May 10th is Hamster Day! We love seeing and celebrating all of the various pet holidays, and we’re also thrilled that one of our tiniest patients is getting his turn in the spotlight. Although there are over 25 different types of hamster, only a few make good pets. Of those, the Syrian hamster—also known as the Golden or Teddy Bear hamster—is by far the most popular. A local Champaign, IL vet offers some information about Hammie below.
Hammie is not only super cute, but also quite tame and friendly. They grow to be between 5 and 9 inches long, and weigh about 5 ounces. One thing that is important to know about these guys is the fact that they do not play nice with others. While some smaller hamsters may not mind roommates, the Syrian should always live alone.
As the name suggests, Hammie originated in Syria. He was first mentioned in a 1797 natural history book, and then was promoted to being his own species in 1839. In 1930, a zoologist captured a wild hamster and her pups. The hamsters we keep as pets here in the US today were descended from that family.
A good habitat is crucial. Hammie’s cage should be at least 1′ x 2′, and should include plenty of toys, at least one hide, a water bottle, and, ideally, an exercise wheel. (Note: only use solid wheels, as the wire ones can be dangerous.) You can also add a maze or tunnel. Make sure the tank has good ventilation. As for substrate, aspen or paper-based options are a good choice. Avoid pine and cedar products: they really aren’t safe for small animals. Last but not least, make sure your tiny pal has lots of chew toys. Ask your vet for specific diet and care tips.
Hamsters have specific temperature requirements, which may be surprising to some people. Keep Hammie’s room between 65 and 75 at all times. If it goes lower than that, the little guy may try to hibernate. This is very dangerous for hamsters! However, you don’t want your pet to get too hot, either. Don’t put the cage near fireplaces, windows, or heating vents. (Hammie also won’t care for being too close to a TV or stereo.)Please contact us with questions or concerns about hamster care. As your Champaign, IL pet clinic, we’re here to help!