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Hamsters make lovely pets that for decades have been one of the most popular first-time family pets on the planet and thanks to them, kids get to learn a lot about responsibilities. If you are thinking about getting a Syrian hamster for the children, you need to bear in mind that looking after them needs to be a "family affair" and not completely left up to the kids.
When it comes to diet, you need to do your homework first before bringing your new pet home and it's a good idea to include the children in the research so they know exactly how to look after them and what to feed them. These days, there's a massive choice of hamster food on the market so it can be a little daunting to know which one to buy.
As a rule of thumb, you should always opt for the best quality commercial hamster mix which you should be able to source from your local pet store. The mix should contain all the necessary ingredients which typically consist of the following:
You can also feed hamsters a small amount of good quality fresh fruit and vegetables to add variety to their diet which includes the following:
Foods that you should avoid feeding to hamsters include the following:
You also need to make sure all the fruit and vegetables that you do feed your hamster has been thoroughly washed to ensure there are no chemicals on them which could be harmful to your pet.
You can offer your hamster a few special treats which provides a little extra protein. Once or even twice a week the sort of tasty treats you can give your pet includes the following:
The one thing you must never do is change your hamster's diet suddenly as this could be quite harmful to them and the result would be them suffering from a very upset digestive system.
You should feed your hamster twice day, once in the morning and then again in the evening. It's very important to take out any uneaten food because this will quickly go mouldy and if your pet eats food that has any mould on it, they could get very ill. You may have to check around the hutch for "hidden" food because this too might be going mouldy and would need to be taken out of their environment to stop them from nibbling on it.
You should feed around 10 grams of good quality commercial hamster food twice a day being careful to keep an eye on your pet's weight. If they look like they are getting a bit podgy, you should reduce the amount of the mix you give them.
It is also very important to make sure your hamster has constant access to fresh clean water and you should invest in good quality water bottles that boast metal spouts. These bottles need to be cleaned on a regular basis and the water changed daily which ensures the water is always fresh and never warm or stale.
Hamsters tend to drink quite a lot of water for such little creatures and will drink around 10 ml per 100g of body weight per day. However, if you think your pet is drinking far too much water or not enough, it could be a sign that something is not right and you should take them to the vet for a thorough examination sooner rather than later.
If you think your hamster is putting on too much weight, you need to take a close look at their diet and to see if you are feeding them a few too many "special treats". If you are unsure of the amounts you should be feeding a pet hamster, you can seek advice from your local vet who would be able to recommend the best way for them to loose weight safely as well as provide you with the right information on fat-free diets for hamsters.
It's really important to feed pet hamsters a low-fat, low protein and sugar diet and one which is high in fibre. The best source of fibre is provided by good quality hay which you can source at a local pet shop. It's also very important that hamsters have constant access to fresh, clean water because for such little creatures, they tend to drink quite a lot. However, if you think your pet is drinking either too much or too little water, you should make an appointment and take hamster to the vet so that any health issues that may be causing this can be ruled out.
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