Are Hamsters Easy To Take Care Of? What You Need To Know

Are Hamsters Easy To Take Care Of?

All pets require some level of care and attention – they cannot feed themselves, provide themselves with fresh water, or clean up after themselves. But there is certainly a spectrum of care necessary, with some pets on the higher-maintenance side and others on the lower–maintenance side. If you are considering purchasing a hamster, you are likely wondering how easy they are to care for. 

How easy are hamsters to care for? If you are looking for a low-maintenance pet, a hamster may be the right choice for you. They need regular access to fresh water and food and a clean enclosure. Hamsters are hardy animals, needing little in the way of medical care, and they are content to live alone without much interaction from you or others of their kind. 

Read on for all of the information you need to know about caring for hamsters. 

What Care Do Hamsters Need?

Enclosure Requirements

Even if you plan to interact with your hamster daily (which you should if you would like her to enjoy your company), your hamster will be spending the majority of her time in her enclosure. In terms of time, keeping the cage clean will probably be your biggest commitment outside of the time that you spend with your pet.

Choosing An Appropriate Enclosure

Before you bring your hamster home, you will need to purchase an enclosure. The best enclosures are wire cages specifically designed for small animals. If you are planning to adopt a dwarf hamster, make sure the wire spacing is narrow enough so that the little guy cannot squeeze through. 

Hamsters require a minimum of 24”x12” of floor space – but the larger, the better. Most of the cages at the large chain pet stores are too small, especially for a Syrian hamster. For a larger selection, it is a good idea to look online. In addition to “hamster cages,” you can search for “rat cages” or even “ferret cages” to see larger alternatives – again, just ensure that the spacing is not such that your hamster will be able to escape.

Keeping The Enclosure Clean

Aside from interacting with your hamster, the largest time commitment in caring for your pet will likely be cleaning out his cage. Unless you litter train your hamster, your little pet will eliminate anytime, anywhere.

Hamsters urinate 6+ times per day (and if you have a male, you may find he marks much more often than that), and because of their small size and quick-moving digestive systems, they can defecate several times in an hour.

Their bedding will become soiled quickly, and their cage should be completely cleaned every week. You will need to move your hamster to a safe space, move his toys outside of the cage, and replace all of the bedding. Every few cleanings, it is a good idea to spray down the inside of the cage and thoroughly clean all toys as well.

Hamster Food & Water Needs

Of course, your hamster needs regular access to fresh water and hamster-formulated food as well. While you must make sure to check their levels daily, hamsters are significantly low-maintenance in this department when compared to most other household pets. 

Hamsters use water bottles instead of water dishes. Critter water bottles come in several different sizes, and you can purchase a size that will last your pet a few days. Make sure you clean it often and check on the water level daily. As you get to know your hamster and his typical water intake, you will become accustomed to how often you will need to refill the water.

Hamsters are able to self-regulate their feed intake. For this reason, most hamster humans keep the food dish full and allow the hamster to eat as much as he or she would like. Keep an eye on the dish every day and refill it as needed.

Don’t be surprised if you find your hamster hoarding all of his food and hiding it around his cage. If you know he has food hidden elsewhere, you can sneak it from his secret stash and place it back into the bowl. 

Hamster Care Social Interaction Requirements

If you have a dog, you know that you must spend time playing with and walking your pet to meet its social needs. Dogs, like most animals, are highly social and need that regular interaction, especially if they do not have a pack of their own.

Hamsters are unique in that they prefer to live solitary lives. Hamsters should not be kept with other hamsters, and for the most part, they can live perfectly content without human interaction as well. 

Most hamsters can become accustomed to hanging out with their humans and can be socialized from a young age to enjoy time outside of the cage interacting with them. If you would like a hamster to interact with, you absolutely can find this, especially if you choose a more docile species like the Syrian or the Winter White.

If you would prefer an observational pet instead – one that you can spend time watching through the barrier of the enclosure – you can find this as well, especially in a dwarf species like the Robo. Either way, the time that you spend interacting with your hamster will be up to you and will depend on what you are looking for in a pet – there are no minimum requirements here.  

Other Hamster Care Considerations

Hamsters Are Escape Artists

While hamsters are quite easy to care for when considering the hamster inside the cage, particular care must be taken if you would like to spend time with your hamster outside the cage. Hamsters are remarkable escape artists. The dwarf species, in particular, are both very small and very quick – if they escape from your hands or your lap, they can very easily become lost. 

There are a few things to take note of when considering the escape antics of hamsters. The first is that they chew – and chew, and chew. If you have a cage made of wood, for example, you may be surprised to find that your hamster can chew right through the cage.

Hamsters have been known to burrow into their bedding and chew through the bottom corners of wooden cages – this is an area you may not notice if you’re not specifically looking for it. The second consideration is that hamsters lack useful depth perception.

This means that if you are holding a hamster, he or she may walk right off of your hands without realizing the height at which they will fall. You won’t be expecting them to do this, and they will suddenly be loose.

All of this to say, while hamsters are very easy to care for, extra care must be taken when they are outside of the cage enjoying time with you.

Can You Leave A Hamster Alone While On Vacation?

If you are someone who travels frequently but would still like a pet, a hamster may be the right fit for your lifestyle. Because they are able to self-regulate when it comes to feeding, you can fill an extra dish with food and leave it in the cage if you are leaving for a couple of days.

The fact that hamsters use a water bottle instead of a water dish makes traveling easier as well – you will not have to worry about them spilling their water and running low before expected. If you are going to leave your hamster for more than a couple of days, it is recommended that you have someone check in on him or her while you are gone.

Alternatively, you can bring them to a friend’s home in a travel cage temporarily so that they can be cared for and checked on daily.

Another reason that hamsters are a good choice for someone that is not home all of the time is their very low social needs. Because hamsters do not need interaction from humans or other animals, they will be perfectly content staying home alone for days at a time, so long as their physical needs are met, and they have an enclosure large enough to roam. 

Verdict: Hamsters Are Easy To Care For

If you have had other pets in your life, you should find hamsters remarkably easy to care for. They do not require daily interaction, are happy with a dish full of food and a bottle full of water, and appreciate a simple weekly cage cleaning.

You may find hamster care refreshing when compared to a pet with higher needs. On the other hand, if you are looking for your first pet, adopting a hamster is a great way to ease into pet ownership.

Their care requirements are not as high-maintenance as many other pets, and will likely find yourself with a cuddly pocket pet and a relatively low time commitment (though the more time you put in, the more cuddly your pet will be). All in all, if you are looking for a low-maintenance pet, a hamster is a great choice.

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