Make sure your hamster is able to behave normally
Things you should do
- Ensure that your hamster(s) always has plenty of space to play during the night time.
- Do not disturb your hamster(s) when they are sleeping.
- Make sure the lighting times are more or less predictable in the room that you house your hamster(s)– for example keep your hamster(s) in a room where the lights are not left on till late in the night, or where regular hours are kept.
- If possible, give your hamster(s) a deep layer of litter in which it can dig and construct a burrow, see Home cage for Hamsters (PDF 254KB).
- Make sure that your hamster(s) has space to exercise and has appropriate enrichment. A running wheel can help with this, but additional opportunities are also necessary and the wheel should not be the only enrichment provided.
- If a wheel is provided it must be of good quality with a large diameter– for example one intended for rats; it must be a solid structure and axel free for the safety of your pet; and should ideally have a non-slip running surface.
- If your hamster develops sore feet, remove the wheel temporarily and seek veterinary advice.
- If your hamster goes into hibernation during the winter don’t disturb them unless you believe that they are unwell. Hamsters can wake up during hibernation to feed so make sure that they have plenty of fresh water, fresh food and nesting material, and check them regularly. If you are at all unsure contact your vet for advice.
- When your pet has become tame, you can allow them out of their cage but keep a close eye on them to see that they don't stray, or get up to mischief. If you have another pet such as a dog or cat, make sure that your hamster is safe. Never leave a hamster out of their cage unattended or overnight.
- Never trim your hamster(s)’ whiskers.
- Wild hamsters are usually active only at dusk and night time, i.e. just before and shortly after the lights go out.
- Hamsters rest and sleep during the day.
- Hamsters are very active at night, and can run up to 5 miles a day.
- Wild hamsters hibernate during the winter but wake up periodically to feed. In a warm house artificial light and temperatures usually suppresses hibernation.
- The hamster’s whiskers are very important for exploring objects, because their sight is very poor.