[Care guide|Potty Training your hamster]
Hamsters are generally clean animals. They tend to go to the bathroom in one corner of their cage, instead of going all over they're cage like rats do. Because of this, they are cleaner than rats. Not to be stereotypicall, rats can be trained to go to the bathroom in a container (or so I've heard, but never have witnessed).
A characteristic that hamsters have is two large glands on each side of their body, close to the position of their hops. Males have larger glands than female hamsters. The glands secrete a substance that is oily and acts as a territory marker. Their fur usually hides the glands, but sometimes a wet spot or matted fur will indicate the location of the glands on your hamster. Sometimes hamsters may rub themselves against the side of their cage, imitating instinctual territorial behavior. Hamsters in the wild rub themselves against the walls of their burrows as the walk through the tunnels to mark their presence. It's a lot cleaner than having a hamster urinate on everything it finds, like some dogs do. Hamsters have a mild musk scent that can be detected at times when their glands are activley secreting. Since their eyesight is not strong, hamsters rely upon these scent markings to discern their territory from other hamsters.
You will often see your hamster grooming itself. They also do this to spread they're scent around from their hip spots. Hip Spots are patches of fur-less skin on either hip of a full-grown hamster. Like cats with they're glands in their faces, hamsters have glands on they're hips used to spread scent as they walk through tunnels.
Watch your hamster regularily and you will soon realize that this little animal grooms herself constantly. It is an incorrect notion that owners should see a hamsters grooming habits as a signal for them to help their hamster groom itself. As a rule, hamsters should not be bathed. Hamsters DO NOT need to be given baths or anything of the sort. They are much like cats in that they clean every scent of human smell off of them after being handled.
If you still feel inclined to assist your hamster in her grooming, you can do so by brushing the animal gently with a soft toothbrush. Most hamsters are amenable to short brushing sessions that can also help remove bedding, dust, or other habitat residue that may gling to her hair.
While running the soft brush over the hamster's tummy, you may notice a lump that wasn't there before (abscess, tumor), or spot a damp area on the rear end that could signal the illness wet tail. Contact a vet before the problem progresses into untreatable stages.
Hamsters' teeth are constantly growing. They should always have a block of unpainted, unvarnished wood available, a hard dog biscut, a hard nut (like an acorn) or something else to gnaw on to wear their teeth down. Other wise they may have to resort to chewing on the bars of their cage to wear their teeth down, wich can chip paint off the bars and poison them. Also it is very loud, and annoying for any humans nearby.
A hamsters teeth are a natural yellowish color.
If your hamster doesn't have anything to chew on for a long period of time, it's teeth may grow into the hamsters upper and lower jaw, causing great pain and making it impossible for the hamster to eat. If this happens, get a vet to clip it's teeth!
Although it's rare that they need their claws trimmed, you can do it with a pair of small, sharp scissors. I'm told that if you accidentally cut into your hamster's toe, there is not too much to be concerned about since the blood vessels in that part of the body are extremely small.
Hamster brushes can be used without much stress to the hamster, but used toothbrushes (or for that matter, not-used toothbrushes) are also useful (see pic).
NO, never give a hamster a bath (unless directed by a vet). They are too stressful and can cause colds etc. Plus your hamster could drown
They're a lot of medicines out there to put in hamsters' water to make/keep them healthy. They supposidly have viatamins and minerals in them. Should I use one?
No. Not unless recommended by a vet. The best water for your hamster is fresh water.
My hamsters toenails are getting long. Should I clip them?
No. I would not suggest clipping your hamsters nails, it can really hurt them if you mis-calculate or if they squirm when you clip (ouch!). If you insist to have they're nails clipped, take your hamster to a vet and have them do it. Or if you just want to wear them down, you could put some sandpaper in they're wheel for a short time each night while they're active (say 20 minutes to an hour). If you leave it in longer, they're feet could get raw and sore. If this happens, then don't use sandpaper. If your hamsters' nails are unusually long, and/or it is acting funny, you should take it to a vet. I've had this problem happen before in mice and rats. It could be caused by your hamster not being able to walk properly on its feet/hands, and so causing the nails to grow out. However, hamsters nails are usually short. Unlike rats, they're nails don't hurt or puncture the skin when you are holding them.
