If you already have a hamster or you’re planning to adopt one as a pet, we have the right guide here that will teach you on How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners and how to choose the right hamster that is a perfect fit for you and your home.
This all inclusive guide will go in depth and show you the different types of hamsters and What Foods Can A Hamster Eat.
How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners
The crucial part of learning how to take care of a hamster is to keep their cage clean. Use a safe dishwashing liquid to wipe and wash down the cage once a month. First, empty the cage, Second, fill up a spray bottle with water and dish soap, Third, wash surfaces and bars until squeaky clean.
Hamsters are usually seen as pets for children, because of their cute and docile nature, similar to owning a hedgehog. These little creatures are nocturnal in nature, which means they sleep during the day and are only active at night. Due to the nature of their sleep pattern, they do not fit well into a child’s schedule, as the child will probably be asleep when they are active.
Learning how to care for them is another issue. Based on how you take care of a hamster, they can live for 2 to 3 years on an average. There are different kinds of hamsters, and they all have around the same lifespan. Hamsters, in general, vary in characteristics and look based on their breed. Although they might have the same lifespan and require similar care, you’ll have to pick a hamster that is best for you.
Types of Hamsters
There are different types of hamsters you can choose from the pet store. One of the most common ones in the United States is the Syrian hamster otherwise known as the teddy bear hamster or golden hamster. One of these hamsters was discovered in Syria in the 1800s and was not seen again for nearly a century. It is one of the most vulnerable species as humans continuously destroy its habitat.
Dwarf hamsters are also a type of pet hamsters. There are three types of dwarf hamsters you’ll probably find in a pet store that are related.
These are the Roborovski, and there are two types of Russian dwarf hamster, Winter White, and Campbells Russian Dwarf. The fourth type of hamster you’ll find in a pet store is entirely different from others. It's called the Chinese.
Like humans, hamsters come with different personalities and are suitable for different situations and homes. This should be taken into consideration when learning how to take care of a hamster for beginners.
Some hamsters enjoy solitude while others are more social and enjoy the company of others. If you aim to have a variety of hamsters in one cage, determine their gender first and choose only one gender per cage, except you want them to breed.
The average lifespan of a Syrian or teddy bear hamster is 2 to 3 years. Although it is possible for them to live for as long as five years, it is rare. They are usually weaned by their mothers when they are between 3-to 4-weeks old. When Syrian hamsters are about four months old, they reach adulthood and break out from home. The lifespan of a hamster is based on the quality of care he receives.
Teddy bear hamsters are the largest captive hamster breeds and are often chosen as pets. They are the liveliest pets of all the other breeds and are fun to interact and watch. If you have the time and a bit of patience, you can train a Syrian hamster from an early age. When they grow, they grow big. Syrian hamsters grow to be about 5.5 inches on an average. They are usually given to younger children because they are inexpensive and easy to tame.
How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners: Syrian Hamster
Syrian hamsters like their space, but they can be very territorial. Even if your teddy bear hamster seems to enjoy company, once they reach 8-to 10- weeks old they can fight to the death for their territory. They are a curious breed that often requires a lot of mental stimulation to keep them busy. A bored Syrian hamster will seek out an escape route, particularly those that are left alone for too long.
Syrian Hamster Housing and Syrian Hamster Care
Teddy bear hamsters love a colossal cage which provides them space to run and play. The minimum requirement for the cage should be 24 inches by 12 inches and at least 12 inches tall. You can also check out the top rated cages for hamsters. The conventional wire-mesh cage works well, and you can also purchase a regular sized 10-gallon capacity aquarium with a fitted mesh lid. Your pet will also require space for pet toys like exercise wheel, tunnel toys for hiding, a bridge, and wooden chew blocks for dental hygiene and maintenance.
How To Take Care Of A Hamster For Beginners: Dwarf Hamsters
Unlike the teddy bear hamsters, dwarf hamsters are usually smaller. These species are not as territorial as other hamsters and thrive well in pairs or small groups as opposed to solitude.
