Kraig Josiah Rice

This is my brief guide pertaining to hamsters. I bred mostly Teddy Bear (long haired) hamsters for a number of years and this is some of what I learned. I hope something that I have written here will help you.

(clicking on these links will move you down the page)

1. The Hamster cage 2. The Type of Bedding 3. The Water Bottle 4. A Hamster Wheel
5. Cleaning The Cage(s) 6. Where Should You Place Your Hamster Cage?
7. Your Hammies Life Cycle 8. Some of Your Hammies Habits 9. How Old is Your Hammie?
10. Taming Your Hammie 11. Food and Feeding 12. Biting 13. Gnawing 14.
Clipping Your Hammie's Teeth 15. Stress and Pain 16. Temperment 17. Picking Up Your Hammie
18. Is Your Hammie a Girl or a Boy? 19. Petting 20. Various Kinds of Hammies
21. General Breeding Info 22. Specific Breeding Info
23. Mites 24. Fleas 25. Colds 26. The Sewer Rat, A Predator 27. Cancer
28. Transferring Baby Hammies 29. If you lose your hammie on the floor
30. If Your Hammie Loses It's Hair 31. Mange 32. Wet Tail or Rot Tail
33. Caring For An Open Wound
A Hamster ball; Our cats were raised with our hamsters


For some, there is nothing cuter in the world than a young, sweet, affectionate hamster who has long hair and who smiles at you:-)
It is a delight to have one of these as a pet.

Hamsters are solitary animals who do not get lonely. However, you can condition one to enjoy being gently handled and petted.

I used to raise hampsters as a hobby and for some small profit. I raised Teddy Bear, Blue Hamsters, and Syrian short-hairs for 5 years. At the peak I would guess that I had as many as 25 single cages. I usually had between 25 to 50 baby hamsters in one cage that I took to the pet store for marketing purposes.
I briefly cover some of my experiences and problems that I had while raising my hamsters.

Whether you are having a problem with one hamster or many- then you may find your answer here.


1. The Hamster cage

I used 5, 10, and 20 gallon fish tank acquariums, wire cages (including bird cages), metal buckets, and habitrails. A cage should be at least 12 inches square. A 5 gallon fish tank for one hamster is ideal if it has a metal top. Acquariums are cheaper if you can find one or more at a garage sale or local flea market. Remember, once you place a hamster in an acquarium cage, you can never use that cage again for fish. You can buy the water bottle and metal lid at a local pet shop.

No matter what kind of a cage you have, your hammie is going to try to escape from it. If you use a wire cage use a wire twist tie or two to help hold the door shut. If you use an aquarium cage place the metal top on top of the water bottle as your hammie will try to climb up it to get out. If you don't have a metal top you can use a small sheet of plywood. Be sure you place a weight on top of it or your hammie will push it up and get out. I also used to place a small weight on top of my habitrail's metal top.

Sometimes, if you lose your hammie, he might completely escape from your house and you will never see him again, so you want to keep him safely inside of his hamster cage at night. I lost some but never a great amount.

Do you like to sleep in   wet   bedding?

2. The Type of Bedding (for your hammie to nest in)

I would sprinkle some wood chips into each cage. You can check at your local pet store on the best wood chips to buy that are safe for hammies but the cost is cheap for a large bag of it.
There is a major problem in using wood chips in an fish aquarium cage. It is a problem of wetness and bacteria. Potty liquid will spread across the bottom of the cage thus soaking the entire floor. This is not good and it can lead your hammies to get sick with wet tail. It is best to use cat litter in an aquarium cage. That way the wetness should be confined to one specific potty corner.

For a pregnant female I would add some cotton balls that she would line her nest with. I never had any trouble with any of my hammies using cotton balls.

I also used some newspaper in small amounts and small amounts of toilet paper or tissue paper. I didn't like big nests so I always just gave her the bare necessities. That way I could see the hammie and observe her, even if she were sleeping. I could also see the babies when she would get off of the nest.

3. The Water Bottle

The water bottle is a small plastic one with a ball-bearing inside the metal nozzle. You will also need a metal holder for the bottle to hold it onto the side of the aquarium cage.

Another type of bottle is simply a test tube. This has a bent glass tube going thru a rubber stopper that inserts into the test tube. It is hung upside down on a metal test tube holder.

A habitrail water bottle is a small one that has a little steel cap that fits over the plasic end. Then it is turned upside down and dropped down into a slot specially made for it. The metal cap protects the plastic end from being chewed on by the hamster(s).

Go down to the drug store and buy a little bottle of liquid human baby vitamins. Also buy an eye dropper if necessary. Every time you fill up your hammie's water bottle place one drop of the liquid vitamins in his water bottle and then fill it up with water. Do not give him more than one drop lest he get vitamin poisoning. This should give one or more of your hammies their proper amount of vitamins needed for good health.

