This is primer to dwarf hamster care. We’ll be adding on to it from time to time as we learn new things about how to take care of dwarf hamsters. You may skip directly to any section or read the whole thing if you’re just getting started.
- Getting the right supplies
- Feeding your dwarf hamster
- Keeping your dwarf hamster clean
- Playing with your dwarf hamster
Getting the right supplies
Getting the right equipment for your dwarf hamster is an important first step if you want to care for your dwarf hamster properly. I’ve described in detail the items that the new dwarf hamster owner needs to get on the front page of this site. This is a brief recap of the items you’ll need:
- The proper cage
- Water bottle
- Running wheel / Exercise wheel
- Safe and comfortable bedding
- Hamster food / mix
- A hamster “house” or hiding place
- Chew toys (optional)
- Hamster ball (optional)
- Bathing sand and bath house (optional)
- Food dish (optional)
- Hamster treats (optional)
Feeding your Dwarf Hamster
Giving your pet the right food is an important part of dwarf hamster care. It’s a good idea to give your dwarf hamster a hamster mix that has a wide variety of food in it or specially formulated food for hamsters such as the Oxbow Healthy Handfuls Hamster and Gerbils Complete Stabilized Food. Don’t use food mixes made for other animals as the nutrients in them are different from what your dwarf hamster requires.
A tablespoon of food should be sufficient per dwarf hamster per day. Your hamster should also always have access to fresh water in a water bottle.
Besides hamster mix, you can also supplement your dwarf hamster’s diet with fresh food. These should be given in moderation (once or twice a week) and variety. There are many fresh foods that you can give to your hamster but you should always give new food in small amounts to see if your hamster is able to accept it.
Also, as dwarf hamsters originate from a desert environment, too much fresh food that’s high in water content can cause diarrhea. You also do not want to give your dwarf hamster food that’s high in sugar (most fruit). This is especially so for Russian dwarf hamsters (i.e. Campbell’s, Winter White and their hybrids) as they are prone to diabetes.
Some fresh food that are safe for dwarf hamsters:
Asparagus, acorn, alfalfa sprouts, basil, bean sprouts, buckwheat, bran, chestnuts, chickweed, chicory, clover, dandelion flowers and leaves, dill, endive, flaxseed, green beans, kale, oatmeal, pumpkin seed, parsnips, sesame seed, squash seed, sunflower seed, spinach, turnip.
One way to give fresh food without worrying about the water content is to dehydrate/dry them first.
You can also feed your pet insects such as crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers from pet shops.
Food that you should not feed your dwarf hamster:
- Anything with pesticides/insecticides on it
- Anything sticky (will get stuck in their cheek pouches)
- Anything sharp (will pierce their cheek pouches)
- Processed food (canned food, candy, chocolate, snacks, etc)
- Salted seeds and nuts
- Citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc)
- Onion and garlic
- Kidney beans
- Fruit seeds
When in doubt, just play safe and don’t give anything you are unsure of to your hamster. A more complete and super well-organized food chart can be found here. We also have a list of food that we give our hamsters on a regular basis.
Keeping your dwarf hamster clean
Your dwarf hamster should never be bathed in water. However, you will need to keep its cage clean. The frequency of cage cleaning and bedding changes will depend on how large the cage is and how many hamsters are in it. It is advisable to clean a small cage at least once a week. Larger cages can get away with fewer cleanings in between.
Tips for keeping a cage clean and odor-free:
- Use a highly absorbent bedding such as Carefresh Ultra Pet Bedding
- Spot-clean every day by picking out soiled bedding
- Remove any uneaten food (especially fresh food) daily and replace with new ones
- Hang charcoal near your hamster’s cage to absorb the smell. Keep out of hamster’s reach.
- Once a week, change the bedding and clean the cage with hot water
- Use vinegar to remove any bad smell and rinse well
- Be sure to clean the accessories too (wheel, potty, hamster house, etc)
I’ve found that most of the smell comes from the accessories especially if your hamster likes to pee on them. In that case, I clean the accessories more frequently and make fewer bedding changes. Check your accessories to see if they’re the culprit before throwing out your bedding — I made the mistake of cleaning the cage every three days when I first had my hamsters because I didn’t realize all the smell was from the wheel!
You can also buy special sand and a hamster bath house (or make one). They’ll happily roll around in sand to get their coats clean.
Playing with your dwarf hamster
Try to play with your dwarf hamster (especially robos) daily so that it remains tame. Hamsters are nocturnal and most active in the early morning and during evenings. When possible, play with your hamster when it’s awake and active.
Tips for playing with your dwarf hamster:
- Alert your hamster to your presence by allowing it to sniff your hand/finger
- Don’t startle your hamster by grabbing it from behind
- Use a toilet roll or cup to hold your hamster if you’re not sure how to pick it up
- Hamsters have sensitive ears. Avoid making loud noises
- Set up a play area with “walls” so your hamster won’t escape
- Don’t hold your hamster at a height. It may jump off your hand and injure itself.
That’s all about it for dwarf hamster care. Check out the rest of our site for more tips and tricks on how to take care of your hamster!