The hamster is attractive, funny, active, lively, clean and easy to care for; lives alone, so no problems with finding other hamsters to live with or breeding. However, Hamsters are active at night, i.e. nocturnal, and need to be left alone and quiet during the day. Taming takes time and patience - they may bite at first. If the temperature gets too cold, they may go asleep (hibernation)

A hamster needs

  • To live on its own 
  • A mixed diet of seed, grains, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Hard wood to gnaw on
  • To have a constant supply of fresh drinking water from a drip-feed bottle with a metal spout
  • A large cage - at least 75 x 40 x 40 cm
  • A clean cage - cleanliness is important
  • A nest box and suitable nesting material (not cotton wool type)
  • Plenty of exercise
  • Brushing - particularly the long-haired breeds
  • To be looked after at holiday times
  • Your time and interest for the rest of your life

Fact Sheet

Average 18 months to 2 years. Males outlive females

Sexually mature
45-60 days

You should not breed from your hamster. Hamster are not easy to breed and can fight

In season (When female hamster is fertile and can be made pregnant)
Every 4 days between 4-23 hours

Gestation (Length of pregnancy)
Average 16 days

Litter size
Average 5-9

Always handle a hamster gently. Pick it up using both hands as a scoop and stay close to the ground or over a flat surface. Hamsters move very quickly and a fall of even 20cm may cause serious injuries

Once tamed, a hamster can become very friendly and enjoy companionship

Health problems

Abscesses and ulcers
Bathe skin wounds with warm water with a little epsom salt in it. If no improvement, seek veterinary advice

Damaged pouch
The lining of the cheek pouches is very delicate and can be cut by wood splinters and sharp food. Food or unsuitable materials can become lodged in the pouches. Seek veterinary help immediately

Slow breathing, sneezing and a sore nose. Keep the hamster warm and improve its diet. Seek veterinary advice if the symptoms continue as this can develop into pneumonia

Overgrown claws
Usually in older hamsters. Clippers can be bought for this. Consult your veterinary surgeon for advice.

Inflammation of the eyes (sore, red swollen eyes)
This is quite common, caused by dusty bedding, old age or breathing problems. Seek veterinary advice.

Loss of fur or sore skin
This can be caused by old age, rubbing against the cage, parasites (tiny living things which live off other living things) and ringworm (a disease of the skin caused by fungus). Go to your vet

Revive by warming gently in cupped hands or raising the temperature of the room

Wet tail
This is an easily passed on disease causing diarrhoea. This disease can kill. Seek veterinary advice immediately

Overgrown teeth
Teeth can become overgrown if there is a lack of nuts, wood or hard biscuit to gnaw on. Seek veterinary advice

Remember if your pet is showing unusual symptoms bring it to your local vet.