The Roborovski dwarf hamster is the smallest of the species, and it grows only to about 3 inches in length as an adult. They live for about 3 to 3.5 years and are known to be fast and active. They can run as far as 100 miles per night on their hamster wheel.
Russian dwarf, winter white hamsters, got their names from their ability to turn white in the winter months in their Russian habitat. When held captive they retain a dark grey coloring due to artificial heat and lighting. Winter white dwarf hamsters also come in color variations like marble, sapphire, pearl and sapphire pearl. They have an average lifespan of 1.5 to 2 years.
Campbell's dwarf hamsters are the most famous dwarf hamsters in pet stores. They are found in the wild forests of China, Russia, and other Central Asia countries. Campbell's have a similar dark grey fur like the winter white and a similar lifespan of about two years. The Campbell dwarf hamster can stay awake during the day more than any of the other species. So, if you're searching for a hamster that is awake during the day and sleeps at night, this is your best bet.
Chinese dwarf hamsters are actually not dwarfs but are usually small in stature. The Chinese hamster loves to tunnel especially through its bedding. With the right bedding and appropriate toys, taking care of hamsters should be easy.
How To Take Care Of A Dwarf Hamster
Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes especially Campbell’s hamsters and Chinese hamsters. However, this can be prevented by providing your pet with a wheel for exercising and a diet that is low on sugar. Purchase high-quality chewable materials to avoid overgrown and decayed teeth in your hamster.
Dwarf Hamster Housing & Dwarf Hamster Care
Provide about 1- to 2- inches of layered high-quality shredded paper or hardwood shavings. Cedar-based products should not be used for your hamster's bedding.
They are toxic to small animals. Their habitat should be large enough for playing and exercising. The cage can be made of escape-proof glass, plastic or metal with a tight lid cover.
Provide chewing toys for your dwarf hamster to maintain its incisor teeth, which grows continuously. Avoid scorching temperatures, drafty areas, and direct sunlight
Hamster Care Sheet
How do you take care of a hamster? This section discusses the foods you can give your hamster and those to avoid, as well as other necessary grooming details.
How To Take Care Of A Baby Hamster
If you bought a pregnant hamster or your hamster breeds, then you’ll need to learn how to care for the babies. Caring for baby hamsters is easy; all you have to do is let them be with their mother, feed and provide clean water for them.
Baby Hamster Pet Care
Baby hamsters are born naked, blind and vulnerable, and they weigh less than 2 grams. They will need to be nursed by their mothers immediately. By the 10th day, they will begin to crawl around blindly, and by the 2nd week, they can see fully. In the 3rd month, the mothers lose interest in feeding their babies and thereafter, takes the big step.
By the 4th month, mother hamsters abandon their young, which is often the best time to separate them from their mothers. In 40 days, the baby hamster is usually a young adult and can be given regular meals.
Separate dwarf hamsters when they are around 4 to 5 weeks old and Syrian hamsters around six weeks to avoid in-fighting between the animals.
Feeding Your Pet Hamster
It's very important to find out What Foods Can A Hamster Eat. Hamsters are omnivores which means that they feed on plants and insects. To feed your hamster, you will have to imitate what they will eat in the wild. This includes a diet packed with fresh veggies and protein-packed treats like mealworms.
You also must keep in mind that hamsters hoard their food. Hence, you will have to feed your hamster small portions of food per day to avoid hoarding.
Do not feed your pet hamster muesli-style food mix because hamsters will pick out the grains high in sugar and leave out the high fiber bits.
An Ideal hamster diet should include;
- High-quality pellets avoid the muesli-style mix.
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs
- Timothy hay, this is full of fiber and ideal for small pets like hamsters.
- Treats like nuts, boiled eggs or mealworms
- A constant supply of fresh water. You can use a water bottle with a metal spout.