4. A Hamster Wheel

A large hamster wheel made of metal is good for an acquarium cage. The problem with this is that it usually turns over when several hammies are hanging on it at the same time. You need to mount a base to the bottom of it. You can use your ingenuity for this. I found a suitable large piece of flat cast-iron plate and glued the 4 metal feet to the cast-iron base. (This was one of those kitchen objects where you can put it on your table or counter top and then place a real hot cooking dish on it. Maybe it is called a table protector.) The glue I used was bondo, car body filler. This unit fit nicely into the acquarium cage and the cast-iron base kept it from turning over any more. Many hammies could play on it at once and have a lot of fun.

Each habitrail should come with a big plastic wheel that inserts into the main large plastic cage. Many times you can purchase one of these nice cages along with it's accessories at a garage sale to save money. I believe most pet shops carry extra habitrail parts if you want them.

Do you like a clean cage?

5. Cleaning The Cage(s)

Clean each cage at least once a week. Take the hamster out of his cage and place him in a holding cage by himself. Remove any good food and bedding that is in good shape so it can be replaced in the same cage after cleaning. I always quit feeding the hamster(s) a day or two before cleaning the cage as that gave them a chance to eat down most of their food so there was a smaller amount for me to sort through.

On the bottom of each of the cages I would sprinkle cat litter. This litter is made of clay. Clay is ok because the hammie's predecessors used to live in the earth (made of clay?) in the wild before he was domesticated and tamed. I would sprinkle it until the thickness was about one half of an inch deep. This is really efficient in many ways: it is cheap to purchase, it absorbs a lot of potty moisture, and some of it is odorized to help the cage smell better. On aquarium bottoms the hammies like to scratch around in it. About once a day I would add a little extra litter on top of the wetness in their potty corner for extra absorbency. And about twice a week I would shovel the wet cat litter (in the potty corner) out of the cage and replace it with dry litter. You want to do this as the smell can become quite bad if you don't. I would use a small piece of thin cardboard (from a cereal box) for this to shovel with (and then throw it away). Some folks like to use a metal pancake turner which is also ok. You also want to do this to keep the bacteria level down inside of the cage and also keep the moisture level down inside of the cage.

The cat litter may contain little green flakes for odor control. Your hammie may dig thru the litter and pick these out and eat them. It is ok- this never hurt any of my hammies.

One time I ran out of cat litter. Across the street from my house was a park and play ground so I went over there and got a bucket of sand. After I cleaned all of the cages I sprinkled this sand on the bottom of their cages and it worked just fine for one week. You can also substitute dirt if the occasion so arises.

The habitrail tower has a vertical tube going to it. I always liked to see my hammie crawl thru the tube with bedding to build his nest there. However, sometimes a hammie would use the tower to go potty in. When that happened I would place the hammie in a wire cage- it would lose it's habitrail privileges. I would clean the tower with soap and water and disinfectant, dry it real good, and then place it back in the habitrail and try another hamster. Once I found a hamster who would sleep in it and not potty in it, then it got to stay there. The tower is also a good place to sprinkle a little cat litter.

6. Where Should You Place Your Hamster Cage?

I placed all of mine in my garage because I did not want to listen to all of the noise nor smell any of the smells. Hamsters make noise at night gnawing on steel bars, running in the hamster wheel, or trying to climb up the water bottle in order to escape, and sometimes the urine smell can become pungent if you let it.

I think most families keep a single cage in their son or daughter's bedroom which is good. Keep curtains away from the hamster cage. Don't put the cage on top of a floor furnace or under an air conditioning vent as drafts may cause your hammie to get sick.

It may not be advisable to keep your hammie outside due to predators or extremes in weather conditions. If a predator knocks down your habitrail off of an outside shelf then your hammie might escape.

In the United States a temperature range of from 50 to 80 degrees Farenheit is ok. On extra hot summer days we had to bring the cages inside of the house where the air conditioning would help keep the temperature satisfactory. On extra cold days I would throw extra bedding into the cages and the hammies would bury themselves in it in order to stay warm enough. I never had any hamsters go into hibernation.


7. Your Hammies Life Cycle

A hammie has a 2 to 3 year life cycle-

that means that your hamster is going to die of old age when it gets to be 2 to 3 years old. Then you will have to get another one to love and cherish.

Please help me. My head got stuck while I was playing

8. Some of Your Hammies Habits

Don't pick up your hamster after he first wakes up because (many times) he may be cranky. He usually needs to visit his potty corner right immediately after he gets awake. If you pick him up and put him in your shirt pocket immediately, then he may go potty in your shirt pocket. Don't be mad at him. He can't help it.

If you grab him while he is sleeping he may bite you. He might think it is some kind of snake or bird grabbing him instead of you. So let him wake up first before you grab him. You might want to poke him gently with the eraser end of a pencil in order to wake him up during the day time. That way you won't get bit. Then you can pick him up after he visits his potty corner. And don't pick him up until after he visits it.

Hammies are members of the rodent family. That means that your hammie likes to sleep during the day and play at night.

Hamsters do not like other hamsters, are very territorial, and will battle another hamster or two.

9. How Old is Your Hammie?

Sometimes this is difficult. The general rule is to look at the general condition of the hammie. You should be able to tell a full grown hammie from a teen age hammie by it's size. If not, then look at it's ears. If there are white hairs inside of it's ears then it is a younger hammie. However, if the ears don't have white hairs then it is an older one.

