How to Keep a Happy Hamster

Four Methods:Spending Time With Your HamsterGiving Your Hamster a Healthy Nutritious DietProviding a Stimulating Living SpaceProviding a Safe and Peaceful Environment

If you have a pet hamster it's important that you make sure he has everything he needs to be healthy and happy. You will need to give him plenty of space to run around and exercise and plenty of toys to play with. A healthy diet can include some treats to add variety to his diet, and you can learn to handle him and play together. Hamsters are not always the most sociable of creatures, so sometimes providing a peaceful environment free of stress can be the best way to keep a hamster happy.

Method 1
Spending Time With Your Hamster

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    Get to know your hamster. Spend some time watching your hamster and getting to know his personality and mannerisms. All hamsters will have their own personalities, so you should try to get know your hamster's and respond to it accordingly. Some hamsters will be more shy and reclusive, and you should respect this and not disturb him unduly if this is the case.
    • For example, your hamster might lower himself to the ground and flatten out when you approach or attempt to pick him up. This is an indication that he does not want to be handled at the moment.[1]
    • If your hamster is squeaking it could indicate that he is agitated or anxious.This can occur especially when a hamster is introduced to a new environment. Allow him time to adjust.
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    Begin handling him slowly. If you want to handle your hamster it's important that you are slow and patient, and don't try to handle him too frequently. You can start by giving your hamster a treat from your hand. Lay your hand flat on the ground and let your hamster get used to it. Do not lift your hand yet. Once your hamster is running around your hand like it is just another toy, you should stop for the day. Give your hamster a treat.
    • If your hamster gets scared, take your hand away slowly. Be patient, some hamsters are more nervous than others.
    • Over time you will find that he becomes more comfortable and walks onto your hand with no hesitation.[2]
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    Develop your bond. Continue doing a similar routine of spending time together and allowing him to get used to your presence. Start putting treats on your hand and trying to get your hamster to eat them while sat on your hand. Once your hamster is very comfortable doing that, start slowly lifting your hand slightly above the floor. If your hamster gets too afraid, go back to just putting treats on your hand.
    • Always do this close to the floor, or another safe surface, so if he jumps off your hand he won't be hurt.
    • If he is distressed or bites you, just put him down and give him a treat.[3]
    • Whenever you try to pick up your hamster you should scoop him up from below.
    • Never disturb him while he is asleep.
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    Consider setting up a play area outside his cage. One way to give your hamster the chance to get out of his cage, and get used to spending time with you, is to set up a secure play pen somewhere in your house. To do this, find a flat and clean area of the floor and ensure it is closed in so the hamster can't escape. Place some toys and items like cardboard tubes inside the play pen.
    • You can move your hamster over to the play pen by hand, or by using the hamster ball. He will enjoy running around a more open space, but be sure to keep a very close eye on him. Be patient and let him explore the area at his own pace.
    • Once he is more comfortable with you, you can get in the pen with him and play together. You will become another thing to climb on.
    • A play box is a good way to provide an area to play in outside of the cage.

Method 2
Giving Your Hamster a Healthy Nutritious Diet

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    Provide a healthy diet. Take care to ensure your hamster is getting enough of the right food to keep him healthy and happy. Although your hamster will be very active and have a quick metabolism, he can still become overweight if you overfeed him. Generally you should provide around a tablespoon of pellets or seed mix daily as the core of his diet. You can supplement this with occasional treats.[4]
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    Give him occasional treats. You can provide some nice treats to add variety to your hamster's diet. You can add a small amount of greens, a slice of apple (or a few raisins), and a floret of cauliflower to his daily pellets. This is plenty to keep him well fed. Keep an eye on how much he is eating and tend to give treats in small quantities. You don't want uneaten greens to go bad in his cage, so remove uneaten treats.
    • You can also provide some hard treats, such as small dog biscuits, branches from fruit trees, or commercially produced treats that help wear down his teeth.
    • Only provide hard treats such as these once a week.
    • Remember that hamsters stash their food in hidden stores, so an empty bowl doesn't necessarily mean he has run out of food.[5]
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    Ensure there is constant clean fresh water. An important part of keeping your hamster healthy and happy is ensuring that he has access to a constant supply of fresh clean water to drink from. Make sure you give him fresh water every day and check his bottle for leaks. Be sure to clean the bottle and nozzle regularly to avoid potential contamination.[6]

