Hamsters, those adorable little creatures that capture our hearts with their tiny paws and twitching noses, have a fascinating biology and behavior. In the wild, hamsters can be found in the Syrian Arab Republic, thriving in dry, rocky or well-shrubbed places. These solitary animals prefer to live alone in burrows and only come together for breeding purposes. Let’s take a closer look at these fascinating creatures and how to care for them.
Basic Care and Nutrition
When bringing a hamster into your home, it’s important to have their cage ready. Allow them to acclimate to their new surroundings for the first day without disturbing them. Hamsters are omnivorous creatures and have cheek pouches that can store large quantities of food. They collect their food and bring it to a safe place to consume later.
To ensure their well-being, monitor their food and water intake closely. Change their water every day, even if they haven’t emptied it yet, and make sure they always have enough food and water. Hamster feed, consisting mostly of mixed seeds like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, can be purchased from pet stores. Fresh vegetables are also crucial for their diet and overall health, although leafy vegetables should be given in moderation to prevent diarrhea.
Hamsters are not accustomed to constant handling, so it’s important to gradually accustom them to human touch. Handle them for short periods every day, making sure your hands are clean to avoid scaring them off with strange smells. Start by placing your hand in the cage and allowing the hamster to get used to it. Once they are comfortable, gently pick them up by their underside, supporting their feet. Never pick them up by their tails, as they find it unpleasant and may struggle.
In the wild, hamsters are rarely affected by diseases. However, when kept in unhygienic conditions or without proper care, they can develop health issues. As small animals, even minor illnesses can become serious if not addressed promptly. It’s essential to check your hamster regularly, paying attention to their eating habits, daily activities, teeth, bones, limbs, and overall body condition. Look out for any unusual behavior that may be a cause for concern and seek veterinary attention if necessary.
Breeding hamsters is a delicate process that requires careful timing and consideration. Hamsters become sexually mature at around 28 days old, but it’s advisable to wait until they are between three and four months old before breeding them. Mating too young can lead to pregnancy-related problems.
Female hamsters go into heat every four days, during which they can mate. To ensure successful breeding, place the male in the female’s cage only when she is in heat. Females not in heat can be aggressive and may attack the male. When introduced, allow at least 20 minutes for the mating process, during which the male will mount, dismount, and groom himself several times. The gestation period lasts about 15 to 17 days, and a distended abdomen becomes visible around the 9th or 10th day of gestation.
Prepare a cage made from non-toxic material, spacious, clean, and filled with adequate bedding for the pregnant hamster. Commercially available cages typically meet these criteria. Minimize disturbances to the female’s environment during pregnancy and for at least ten days after delivery. However, about 4 to 5 days before the expected delivery, provide new and clean bedding for the new mother to create a nest for her pups.
Raising Hamster Pups
Raising hamster pups is a relatively easy process, as the mother takes care of most of the work. Make sure to provide ample food and clean water at all times. Newborn pups are born hairless, with their eyes closed, but they have a strong sense of smell. Avoid handling the newborns, as it may disrupt the bond between the mother and pups, leading her to abandon or eat them.
Around two weeks old, the pups will develop a soft layer of fur and start to explore their surroundings. At this stage, they can be gently handled. By the time they reach three weeks old, they can be weaned from their mother and start looking for their own food. To prevent fights, separate hamsters of different sexes into different cages once they are weaned.
Hamsters are delightful pets that bring joy to our lives with their adorable antics and unique personalities. By understanding their natural behavior and providing appropriate care, we can ensure their happiness and well-being. Remember to consult with professionals for any specific concerns or questions you may have, and enjoy the wonderful world of hamsters!