One day I found a short haired golden hamster running across our front lawn. I usually like to put on gloves before I grab ahold of a strange hammie. This day I did not have time to do this as it was headed for the street gutter and a large pipe. If it got in there I knew that I would never be able to capture it. So I reached out with my hand and captured it and it did not bite me. I petted it and spoke kindly to it and placed it in an empty cage in my garage. It drank and ate a little.

Then I picked it up and examined it's sex. It was a female.

Then I examined it to determine it's age. She was large and full grown so I knew she was an adult and not a teen-ager. The condition of the ears showed me that she was an adult but I did not know how old. I was hoping she was not too old to breed. There was only one way to find out.

She was really tame and a sweet-heart. I knew what had happened. She had been somebody's pet and had escaped. I figured somebody must really be heart sick over losing a quality pet like this one was. I mated her with a teddy bear male and she had a wonderful litter of short haired gentle pups. She was an excellent mother. But because I really did not want to breed short hairs I sold her to the pet store along with her litter. Then I am sure she made a nice pet for some nice girl or boy.

10. Taming Your Hammie

Some hamsters are calm and some are nervous. I raised both kinds. Some are more prone to anxiety than others for some reason. My rule was to always handle each of my hamsters as much as possible. This was good for my breeders and also for the babies that were going to the pet store. This helped make them tame.

My children were small at the time and they helped me out a lot. One time my five year old daughter got out her pink convertible Barbie car and loaded it up with small hammies. She put them in her car and gave them a ride on our living room floor. This kind of activity teaches the hammies that they can be handled without being hurt. Maybe you can invent some activities that you can include your hamster in that might be fun for you and for your hammie.

11. Food and Feeding

Give your hammy special treats so that he will get to know and trust you. You are starting a relationship that will pay off with a lot of unconditional love to you.

Hammies like to hoard food. They will fill their cheek pouches with food and bring it to their nest where they will store it. Sometimes they will sleep on top of it. This is security to them. You might make one upset if you daily disturb his hoard of food.

Hamsters will eat just about anything, but you don't want to feed them just anything unless you run out of food for them. They eat a lot. A hamster can eat one half ounce of food per day. It's best to try to stick to what they eat naturally. I used to feed my hammies red winter wheat and a lot of feed corn. Table scraps should be screened- left over broccoli or other vegetables can be fed in moderation. Don't let surplus food get spoiled in hammie's cage. Seed mix and hamster food purchased at the store is good.

Hammies like lettuce but not too much lest they get the runs. Nuts, grains, wheat, rice, corn, bird food, and rabbit food are ok. Dried cat food and dog biscuits are ok if the protein level in them is over 20%. I don't recommend any kind of citrus fruit. I don't recommend any kind of meat, raw or cooked. I don't recommend onions, garlic, pine needles or tree vegetation. Hammies will eat some good clean lawn grass. Apple slices in small amounts are good.


Potato seeds, raw beans, hemlock, laburnum, meadow saffron, and the green parts off of the tops of carrots, tomatoes, and potato tubers are poisonous.

Give your hammies plenty to eat- a hammie will not over eat. They need a little extra food to horde away. If a hammie goes potty on any of his stored food then throw that food away. Don't allow your hammie to horde away any perishable food for an extended period of time lest he get sick.

Pregnant and nursing mothers need milk. Baby hammies need milk also. This is necessary for making strong bones. I used to feed my hammies powdered milk balls that I made myself. I would get a box of powdered milk and pour some in a bowl. Then I would add a few drops of water at a time mixing the water with the milk. Lumps formed that I would remove and set aside to dry. After they would dry they would get hard. Then I would drop these milk balls in the cage and let the hammies eat as much of it as they wanted.

I recommend placing a weighted feeding dish in the cage. It should be weighted because any other kind is likely to get turned over.

If you catch a potato bug or garden insect- save it for evening when your hammie is awake and active. Then throw the vicim into your hammie's cage. Your hammie will probably eat it immediately because they eat these kinds of things in the wild.

12. Biting

A sweet natured hamster will rarely bite you under normal conditions. However, if your hammie feels threatened or scared, he will bite you to protect himself. If you turn your cat loose on him or put his cage next to your snake cage then there will be problems. Cats, rats, snakes, and owls are just some of it's natural enemies. So be careful if you have any of these...

13. Gnawing

You hammie will like to gnaw or chew on just about everything. You can expect this. Just don't place anything inside of his cage that can harm him if he chews on it. You can place a little piece of plain soft wood in his cage for him to gnaw on if you wish.

14. Clipping Your Hammie's Teeth

Hammies don't like other hammies. They are loners and territorial and will battle to the death in some cases. Their primary weapon is their teeth. I always made it a good practice to clip each hammie's teeth about once a week. This reduced gnawing, injury, and death when two or more hammies decided to battle to the death. It is something to see two of them locked in a death grip rolling around on the bottom of their cage.

