HAMSTER FIRST AID KIT

You have a first aid kit for you in your house or in your car, right? Well, your hamster deserves one too. Being so small, the hamster needs special attention and care.
It is best to have the first kit always prepared and handy just in case. Make sure that everyone in the house knows where it is and how to properly treat minor wounds.

hamster first aid kit

A well prepared and designed first aid kit should contain :

Antibiotic ointments and powder
Apply them on the wound  after it’s thoroughly clean. You should only use what the vet has recommended you and not improvise because hamsters are allergic to most of the medical treatment we have and use.

Antihistamine lotion
If you keep your hamster in a room where are opened windows or just if your hamster’s luck runs out and encounters with a bee or any other kind of insect, the antihistamine lotion is his lucky charm. You have to double check before you apply the lotion that the stinger is removed from your little hamster wound.

Antiseptic lotion
You have a crazy hamster that wonder’s around in the cage, buries everything and plays with his toys till you get tired from all of that commotion? Well, we all have such a hamster and is best to have an antiseptic lotion near the hamster’s cage to use it to treat wounds, cuts and scrapes that could occur from his “dangerous ” run  around.

Bandages and first aid tape
You can use them on smaller wounds, cuts or scrapes. Sometimes, you can use bandages to splint injured limbs, but only after you make sure that the injury is minor. Otherwise, medical treatment must be sought. Check the hamster periodically to see if he is chewing off the bandages and if so, replace it to prevent him from licking his wound.

BeneBac,Probios or LactoBac
These medicines replace all the beneficial bacteria that are killed when your hamsters is on antibiotics or he simply has a lack of these bacterias. Never use them without consulting your hamsters’ veterinarian.

Cotton balls and swabs
They are ideal for cleaning wounds and applying all kinds of ointments and lotions.

Disinfectant
A mild disinfectant such as Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) is of great help when your hamster’s wound needs to be disinfected. This disinfectant can be used in small amounts twice a day. Even you can use it to wash your hands after cleaning your hamster wound or just after you’ve handled any kind of injured animal. Other disinfectant recommended by veterinarians are Betadine or Povidone.

Feeding syringes
Are useful to feed hamsters that won’t eat or sick hamsters that can not eat by themselves. It’s appropriate for administrating oral antibiotics – make sure you use a syringe from the vet because the quantity of antibiotics administered is very important. As you know they come in various sizes so you can get the ones that are best for your hamster’s needs. If you dislike syringes you can use an eye dropper as a more fun alternative.

Gram scale
You are very careful with your weight, right? Hamsters need to have constant weight in order to be healthy and happy. Check your hamster’s weight as often as you can to make sure he is eating properly! This method is very useful especially when you have more hamsters in a cage to see if there are bullies in there, stealing the food from other hamsters.

Latex gloves
You can never be to careful when dealing with wounds. A pair of latex gloves are ideal to protect yourself and your hamster when cleaning and bandaging a wound. You can buy them from the drugstore, supermarket or you could just kindly ask the vet for a pair.

Magnifying glass
Hamsters are all so tiny and special care require special “devices”. the magnifying glass is one of them. You check your hamster fur with it to see if there are any parasites or any other small wounds, check his ears and many other funny and small tasks that need to be completed to ensure your hamster’s health.

Nail clipper and metal nail filer
Both for you and your hamster. You can cut your nails to prevent accidents during playtime. Also, the hamster’s nails need to be cut if he doesn’t naturally wear them off to the right size. Still, the hamster should have a designated nail clipper and metal nail file, for personal use only.

Olive oil / cod liver oil
Useful when treating mild constipation. You can administer 1 or 2 drops.

Rectal thermometer
This is a tricky one. Not buying the thermometer, but actually getting to use it because the hamster will use all his tricks to escape. A healthy hamster’s rectal temperature should be around 36.2- 37.5 °C (97.16 – 99.5 °F).

Salt
You can use it to make a home remedy for your hamster: prepare a solution made with 2 table spoon of table salt and one pint water. It will be very useful to wash wounds and prevent infection.

Scissors
When you prepare the first aid kit for your hamster make sure that you have the right scissors: it has to be the one with round edges to prevent any accident when using it on your hamster. The scissors has many purposes: cutting the fur from around the wound, removes knotted fur or cut pieces of bandages.

