Hamsters as Pets

All types of hamsters make good pets. They are very easy to look after and everything you need can be bought at any pet shop. A wide selection of cages is available, from the simple plastic tray and wire top to the totally enclosed plastic type complete with tubes. Syrian hamsters must be kept singly whereas the Russian and Chinese hamsters will often live together with others of their own species. If you intend keeping the ‘Dwarf’ varieties in a wire top cage the bars must not be more than 6mm apart as these animals can get through very small gaps. Glass or plastic aquariums can also be used.

Varieties of hamsters available as pets are pictured below:

Syrian (black dominant
spot longhaired)
Winter White


Sawdust (or wood shavings) should be spread on the base of the cage and a handful of bedding put in a corner. The bedding should be of the shredded paper variety. It is recommended that a water bottle be used, with the spout fitted to the cage at the right height for your hamster to reach. (a dish containing water is easily fouled). About an egg-cupful of dry ‘Hamster Mix’ per day should be given (this does vary from hamster to hamster) and ‘greens’ introduced very gradually and in small quantities.

Most hamsters do not smell if they are cleaned regularly, say once a week. As they normally use one corner of the cage to wet in the sawdust, this corner can be changed more often if you wish. When cleaning, the sawdust and any old food should be thrown away and the cage base washed and dried. Place fresh sawdust in the cage, along with new bedding if necessary. Rinse the water bottle and fill with fresh water. Then give your hamster its daily helping of food plus a little extra for its store.

When choosing a hamster check that it is bright eyed and holds its ears erect. It should be free from open or healing cuts and should not bite when picked up. Ideally, a hamster should be between four and eight weeks old when bought and you should be able to handle it.


At this age they may be fast, like kittens or puppies, so care must be taken in the first few days. Always handle only a few inches above a secure surface in case the young animal should be scared and jump.

If you require further information about keeping and exhibiting hamsters, are looking for hamster breeders in your area simply ‘click’ on the appropriate link at the top of the page.