If you want to clip your hammie's teeth just take regular fingernail clippers and hold your hammie by the scruff of his neck. Start with the bottom teeth first. However long they are, cut them to half the distance. So if the bottom teeth are 1/4 inch long, cut them to 1/8 inch long. Don't let the top teeth get over 1/8 inch long. Cut the bottom teeth shorter if there is danger of two hammies battling to the death. With the teeth short enough (but not too short because your hammie needs them to eat his food) two hammies can fight without breaking skin. They might bruise each other and slobber all over each other but won't be able to draw blood.

You can expect your hammie to cry and squirm around in your hand the first time you clip it's teeth. It does not like it, however, it can become accustomed to it as time goes on. After you clip it's teeth be sure you pet it and speak kindly to it and give it a little food treat (like a tiny slice of fresh apple) and then things should be ok. You will have to experiment with this technique until you master it- it takes a little practice on your part.

15. Stress and Pain

Your hammy is fragile. You can't rough house with him as you would a cat or a dog. You have to give him gentle pets and not drop him or be mean to him. If you hurt him he may get upset or cranky and not feel good for awhile. If he gets a head concussion or broken bones, he could die.

You want to remove as many stress factors in your hammies life that you can. By and large, a hammie is much like an otter. They like a stress free life and they like to play a lot. Hamsters are fun.

Don't give him a bath in the bath tub with you. A hammie is much like a kitty cat and will lick himself clean. That is his way of giving himself a bath.

If your hammie gets wounded so that there is blood on him, don't put him back into the colony cage. If you do the other hamsters will kill him and eat him. Put him in his own separate cage until he is well.

16. Temperment

Each hammie has it's own temperment or disposition. Most of the teddy bear hamsters (with long hair) are sweet natured and gentle. I have observed this from dealing with hundreds of subjects. They are (on the whole) not only gentle but prettier. That is why I got more money for them.

The Blue hamsters I used to breed were more tempermental and somewhat hard to breed. Most had long hair and were unique. Have a lot of patience if you try to breed these.

The short haired golden hamsters were common and I got less money for them so I did not breed them that much. Their temperament (on the whole) was gentle and friendly.

However, I did find that once in awhile there would be a baby hammie (long haired or short haired) born out of a litter of 8 or so who would turn out to be vicious. The rest in the litter would be sweet natured. The vicious one would bite me every time I picked it up and I would find that I could not tame him down or condition him in any way. I could never explain why he turned out that way- the environment was the same but there must have been something in the genetics that made it turn out vicious. I never sold a vicious one to the pet store.

A good breeder would be wise not to sell one of these vicious biting hamster babies to the pet store. That is a good way to turn a good reputation into a bad one on your part. No pet store owner wants to get bitten by one of your hammies. And no pet store owner wants to listen to customer complaints about an unsatisfactory pet that was purchased at his store. I always had a good product and maintained an excellent reputation with pet store owners who bought my hammies to sell to the public. I did not have a hard time selling my hammies and got a good price for each of them.

I know some breeders will sell a vicious one to the pet store to get an extra dollar or two. I think it should be a matter of integrity not to do this. Too many trusting folks buy a hamster and take it home looking for a good experience only to have the experience turn into a disaster. Buying and having a hammie should be a pleasurable experience. If you are a customer who has happened to have bought a vicious biting hamster then do not get discouraged. Try again and this time be more selective and more careful.

17. Picking Up Your Hammie

You can pick him up in your hand(s). You can pick him up by the scruff of his neck. Do not pick him up by the tail as you would a mouse. This may make him upset.

18. Is Your Hammie a Girl or a Boy?

Check to see if your hammie is a girl or a boy. To do this just hold your hammie by the scruff of the neck and look at the stomach area. In females, the nipples will be easily seen. Not so in a male. In an older male you will easily be able to see his testes. Not so in a female.

19. Petting

The best time to pet your hamster is toward night time. Hammies are nocturnal which means that they like the night time better than the daytime to run around and be active.

Scratch your hammie gently behind his ears. He likes that.

Scratch his back gently with your fingers. He loves that too. If you keep this up you will have a friend for life.

20. Various Kinds of Hammies

Hamsters are rodents- that means that they are similar to gerbils, rats, and mice.

Most hamsters are Syrian or Golden Hamsters.

I raised variations called Teddy Bears because they had long hair, and I also raised Blue Hamsters because they have a blue color to them.

I did not raise dwarf hamsters, the large German hamsters in Europe, or any chinchillas so I cannot give you any advice about them.

21. General Breeding Info

Any hamster male and female pair will breed. You can breed a son back with the mother once. Some say twice but I don't recommend this. Do not breed a brother and a sister. If you do, you are likely to get genetic deformities. If you are trying to get mutations of different color patterns or color variants you need to try a different way. A hamster mother will eat any deformed babies that result from genetic misbreeding.

A female falls into her mating cycle or goes into heet every four days. Going into heet is when the female gets attracted to the male for mating purposes. A female should be put in the male's cage only when the female is in heet. If they fight she is not in heet- take the female out of the male's cage and put her back into her own cage and try again the next night. Do this until the male mates with her successfully. After mating, remove the female to her own cage again. And write the date of mating on your personal calendar so you know when to expect the babies.

