Hamster 101

Quick Facts
LIFESPAN: Approximately 1-2 years
SIZE: 5-7” (13-18cm) long

Socialization & General Care
It’s important to get your new friend used to you, and used to being handled. Start by feeding your hamster treats; once he’s comfortable accepting treats from your hand, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first, and then gradually increase your time. Remember that all pets may bite, scratch or try to escape especially, when stressed.

Hamsters are colour blind


  • Hamsters are herbivores and their diet should consist of a high quality pellet supplemented with seeds, grains and cracked corn.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables should be offered every two or three days and any uneaten food should be removed before it spoils. Acceptable choices are lettuce, carrots, zucchini, kale, papaya and apples.
  • Fresh water should be available at all times and food dishes and water bottles should be cleaned daily.
  • Never give your hamster onions, potato, rhubarb, almonds, citrus fruits or junk food including chocolate.
  • Mineral wheels should be provided in their cage.

Health Issues to Watch For

  • Sneezing or discharge from nose or eyes
  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Diarrhea or discoloured droppings
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Lethargic behaviour
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Shaking

If you notice any of the symptoms above seek veterinary care.

Fun Hamster Facts

  • The name hamster is derived from the German word “hamstern”, which means “hoard” – because that is exactly what they do with any extra food they might find.
  • Hamsters have pouches that extend from their heads to their shoulders to transport food. They will transport food to store in a hiding place.
  • Hamsters are nocturnal, and are most likely to be active at night.
  • In the wild, hamsters dig extensive tunnels beneath the ground – extending as far as three feet in depth.
  • Hamsters can squeeze themselves through very tight spaces and have been called “escape artists”.
  • Female hamsters are called “sows”. Male hamsters are called “boars” and young hamsters are called “pups”.

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