What Foods Can A Hamster Eat? Wild Hamsters
Wild hamsters are omnivores and usually feed on seeds, grains, natural grass, frogs, lizards, and insects.
Domesticated hamsters can thrive exclusively on store bought food mix as long as it provides all of the nutrients needed in typical hamster diet. However, the closer the diet is to that of a wild hamster the better.
Many hamster owners like to provide fruits and vegetables as treats. It is especially cute watching your hamster nibble on fruit such as a blueberry. But what about carrots? Are they good for your hamster?
Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?
"Can Hamsters Eat Carrots?" is a commonly asked question among the hamster owner community. Certain human foods can make great treats for hamsters and provide wonderful nutritional benefit. However, not all human foods are able to be consumed by your fuzzy friend.
In order to answer the question of whether hamsters can eat carrots, it is important to understand what a typical hamster eats.
Are Carrots Good For Hamsters?
Carrots are a favorite food among many domestic hamsters. Its hard, unique texture gives something for your hamster to gnaw on, keeping their teeth short and healthy.
Hamsters love carrots. The unique texture of the carrot gives them something to gnaw on; this helps keep your hamster's teeth short and pleasant. Carrots are high in sugar, so feed your pet as little as half a teaspoon every one or two days. Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes, so feeding them carrots may not be ideal.
After introducing your hamster to carrots and making sure there are no adverse reactions, we recommend providing regularly with half a teaspoon every one to two days.
Keep in mind that carrots are high in sugar, so over feeding could result in diarrhea. If you have a dwarf hamster it is best to stay away from carrots as they are more prone to diabetes
Can Hamsters Eat Broccoli?
Hamsters can eat broccoli either raw or steamed. It is a great source of vitamins E, K and C and also contains folic acid, chromium, calcium, and fiber.
Raw or steamed, hamsters can eat broccoli. Broccoli is a good source of vitamins E, K and C. It also contains folic acid, chromium, calcium, and fiber which are all good for your hamster.
When feeding your hamster broccoli make sure not to add any salt, garlic, or pepper as these ingredients can be toxic. Simply serve it as is. We recommend giving it to them in small portions twice a week.
Can Hamsters Eat Tomatoes?
Un-ripened tomatoes along with plants stems and leaves contain tomatine, a solanum alkaloid that can affect the neurologic and digestive tract of your hamster. You can feed your hamster half a teaspoon of ripe tomatoes and nothing more. Tomatoes should be given as a treat rather than a staple food.
Tomatoes generally are not bad for your hamster as long as they are fed in small amounts. Large amounts of tomato can have negative side effects due to the acid content. We recommend feeding your hamster half a table spoon of ripe tomatoes and no more.
It is very important that you do not feed your hamster un-ripened tomatoes. Un-ripened tomatoes along with tomato stems and leaves contain tomatine a solanum alkaloid that can affect the neurologic and digestive tract of your hamster.
Remember that your hamster only needs a teaspoon of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Tomatoes should be used as a rare treat rather than a staple food. If your hamster does not like tomatoes, feel free to cut them out of their diet as they provide no unique health benefits unlike something like carrots.
Can Hamsters Eat Lettuce?
When given in moderation, lettuce can be beneficial to your pet hamster. While others consider this a controversial topic, lettuce is not toxic to hamsters when provided in small portions. The type of lettuce you’re feeding it also matters.
While hamsters can eat iceberg lettuce, you shouldn’t feed them this as it can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues. However, you can feed your hamster romaine, red or curly leaf lettuce.
As long as you provide it small portions, lettuce can be beneficial to your pet hamster. However, compared to other vegetable options lettuce is not ideal.
If you are going to feed your hamster lettuce, do not feed them ice berg lettuce! This type of lettuce has little nutritional value and causes diarrhea and digestive issues. It is okay to provide your hamster romaine, red, or curly leaf lettuce.
