Syrian hamsters (also known as golden hamsters) make great pets for children and adults. They are available in many different colours, but were first well known for being the golden hamster colour. They often appeal to people more than other hamster breeds because they smell a little less than other hamsters, have naturally shorter tails, and like other breeds of hamster are fairly inexpensive to own.
The expected lifespan for Syrian hamsters is 2-2 ½ years, as with a lot of rodents this is not a long time. However, there are benefits to making short time commitments to pets such as this. As sad as it is to lose a pet, some people only want a short commitment so it is good to know a pet’s lifespan from the beginning. If you are buying a pet for a child and think they will get bored of caring for them, it is probably for the best that you don’t have a pet expected to live 10 years plus.
There are a few different options when choosing housing for your Syrian hamsters, there are pros and cons to each type as follows:
Traditional plastic hamster cages come in many different shapes and sizes, giving you a lot of variation to choose something to suit your budget and style. It is important to remember you are looking for something functional for your hamster, not just what you think looks good. There should be plenty of space, some tunnels or areas to make tunnels, and exercise accessories.
The only downside is that sometimes the quality is not the best, that’s where you come in by choosing carefully. A thin plastic cage will be prone to cracking if anything heavy is placed on top, or even due to extreme changes in temperature. Obviously things you would not do while you have hamsters, but can happen if the cage is put in storage for any reason.
Having a large glass tank in your house can be a nice focal point. But before you place an order for one you should consider the down sides. They are extremely heavy, this can prove problematic when moving the tank to clean it out, cleaning around it, maybe changing its position in the house etc. They are also more difficult when cleaning, polishing glass and getting bits of bedding from the corners is not an easy task.
Glass terrariums have become less and less popular over the years as cheaper, lighter, plastic options have become more available. The main reason I see people with them now is because they already owned one and are putting it to use.
If you want to treat your hamster then this is the option for you. Cages with tunnels and tubes that provide a more ‘’natural’’ environment for the hamsters are certainly the best option for them. Hamsters love to burrow, so having a set up with several tubes from them to run in gives them a lot of freedom and enjoyment.
On the downside, these types of cages are the most expensive to purchase and require more space than a normal rectangle cage. They also take a lot longer to clean out, sometimes you have to dismantle the tubes into many parts and clean each one individually. So, in a nutshell this type of cage is for the serious owner, maybe not best for beginners until you are familiar with looking after them.
In the wild hamsters cover a lot of distance every day foraging for food and mapping their landscape. As pets they require a similar amount of exercise. One of the most well recognised equipment accessories is the hamster wheel, everyone knows what this looks like. It is an absolute must for their cage, along with some cardboard tubes for them to run in and out of and you have a decent exercise set up.
Having some chew toys in their cage is strongly recommended, Syrian hamsters need something to gnaw on. Providing toys will divert them away from gnawing on cage bars or other items in their cage that you would like to stay gnaw-free!
The exercise ball, another well known classic used to keep your hamster safe and entertained while you are cleaning out their cage. No hamster owner should be without one, it’s nice to have your hamster out of the cage and know it is safe from other animals you may have in the house.
Syrian hamsters have the same dietary requirements of other hamsters, so they eat mostly cereal and seed mixes. There are plenty of options available from most pet stores, so try a couple of brands out and find a good fit for your hamsters.
Hamsters are omnivores so as for treats you can give them a little piece of meat, they particularly like minced beef or mealworms. There are also a wide range of pre-packed treats available from pet stores if you want the convenience of having something quick to feed them.
Generally speaking hamsters are healthy, low maintenance pets. It is very rare that you would need to take one to a vet, but there are some conditions that exist and may arise. Noticing any health concerns early and taking action is often the difference between having a health problem or not.
The reason for providing toys that your hamster to gnaw on is to keep its teeth trimmed, if there is not enough suitable material to chew on there is a chance their teeth can grow uneven or too long. Unless you are really confident you know what you are doing, you will need a vet to clip the teeth in these circumstances.
Should not be a problem within your horde of hamsters, but if you notice patchy fur, baldness or excessive scratching, you should take a closer look for mites.
One of the more commonly known conditions to affect Syrian hamsters is ‘’wet tail’’, this basically means diarrhoea. Described as wet tail because in bad cases the fur around the tail looks matted and wet, this can prove fatal in extreme cases left untreated. You will need to see a vet for some medication if you think your hamster has wet tail.