Hamsters are fun pets to live with, but they are also quite mysterious. It can be tough to determine when a hamster is especially happy or sad. It can be almost impossible to figure out when a hamster is tired of a particular toy. However, there are a few hamster myths and misconceptions that we humans have been able to debunk once and for all. Here is what you should know.
1. Hamsters Are Happy in Small Cages
Many people think that a hamster can live happily in a small cage that gives them just enough room to move around and sleep. However, hamsters are active and curious creatures that require plenty of room to explore. The cage for just one hamster should be at least 15 inches in length and more than 12 inches in height.
Anything smaller can inhibit the animal’s ability to utilize their instincts and display their natural behaviors and result in depression and other problems as time goes on. There are multiple types of cages that hamsters can safely and happily live in, including:
The type of habitat chosen should depend on the space where the habitat will be kept, whether other animals, like cats and dogs, will be around, and how hot or cold it gets during the day and night.
Related Read: 10 Best Hamster Cages – Reviews & Top Picks
2. Hamsters Are Aggressive
Some people believe that hamsters are aggressive, whether due to personal experiences that they have had or things that they have heard. The truth is that hamsters are not inherently aggressive. However, they will defend themselves, so if a threat is perceived, they can react in ways that a human may interpret as aggressive.
If those who interact with a hamster are calm and gentle and refrain from being forceful with their interactions, the hamster should never become aggressive. For those who pick up a hamster when the animal is afraid or put their fingers in cages to tease and startle the hamster, chances are that the hamster will defend itself with a bite.
Luckily, a hamster bite usually feels like nothing more than a pinch and rarely draws blood. It is important to keep in mind that a well-cared-for hamster that is respected by its human companions should show nothing more than love and affection.
3. They Only Eat Plants
Since hamsters enjoy eating a variety of plant foods such as seeds and greens, many people assume that they are herbivores. This simply is not the case! These little animals like to eat both plant and animal foods to stay happy and healthy throughout their lives. Most do not realize that the little pellets that make up commercial hamster food typically contain animal products for optimal health.
Hamsters can eat mealworms and crickets too, which are inexpensive food options that can be sourced at pet shops. Owners can even offer small pieces of chicken and steak to their hamsters on occasion. Hamsters should never be fed an all-meat or all-plant diet, though, because they will miss out on important nutrients for good health and long life.
4. They Are Cheap Pets
While hamsters are not nearly as expensive to take care of as cats or dogs, they are by no means “cheap.” A habitat, toys, a wheel, bedding, and food and water dishes are just the beginning of the costs that come with owning a pet hamster. Food must be purchased and provided daily, which can add up quickly throughout the year.
Also, bedding must be replaced regularly to keep a hamster’s habitat safe and clean. Unfortunately, hamster bedding is not a free resource. Hamsters should see a veterinarian once a year or so to ensure proper health. Some hamsters need veterinarian care due to illnesses and injuries too. As any pet owner will tell you, vet bills are never cheap.
5. Their Teeth Grow Like Ours Do
Contrary to popular belief, a hamster’s teeth do not grow like ours or other animals like dogs do. Instead, their teeth continue to grow without ever falling out. Therefore, hamsters require things to chew on to keep their teeth filed and under control. If a hamster does not have any toys or blocks to chew on, they tend to chew on their cages and food dishes in an attempt to file their teeth down.
Therefore, hamsters should always have access to toys like hanging blocks, wooden bridges, and faux rocks to chew on. Overgrown teeth can lead to dental problems and a lack of interest in food, which can cause many health problems. There is no need to check on the teeth of a hamster if plenty of toys are available to them.
6. They Are Naturally Active During the Day
Hamsters tend to come out and interact with their human counterparts during the day because that is when the humans come to visit them. However, hamsters are nocturnal in the wild, which means that they typically hide and sleep all day, then explore and forage for food at night. If left to their own devices, this would likely be the schedule that they keep in captivity.
The daily schedules of humans in a household usually impact the schedule of a hamster, though, so most owners notice that their hamsters are at least somewhat active during the day to mimic their own schedules. Keep in mind that no matter what, sleeping will likely always take up several hours of a hamster’s day.
Hamsters are fun-loving, interesting pets that many people do not know much about. They also deal with their fair share of rumors and myths. Now that we have dispelled a few common hamster myths, we can better understand how these adorable little pets should be cared for to keep them happy and healthy for a lifetime.
Featured Image Credit: Marcela Arrubla, Pixabay