Lettuce can be a nice treat for your hamster to snack on and still provides some nutritional benefit. Just be sure to wash the lettuce thoroughly and feed them in small amounts. Since lettuce is primarily water based an excessive amount could result in runny stool.
Celery is suitable for your hamsters. It contains water, phytonutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Celery also has vitamin K and molybdenum. This protects them from inflammation in their digestive tract. Packed with fiber, celery is a tasty vegetable for your hamster to chew on.
However, do not overfeed your pet celery, chop it up in small pieces and give it to them as a treat. Overfeeding celery to your hamster can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
Can Hamsters Eat Grapes?
While it is well known that grapes are toxic to cats and dogs, they are not toxic to your hamster.
Grapes are generally healthy for hamsters and show no side effects like with cats, dogs, and ferrets. Before feeding your hamster grapes, you can ask your veterinarian the appropriate quantity to feed the pet. Do not feed them whole grapes, regardless of their size.
Like most fruits, grapes contain a lot of sugar. Be sure not to feed them grapes too often or else it result in an upset digestive tract or diarrhea.
Can Hamsters Eat Watermelon?
Like the name suggests, watermelon has a high water content which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. If you are going to feed your hamster watermelon you need to do so in very small portions.
It is important that you remove the seeds before feeding your hamster as they contain Citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid that could negatively affect your hamster's health. It also has a sharp taste that hamsters dislike.
Watermelon can be eaten by hamsters, but we do not recommend doing so. If you really want to feed your hamster watermelon remember to provide it in very small amounts and monitor them closely.
Can Hamsters Eat Bananas
Along with many other fruits, bananas can be eaten by all hamster breeds. Bananas contain tons of fiber and vitamins B and C that may be scarce in a commercial hamster food.
Bananas contain tons of fiber and vitamin B and C which are suitable for your hamster. You can feed your hamster once or twice per week a quarter of a teaspoon of banana.
The insoluble fiber in bananas supports smooth digestion and can relieve constipation. So, you can give your hamster small portions of bananas when they are constipated.
We recommend serving your hamster banana once or twice per week with a serving size of a quarter of a teaspoon.
The insoluble fiber in bananas supports smooth digestion and can help relieve constipation. So, if your hamster is beginning to show symptoms of constipation, feeding them portions of bananas may help.
Can Hamsters Eat Blueberries?
Yes, hamsters can eat blueberries and they are healthy for them. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and help promote hamster eyesight.
Like with other fruits, only feed your hamster in very small portions. We recommend only giving them 1-2 blueberries a week. The high natural sugar content in fruits such a blueberries causes diarrhea when over consumed.
What Foods Can A Hamster Eat: Checklist Of Fruits and Vegetables
The following are a list of fruits and veggies suitable for your pet hamster. Before giving them, ensure you wash the fruits and veggies appropriately. Only offer a small portion per day to the animals.
- Sweet peppers
- Apples without seeds
Avoid feeding your pet hamster fruits like oranges, lemons or grapefruits. Make sure the liquid you provide for your pet is filtered, chlorine-free water daily. Also, avoid meals high in fat and calories. These includes meals like;
- Junk food
- Chocolate or other candies
- Meats high in fat
- Beans and potatoes
- Citrus fruits: are too acidic for hamsters
What Foods Can A Hamster Eat? Human Foods
Occasionally you might be tempted to feed your cute little hamster small portions of your dinner. Here’s a list of some of the regular meals that humans eat that hamsters can consume.
• Cooked chicken or turkey (steamed or baked)
• Low fat cottage cheese
• Plain tofu
• Cooked ground beef- remove excess fat by rinsing with hot water
• Bread- whole grain (Avoid white bread)
• Unsalted popcorn
• Cooked plain brown rice
• Low or sugarless cereals
• Corn on the cob
• Sweet potatoes
• Eggs (boiled or scrambled)
Why Do Hamsters Bite & How To Make Them Stop
I problem when how to take care of a hamster for beginners is bitting.