Small animal heating pad
If you are afraid that it might be cold in the room where you keep your hamster, a heated pad will solve the problem. They are “chew proof” and the temperature is controlled so your hamster will not end up with burned tummy. A great alternative is a heat lamp. Put the hamster cage underneath it and he will get all the warm weather he needs.

Sodium Bicarbonate
When applied on a wet compress it helps reduce swelling.

Styptic powder
I find this quite handy especially when I observe a scratch on my hamster or when I accidentally cut his nails too short, because it stops bleeding.

Surgical gauze
It is used to clean and also cover wounds, cuts and scrapes and stop bleeding.

Towels, both paper and cloth
Very useful when you need to wipe your hamster or even his cage. If you use a bowl instead a hamster water bottle, you will have to use the towels more often because your hamster might end up very wet after a short run in the cage.

Tweezers
I haven’t needed mine, but you never know what your hamster is up to so you should be prepared just in case.

Unflavored Pedialyte
This solution that is specifically designed to replace fluids and minerals (electrolytes) that are lost when your hamster has diarrhea with or without vomiting. Dilute 50% (1/2 Pedialyte and 1/2 water) and administer it by dropper/syringe or in the water bottle (in case that your hamster drinks voluntarily).

Vet’s name, address and phone
Even if hamsters are among the most familiar pets, there are few vets that treat them. It’s very important to find one before your hamster really needs it -sometimes it’s bets to find a vet even before you actually buy the hamster.

Wire cutter
You might laugh, but there are a lot of cases of hamsters that got stuck between the bars of their cage. This tool is handy in such cases.

You can always add more products to the first aid kit, depending on your hamster needs and health condition. Even if you have the best first aid kit, I do hope you will need it rarely!

Photo credits: 1

HAMSTER BODY LANGUAGE

Even if we would love it, hamsters can not talk. Still, they have a language of their own : vocalizations and body language.But this only helps them. How about us? How we can understand them? Well, just like they do. Learn their body language and when in doubt, just take a lucky guess.

Grooming
hamster grooming
This is a huge part of the hamster’s natural behavior. The hamster is cleaning himself by licking his paws and then rubs his face, ears, fur, the whole body. Hamsters are their own groomer and they do a very good job with that . It’s recommended that you bath your hamster only when the vets detects some illness symptoms and a bath is absolutely necessary.

hammyWhen and why:
After he wakes up, during playtime and after playtime, the hamster will gladly groom himself. Grooming it’s a sign that your hamster is healthy and happy.

Listening
hamster listening
The hamster is standing up on his back legs with ears up, motionless and staring  at something.
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster seen or heard something interesting and he is according it his total attention. This will assure you that your hamster is healthy and also curious -lucky us.

Sniffing
hamster sniffing
I guess we are all familiar with this one! The hamster is continuously sniffing , moving his whiskers up and down, left and right, everywhere!
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster found an interesting smell or he is just wondering  around and exploring. If the smell  bothers him, the sniffing will transform into sneezing.This will assure you that your hamster is healthy and also curious.

Sneezing
hamster sneezing
Is a small repeated noise and is followed by small or bigger pulses in the hamster’s body.
hammyWhen and why:
The hamster’s nose is very sensible and will rapidly react to every allergen or small change that has been made in his cage or in the room he’s in.
Sneezing could be a sign of illness (allergies, colds or influenza) or maybe the hamster is trying to show to you that the air is too dusty.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

HAMSTER FACTS

Do you want to amaze your friends with your hamster wisdom? Here are some funny and also interesting facts. I can bet my hamster’s food supply for the week that your friends will crown you “King Hammy the 1st” .

