from cardboard or PVC pipe.


How Do I Form A Bond With A Hamster?


You’ll need to give your tiny friend time to feel secure. Do not try to handle him when you initially bring him home; instead, let him have time to adjust. After a few days, you can gently pet and speak to him. You may also hold him, but only once will he appear to be at ease with you, and be very gentle. Also, avoid picking up your hamster from behind or while he is asleep. This may (understandably) terrify the tiny guy.


What Are the Warning Signs of Illness in Hamsters?

Keeping a careful watch for symptoms of illness is essential, just as it is with any other animal. These little balls of fur are vulnerable to several issues, including respiratory problems, diarrhea, abscesses, proliferative ileitis (wet tail), and skin conditions.

Pay attention to your tiny friend. The more familiar you are with little Hammie, the easier it will be to recognize the warning signs.

Here are some of the major ones:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dirty/Wet Bottom
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Dull, Red, Or Watery Eyes
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Not Drinking Water
  • Fur Color Changes
  • Changes In Stool
  • Overgrown Teeth
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior 
  • Lethargy
  • Wheezing
  • Lumps, Bumps, Lesions
  • Fur Loss
  • Limping
  • Red Feet

If you observe any of these symptoms, please contact your Dahlonega, GA veterinarian immediately.


Contact Your Dahlonega, GA Pet Hospital


Do you have any questions regarding hamster care? Contact us, your Dahlonega, GA pet hospital, at any time. We are always delighted to help!