Frequently Asked Questions
Q Where can I buy a hamster?
A It is better to buy a hamster from a breeder than a pet store.  This way you have a greater chance of finding a hamster who has been handled and is disease free.  Breeders can also give you a lot of info on caring for your hamster.  Plus you can often see the parents and learn about their pedigree and color which is fun.

What kind of hamster is the best pet?
A This is a personal decision and will differ for different people.  Dwarf hamsters are not good for younger children (under about 8) since they tend to be perpetual motion.  They don’t sit still, and younger children tend to squeeze them too hard.  They can be quite entertaining and fun, though, and often wake and play during the day as well as the night.  Syrians, on the other hand, can be grumpy during the day although they do move slower and are easier for children to handle.

Q What species is a “teddy bear?”  What species is a “black bear?”
A A “teddy bear” is a syrian hamster.  The term “teddy bear” is most commonly used to describe the long haired syrians.  They are native to the country of Syria.   “Black bear” is also the nickname for a syrian.  Obviously it was targeted at the black syrians.

Q Why are my two syrians fighting?
A Syrians are solitary hamsters and need to be kept one to a cage from the age of 8 weeks.  Fighting usually occurs and often results in death if two syrians are kept in a cage.  It’s just not worth the risk.

Q Can my dwarf hamsters live together?
A Dwarf hamsters will generally live peacefully in same sex or mixed sex pairs.  On occasion, fighting will occur and they will need to be separated.

Q Can they eat fruits and vegetables?
A Yes.  Hamsters like most fruits and vegetables.  It’s best to stay away from citrus fruits, lettuce and strong foods like onions and garlic.  In particular, hamsters like apples, cantaloupe, broccoli, zucchini, etc.

Q What should I feed my hamster?
A You should always stay with mixes prepared for hamsters.  Many people use lab blocks although most prepared mixes are also good for hamsters – as long as they are not allowed to only eat their favorite portions of the mixes.  Store-bought treats and other foods (like dog food or cereal) should be only used as treats and not as a steady part of their diet.  It is best to use fruits and veggies as their main treat – and they love them.

Q What bedding should I use?
A Carefresh is a favorite among pet owners.  Aspen is also popular but harder to find.  Cedar should never be used since hamsters are allergic and cannot tolerate the oils in it.  Pine has the same oils to a lesser extent and should not be used either.

Q What kind of cage should I get?
A There are advantages and disadvantages to all cages.  Glass aquariums tend to be cheap and easy to clean but are heavy.  Plastic aquarium-like cages are cheap, easy, and light to clean but can be hard to find in larger sizes.  Wire cages tend to be better for syrians (dwarves tend to escape) but are often messy due to shavings spilling out.  Additionally, they should be kept out of areas with drafts.  Fancy plastic tube cages are fun and pleasing to the eyes but are expensive and tend to be very time consuming to clean.

Q What toys are best?
A Wood toys are hard to sanitize and should be used sparingly.  Plastic or disposable toys tend to be best.  Disposable toys include toilet paper rolls (with a few unscented white sheets left on) and empty boxes.  Plastic houses and toys are best if there is no bottom to them.  Far too many kids shake a hamster out of a toy or tube, so I always encourage houses and toys without a bottom.

Q How do I stop the wheel from squeaking?
A Use any edible oil such as crisco, olive oil, vaseline, etc.  It may need to be re-applied regularly.

Q Why does my hamster sleep all day?
A Hamsters are noctural and naturally sleep during the day.  They are most active at night.  Syrian hamsters in particular tend to be heavy day sleepers.  It is always best to play with hamsters either early in the morning or late at night.

Can I enter my pet store hamster in a show?
A Yes.  You can enter a pet store hamster in a show.  He may or may not be show quality as far as the standards go.  You can only find that out by bringing him to a show and getting the judge’s opinion.  Even if he is not show quality according to the standards, you can always enter your hamster in the pet class.  Hamsters can also be entered in both classes – even at the same show.

Q Why should I come to a hamster show?
A Some people come for the fun of competition.  Others come to learn more about hamsters and to talk to other hamster owners.  One of the best places to get correct and useful info on hamsters is from other owners and breeders at a show.

Q How can I tell if my hamster is pregnant?
A There is no reliable way to tell if your hamster is pregnant.  It is usually best to wait through the short gestation and see if any babies are born although usually the nipples become more red and prominent within 36 hours of conception.  For syrians, the gestation is 16 days.  For dwarf hamsters, the gestation is 18-21 days.
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