hamster facts - hamster with glasses

hammyHamsters got their name from an old German word “hamstern” associated with storing food.
hammyHamsters were discovered in one of world’s oldest inhabited cities, Aleppo (Syria).
hammyDomestication of the hamster began in 1930 when a zoologist found one mother and twelve young hamsters in the Syrian Desert (Aleppo, Syria).
In the wild, researchers have found as much as 38 pounds of grain stored in a single burrow.
hammyIn the wild, hamsters dig extensive tunnels beneath the ground – extending as far as three feet in depth.
hammyHamsters are color blind.
hammyHamsters can only see up to six inches in front of them.
hammyHamsters typically have poor eyesight and depth perception.To compensate for their poor sight when in unfamiliar territory, hamsters have scent glands on their flanks (and abdomens in Chinese and dwarf hamsters). A hamster rubs these areas of his body against various objects, and leaves a trail of smells the hamster can follow to return to his home den.
hammyOf about 14 distinct species of hamsters, eight are kept as pets.
hammyDuring winter hibernation, the golden hamster’s pulse rate drops from about 400 to 4 beats per minute.
hammyHamsters are nocturnal meaning they sleep during the day and are active during the night.
hammyThough classified as nocturnal, most hamsters divide their days with periods of sleeping and waking.
hammyFood: mainly seeds, grasses, root vegetables, fruits, corn and pulse crops. Common hamster also eats insects, lizards, frogs and small mammals.
hammyLargest: about 34 cm (13 in) long, weighing about 900 g (32 oz). Smallest: about 5.3 cm (2 in) long, weighing about 100 g (3.5 oz).
hammyIn the wild, hamsters will line their tunnels with grasses and wool or hair shed from other animals to help maintain a fairly constant temperature in their burrow (often around 60°F), no matter the outside temperature.
hammyIn the cool of the evening and during the night hamsters will search for food – and can travel up to 8 miles in one night.
hammyThe body fur of hamsters comes in a wide variety of colors, depending on the nature of the species.
hammyHamsters can remember their relatives.
hammyHamsters can be taught how to come by name.
hammyLike other rodents, a hamster’s teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime. To help keep their teeth worn and clean, offer suitable chew toys on a regular basis.
Does your hamster avoid his chew sticks and chew on his cage bars? Then try giving him dog biscuits. They’re hard, tasty, and wear down his teeth. He will want to chew on the biscuit rather than the cage.
hammyIf your hamster’s toe nails are getting long, it is possible to clip their nails at home. Use baby nail clippers and clip off the very ends of the nails. Don’t clip too short! Or, try lining the hamster’s running wheel with fine grain sandpaper, and the ends of his nails will be worn down while he runs.
hammyThe gestation period of a Syrian hamster is about 16 days.
hammyRegulation of temperature helps to determine the sex of dwarf hamster babies.
hammyKeeping the mother in warmer temperatures will lead to birth of more males, whereas keeping her in cooler temperatures will lead to the birth of more females.
hammyNormally, the breeding season of dwarf hamsters’ is from April to September. However, if kept in light for eight hours or more a day, they will breed throughout the year.
hammyFemale dwarf hamsters can give birth as young as five weeks. This is not recommended though. You should wait until she is at least 3 months old.
hammyHamsters usually have from 4-12 young at one time.
hammyHamsters cannot be spayed or neutered. In order to stop pregnancy, you must separate the male and female.
hammyA human year is 25 hamster years.
hammyA hamster’s average life span is about 2-3 years. They have been known to live 3-4 years.
hammyThe Djungarian Hamsters, also known as Cambells Dwarfs, are found on the steppes of Russia.
hammySyrians run slower than dwarves, while Roborovski dwarves are the fastest.
hammySyrian (also known as Golden, Fancy, or Teddy Bear) hamsters are solitary animals and will not live peacefully with other hamsters past 8-10 weeks of age. They should always be housed separately. He will be a great companion for you though.
hammyRussian Dwarf hamsters can often be kept in pairs or groups, as long as they are introduced to each other at a very young age.
hammyDwarf hamsters live about 1.5 to 2 years but can live to be 4.
Roborovski hamsters are the smallest species of hamster and the east likely kept as pets.
hammyBlack Bear hamsters are a genetic mutation of the Syrian hamster. It is not a different species.
hammyHamsters can squeeze themselves into really small places.
hammyHamsters are escape artists.
hammyOne of the hamster characteristics is the ability to stuff its cheek pouches with food….sometimes an amazing amount for one little hamster!
hammyFemale: Sow
Male: Boar
Young: Pups
hammyHamsters are now used for scientific research. Because hamsters are so disease-free and breed so rapidly (they can have a new litter every month!) and because they are so friendly and easy to handle, they are a popular choice among scientists. They are often used for cardio-vascular research, as their cardio-vascular system is remarkably similar to that of the human. However, this is certainly something we don’t approve under any circumstances.

