5 New Hamster Owner Questions Answered

These tiny little creatures are cute and have such amazing personalities. They are easy to care for, but new hamster owners will have questions, and we have answers.

Jan 7, 2024By Holly Ramsey
new hamster owner questions answered

Before bringing home your first hamster, make sure you have the essentials ready, so you are prepared to welcome your new pet. For first-time pet owners, hamsters are one of the most popular pets. Every new hamster owner will have questions, here are 5 of the most important questions answered.

What Does a Hamster Eat?

hamster with nut
Image credit: rd.com

Knowing how to feed your new hamster is an important thing, including the type of food and how much to give them. The best choice for your new furry friend is to buy a commercial pelleted food with seed products or seeds as the first few ingredients. Steer clear of any food that has corn in its ingredient list. Corn has a high glycemic index and can cause insulin resistance. This can lead to diabetes later in life.

You do not want to feed a diet high in grains, such as rye, wheat, and barley. Only give apples, carrots, and bananas as an occasional treat. Fresh leafy greens and root vegetables can also be given along with their commercial pelleted food. Hamsters are delicate and can easily choke or get a blockage in their intestines, so it’s important that you always cut fresh foods into small pieces.

Small meals throughout the day are best for hamsters, 2 to 3 meals are ideal. They are natural foragers, so using interactive treat dispensers for their food also is a great way to keep them active and alert. One large meal a day increases hamsters’ risk of intestinal bloating.

Does a Hamster Need a Water Bottle or Bowl?

baby hamster with water bottle
Image credit: Reddit

Hamsters should have constant access to clean, fresh water and that can be achieved using a water bottle or a shallow bowl. Deeper bowls can potentially be life-threatening if they fall in and cannot get out. There are several types of water bottles to choose from, look for one that your hamster can easily drink from and does not leak.

Water bottles are a great choice for small pets and are easy to clean and disinfect. They also do not have to be cleaned daily or refilled throughout the day. You can fill in the morning, and your hamster has access to water all day. If your new hamster has never used a water bottle before, it can be tricky to get them to drink from them.

What Type of Hamster Cage Do I Need?

hamster cage
Image credit: Pinterest

A secure cage that is the right size is the most important thing you will need for your hamster. When it comes to the size of the cage for your hamster, bigger is better. It is recommended that a hamster have a minimum of 450 square inches of floor space, if you have two hamsters then figure 900 square inches of floor space.

There are all kinds of interesting cages available for hamsters or mice. When shopping, look for one that has tubes that connect the different levels so your new friend can easily race around and enjoy their home. Keep the number of plastic parts in the cage to a minimum to avoid respiratory problems.

Make sure you add toys and accessories that allow your hamster to hide and curl up to sleep. They love to burrow so any toys, faux hollow logs, and other interesting items should be added. Hamsters are solitary rodents and want their own space so make sure there are hideouts for each hamster in the cage.

Hamsters need chew toys since their teeth are continuously growing, and they like to gnaw on things to wear down their teeth. They will wear their teeth down by chewing. Choose toys and chews that do not have plastic parts that they can chew and swallow. Plastic can also cause respiratory problems in hamsters. A hamster wheel is a must-have for any hamster cage.

What is Needed to Clean the Hamster Cage?

hamster in shavings
Image credit: Small Pet Select

Cleaning hamster cages is not fun, but it is an absolute must to ensure they stay healthy and happy. Hamsters are sensitive little creatures and need to have a clean, dry home. You will want to gather a cleaning kit before you tackle cleaning the hamster cage. Include the following in your cleaning kit:

  • Small cage or container for your hamster
  • Paper towels
  • Scissors
  • Rubber or plastic gloves
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • White vinegar
  • Habitat or cage wash
  • Small scoop
  • Hamster cage litter and bedding
  • Small broom and dustpan

Plan on thoroughly cleaning your hamster’s cage every 15 days. Cleaning too often can cause a lot of stress on your little friend since they must be removed from their habitat while you clean. Daily spot cleaning where your hamster does not have to be removed is ideal so you can remove soiled bedding in their designated toileting area.

When choosing the type of bedding you want to use for your new hamster, you will want to avoid any bedding containing cedar wood chips, pine shavings, or any scented bedding. These can cause respiratory problems and liver damage.

Look for bedding that is dust-free, soft, absorbent, and non-toxic. Paper-based or Aspen bedding would be preferred choices to ensure your hamster has safe bedding in their cage. You will need at least 6 inches of bedding for your hamster to be able to burrow and feel safe.

How Often Should I Bathe My Hamster?

hamster sand bath
Image source: YouTube

You will never want to give your hamster a regular water bath with shampoo. Your hamster can become very ill if given a water bath. Instead, give your hamster a sand bath. A sand bath is a container filled with sand or another fine-grain material. Hamsters roll around in the sand to clean their fur. Sand baths can be found on Amazon and come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. You can purchase the hamster sand at local pet stores or online at Chewy or Amazon.

Hamsters are easy and fun pets. They will bring so much happiness to your home if you know how to properly care for these tiny little rodents. They do not require a lot of special care, but do need a safe cage with non-toxic bedding, plenty of toys, and of course their very own sand bath. Be sure to set up their habitat and have everything ready for them before they come home. Have some fresh veggies and greens ready along with their pelleted food and enjoy these little creatures.

Holly Ramsey
By Holly Ramsey

Holly is a 2nd generation dog breeder/trainer and has over 25 years of experience with several different breeds. She enjoys working with her Japanese Chin and Rough Collies and helping her mom and daughter with their chosen breeds. Most evenings, Holly is hanging out with her daughter watching movies, crafting, or playing with the fur-kids.