Caring for dwarf hamsters can be classified as follows:
- Food, and finally,
Housing – Even a 10 gallon aquarium is more than sufficient to house a family of dwarf hamsters. The top can be left open, as they seldom try to climb up and escape. A mesh cover will ensure that there is some form of protection.
Since aquariums are made of glass, they can be heavy and difficult to move around. Rubber boxes are also available which are more convenient and easy to handle.
Bedding – Since dwarf hamsters can pick up allergies, the only important factor to be kept in mind is the choice of wood shavings which is used. Avoid Cedar, as this can really harm the hamster. What hamsters seem to really like is shredded paper; they burrow into it and feel really safe inside. Since it is porous, the shredded paper provides ventilation and prevents choking and suffocation.
Purely for its nesting purposes, tissue paper can be kept in a corner of its home. The tissue should be perfume free plain tissue paper.
Cleaning – it is important to clean the hamster's cage at least once in ten days. The best way to clean it is to soak it in some antibiotic soap water for around ten minutes, and then rinse it thoroughly with water.
A point of caution – if the hamster has recently littered, washing needs to be avoided at all costs until the babies are at least a fortnight old. Cleaning before this can make the hamster eat its babies.
For its exercise, indulge in a hamster wheel. They love to go around and around and expend energy in this activity. As hamsters are normally nocturnal runners, the wheel should not be squeaky, as it can keep you awake!
Since dwarf hamster's teeth grow through its life, it needs something to bury it in constantly. Dog biscuits or chewies which can be bought in a pet shop are good options. If they do not have anything to sink their teeth into, they may start attacking their bedding material or even the cage.
Hamster food is available in pet stores and is the best option for them; it has all the necessary nutrients that they require while also wearing out their teeth. Constant water supply is required as hamsters drink a lot of water. Tiny pieces of fruits and vegetables can be given as bonus surprises for the hamsters.
Caring and Handling – Hamsters are living creatures, and all living creatures love freedom. However, some of them which have been caged for long can show aggression and nip you. While buying a dwarf hamster, the best option it to take it gently in both hands and see how comfortable it is nestling there. If it does not show aggression, then it is likely that it will be a happy pet at home.
by Chris Short