The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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In 2012 a study calculated that out of 1,000 households, 887 own a hamster. Hamsters are not costly and can easily be spotted at most pet stores; however, owners must ensure they properly care for their hamsters before letting them reside in your home.
Because it is not unusual for hamsters to be kept as pets, we no longer question it. Having said that, are hamsters exotic pets?
Hamsters are exotic pets. Exotic pets are described as uncommon animals kept in households. There are many types of animals categorized as exotic pets; even so, you can easily come across them in most pet stores. A hamster can cost between $15-$50, depending on the breed type.
Let us further look into why we consider hamsters as exotic pets and how owners should care for their pet hamsters. Hamsters might be tiny and fluffy, but because they are considered exotic animals, owners need to be aware of the effort it takes to look after them.
So, if you wish to have this exotic rodent as a companion, pay close attention!
Are Hamsters Exotic Pets?
Hamsters are exotic pets because these rodents are rare animals and are considered unusual to be kept as a companion in a household (even though nowadays it may not seem so). Hamsters are common exotic pets but not as universal as other domestic pets such as cats or dogs.
Wild hamsters are found all over Asia and Europe and in countries such as Greece, Syria, Northern China, Romania, and Belgium. These hamsters thrive in dry, warm areas like sand dunes and the border of deserts.
Potential owners need to keep this key piece of information in mind before deciding to take responsibility for a hamster. If you are thinking of or are inhabiting an exotic animal, you hopefully know how to care for them.
Like other exotic animals, hamsters require special veterinarian treatment should they go for check-ups or fall ill. Typically, people think owning an exotic pet is much easier and less costly because they are usually smaller animals; however, this is not true.
Hamsters must live in a suitable, controlled environment, e.g., proper temperature and humidity, for survival. They require particular nesting and bedding items.
Ensure that you do detailed research on the type of breed you consider purchasing.
You would need to purchase additional accessories and necessities to keep them mentally and physically healthy. Most hamsters prefer to be alone and might get territorial if you group them with another hamster/s.
They are not afraid to roughhouse each other. These fights can get serious pretty fast and lead to numerous injuries. The best plan of action, if you own more than one hamster, is to separate them immediately.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Hamster
Even though more hamsters are being kept as exotic pets in households, owners must be familiar with the pros and cons of owning a hamster. There are five types of hamster breeds; nevertheless, the pros and cons listed below can be applied to all five.
The Pros of Owning a Hamster
- They are charming and fun-loving, but hamsters do not demand all your attention.
- Domesticated hamsters do not need a lot of space, so if you live in an apartment, you can indeed own a hamster if it is allowed.
- You do not have to walk your pet hamster but ensure that you allow them to be social. Interact with your hamster every day. Let your hamster come out of the cage at a certain time of the day for as long as you can.
- Hamsters are easier to care for compared to other exotic pets. This does not mean they are totally manageable since you need to ensure you have the money and the correct necessities to keep them healthy and entertained. Toys and hamster food are not costly, so purchasing these will not be a problem.
- Hamsters are silent pets, so you need not worry about noise complaints.
- Hamsters are okay being alone. As I mentioned above, hamsters do not require a lot of attention, so you can run your errands, go to work, and visit friends and family without having to worry about your hamsters feeling lonely.
- Hamsters are carefree, joyous, and playful, making them the ideal pet for kids. You will certainly enjoy their company too.
- Hamsters are omnivores meaning you can feed them vegetables and meat. Normally, pet hamsters live exclusively on hamster food, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Feeding them bits of meat will not do any harm.
The Cons of Owning a Hamster
- Hamsters despise sharing their cages, accessories, and toys with another hamster. They will get violent and possibly injure one another. If you desire more than one hamster, you will need to buy twice the number of necessities.
- Hamsters are nocturnal beings meaning that they are night-time animals. Even though they are awake during most of the day, they are energetic and full of life throughout the night. It is best to keep your hamster’s cage away from the bedrooms, so they do not disturb you at night.
- Hamsters need to see specialized veterinarians. Since hamsters are exotic pets, regular veterinarians for dogs, cats, etc., will not be able to assist you if your hamster has any severe illness or injury. They do not have access to the proper medicine or vaccinations. With that said, a specialized veterinarian can be costly.