When my small children used to watch the mating they were curious about it and asked me and my wife what the hammies were doing. I just told them that the male was giving "baby seeds" to the female so they could have babies. My children were satisfied with that and looked forward to seeing the baby hamsters later on.

I had a teddy bear banded calico male I used for breeding. We named him Romeo and he lived up to his name. He fathered a lot of hamster babies and the differing color variations we got were exciting.

The pregnant hamster will have a huge stomach on her before the pups are to be born. Clean her cage real good about 2 days before she is due to give birth. You do this because you do not want an excessive amount of bacteria to be in the cage with the baby hamsters for a two week period of time.

She will be pregnant for 16 days.

I would write off automatically (from a breeder's perspective) any first litters from 8 week old females. It's best to wait for 16 weeks to breed your female hammie.

Stop breeding one female after 7 litters (one year old).

If you don't have a tame mother, she may bite you if you stick your hand into her cage where she has her babies.

The actual birthing experience takes about 3 hours for the mother to actually give birth to all of the pups.

The pregnant mother's diet is important. Cheese is high in protein but also fattening. Sun flower seeds, dog biscuits, and fresh vegetables are good. Kibbled dog food is also good.

How she is treated is important. You must outlaw any stress in her life. Make sure she has her vitamins, milk balls, soft bedding material, some high protein food, and some wheat germ. The wheat germ is high in vitamin E which is good at fighting infection and for general health.

Put her cage up on a high shelf somewhere that is isolated. Do not handle the mother or look inside of the cage for at least 3 days after the pups are born lest you stress the mother out. Many other kinds of disturbances will stress her. She can get stressed from poor diet, mean handling, loud noises, and over-crowding. If the mother gets stressed out (and this is true especially for first time mothers or extra young mothers who should not be pregnant) she will usually do one of three things:

1. She will stuff the babies into her cheek pouches and attempt to move her nest to where she feels less stressed out. This does not usually hurt the babies.
2. She will eat the heads off of the babies. Or she will eat the babies one at a time over a period of time until they are all gone.
3. She will abandon her pups and let them die.

However, normal litters are a lot of fun. The little babies start crawling around the cage at 8 days but they are blind. However, they can smell and like to eat bird seed that is small enough for them. Their eyes will open at 16 days of age. They will reach sexual maturity in 5 weeks.

The mother hammie can have from two to fifteen pups. Most of the ones who had litters for me had about 8 pups per litter.

The pups are weaned at 4 weeks. One day I was in the garage and I was observing a mother with her 8 pups in a 10 gallon acquarium cage. The mother was in the far corner away from her pups. One pup came over to her to nurse off of her. She bent down and gave him a severe and long and painful bite. The pup screamed in pain and went limping back over to the nest. The skin was not broken on purpose. This was that mother's way of weaning her pups. At first, it seemed cruel to me but then I understood that's how things are.

I gave that mother a week's rest from her pups and then bred her again. She was a good mother and she made good babies.

22. Specific Breeding Info

The Golden Hamster color is dominant.

Cream, albino, and pie-bald characteristics are recessive (mutations). In order to reproduce these, both parents have to be of like kind.

The white band mutation seems to be dominant.

Mating a white banded hamster with another white banded hamster will usually produce a large number of white banded off-spring.

One time I discovered two runts in a litter. They lived ok with their brothers and sisters for awhile. I sold the brothers and sisters and had to hold the runts back until they got big enough to sell. Runts were not the mutations that I was looking for.

23. Mites
If your hammie comes down with mites then spray him with bird mite spray.

24. Fleas

If your hammie gets fleas then use cat flea powder. Never use anything pertaining to a dog on your hammie except feeding him dog biscuits.

25. Colds

If your hammie comes down with a cold then isolate him from the colony. Place a few drops of vitamin E oil on a small morsel of bread and feed it to him daily. I had several of my hammies come down with a cold. Each got well in a short period of time. Your hammie's own immune system usually throws it off within a week or so.

If your hammie does not improve then he may come down with distemper (animal pneumonia). This is usually fatal. If this happens be sure to disinfect the cage before you place any new hammies in that cage so they don't get it.

Hamsters can catch some human ailments. Don't cough on your hammie, or kiss him, or handle him if you are sick. You may get him sick if you do.

26. The Sewer Rat, A Predator

Rats and hamsters hate each other. Do not place a rat or mouse inside of your hamster cage with your hamster. A wild mouse carries diseases that you don't want your hammie to get. A pet store mouse might survive in a hamster cage with your hammie if they have been raised together. Otherwise, this is not a good idea.

One day I came home and checked on my hammies I had in my garage. I found one of my long haired hammies dead on the floor of the acquarium cage. The others in the cage were ok but huddled in the corner. There on a shelf in the corner of my garage I saw a wild large grey sewer rat. After he saw me he scampered away. I knew what had happened. That rat had gotten in the hamster cage to get food. One of the dominant male hamsters had attacked him to protect his cage. The rat had attacked and killed him. I thought that this might happen again so I decided to kill the wild rat. I placed rat poison in a ball of raw meat and placed it to where the rat was sure to return. The next day the raw meat was gone and I never saw the rat again.

