Unique Apartment Pets: Hamsters

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Finding good apartment pets isn’t always easy. Some apartments prohibit certain types of pets, such as dogs, but allow others. To overcome space limitations and own a unique pet, buy a pet hamster.

Why Hamsters are Great Pets

While hamsters are considered to be ideal pets for children, they make great companions for people of all ages. With their great personalities, hamsters can be highly entertaining.

Aside from being cute, hamsters are inexpensive to keep and easy to care for. Your initial investment will be around $35 for a cage or aquarium with a wire mesh top to house the hamster. Annually, expect to spend about $50 for food and $225 for litter and bedding materials. You may want to budget an extra $20 for toys and hamster treats.

Is a Hamster Right for You?

One thing to be aware of before deciding whether a hamster is right for you is that they are nocturnal. Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night. For this reason, a hamster may not be best for young children whose daily schedules are out of synch with the hamster’s. If you’re a light sleeper, or live in a quiet area, your hamster’s nightly activity may disturb you. Of course, if it’s possible to place the hamster’s cage well away from bedrooms, this won’t be a problem.

Hamsters have a reputation for biting. They are most likely to nip when you awaken them during the day because they are meant to be asleep at that time. Once accustomed to handling by you, their biting becomes less frequent. Hamsters are too fragile to be handled by children under the age of six. Older children should handle them under adult supervision.

Hamster Types

The most common type of pet hamster is the Syrian, also known as the golden hamster or teddy bear hamster. It is six inches long, with a two to three-year lifespan. Dwarf hamsters are two to three inches long, with a one to two-year lifespan. Another type, the Chinese hamster, is uncommon.

Syrian hamsters are solitary by nature and must be kept one per cage. Dwarf hamsters are social, preferring to live in pairs. Don’t house a male and a female together. Hamsters breed frequently and have large litters. Breeding is best left to professionals.

Pet Hamster Care

Purchase the right size cage for your hamster(s) and line it with absorbent bedding such as hay, shredded paper or pelleted bedding. Include a running wheel for exercise and a small box or flower pot for sleeping and hiding. Provide paper towels so that your hamster can build a nest. Clean out the cage daily; replace bedding and scrub the bottom of the cage weekly.

For food, buy hamster mix at your local pet store. Supplement it with fresh food including sunflower seeds, nuts and fresh grains. Hamsters also like fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and lettuce. Provide fresh water daily by using an inverted bottle with a drinking tube.

With proper care, your happy and healthy hamster will make an adorable companion.

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