These lovable rodents come in different colors and sizes from dwarf hamster which grow to around 2 to 4 inches, to Syrian hamsters which grow to about 6 inches, to European hamsters which can grow as large as 13.4 inches.
Whatever the size of your hamster, it may bite and you will certainly feel their tiny but sharp teeth. It’s not a really painful bite, more of a pinch really, but we simply can’t but wonder why hamsters bite and what we can do to make them stop.
Most often, biting is their defense mechanism which gets activated for various reasons.
You may have bought a hamster from a shop where the staff didn’t handle hamsters regularly in order to make them get used to human touch. If the hamster isn’t too old or stubborn, with patience and in time, you will be able to help your pet get used to you.
In the process, your hamster will become more and more trusting and friendly and biting will stop, hopefully. He will also become more comfortable and feel safe in his new home.
In order to handle your hamsters without being bitten, you need handle them with care, and let them adapt to this routine using simple training techniques.
A new home
Whenever a hamster moves in to a new home, he will feel certain and varied fear and anxiety. To help him overcome this, you need to allow your hamster to settle in for few days after you bring him home. You should leave him some time to accommodate, adapt and get cozy before trying to pick him for the first time.
Related: 11 Top Cages For Hedgehog Review
Once his new home gets comfortable and familiar and the pet starts to feel safe and at ease, he will become less aggressive and more open to human contact.
Talk to your hamster whenever you can. They have an excellent sense of hearing and will soon become accustomed to your voice. You will certainly name your pet so gently call him by name when you give him food and water. Talk to him about everything and anything. Give him your sales pitch, tell him about a difficult customer that you had that day, pass on the good news about a new baby in the family or comment on the latest fashion craze – anything will do! Hamsters learn quickly. Unfortunately, they’re also notoriously forgetful so constant verbal interaction is necessary.
Another point is letting them get used to your smell without actually touching them during their adaptation period. All you need to do is sit near the cage for a little while every day, or put a hamper of your clothes that need washing near the hamster’s cage.
This is a smart tip for learning how to take care of a hamster for beginners.
All in good time
Hamsters are nocturnal creatures. This means that they will sleep during the day and be active at night. Choose a time in the evening when your hamster is awake, and make a commitment to spend some time, talk to, play with or train your hamster. Set a time and stick to it every day.
If you do this consistently for about two weeks, you will notice the difference and have no trouble handling a very tame and gentle hamster.
Do not wake up your pet in the middle of the day just because you feel like playing with him. Respect their biological clock. If you don’t he will be grumpy, edgy and probably bite. Warn the rest of the family or your guests about the need for the hamster to have a regular uninterrupted sleeping routine.
Handling Your Hamster
Picking hamsters up from their cage
A smart guide in how to take care of a hamster for beginners is hamster care. Before trying to pick up your little furry pet, make sure to always to wash your hands. If your hands smell like food, sweets, or anything else with a scent such as cosmetics, your hamster will be much more likely to bite you. An added bonus of washing your hands before handling your pet is that you will keep them safer from germs.
You should avoid sneaking up on them as hamsters get aggressive whenever they are frightened. In order not to startle them, anytime you are going to handle them you need to make sure that they can see you coming. Show them your hands and let them smell you before you try to pick them up.
Contrary to popular belief that hamsters are short-sighted, they are not! They are, in fact, long-sighted. Being hunted by predators, nature has given them the ability to see possible threats from quite a distance, but at their immediate surroundings they don’t see very well. That’s long-sightedness. Because of this, they rely mainly on smell and hearing and that’s why you need to keep your hands clean and without a distinctive scent.
The next step is trying to lure them into your hand using a treat. If you simply reach straight into your hamster’s cage and grab them, they are likely to feel threatened and become defensive.
