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Hamming Hamsters - Take 1

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Hamsters are among the most popular small pets for kids. Although not really cuddly, they are interesting to watch (IF your waking hours are roughly between 10pm and 6am!) and relatively easy to take care of. Right? Well, almost right. We do think so too, but there are some facts about these little critters that may surprise you. So, today we're going to tell you a few interesting things about the Syrian (a.k.a. Golden) hamster, which is probably the most commonly kept pet hamster out there.

  • These hamsters are strictly solitary and very territorial animals and should therefore be kept alone. Even siblings that grow up together can and probably will eventually turn on each other, usually after 8 weeks of age. They mark their territory with special glands on either side of their hips, which they will lick and make damp and then rub against anything that surrounds their habitat.
  • In captivity they are nocturnal, which means they are active during the very early and very late hours of the day - and when active, they mean business! They can walk up to 7 kilometres a night, foraging for food or digging burrows!
  • A hamster home can never be too big (ain't that true for all of us!) but should minimally be at least one square meter, which can then be subdivided into different levels which are connected to each other. Hamsters should also be provided with a special hamster exercise wheel to run in. CAUTION! Most hamster wheels sold in pet shops are too small and will damage the hamster's spine. They should have a minimum diameter of 30cm and preferably have a closed walking path and backside, so that the little one cannot get its limbs squashed. Seriously!
  • And food? Well, a hamster's diet should consist of a large variety of seeds, grains, herbs, fruits and vegetables, but also animal proteins. Small insects like mealworms or small crickets are perfect, as well as small amounts of low-fat yoghurt. High-quality hay should be available to them at all times, first for feeding but also for nest-building.
  • Originally, the Syrian hamster was only available in one colour variety - a mixture of brown, black and gold ("Golden hamster", gold colour... get it?). But now a variety of different colours and pattern mutations have been developed, including cream, white, black, rust, cinnamon and many spotted varieties, as well as short and long-haired varieties. So don't be afraid to let your hamster be your very own fashion statement!

Kids and adults alike often truly enjoy these little, often interesting drolls. Just make sure you put aside time for your other obligations too.

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