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Small pet advice: Hints about hamsters

They may not live a long time, but hamsters are fun while you have them

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It's hamster time

Hamsters are one of the most popular children’s pets, though everyone can enjoy those dark eyes and twitching whiskers. There are a few different hamster species suitable for pets, but you shouldn’t mix them in the same cage. In fact it’s better to keep all hamsters apart, as some species will fight among themselves.

Where to keep a hamster

A wire cage with a plastic base is the best type of housing for your hamster. Provide a few different levels together with ramps and ladders for climbing, while cardboard tubes make inexpensive tunnels which hamsters love to chew and explore.

Feeding time

It’s easy to find good quality hamster food at a pet shop. This ensures that your pet gets the right mix of nutrients which you can then top up with apple slices, or other small chunks of fruit or vegetable. Don’t over-feed though as your hamster will store excess food which is then likely to rot. Always provide clean water in a drinking bottle attached to the cage.

Handling and playing

Once your hamster gets used to you, it will usually be happy to run into your cupped hands. You can then stroke it gently before putting it back safely in its cage. Let your hamster out regularly for some exercise, but make sure doors are closed and other escape routes are blocked. If your hamster disappears, it could be very tricky to get it back!