27. Cancer

Every once in awhile I would have one of my hamsters come down with cancer. I would notice big black sores all over his body. I would instantly move him to the quarantine cage so he would not infect the rest of the colony. Cancer was always fatal and the infected hammie would be dead in 3 days or less.

One day I had a nursing mother come down with cancer. She had 8 pups under her. I let her nurse until she died so the pups would be a little older with a better chance to survive. The pups were seven days old. Then I took her pups and placed them under another nursing mother who raised them up just fine. I cannot explain cancer. All I know about it is that it showed up and it was always fatal in my hamsters. It was only a very small percentage who came down with cancer while the most never got it.

28. Transferring Baby Hammies

If you are going to place pups from one mother under another mother you must be careful. A nursing mother can suckle up to 15 young at one time. In the above case where the cancerous mother died and left 8 orphaned pups, I knew the healthy mother only had 8 pups of her own so I figured that she could handle another 8 without any problem.

However, I was concerned because the pups under the healthy mother were a little bigger being about 4 days older than the incoming pups. However, everything worked out ok.

Do not let the healthy nursing mother see you disturb her nest. Take her off of her pups and place her in a separate cage. Give her a treat. Take the incoming pups and place them in the healthy mother's nest. Then take the healthy mother's bedding and rub it all over the incoming pups. This changes the smell from the old mother to the new mother. That way, the healthy mother cannot tell her own babies from the new arrivals. If you don't do this the healthy mother will destroy the new arrivals when she smells a different scent on the pups. Then place the mother back into her cage. Hold your breath until she accepts the new arrivals and begins to nurse them.

29. If you lose your hammie on the floor

If you lose one or more of your hammies on your floor do not panic. About the only way you can permanently lose a hammie is if it gets outside of your house. (To help prevent this place towels at the bottom of all outside doors to keep him from squeezing under it and getting away.) Otherwise, they will usually come out at night and run around on the floor looking for food. You can catch them then or if you see where they run to then you can move some furniture and catch them there. My best technique in capturing lost hammies in my house was not to look for them. I would just let our regular house-hold routines go on and eventually we would see them and grab them one at a time. After you do it a few times you will see what I mean.

Be sure you pick up all mouse traps off of the floor. Pick up all the rat poison in your house so your hammie won't eat it. He will eat the same things that a mouse will eat.

One way to re-capture one is to go into an enclosed room like your bathroom. (Assuming that your hammie is on the same floor). There is only one door in (usually). That means if your hammie goes in there then he cannot get out except through that one door. You know at night time he is going to be looking for food. But it will be dark and you will probably be lightly asleep. So you need him to wake you up so you can re-capture him. Leave the bathroom door open so he can enter. Against the far wall from the door on the floor place some wadded up newspaper that is still partially flat. Place some sun flower seeds in it. He will usually crinkle the newspaper in obtaining his food. This can alert you to enter the bathroom, turn on the light, and then catch him.

We had one that eluded us for days. I was worried that it might not get any water and die of thirst so I left a few apple slices out for it and it ate them. It got it's water that way. Then one day we saw it dart under our stove and retrieved it after a frantic effort.

Here is a technique that maybe you can also use:
One time a school teacher at the local elementary school brought her hamster to school to share with her students. The kids played with it and somehow it got away and hid in the classroom for 2 days. No one could catch it, however, it did not leave the classroom but hid in a large crack in the wall. The teacher came to me for help on how to capture it without hurting it. I reassured her and caught it for her that night.

How did I do it?
I took an empty 5 gallon acquarium cage and placed it on the floor. I knew her hammie would be out that night looking for food. They love sun flower seeds and will gather as much as possible. Out of books I made a few steps that lead up to the top of the acquarium. I placed a trail of sun flower seeds that lead to the top of the acquarium. I knew the hammie would go there to gather them all. The trick was to get the hammie to fall harmlessly into the acquarium and not be able to get out. So I built a little platform out of cardboard and pencils. I made it rickety on purpose. The height of it was half the distance from the bottom. On top of it I placed a nice pile of sun flower seeds. I knew the hammie would sniff around while on top of the acquarium and discover the pile of seeds just out of his reach on the platform inside of the acquarium. As he lowered himself into the acquarium to get the seeds he landed on the platform that collapsed. Then he was trapped and that is how I caught him. The teacher was grateful.

Here is a tip. In your house you can use your bathtub to trap him in instead of a 5 gallon acquarium cage. Make a gentle ramp up to the top of the tub. Create a rickety platform inside of the tub about 7 inches from the top of the tub. Place your bait there and check your trap in the morning.

30. If Your Hammie Loses It's Hair

One time I only had red winter wheat to feed to my hammies. After a period of time the hair fell out of many of them and they were bald. I discovered that this was caused by a lack of amino acid in their diet. This amino acid is in corn. Once I put corn back into their diet again, their hair grew back.