Photo credits: 1

HAMSTER BEHAVIOR

Hamsters, in their wide variety, are one of the most popular pet not only in America, but in the whole Western world. In fact, there’s a big chance that you had a hamster as your first pet. And there are good reasons for that. First and most important, they are very fun to play with. They eat tiny portions of food (the average is a dessert spoon a day), are inexpensive and very accessible, in almost all local pet shops. The downside of having a hamster is their short life span- two and a half years and even four if you take really good care of him.

In the wild, the hamster’s behavior is similar to what he does in our homes, except that in the wild he has a way bigger house. Mainly, there are 5 things a hamster does in the wild and most surely in his comfy cage as well.

Syrian hamsters are solitary.

syrian hamster

You should never put a Syrian hamster in a cage with another hamster because they will most likely fight to death. Remember the Golden Rule: one Syrian hamster-one cage.

They don’t ask for a hamster companionship, they don’t need it and most important, they should never get a hamster as a roommate. They prefer you! Just think at this: in the wild, the mother hamster drives her babies away from home at the age of three or four weeks. Even if it sounds cruel the little ones survive.

Hamsters are crepuscular.
hamster sleep
Do you want to play with your hamster and all he does is sleeping? So what do you do? Let him sleep a bit more, hoping he will wake up soon and you could play around with him. But he doesn’t. He sleeps and sleeps… and sleeps.

And when you get to bet he wakes up and runs up and down in his cage and even plays with his wheel helping you sleep well and tight. Don’t be worried that your hamster might be lunatic!

The hamster is just crepuscular : they are active during twilight: at dawn and at dusk . Thinking at the high temperatures in the Middle East, everyone should be crepuscular.

So, if you want to play with your hamster during the day when he is supposed to get some sleep, try to wake him up gently and if he is in the mood for playing, play with him for a couple of minutes or as long as he is willing to. But don’t overdo it. Just think… If I woke you up at 3 am because I wanted to play with you, wouldn’t you be pissed of? The hamster has the same feeling.

I advise you to try to accustom your hamster with 3-4 hours of sleep and then to wake up for a snack and some play and so on. All you have to do is be near him when this happens.

Tips:
hammyEven in the wild, the hamster doesn’t sleep all day long. That is just a figure of speech. He sleeps a couple of hours and then wakes up to eat something and look for predators too.
hammyAt a temperature below 10° C (50-60° F) your hamster will hibernate. So, be very careful with the heater.

The hamster chews his way (he does a lot of chewing).
hamster-behavior-chewing-bars
Hamsters must chew. Like all rodents, they are gifted with nice chiseled front incisors which grow permanently. You need to provide him with things to chew so he can shorten his teeth.And is fun to watch, too.

You can give him a small twig or you could put small pieces of food directly in the cage. You will really enjoy looking at him while he chews whatever he finds in his way.

 Hamsters are big stashers (this one is pretty fun to watch)
hamster-behavior-big-mouth
They have the natural behavior to store, bury and even move food or bedding. Just like Chip & Dale, your hamster will store food that will be more than enough to help him survive even the roughest times.

In the wild, hamsters spend hours in burrowing, stashing, digging and moving his food, bedding or his chewing toys. That is why you should be very careful with his diet. By giving him sweets you put him in danger because they could cause his pouches to get stuck.because they have weak eyesight, hamsters use their whiskers to detect the environment and their high sense of smell tell them what belongs to them or what place they belong to.

Hamsters are their own personal groomer.
hamster grooming A hamster that is constantly washing and scratching himself doesn’t mean that is sick or with parasites. that is a sign that the hamster is clean and healthy, too. They are by nature odor free and this might be one of the reasons your parents bought you a hamster as a pet. But they manifest the passion for cleaning not only towards them but towards their home too.

Don’t be worried thinking that he is messy or that he urinates all over the cage. Many hamsters have special areas in which they sleep, eat and eliminate. I only hope my neighbor would be so clean smiley. If you want to have a happy hamster you need to provide him healthy food and also to make sure that you take from the cage all the remains. You will be gratefully rewarded.

Image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5