- Hamsters have poor eyesight, so do not be alarmed if they bite you. They usually do it when their senses are a bit off. Their bites are rather sore, so ensure you keep an eye on your kids whenever they play around.
Hamsters solely rely on their sense of smell, sound, and whiskers to navigate. Because they might not be as comfortable around guests as their owners, they will end up biting or becoming aggressive towards your visitors.
- Hamsters are full of energy; therefore, you must supply them with enough toys and entertainment to prevent them from becoming aggressive and frustrated. They need to release all the pent-up energy; otherwise, they might not live as long as they should.
- Hamsters are prone to infections and can transfer them to humans. You need to keep their space clean and tidy. Take them to a specialized veterinarian if you must for check-ups.
Hamsters can easily infect you with diseases without you knowing. Supervise your kids and family if there are any signs of possible illnesses that hamsters carry.
- Keeping a hamster in the house can cause a stench. Prepare yourself to clean their cages often. Sometimes you need to clean more regularly than not to keep your living space smelling fresh.
How to Care for Pet Hamsters
If you consider taking in a hamster, you need to be aware of the basic requirements to take care of them. I listed a few points I believe are essential for your hamster’s mental and physical health. Let us have a look:
1 – Prepare the Hamster’s Habitat
Hamster cages must be at least 24×12 inches wide and 12 inches tall. However, I recommend purchasing a bigger cage since these energetic animals require all the space they can get.
The hamster’s cage should be placed in an appropriate spot in the house, away from direct sunlight and cold drafts. This ensures that the hamster resides in an environment with a safe temperature. The preferred temperature for the cage is 65F to 80F with a humidity of 40% to 70%.
If possible, put them in a spot where they will be able to hear the hustle-and-bustle of everyday sounds. It will help them become comfortable around the family, and they will not scare as quickly.
Suitable bedding is essential to provide your hamster with warmth and comfort but also to absorb odors and moisture. I recommend bedding materials such as Timothy hay, Aspen shaving, pelleted bedding, processed corn cobs, etc.
2 – Ensure Proper Hygiene for the Hamster
Your hamster’s coat must be brushed frequently, specifical hamsters with longer hair. Give your hamster a nail trim now and again to avoid overgrowing.
Hamsters are relatively clean, but owners should watch for abnormal growths, dental diseases, fecal build-up, and urine staining. You need not bathe your hamster unless instructed by the veterinarian; however, certain breeds enjoy regular sand baths.
Owners must clean the hamster’s food and water bowl daily and their cages weekly or as needed. Keep one to two corners of the cage open for your hamster to urinate and defecate but ensure that it is far from their sleeping and eating spots.
If you do not keep your hamster’s cage fresh and clean, it can result in an unsanitary environment that may lead to infections in the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. A good tip for cleaning the cage is diluting 1:10 parts of bleach and water to sanitize the cage. Afterward, you should thoroughly rinse the cage and let it dry before placing your hamster back into its cage.
3 – Prepare a Suitable Diet for the Hamster
Hamsters require around a ⅛-⅓ cup of blocks or pellets per day. You can give your hamster additional “treats” like seeds, peas, raisins, pepper, cucumbers, carrots, apples, and greens.
4 – Maintaining the Hamster’s Health
It is vital to take your hamster to a specialized veterinarian annually for a thorough examination. You can determine if your hamster is healthy by making sure their eyes are bright and alert. Ensure that your hamster has no nasal discharge and has a healthy toe and nail length.
Hamsters can carry diseases to humans, so if you suspect any significant changes in your health, consult your doctor immediately and make an urgent appointment at the specialized vet for your hamster.
Exotic animals like hamsters are becoming more common household pets. People often assume they are easy to care for and low maintenance, but this is not the case.
Before considering inhabiting a hamster, ensure that you know a specialized vet to assist you with your hamster’s health. Hamster cages, accessories, necessities, and hamster food are not costly.
Cages must be large enough so your hamster has enough space to relieve their energy. Take them out of the cage daily to allow them to roam around. Hamsters can easily infect humans with diseases, so this is another factor to keep in mind.
Overall, it is pleasant to have a pet hamster in the house because they are joyous, playful, and great with children; they are still considered exotic pets, meaning they need to be handled differently than ordinary house pets.