31. Mange
None of my hamsters ever had the mange. There is no known cure for this that I know about.

32. Wet Tail or Rot Tail

I had this happen several times to different hammies over a period of time. If your hammie's tail area gets wet and turns black then he probably has rot tail. All of my hammies lived and none of them died of it. But you must catch it in time. If you delay discovering it and treating it then it could prove fatal to your hammie.

If your hammie gets it then isolate him in a quarantine cage so he can recuperate. Rot tail is a sign that there is something wrong. Clean the cage he just came out of as it is probably too wet and has too much bacteria in it. Many times my acquarium cages were wetter than I thought they were. This was when I was using wood chips on the bottom of acquarium cages. Cat litter is better in this instance.

Rot tail is a sign that your hammie has intestinal bacteria and he needs to rest. The trick I used on each of my hammies who had rot tail was to feed him a very small morsel of bread with at least 3 drops of garlic oil on it daily. Hammies hate garlic but it is good for him. Garlic fights bad bacteria and flourishes good bacteria. He may not want to eat it but if that is the only food he has then he has no choice. If he refuses to eat then he may die. You can get the garlic oil from garlic oil gelatin capsules that you can buy at the store. After he eats the garlic soaked bread then you can feed him a little bit of good food (but nothing that will give him the runs). Do not put a clove of garlic in his cage. He will not like the smell of it, won't eat it, and will probably throw it into his potty corner. If he refuses to eat the garlic soaked bread morsel then give him a vitamin E soaked bread morsel instead.

33. Caring For An Open Wound

Most open wounds occur when two hamsters fight each other when their teeth are not clipped. If your hammie gets an open wound and it is not life threatening then place him in his own personal cage. Apply vitamin E oil to this open wound daily. Vitamin E fights infection and promotes healing. His wound should scab over and heal up in a couple of weeks. This is what I did for my hammies and it worked fine. It does not matter if your hammie licks the oil or not- either way is beneficial to him.

A Hamster ball that he can run around inside of is great. He will roll it all over your living room floor. But don't leave him inside of it for too long of a period of time (usually 20 minutes or so is ok) as he may go potty inside of it and then you will have to clean it all up.

Our cats were raised with our hamsters. I think our cats were more annoyed with them than anything else. They just kind of ignored the hamsters. The only problem we had was one day I came home and found one of our cats inside of our 20 gallon acquarium hamster cage. Our cat was going potty in the hamster cage. After all, it did have cat litter on it's floor. Don't ask me why it did this. Maybe the hamster cage smelled better than the cat box...

a litter of baby hamsters about two weeks old


Why do hamsters fight each other?
A hamster is very territorial. A hamster is also a very solitary little animal. He or she does not get lonely when by themselves so it is best to keep them that way. A fight will occur when one hamster is placed in the territory of another one. A male will allow a female hamster to be placed in his cage when she is in heet. Otherwise, a fight may occur. Sometimes, for some reason, hamsters don't like each other. I have observed this but can't explain it.
If you have two or more male adult hamsters in the same cage and there is a female hamster in heet somewhere in the same room then the males will sence this. God made them to mate by instinct and if they cannot get out to find this female to mate with then they may get sexually frustrated and fight with one another. Be sure to clip their teeth to at least 1/8 inch long at least once a week to prevent them from killing or damaging one another.

My favorite hamster got hurt in a fight with another one. What should I do?
Take your favorite hamster and place it in his own cage. Treat it with vitamin E oil topically on it's open wounds. Surface wounds will usually heal in a couple of weeks, however, deep wounds that extend to it's vitals are different. Your hammie may die from these. You may have to exercise a mercy killing to keep it from suffering (while it is dying over a period of several days).
Do not place a wounded baby hamster back into the cage with the rest of it's brothers and sisters. Hamsters are meat eaters but it is not good to feed them any meat. They will probably eat the wounded baby hamster.

How do I disinfect my hamster cage?
I always used Lysol or a strong chemical disinfectant that kills lots of bacteria. You might pick one that has a more pleasant odor to it. Clean your hamster's cage at least once a week. More if necessary. Do not let any bacteria build up or excessive wetness acculumate in your hammie's cage. If you do your hammie may get sick.
When I had 12 or more "teen age" hammies in a 10 gallon acquarium cage they would wet their potty corner a lot. Nearly once a day I would scoop out this corner with a small scooper. Then I would pour a moderate amount of dry clay cat litter in their potty corner. This kind of litter is very absorbent and soaks up a lot of liquid. This helped keep their cage dry and the hammies healthy.

Then once a week I would place the hammies in a holding cage while I took their 10 gallon acquarium outside and dumped out all of the contents on our lawn. This is a great way to fertilize your lawn if you are so inclined. I would squirt some disinfectant into the cage and then put water into the cage and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Then I would hose it out with water and then dry it thoroughly with a cloth rag. I would then pour clay cat litter into this cage- about one inch deep all across the bottom of the cage. I had a wire hamster wheel that I had glued onto a piece of flat steel so they could play on it without turning it over. I placed this back into the dry cage.