No, don't try to brush your hamsters' teeth. It is normal. If it really bothers you, you can feed your hamster Friskies cat food dental diet, or tartar control and see if it helps.
Yuck. Should my hamster be eating his poop?
Yes. Hamsters have a different digestive system than humans. Hamsters produce two types of excrement — one that's partially digested containing lots of nutrients, and one that's just garbage. Hamsters practice coprophagy, eating the nutrient-filled excrement to get the nutrients from it and digest it fully.
What if my hamster gets fleas?
Hamsters usually get fleas from other animals in the house who have fleas. There is a special flea powder available at pet stores that can be put into the bedding material - eventually it gets into the hamster's fur. You can also apply it directly to your hamster if she doesn't mind.
What should I do if I find bugs in the hamster food?
This happens quite often. The solution is to put the food in the freezer to kill off the bugs. Then, either take the bugs out or include the dead bugs with the food - your hamster appreciates the protein.
Do you know anything about hamsters having seizures? My friend has a hamster that just seems to flip out and run into the corner than shake. Do you know what this could be from or a cure?
Hamsters might have seizures for the same reasons humans do, it could be a genetic defect or caused by their enviornment. To learn more contact your ver (I don't think physical assistance will be needed with the vet.. over the phone should be fine unless the seizures become frequent) or learn more about seizures with humans, and what causes them. If this happens, you may try to calm your hamster down if you like but DO NOT try to restrain it or it might hurt itself or hurt you. It is also important for me to add that your hamster might have done this because of something it heard. Hamsters often act strangley to even the most miniscule sounds, and they have much better hearing than humans.
My hamster is all puffy and swelled right by it's tail what is wrong with it??? My hamster is also a girl... If that helps with answering the question
It is probably an intestinal blockage, in which case gender would not matter. This can be caused by eating bedding, parasites, string, cotton, and a number of things. Mainly just injesting something that would cause the intestines to swell up. If your lucky, it will pass by and your hamster will be fine. Otherwise there really isn't much you can do but take it to a vet and get it euthenized, unless the vet has another idea. Also, it could be an infection. This can also be caused by a punctured digestive gland, and a build up of bacteria. In this scenario, some anti-bacterial will work. Go to your vet and have some prescribed, you will probably have to give it to your hamster with a dropper in it's mouth daily until the infections go away. To determine which ailment might be striking your hamster, study it's secretions and report it to a vet. If there is blood in it's urine, that can mean that there was a puncture in it's digestive tract. If there is pus, that can mean infection. My suggestion is to go to a vet a soon as possible, and also print out this e-mail and have your veteranarian read it for some ideas of what to do.
To the best of your knowledge, are dwarf hamsters prone to tumors? I know that mice can be, especially if they are inbred. But we have never had a hamster with a tumor before.
All rodents tend to get tumors very often, rats and mice especially. The only 2 rats I've ever owned both had tumors, one of them cancerous (it kept growing back after it was removed). This can be inconvenient, seeing how our favorite vet clinic raised their tumor-removing surgery costs from $80 to $210. For a hamster, I don't think it would be as expensive.
Hamsters do get tumors, though. More than humans, I might add. If I were to put it into a ratio about 1 out of every 40 hamsters gets a tumor sometime during it's life, and about 1 out of every 400 humans gets a tumor during it's life. Then again, this deformity/weakness is caused by - as you said earlier - inbreeding, so there is not much we can do to strenghten a hamsters gene pool at this point but stop inbreeding. If you compare Syrian hamsters to Dwarf hamsters, I think that Syrain hamsters would get them more often because they have been inbred in extreme quantities, compared to Dwarf hamsters (which have been inbred only to minimum quantities, not that that is much better).