The Syrian Hamster Care Guide
Syrian Hamsters are great family pets and are very easy to handle when they are properly handled. Syrian Hamsters are nocturnal creatures, they sleep for most of the day and become active at dusk. A Syrian hamster has a general lifespan of 2 to 2 and a half years.
Syrian Hamsters can come to enjoy being handled if they are socialised from a young age. Unlike dwarf hamsters Syrian hamsters will not need to be resocialised if there is an interruption in handling. When you first get your new hamster give it some time to get used to its new home. After a day or two you can start approaching it. Never surprise your hamster or try to wake it from sleep. Approach your hamster when it is alert and relaxed. Approach at its eye level rather than from up above so that it does not get a surprise.
Start by talking gently to your hamster so it becomes used to your voice. Introduce your hand into the cage with a treat and allow your hamster to approach you. You should handle your hamster regularly to develop its confidence and trust. Hamster are generally very docile and will come to you with very little taming. Never pick your hamster up by the scruff of the neck but him up gently in two hands. Keep your hands over a table or close to the floor in case your hamster drops out!
Feed your hamster a good quality hamster food. Hamsters should be fed in the evening as this is their natural habit. A hamster will tend to store food in its mouth and move it to a secure hiding place to be eaten fully later. You can feed small amounts of fresh fruit and veg as a supplement but should not feed too much as this can cause upset stomachs. Vitamin supplements and mineral stones will help to keep your pet in optimal condition.
When introducing your hamster to a new food you should do so slowly over the course of about 10 days to avoid any digestive problems.
Always have an adequate supply of fresh water at hand, preferably in a bottle. A ceramic dish is generally best for use as a food bowl. The ceramic is easily cleaned and cannot be gnawed away!
Syrian Hamsters prefer to be alone and should never be caged with other hamsters. They are extremely territorial and will start fighting aggressively with other hamster kept in the same cage. If you would like to own more than one hamster cage them separately or consider getting a dwarf hamster or a gerbil as they like to live in groups.
Syrian hamsters even though they are small like plenty of place to scurry around in and plastic cages with wire sides and top are best suited to them. Use wood shavings for the floor of the cage and hamster wool for nesting. Do not use hay or straw as it is too coarse. Make sure they have a small house to hide away in peace.
The cage should be placed out of direct sunlight and away from all sources of heat or draughts.
Syrian Hamsters will tend to use one area as their regular toilet and can easily be trained to use a litter tray. This area of the cage should be cleaned out very regularly.
The key to keeping your hamster healthy is a good diet and clean living conditions. Clean and disinfect his cage at least once a week.
Hamster’s teeth grow continuously so provide him with chews and gnaw sticks to wear down those dentures!
Syrian Hamsters are susceptible to diarrhoea known as wet tail. This can be caused by food, stress or rough handling. If your hamster shows signs of this contact a vet straight away.
Ensure in winter time your hamster is warm enough. If they are not warm enough they will be very lazy and tired and will not move around much.