I gave them fresh drinking water (with one drop of liquid human baby vitamins in it). I always liked using a store bought water bottle that had a metal ball inside of the drinking tube. I had to make a special hanger for it so it would hang deeper so the small hamsters could easily reach it. Then I placed the hammies back into the cage. Then I put food in their cage- also a little piece of apple to give them some added vitamins and to aid their digestion. I placed a metal lid on top of the acquarium cage with a metal weight on it. I did this to make sure the hammies would not escape because they are escape artists. They would climb up the water bottle, climb up on top of the hamster wheel, or whatever else I placed in there.

I would use a small piece of wire to wire the door shut on a hamster cage with metal bars. A "twist tie" from a bread wrapper will help keep your hammie from opening this kind of door.

The bottom of a metal cage or habitrail cage is cleaned the same way. Dump it, disinfect it, hose it off, and dry it real good. Remove any wet bedding from the cage. A hamster will probably get upset when you remove any of it's wet bedding but this has to be done to keep it healthy. Remove any wet food also from the cage.

If your hammie wets in your habitrail tower then you can place some dry clay cat litter there or you can just remove the tower altogether.

Never clean a hamster cage that has a mother nursing babies that are two weeks of age and under. Make sure that you clean her cage at least two days before she gives birth so she can nest in a clean cage relatively free of bacteria. You don't want her to get sick while she is nursing her pups.

Can my hamster eat bird seed?
Yes. A hamster likes to eat bird seed, but you must not feed it only bird seed. You have to feed it a diet that also contains corn so it doesn't lose it's hair. Also a tidbit of apple once a day is good so it doesn't get constipated. Some folks like to keep their hamster in the same cage with their pet bird. This is ok except that a hamster is active at night and may keep the bird awake at night. It's not good to have a cranky bird instead of one that sings.

How often do I feed my hamster?
A hamster will not overeat, therefore you can leave a certain amount of food continually in it's cage. Just give it a little bit of food on a daily basis. Otherwise, it may drag it into the potty corner and get it contaminated with bacteria. Remove any wet food from the cage on a daily basis.

The exception to this is for a nursing mother. She is to have a plentiful amount of food and is to be left entirely alone until her pups are about eight days old. It is wise not to even look into her cage until this time.

a hamster eating lettuce- give it some but not too much lest it get a runny stool...

If I lose my hamster will it return to it's cage?
No. A hamster is not a trained dog or cat. Once it is lose it is going to keep on going. Try not to let it get out of your house or garage (if you can) so you can recapture it. I have lost a lot of hammies- some I have recaptured and some I have not.

If it is lose in your house for over two days it may eat food that you leave it on the floor, however, it will not have any water to drink. To keep it alive leave a part of an apple on the floor so it can get it's water from that source. Then recapture it as soon as possible.

What do I feed baby hamsters?
When baby hammies are about 8 days old they will start wandering around their cage. They have no hair and their eyes are closed. But they have a great sence of smell. They can eat something small like birdseed. And I always liked to give them a small piece of apple and a milk ball.

A milk ball you can make from dry powdered milk. Place some dry milk in a bowl. Add a few drops of water on top of one another and let this water get soaked up and surrounded by the powdered milk. Remove this wet ball from the dry bowl and let it dry. Then place it into the cage after the pups are 8 days old but not before. They may not like it at first but the mother may eat it to get a source of calcium for her own milk supply. But usually the pups will nibble on it later on- this is good for their health while they are growing up.

Don't feed baby hamsters any meat. They can usually eat what big hamsters eat. Don't feed them any cheese because constipation at this stage could cause them to die.

How can I pick up my hamster without hurting it?
I usually picked it up by the scruff of the neck. This is the same way that a mother cat picks up a kitten. It does not hurt the hammie to pick it up this way. This is the proper way to hold it when you clip it's teeth.

Clip the top teeth with one clip and then clip the bottom teeth with one clip. Leave the teeth about 1/8 inch long so it can chew it's food. This should prevent it from having to chew on it's cage bars all night long in order to wear them down. Bottom teeth that are too long can break off exposing the nerve and be more painful than if you clipped them.

A hammie will not like having it's teeth clipped. It will wiggle around and make noises and maybe even squeel like it is dying while you are holding it by the scruff of it's neck. But don't let that fool you. Just keep at it until you succeed at your task. The first time is the worst. After that, the hammie kind of gets used to it so it's not as traumatic thereafter. Clip the teeth whenever it needs it- check the teeth once a week and do this as is necessary.

Some hamsters get along with others really well. However, to be safe, if you are putting more than one hamster together then clipping the teeth are mandantory and not optional. I put two males together one time. I hoped they would get along, but, instead, they hated each other and tried to kill each other. The only weapon a hamster has is it's teeth. They locked in deadly combat and rolled around the cage not letting go, each with a death grip on the other. I had their teeth clipped so all they did was to slobber on each other. There was no break in the skin on the opposing hamster. I had to immediately separate them to individual cages.


Hamsters are fun. A cute little hammie can give you unconditional love. They are cuddly. They are cute. They are furry. They are warm. I enjoyed my hammies. I have written this so you can enjoy yours too.


Take A Look



since April 04, 2005