Hamsters are popular as pets. Unfortunately, the rodents do not have a long life. Sometimes incorrect care and poor posture are the reason.
Hamsters, for many people, make excellent pets. They don’t require a lot of attention, get enough exercise running on their wheel, and are cute, cuddly, and pleasant to hold. They can make an excellent starter pet for some children.
Saint Wolfgang. A hamster’s life is short: At the age of three, a golden hamster is already considered a Methuselah. “On average, dwarf hamsters live a little longer, but they hardly ever get older than five years,” says veterinarian Regine Rottmayer from the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare. The short life expectancy is partly genetic. But stubborn prejudices about the needs of the little rodents can lead to them dying even earlier.
Misconception number one: hamsters make ideal pets for children. Sometimes parents want to buy a golden hamster for their child from the pet dealer Annette Burda because it is said to be so easy to care for. Burda, who is also state chair of the Central Association of Zoological Specialists in North Rhine-Westphalia, advises against this. “Hamsters are observation animals. They become tame if the owner has a lot of patience. This is usually not the case with children.”
Marius Tünte from the German Animal Welfare Association puts it even more clearly: “The hamster does not value human contact.” In addition, the small rodents are active at dusk and at night. When children have to go to bed, the day really begins for hamsters. There is a great temptation to wake up the furry pet in the afternoon after school to play with it a bit. But Rottmayer advises respecting the animal’s sleeping rhythm. “If a hamster is disturbed during the day, it causes massive stress.”
Hamsters need a lot of space
Misconception number two: pets should never be kept alone. Unlike guinea pigs and rabbits, for example, hamsters are loners. Golden hamsters in particular can react very aggressively to conspecifics and seriously injure each other.
Misconception number three: Hamsters hardly need any space? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! In the wild, golden hamsters live in tunnels and burrows that go up to two meters deep into the ground. They often cover long distances when searching for food at night. That might be difficult in the living room if you don’t want to add something extra – with a basement, of course. In order to at least approximately meet the needs of the animals, the Animal Welfare Association recommends a cage that is at least 100 by 100 centimeters wide and 70 centimeters high. The bedding should be 20 to 30 centimeters thick so that the hamsters can dig.
If you visit a pet shop looking for such a hamster home, you could be in for a surprise. If you follow the recommendations of the Animal Welfare Association, many of the small animal cages offered for hamsters are not big enough or are not suitable for other reasons. According to pet retailer Burda, the bottom trays of many models are too small to fill in enough litter for hamsters. Burda therefore recommends so-called nagaria.
The glass containers are similar to the terrariums for reptiles and are made in different sizes. However, a nagarium is an investment: while a conventional small animal cage costs 40 to 60 euros, according to Burda you can only get the glass container from around 120 euros.
Hamster cotton warning
Whether bars or glass walls – hamsters need free space every day. “You should make sure that the animal can’t get trapped anywhere, injure itself or nibble on a cable,” says Rottmayer. She also recommends a hamster wheel. But it should be big enough for the hamster to be able to move around in it with a straight back. The bottom and rear wall must be closed. Otherwise the paws may be injured.
Rottmayer expressly advises against so-called hamster cotton, which many hamster friends use to pad their sleeping hut. Because the material can form fibers with which the animals may strangle their limbs. Hay and straw are better suited for a soft hiding place.
Misconception number four: hamsters are vegetarians. On the contrary, animal protein is important for a healthy hamster life. This is already contained in many commercially available feed mixtures. In addition, hamsters need fresh food. Rottmayer recommends vegetables and herbs. Dwarf hamsters should not be given fruit at all, golden hamsters only in small quantities. Fatty seeds such as peanuts or sunflower seeds also do not belong in the daily feed, but are only given as a treat. To ensure that the hamster does not stock up on high-calorie snacks, its hiding places should be checked regularly. Because hamsters hamster. This is not a misconception, it is actually true.
Do hamsters like being cuddled?
Much. Cuddling. Hamsters are cute, tiny and notoriously afraid of humans. But you can actually train your little hammie to enjoy your snuggles which, face it, is kind of your goal in life.
Are hamsters cuddly animals?
Hamsters may be small, but these friendly “pocket pets” sure have big hearts. The cuddly, furry critters are one of the most popular small animal pets.
Which type of hamster is the friendliest?
The Syrian hamster is the most popular hamster breed, at least partially because it is the friendliest and the largest, but also because it was introduced in the 1940s when lab hamsters were first introduced into captivity and into family homes.
Do hamsters get attached to their owners?
You can’t expect your hamster to bond with everyone, though. According to Betsy Sikora Siino, hamsters bond with one to two people, which means that your hamster may tolerate guests and other family members, but he’ll only bond and recognize you and possibly one other person.