Hamster Husbandry and Preventative Healthcare

Hamster Husbandry and Preventative Healthcare


Cage – We recommend using a wire bar style cage with appropriately sized bars so the hamster cannot escape. It should be a minimum of 1 foot wide by 3 foot in length.  The cage bottom should be solid, as screen mesh/wire floor can irritate the feet and cause injuries.  We don’t recommend using aquariums with a screen top due to poor air circulation in aquariums

Substrate – Bedding should consist of a paper pulp product (like Carefresh or Yesterday’s News), newspaper or computer paper. Wood chips/shavings are not recommended as they can irritate a hamsters eyes and respiratory tract.

Hide box – Hiding areas, such as cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and tissue boxes should be provided to minimize stress and to give them somewhere to hide/sleep during daylight hours.

Wheel – A running wheel of appropriate size should be provided for exercise.  Vegetable oil or coconut oil can be used to lubricate the moving parts of the wheel to help minimize sounds.

Cagemates – We recommend housing hamsters individually, as most species will fight with one another, regardless of gender.


We recommend feeding a commercial hamster pellet or rodent block diet that does not contain seeds in the mix.  The diet should generally be offered “free-choice”. Oxbow Hamster and Gerbil diet is a good, high quality diet.

Treats – May include small pieces of vegetables, fruit, unsweetened cereal and hays such as timothy or orchard grass. Seeds and treat sticks are not recommended as a regular part of the diet because they are high in fat and low in protein and calcium.

Water – Should be offered in a sipper bottle or a spill-proof bowl; change water daily. Clean bowls/bottles every couple of days in the dishwasher, or soak them in 1:30 bleach:water solution, to prevent harmful bacterial growth.  Check the ball in the sipper portion of the water bottle on a regular basis to be sure it does not become stuck and deprive your hamster of water.


Always use two hands and be very gentle. Try to avoid exposing your pet to excessive noise, excitement and over-handling. If children are handling the hamster, have them sit on the floor and hold it in their laps. Only allow them to handle the pet with adult supervision!


An initial visit to an exotic animal veterinarian is recommended when you first acquire your pet. The doctor will do a complete physical exam and spend some time discussing husbandry and diet. Thereafter, it is recommended that your pet be brought in every 6-12 months for routine physical exams, or sooner if your pet is showing signs of illness or another problem requiring medical attention.


Malocclusion of Incisor Teeth – Normally, hamsters do not need their teeth trimmed.  Malocclusion occurs when the front (incisor) teeth do not meet properly and grow too long for the animal to eat.  Regular trimming of the incisor teeth may be necessary if this occurs.

Lice and Mites – Lice and mites are very common skin parasites in newly acquired rodents and mites can become a problem in geriatric rodents. Symptoms may include itchy and/or red skin, hair loss and irritability. Treatment for both lice and mites may include injections and/or a topical medication.

Specific Requirements
Rodent pellets/blocks should consist of the majority of diet, escape-proof caging
Reasons To
Visit A Veterinarian
Healthy annual examinations, not eating/defecating, sneezing, diarrhea, appears painful, bloated, itchiness and/or hairloss, lethargy