Method 3
Providing a Stimulating Living Space

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    Give your hamster plenty of space. Although they might seem to be asleep a lot of the time, hamsters are very active at night and need plenty of space to run around to keep them stimulated and happy.[7] You should try to provide as much space in your hamster's cage as you can. Your hamster will use different areas of his cage for different things, so having enough space to spread out is important.
    • The recommended minimum size for the cage is 12 inches (width) x 12 inches (height) x 18 inches (length).[8] But the general rule is the bigger the better.[9]
    • Wire cages, plastic moulded cages, and converted fish tanks are all good homes for hamsters. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. A wire cage gives your hamster more things to climb on, and a tank will require more thorough cleaning.[10]
    • Ensure your cage has a solid base which is at least 3-5cms deep and covered with dust free wood shaving or another safe nesting material, or substrate.
    • Try to provide substrate that is around 6cms deep so your hamster can dig into it.[11]
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    Ensure there are things to play with. Hamsters like to play and need things in their cage to keep them stimulated and occupied. A wheel is one way to get exercise and run, but you need to provide more varied stimuli to keep your hamster happy. Wooden chew toys offer a fun activity and also help keep his teeth in shape. Be sure you only use wood that is safe for pets.[12]
    • You can also make toys at home. For example, put empty cardboard tubes in for him to chew on and tunnel through.[13]
    • Plain brown cardboard boxes can be chewed up and hidden in. You can fill a small box with substrate to make a good burrowing and digging place for your hamster.
    • Be wary of using cardboard that has glue or ink. Stick to plain cardboard to avoid any potentially harmful chemicals.
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    Get a hamster wheel. Hamsters like to get a lot of exercise, but in a relatively small cage the amount they can run around is limited. One good way to enable a hamster to run for longer periods is to get a hamster wheel. Ensure you have a solid wheel not a mesh one which your hamster could catch his foot in, and get a wheel with a large diameter. If your hamster is running with an arched back, you need to get a bigger wheel.[14]
    • Wheels intended for rats have a large diameter and are a good choice for your hamster.[15]
    • As well as a hamster wheel, getting a hamster ball can enable him to run around for longer periods.
    • This is also a fun way to get him out of his cage. Be sure you keep a close eye on him and that there are no potential dangers, such as another pet, in the room with you.[16]

Method 4
Providing a Safe and Peaceful Environment

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    Keep the cage away from extremes of hot and cold. Where you position the cage in your house is an important factor in the health and happiness of your hamster. Don't put the cage anywhere that he will be exposed to a lot of heat, such as next to a radiator. You should also avoid placing the cage anywhere that gets direct sunlight.
    • It is equally important to make sure that the cage is not somewhere especially cold or draughty.
    • If it is somewhere that gets a little cold, be sure to provide extra bedding for warmth.
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    Keep him away from sources of light and sound. Hamsters are exceptionally sensitive to high frequency sound and light, and he can become distressed if exposed to these. For this reason you should take care when finding a place for his cage. Don't put his cage in a room where the lights are going on and off through the night. Nocturnal animals need the darkness at night.
    • Keep the cage away from sources of ultrasound such as televisions and computer screens.
    • Also keep it away from sources of running water and loud appliances such as vaccum cleaners, which can be highly distressing for hamsters.[17]
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    Clean the cage regularly. It's important to regularly clean out the cage to ensure it remains a healthy environment for your hamster. You should take a few minutes every day to remove any substrate that is wet from urine, and spot clean the cage to remove hamster poo in order to prevent wet-tail.
    • Try to clean out the cage more thoroughly once a week.[18] If possible, you should try to keep to a basic cleaning schedule for this.
    • If you clean the cage too frequently or infrequently it could cause distress for your hamster.[19]


  • Do not use Pine or Cedar wood shavings. Even if you are tempted by the beddings low price. They contain harmful chemicals to your hamster, which can cause respiratory problems.
  • Keep their area as clean as possible. Change the shavings in their 'potty corner' every day.
  • Try to prevent illness. If you have any queries about your pet's health soon after you have bought it then call the pet shop where you bought your hamster from and they will give you the number of local vets.
  • Never give hamsters too much lettuce, as it can cause liver problems.[20]

Article Info

Categories: Hamsters