Do it slowly and hold out a treat. You should wait and allow your hamster to come and take it. With another treat, lure your pet to walk onto the open palm of your other hand and, once he gets comfortable, gently lift him out of the cage.
You must hold your hamster properly if you want him to be calm. The best way is to hold him in one hand with your fingers gently curled under his belly, while supporting his bottom with your other hand. When you pick up your hamster, you should always use both hands for safer handling.
If you follow this way of handling your pet, the likelihood of your hamster biting you will be significantly decreased.
If you need to move them out of their cage quickly, you can also use appropriate scoop. They are readily available in pet shops and are inexpensive.
We reviewed the 8 best hamster cages, you should definitely check them out before buying one.
Training Your Hamster Not to Bite
Choose a quiet place to start your training. Once you have gotten your hamster out of their cage, take them someplace small, where they can’t escape and where there isn’t anything that might hurt him. A good place would be your bathroom, for example. Be aware and use precaution on your part, such as making sure the pet can’t access the toiled or drain. You can also make a hamster-proof training site in any of the rooms be securing the training ground, so to speak.
You can then start by setting your hamster on your lap and allowing them to crawl on you. Always interact with your hamster using slow, gentle movements. It is important to avoid making the hamster anxious and aggressive as a result. Every time you play with your hamster, keep your motions during training even and slow. No sudden movements will help prevent biting in fear.
If the hamster happens to come close to biting you, all you have to do to discipline them is blowing in their face. This is another trick for learning how to take care of a hamster for beginners.
One, brisk exhale into your hamsters face should deter him from biting. This act on your part and the effect which is unpleasant but doesn’t hurt your hamster will be a sufficient form of discipline to show him that biting is a no-no.
If at any time you do get bitten, don’t give up. Their teeth are small and won’t really do any real damage. Simply wash the spot where you got bitten put a band-aid if it bleeds and get back to training. This refers to young hamsters, of course. If you adopt a grown up hamster without previous training you can expect stronger bites.
You need to interact with your pet and train him regularly and always at the same time in the evening when he is fully awake and after he had his meal. About 15-20 minutes will do and then you can gently take him back into his cage. As we said, do this each night for about two weeks.
If you stick to the routine and spend quality time with your pet every night, they will most likely become tame and won’t bite. It will take some patience as they can’t get used to you or acquire good behavior overnight. If at any point you show anger or even frustration with your hamster, they will very much do the same. If you are caring, loving and gentle, the pet will act in the same manner and your worries over biting will be over.
Do males and females behave differently as regards biting?
In a way, yes, they do. For the most part, everything we said so far refers to both sexes equally with some distinctions.
For once, male hamsters tend to fight more against each other and when they are “settling their disagreements”, it’s better not to try to separate them using your hands or they will likely bite you instinctively.
As for females, they can get moody during their reproductive cycles which occur about every 10 days throughout the year with increased frequency during the summer.
If they are not mated, females may go into a period called pseudo-pregnancy, which lasts 1 to 2 weeks. This cycle influences their mood and since they ovulate during the night, females can be very edgy during that period.
You can tell when they are ovulating by changes in their body and behavior. Their private parts swell and females become hyperactive. They run around much more and flatten their nesting material. This phase lasts for about 14 hours and during that time females often attack males as well as bite their owners.
As we said, hamsters learn quickly but they forget what they have learnt just as fast. Because of this, we need to point out once more that constant interaction is the key to replica watches good behavior and friendly relationship with their owners.
Often times, children and adults sadly lose interest in their pet hamsters in a month or so. They handle them less and less often and the hamster reverts to its fearful and aggressive nature. The fact that they were was once tamed, doesn’t mean they will be forever if you neglect them.
If you remain patient and devoted, however, you are guaranteed years of amusing and cheerful companionship from your lovable little hamster.
Guinea pig vs hamster? Which one is better!
Trying to decide which small animal to adopt as a pet can be overwhelming, especially if you have narrowed down the choice to either a hamster or a guinea pig.a There are pro's and con's of owning a hedgehog too.
