How to Look After a Syrian Hamster as a Pet

Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) in pot with a plant

One of the most common options for tiny pets is the Syrian hamster, commonly called the golden hamster. It makes a fantastic first pet since it's often simple to train, entertaining to watch, and requires little upkeep. These hamsters are from the arid parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria. Most have a lighter belly and are golden brown in color. But different color, pattern, and hair length variants have emerged as a result of selective breeding. Syrian hamster meals are readily available in most pet stores due to their popularity as pets. Additionally, their habitat doesn't take up much room and is quite easy to construct and maintain.

Species Overview

Common Names: Syrian hamster, golden hamster

Scientific Name: Mesocricetus auratus

Adult Size: 5 to 9 inches long, weighing roughly 5 ounces

Lifespan: 2 to 4 years

Syrian Hamster Behavior and Temperament

Syrian hamsters sleep during the day and are active at night. And while they are generally quiet pets, their nighttime activity might keep you awake if you have their enclosure in your bedroom.

Some hamsters may adjust to their owners' schedules to some extent, but you should never attempt to pick up a sleeping hamster. When frightened or mishandled, certain hamsters may bite. As a result, talking to your hamster is best done in the morning or evening. Your hamster should become accustomed to being handled as long as you don't squeeze or move it about while you hold it.

These hamsters are among the solitary and most territorial creatures in the wild. This implies that as pets, they must always live alone. Young hamsters may tolerate their cage companions for a short duration. But when they become older, there's a strong risk they'll turn hostile and possibly engage in life-or-death combat. It's also essential to keep your hamster away from any other home pets because they could harm one another.

Syrian hamsters as pets don't often develop strong relationships with their owners. But if you're present, they'll frequently approach the edge of their enclosure, and many will like relaxing in your hands or on your shoulder. You should budget a few hours each week for feedings and upkeep of your hamster's housing. After that, all you have to do to keep your hamster tame is make sure you set aside some time each day to handle it.

Size Information

Syrian hamsters reach around 5 to 9 inches long on average, and they weigh roughly 5 ounces. They'll reach maturity within two months.

Housing

The optimal cage for a Syrian hamster is as big as you can fit because this will be its main exercise area. The cage must be at least one foot by two feet and one foot tall. The two types of conventional cages are those with a plastic base and wire on top, or a typical glass or plastic aquarium with a closely fitting mesh top. While providing less protection against drafts, the wire cages improve ventilation.

Include lots of enrichment items for the hamsters in the enclosure. Ideal exercise wheels have a solid surface rather than bars since injury risk is reduced. Other possibilities include wooden chewing blocks for oral hygiene, as well as tunnels and bridges for hiding and climbing. In a corner of the enclosure, you should also include a nest or sleeping house (pet stores often provide a variety of possibilities).

Specific Substrate Needs

Add a few inches of bedding to the bottom of the enclosure. Products made of aspen or paper are suggested. Avoid using bedding made of cedar or pine since a hamster may become ill from the strong fragrance. Every day, remove any moist areas of the bedding. Additionally, you should wash the entire cage with soap and water every week and replace all of the bedding.

What Do Syrian Hamsters Eat & Drink?

Feed your Syrian hamster a diet of fruits and vegetables including apples, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and pears in addition to nuts, grains, and seeds (usually what's in commercial food blends). Offer the occasional hardboiled egg or feeder bug for an extra protein boost because Syrian hamsters are omnivores (they consume both plants and animals). The additional meals typically shouldn't make up more than 10% of the hamster's diet if you use a commercial food blend. However, because this might change depending on age and size, visit your veterinarian for advice on the appropriate quantity and variety to feed.

Always maintain a dish of dry food in the cage, and after 24 hours, throw out any food that hasn't been consumed. Typically, hamsters like to graze, storing food in their cheek pouches for later use. Even so, your hamster may occasionally wake up throughout the night to eat before returning to sleep. When giving fresh items, it's frequently preferable to give them to your hamster separately in the evening when it is coming up from sleep and ready to eat. After a few hours, throw away any uneaten fresh food to prevent spoilage.

Additionally, make sure your hamster always has access to a fresh supply of water that is always clean. Water bottles are popular since they are simple to maintain hygienic. However, you may instead use a shallow dish to hold water until your hamster becomes accustomed to drinking from a bottle.

