Hamsters are nocturnal animals. That means they like to be active at night and sleep most of the day. They like to explore their habitat so be sure to create an environment that is fun and stimulating for your new friend!
Learn even more about being a great hamster guardian by reading our Hamster Care Guide.
Hamsters are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals (insects). Give them a handful of a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds every day along with hamster food from the pet supply store. Hamsters also need to gnaw on branches to wear down their teeth, so place some fresh, small fruit, wood and twigs (not cherry) in their habitat each week.
Hamsters should always have fresh water available to them through a sipper bottle. Change the water every day and completely clean the bottle with soap and water once a week.
Hamsters need a cage at least 60 cm by 30 cm by 30 cm for one hamster. Hamsters should live alone unless they are the same sex and from the same litter. Even then, Syrian hamsters are best by themselves.
Line the cage with paper and aspen wood shavings (cedar and pine can cause health problems) or "CareFresh" (bedding made from recycled paper). Add some shredded paper and hay for bedding.
Clean your hamster's cage at least once a week to make sure their bedding is dry and clean. Put in a box or another object so your hamster has a hiding/resting place. Add other interesting paper tubes, ladders and boxes to liven up his space.
Hamsters need exercise like all animals. Making a large enclosure with tubes, an exercise wheel, ladders and burrowing material like peat moss will give them plenty of exercise.
Most hamsters keep themselves groomed but long-haired hamsters need to have their fur brushed gently with a toothbrush every day to keep them free from tangles.
Talk to your veterinarian if you notice your hamster is not moving much, is not eating, has diarrhea or is otherwise behaving unusually. Injuries due to falls or other accidents should be treated by a veterinarian right away. Check your hamster's teeth, ears and claws to make sure they don't smell and are clean.
How to pick-up a hamster
You can pick up your hamster by putting cupped hands near him and by letting him crawl into your hands. Another way is to let him crawl into a large cup and then let him crawl into your hands from there. Since hamsters are nocturnal, it is best to wait to play with them in the evening. If you disturb hamsters while they are sleeping you could be bitten.
When you first adopt your hamster give him a few days to get used to you before you start holding him and playing with him. Once he gets used to you, spend time with him every day. Remember, hamsters sleep during the day. Try not to disturb them when they are sleeping.