Should you focus your time learning how to take care of a hamster for beginners or is a guinea pig better?
Both are adorable, super-cute but have completely different personalities, needs, habits and keeping requirements.
Worrying about making the right choice, especially if you are getting your first pet, is a great sign that you’re really taking pet ownership seriously. This shows that you’re resolved to provide your furry friend with the best life you can.
If you are considering a really cute, chubby-cheeked guinea pig or a lively and nosy hamster as a family pet, you have to take a number of facts into consideration before providing either of the two pets with a new home.
Guinea pigs and hamsters both guarantee a wonderful time for you and your children and will certainly be rewarding additions to your home. In order to help you make an educated decision, we’ll go over the most important facts you should know about guinea pigs and hamsters as pets.
A guinea pig or a hamster – which is the right pet for you?
Let’s compare the two lovely and lovable species by making notes of all the different aspects of owning them, looking after them and getting the most out of either a guinea pig or a hamster.
The size, the looks and the space needed
Why do these factors matter? Well, for obvious reasons of providing your new pet with enough space for a happy and healthy life.
Often kept as pets, the Syrian hamsters are typically between 5 to 6 inches long while Dwarf hamsters can be anywhere between 2 to 4 inches in length. Syrians weigh 5-7 ounces and dwarf breeds are even smaller, reaching only 1-2.5 ounces in weight.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, can grow to be between 8 to 12 inches long and they typically weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds. Although both species are different in weight and size, their physical characteristics are pretty similar.
Guinea pigs, as well as hamsters, are cute and chubby-looking. They have big lovable eyes and petal ears. As for the fur, you can get long-haired and short-haired hamsters and guinea pigs as well as curly haired and silky varieties.
This means that you can choose a lovely new pet according to your liking.
You will want to handle them and pat them and cuddle because both species are equally cute. Since both hamsters and guinea pigs easily become used to being handled, and like being stroked, you need to think about their living and playing space when you aren’t playing with them.
So, size wise, let’s see what the difference between hamsters and guinea pigs is as regards the space they need and the space they take up in the home.
Hamsters need less space for the obvious reason: they prefer to live alone. However, even a solitary hamster needs at least a 30-gallon tank. You can fit the tank on a small table or in any corner of your kids’ room or living-room.
A tank is the easiest starter option because hamsters are keen diggers, and the tank will keep their sawdust inside rather than on your floor or table or desk. Hamsters, therefore, need to be caged individually but need less room to exercise if they've got a hamster wheel.
How about guinea pigs? Well, they are bigger and, what’s even more important they need to be kept in pairs or herds. They like the company and do not do well without a companion.
For two guinea pigs, you will need around ten or eleven square feet of space.
While large indoor cages are available, you’ll need plenty of floor space and a laid-back attitude to the “mess zone” outside the cage.
As an alternative, a lot of guinea pig pet parents opt for an outside hutch. Because of guinea piggies’ size, they can’t get all the exercise they need inside a hutch. They’ll need additional indoor or outdoor space where they can run around for several hours a day.
The time of day guinea pigs and hamsters are awake and ready to play
Let’s start with the hamsters. They are nocturnal, meaning that they're most active at night and sleep throughout the day. If you’re a night owl, you’ll enjoy their company but if you're looking for a quality pet time during the day, a hamster is not the right choice.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are lively during the day and they sleep at night. They will always be ready to play while you or the kids might get a bit from a grumpy hamster if you wake them up during the day.
Do you like to cuddle with your pet?
If you do, you'll probably want a guinea pig. A handful of hamster owners claim that their hamsters rarely bite and don’t mind stroking but, in general, hamsters are not as for human touch and affectionate to their pet parents as guinea pigs.
The reason could be the timid nature of a small-size hamster. Also, a sleepy hamster is usually grumpy when woken up and, truth be told, most people sleep at night when hamsters are awake.