Common Health Problems

Syrian hamsters are often tough creatures. There are a few health issues to be aware of, though. One of the most typical health problems affecting this hamster is wet tail, a digestive ailment typically linked to stress and bacterial growth. Lethargy, diarrhea, a lack of appetite, and moisture around the tail are among the symptoms. Take your hamster to the vet right away if you think it could have an infection. If left untreated, this condition might become deadly, but antibiotics are an excellent treatment option.

Fur and ear mites can also infect hamsters, especially in filthy environments. You can experience itchiness and patchy fur loss if your hamster has mites. If so, get immediate medical attention from your veterinarian.

Additionally, some hamsters may get enlarged teeth that make eating challenging. Your hamster may appear to be losing weight and have somewhat longer teeth than usual. A veterinarian can trim the hamster's teeth and then make suggestions on how to preserve its dental health, such increasing the amount of chewable items in the cage.

Tip

Not all veterinarians have experience treating hamsters. So before acquiring one as a pet, make sure there is a vet nearby who will be able to see your hamster.

Training Your Syrian Hamster

The main form of training most people give their hamsters is hand-taming. It's best to start when the hamster is still a youngster so that it can get used to being around people. When handling your hamster, sit on the floor in a safe location. Even a fall from a few feet might be harmful. To make the hamster's experience sitting in your hands more pleasurable, it might be helpful to hold a favorite reward in your palms. Put it back in its enclosure if it starts to become anxious.

Exercise

Your hamster should be able to stay active with the help of an exercise wheel and a roomy habitat to run about in. To avoid obesity and other health problems, exercise is crucial. When your hamster is outside its cage, you may also place it in an exercise ball so it can roll about the floor securely. When your hamster is outside of its enclosure, always keep an eye on it.

Grooming

Animals that self-groom, hamsters are quite clean. They don't require water to take baths. If they do acquire some dirt or debris lodged in their fur, you may gently touch the area with a moist towel to assist them get it out.

Upkeep Costs

The primary monthly expenses for a hamster are its food and bedding. Depending on the style of bedding (plus the enclosure's size) and diet you pick, budget $20 to $40. In addition, you may need to sometimes change the chew blocks, nests, and other components of the cage. Additionally, you should plan for the expense of both emergency medical care and a yearly veterinarian exam.

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Syrian Hamster as a Pet

Syrian hamsters make typically calm, entertaining, low-maintenance pets. They are entertaining to watch and are manageable to handle. They must, however, be handled gently because they are delicate tiny animals. Additionally, they spend the most of the day sleeping, so you might not get to witness them at their busiest.

Similar Hamsters to the Syrian Hamster

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Otherwise, check out other hamsters that can be your new pet.

Purchasing or Adopting Your Syrian Hamster

Although you may purchase a Syrian hamster from a pet store, a reputable breeder or rescue organization is the best choice. Good breeders and rescues usually provide their animals better care, and they ought to be able to supply you with comprehensive details on an animal's lineage and medical background. The price should be in the range of $20, however it might vary based on the age and color of the animal.

Reproduction/Breeding

You might be able to get a decent breeder or hamster rescue group recommendation from your neighborhood exotic vet. Younger animals can probably be found through a breeder, however tiny animal-specific rescues frequently have a nice selection as well.

It's best to look at the seller's animals when they're awake while choosing a hamster. Therefore, inquire as to the ideal time for your visit with the merchant. By providing a tasty gift, the vendor may also be able to wake their hamsters so you may choose one. An lively and inquisitive hamster indicates good health. Its eyes should be clear and brilliant, its fur should be clean, and its droppings should be well-formed. A filthy bottom and hard breathing are warning signs.

If you'll be taking more than one hamster home, make sure to have separate housing for them ready. This will prevent fighting, as well as you accidentally becoming a breeder yourself.

FAQ
  • Does the Syrian hamster make a good pet for kids?

    Syrian hamsters can make good pets for older children who are able to handle them gently and carefully.

  • Are Syrian hamsters hard to take care of?

    Hamsters are generally low-maintenance pets, with their main needs being daily feedings and regular cage cleanings.

  • Does the Syrian hamster like to be held?

    Syrian hamsters can learn to be comfortable with gentle handling. However, they also like to explore and might not want to be held for long.

CITATION

"Providing a Home for a Hamster. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Providing a Home for a Hamster. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Disorders and Diseases of Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual." ;

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