What you need to know before adopting a hamster

Hamsters are often called “beginner pets”, a harmful label that suggests they are less valuable and have fewer needs than other animals and can be used as a “learning experience” for children facing responsibilities. for the first time. This mindset is an example of speciesism, the mistaken belief that one species is more important than another. Hamsters are just as worthy of respect as you, a dog or a tiger, and they have specific needs like all of us. There is no such thing as a “beginner” pet.

If you are considering adding a hamster to your family or already have one, here are some important things to consider:

  1. When you buy a hamster, you are supporting a cruel breeding industry.

PETA USA and PETA Germany investigations into breeders and wholesalers who supply “new pets” to pet stores and chain stores have revealed the cruelty of this industry. The animals are kept in overcrowded cages in unsanitary conditions, sometimes with decomposing corpses among the living animals.

When you support pet shops, you are supporting places like these horrible farms, which supply animals to pet shops all over Europe.

Furthermore, the breeding of animals to be kept as “pets” has created a veritable crisis of animal overpopulation: millions of unwanted animals are euthanized every year for lack of suitable homes. Never shop at stores and always adopt animals that are desperately waiting for a new life in shelters.

  1. Hamsters need a big, safe home

Hamsters can be seen by other animals as prey and are at risk of being injured or killed by other animals in the home if proper precautions are not taken. To prevent animals from getting hurt, it is imperative that hamsters have a safe, spacious and sturdy enclosure.

The cages sold in pet stores are terribly unsuitable for a hamster’s specific needs. If the enclosure is too small, the animal can develop “cage rage”, a state caused by stress that can lead to various behavioral problems, including biting, excessive urination and incessant chewing of the cage bars, which can cause serious dental damage. Large hamsters should have a minimum of 2 square meters of free space and dwarf hamsters at least 1.5 square meters. As few cages available on the market meet these recommendations, we recommend that you build your own hamster cage. If you are unable to do this, you can also use a 250 liter (or larger) aquarium with a mesh lid. Hamsters love to explore, so a larger space will make your hamster happier and healthier.

Make sure cages with bars do not have gaps larger than 1.25 centimeters (for large hamsters) or 0.6 centimeters (for dwarf hamsters) as they can squeeze. Hamsters also have the ability to flatten their bodies and can squeeze into very small holes and crevices. They are easily lost and can be difficult to find, and are often injured or killed when on the loose.

  1. It can be difficult to find a vet for your hamster.

A hamster is considered an “exotic animal” and should be seen by a specialist veterinarian. Many people are unaware of this, and when their hamster becomes sick, they are unable to find a suitable veterinarian in their area, delaying treatment. When an owner finally finds a veterinarian who specializes in “exotic” pets, the cost is often very high, which can also stop some people from ensuring their hamster receives proper care.

  1. Be careful with hamster wheels and balls

While hamsters need to be able to play and explore, the most well-known hamster toys, the hamster ball and wheel, are not designed for animal welfare. Both toys are often too small, causing hamsters to arch their backs abnormally. Buying a wheel with a diameter of at least 30 cm (20 cm for a dwarf hamster) may mean buying a product marketed for mice, but it will be better for the animal’s physical well-being. physical stimulation.

Unlike the hamster wheel, which provides the hamster with a safe place to exercise when properly sized, the hamster ball is not recommended. Hamsters are easily startled because they don’t have very good eyesight and use their whiskers to orient themselves. A hamster deprived of sensory information, as in one of these balls, is a disoriented animal — and what is often perceived by humans as pleasure is most likely a panic reaction. Also, hamsters’ legs can get caught in the air holes of a ball, which can lead to broken bones. Instead of a ball, consider using a playpen or secluded room for your hamster to exercise under your watchful eye.

  1. A lonely hamster is a happy hamster

While some animals need friends and company, hamsters don’t. A golden hamster may become attached to the human who guards it, but it should not live with another hamster. They are territorial and prone to fighting. Dwarf hamsters, including members of the Roborovski, Russian and Chinese species, can live with a mate if introduced early enough, but fights can occur no matter how long they coexist. Instead of adopting another hamster to keep you company, be your hamster’s friend: spend time with him every day, hugging him and playing outside his cage.

  1. Hamsters need special sand

There are several affordable and safe bedding options to give your hamster the home it deserves. However, it’s important to know what’s safe, as even hazardous waste packaging like pine or cedar shavings can have a cute picture of a hamster on the label. Cat litter, newspaper and “fluffy” litter can also cause life-threatening illness in your hamster and should be avoided. Poplar shavings, paper waste, and hemp are all acceptable choices and can even be mixed in a hamster cage. Your pet will also appreciate a small litter container in which he can bathe.

The depth of the bed should be between 20 and 30 centimeters. Hamsters naturally urinate and defecate in a specific area, and that area should be cleaned weekly. All bedding should be replaced every six months, but a handful of used bedding should be kept to help your hamster feel safe.

  1. Hamsters have bedtimes

Hamsters are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dusk and dawn, spending both day and night hours in their nest. This can be frustrating for a human who wants to play with their mate during the day. Waking a sleeping hamster can be stressful for him and can cause him to act nervous or aggressive. There are, however, valid reasons to wake up a sleeping hamster, just as there are valid reasons to wake up a sleeping human, such as administering medication or altering something potentially dangerous in their environment. Just wake them up carefully and cautiously!

  1. Hamsters are not “beginner pets”

Even though hamsters are small, they still involve a big commitment. They require daily care, exercise and attention, just like other animal companions. How can you help hamsters? Remember that there is no such thing as a “beginner animal”. Do not buy Never an animal in a store, but come back for adoption at a shelter, and let your friends and family know about it.

Learn more about the pet trade and how it treats animals as lucrative commodities that are mass-produced and sold for profit:

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