Regardless of which you choose, both guinea pigs and hamsters need to be handled a lot while they are young: that’s the only way to make them get them used to being scooped up and stroked by their pet parents.
Independent pet or one that needs attention
Some people like to have a living been around and simply watch what they do and don’t interfere with their life. Others treat their little pets like kids and like to play with them, talk to them and even complain about the difficult day they had at the office.
Now, although hamsters are solitary animals, they do need some level of social interaction. A quarter of an hour a day would be enough for some play or talk time out of their cage and with their pet parent.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are very social creatures that form lifelong bonds with others. They need a fair amount of social interaction, which is why we recommend that you keep them in pairs.
If you have enough free time to devote to them, keeping them company will make them even happier. Guinea pigs can get very vocal, which is another aspect to consider if you want peace and quiet.
They tend to make noise when their owners walk by their pet homes or if they are up for a little play time and fun.
Hamsters, on the other hand, also have a lot to say to each other, but their vocal range is mostly outside our range of hearing, so we don’t get the pleasure of hearing what’s on their minds. For some, this may be an advantage if you work in a noisy environment and like some peace and quiet at home, especially at night.
Are you ready for a long-term commitment to your small pet?
Guinea pigs usually live between 5 to 7 years. In fact, they can live as much as 10 years when you take good care of them. So, if you opt for a guinea pig, be prepared for a much longer commitment compared to a hamster.
Hamsters have a much shorter life expectancy of about 2 to 3 years for Syrian hamsters and only 1 to 2 years for Dwarf breeds. Once you grow attached to them, this will be quite a short time to share their wonderful companionship. In this case, all you can do is get more hamsters over the years and really try to make their short lives as happy and fun as possible
Finally, let’s consider the costs of keeping a hamster or a guinea pig
If you are on a tight budget, a hamster will probably be a better option than a guinea pig. Since guinea pigs are bigger and live in twos, you will need larger enclosures, more bedding material, and, of course, much more food. Don’t forget the toys and other cage accessories and once you do the math, hamsters are way cheaper to keep.
Having said that, if you prefer a guinea pig and if you don’t mind the costs, go for it. No regrets, only fun times await you and your family!
That’s all folks! We do hope we made it a little easier for you to make a little more informed decision on which of the cute critters to buy.
Both the choice and the fun ahead is all yours, whichever of the two furry companions you opt for!
Hamster Care Guide - Final Thoughts
Hamsters love cardio, so provide an exercise wheel or ball for your hamster. Make it a habit to clean out the cage as often as possible. Hamsters self-groom, so you won’t need to clean them. You can use a dust bath to clean your hamster, let him roll around in the dust bath to get rid of greasiness.
Hamsters rarely show that they are vulnerable, hurt or sick because in the wild they are often preyed on by larger animals.
However, if you have a feeling that your pet might be feeling unwell, look out for the following signs;
- Bald patches
- Wet Tail
- Deemed eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Suffered breathing
- Loose stools
- Overgrown front teeth
- Runny nose
- Sores on feet
- Low Activity Levels
If you notice any of the symptoms above, you can schedule a meeting with the vet immediately for advice and check-up. If your pet hamster is cold, it can go into hibernation and will wake once it’s warm. You can also check your hamster’s temperature by touching its nose. If its nose is cold, it might be sick or you might need to find a warmer place for it to be comfortable.
To avoid any illness in your hamster, you can administer multivitamins made for them. This ensures they get the best nutrition they need, and also strengthen their immune system. Taking care of a hamster is easy and fun. However, you’ll need to socialize with them at least 2 hours a day to keep your hamster happy.
Hey, I’m Amy and I’m in love with my Pets! I have a diverse variety, including 2 cats, 1 dog, 3 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a rat and a beautiful macaw. I love writing about everything pet-related and spend as much time as I can sharing my personal experiences.