Coming Home With Your Hamster
Where to get your hamster
When getting a hamster you should not feel limited to a pet shop. There are also breeders, rescues and plenty of people looking to re-home their hamsters to consider. It all depends on what you are looking for. Many people may be concerned about getting a hamster who is older and not having as much time with them, but it can really all be worth it! It must also be taken into consideration that a hamster from a pet shop may not of had much or any human contact before so you may have to dedicate time to taming them.
Male or female?
There is a lot of talk about when choosing a hamster, whether to go for a male or female. In our personal experience, many of our females tend to be more active than our males, although our males tend to be a lot calmer and easier to handle. This of course all depends on the hamsters personality and even if they have ever been handled before, so don't be put off one gender, the right hamster will choose you!
It's important to let your hamster settle in when you first bring it home. It can be a stressful time for a hamster and don't forget that they are prey animals, and so listen to their natural instincts. If you have bought your hamster from a pet shop it is likely they may of never had any human contact and so it is normal for them to be scared or shy and moving onto taming should be a slow, gradual process in which you earn their trust. On the 'Hamster Care' page we talked about suitable cages, and it's important to look at your options before buying a hamster as it can help settling in a lot, for example, a small cage with a lot of tubes would make it very hard to handle a hamster and also would not be widely recommended.
There are obviously essentials when buying a hamster....aside from a cage, food bowl and water bottle, you will need toys and a wheel to suit your hamster. Toys don't have to be expensive, anything from keeping some cardboard boxes may do and they can have fun exploring them, you can even hide treats in them. A wheel is extremely important too, most Syrians require a minimum of 8" but as they grow they may need to be upgraded to 11/12", the bigger the better! A dwarf can obviously use a smaller cage and some may find it hard to move a larger one, you can even use a 'flying saucer' as a popular alternative.
Choosing the right bedding is also important - some wood shavings can be quite dusty and cause a hamster to have respiratory problems, other hamsters can even suffer from being allergic to it. There are many alternatives, such as fitch and aubiose. As an owner of long-haired hamsters I use aubiose and purchase it from a local equine shop - long-haired hamsters can get many types of bedding stuck in their fur and make it knot up and so for me, aubiose is the best brand to use.