Hamsters and guinea pigs are relatively low maintenance pets that make a great choice for new pet owners. The two animals have several fundamental differences, though. Knowing what these differences are will help you make the right choice when choosing your pet.
Wild hamsters live across large areas of Europe and Asia, notably in Syria, China and Russia, which are the ancestral homes of most hamsters kept today as pets. These little rodents prefer dry, warm climates.
Guinea pigs are native to the mountainous regions of South America – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. However, they belong to the same broad family as hamsters – the rodents. This kinship is a bit misleading, though, as the animals have distinctly different needs and dietary requirements.
Hamster vs Guinea Pig
While these two critters do have things in common, their different habitats and ways of life mean that a hamster’s home setup is very different from that of a guinea pig.
One major thing that differentiates hamsters and guinea pigs is lifespan. Hamsters have shorter lifespans than guinea pigs, generally living for 2 to 4 years. This is because they are small and have metabolisms that work much faster than their guinea pig cousins. Guineas generally live from 5 to 8 years, with some individuals reaching 10 years.
Another key difference between the two is their size. As we mentioned above, hamsters are much smaller than guinea pigs, with the average size being in the region of 5-15cm. Even the smallest guinea pigs are larger than the biggest hamsters, with the average guinea being 20-30cm long. This means that guinea pigs need larger enclosures.
While the size of the animal and its enclosure needs to be considered, these factors don’t have a huge impact on general pet care. The following differences are the ones that need to influence your decision.
The four main differences between hamsters and guinea pigs
1. Sleeping patterns
This is possibly the biggest difference between the two species. Hamsters are generally nocturnal creatures, which means they prefer the nightlife. Many hamster owners will be able to tell you how their hamster starts running in its squeaky wheel at 1am!
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are mostly active during the day, taking naps whenever they feel the need. Rather than sleeping for one long spell each day, they recharge their batteries whenever they feel like it. They do tend to sleep more during the night, though.
2. Social needs
Hamsters and guinea pigs have completely different social needs. In the wild, guinea pigs live in groups of three to ten individuals. They have evolved to be social animals and will soon become sad and stressed if they are denied this interaction. Lonely guinea pigs have even been known to die when left in isolation for too long.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that owners should keep at least two guinea pigs. Keeping just one can work as long as someone is willing and able to step in and do the socializing. Because of their need to be with other animals, guinea pigs will be much more willing than hamsters to spend time, play and interact with humans. This factor – and their handy habit of sleeping at night – can make them the superior choice for children who want to play with their pets.
Hamsters are loners. That, at least, is the case with the Syrian or Golden hamster, which is by far the most popular pet hamster species. While they can live with companions, the other hamster species are perfectly happy – and may in fact be even happier – living on their own. Many hamsters that are kept together can become aggressive towards one another, especially if two males are being kept in close quarters.
If looked after properly and hand-tamed from an early age, hamsters will form a bond with their owners and will be glad to spend time with them. An unsocialized hamster will often bite, though, and this is another off-putting thing for children.
The dietary requirements of hamsters and guinea pigs are probably the most significant difference between the two species. Hamsters are omnivorous and will eat pretty much anything they can find. They famously store food in their cheeks for later, making their cute faces puff up, almost doubling the animal’s size.
The easiest option for feeding a hamster is to buy a pre-made food mix that has all the things they need, rather than sourcing your own insects and extra protein to supplement the plants and vegetables in their diets. You can feed your hamster fresh fruit and vegetables, as long as they are washed, and as long as they don’t completely replace the hamster mix. Grains and cereals make a good addition to their diets, too. Also, be sure to provide your hamster with something to chew on, such as a piece of wood or some straw, as this helps keep their teeth in check.
Unlike hamsters, guinea pigs are vegetarian. In the wild, they eat fruits, plant roots and – most importantly – lots of high-fibre grasses. As with hamsters, domestic guinea pigs should be fed a specially made food mix. However, these often have lots of carbohydrates and not enough fibre. For this reason, your guinea pigs will also need lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, grass and hay alongside their food mixes. Hay is crucial for keeping the guinea pigs’ teeth in check, and it also ensures a healthy balance in the stomach bacteria the animals need for digesting their food efficiently.
Hamsters are always kept indoors, as they need to be kept somewhere consistently warm. Being small creatures, they don’t need a huge amount of living space, and an enclosure such as the Qute can be incorporated into a room as an attractive part of the furniture as long as they are taken out of the cage for daily exercise and play.
Guinea pigs, in contrast, need a larger hutch and a run, as they are not only bigger than hamsters but need to be kept in groups. Some are kept indoors throughout the year, but if you have space for a guinea pig run in the garden, the animals will love it, and children will be able to interact with their pets in the most effective way.
The upshot here is that a hamster can be easily accommodated if you only have a small indoor space, but a guinea pig can’t.
Overall, both hamsters and guinea pigs make great pets, and both are low maintenance. The key differences between the two are size, lifespan and diet. When choosing which of these wonderful little animals to keep, it mainly boils down to personal preference. As long as you care for them properly, they will soon form a close bond with you.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Some animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are herbivores. Others, like hamsters, are omnivorous. Finally, there are also carnivores like cats that cannot survive without meat.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. However, this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs. Also, a low-fat/high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by veggie equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimizing the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you will get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favorites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. Most hamster owners give them store food, you don’t always know what’s in it. However, hamsters, like rats and mice, can do without meat.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivorous. They have sensitive stomachs and need a quality pellet mixture. Too much fresh produce can harm their digestive system.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Be careful, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your vegetable patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Parakeets and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
This entry was posted in Birds
Photo by Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash
When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.
Keeping chickens with dogs
If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behavior is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop.
The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.
Teaching dogs to get along with chickens
You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behavior you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance.
One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave in to their hunting instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens.
There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get along, but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case.
Keeping chickens with cats
Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry, and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers.
Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbor’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.
Keeping chickens with guinea pigs
You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your backyard or garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them.
Keeping chickens with rabbits
Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.
Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.
Photo by JackieLou DL from Pixabay
Having a large and secure run/enclosure will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximize the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbors.
Chickens and other pets
Chickens can also mix happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.
Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.
By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your pet family happy!
Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash
This entry was posted in Budgies
With World Hamster Day upon us on April 12th, what better time to celebrate these furry favorites? There are many reasons why so many people decide to get a hamster. Here are 10 of them:
1. Hamsters are friendly!
Golden hamsters, once they have been successfully hand-tamed, form strong bonds with their owners. Although they don’t enjoy the company of other hamsters, they rely on their owners for company and interaction. Chinese hamsters can become very fond of their owners too, although they can also thrive in groups (unlike the Golden). The relatively large size of the Golden hamster makes it easier to handle than the smaller breeds, too.
2. Hamsters are easy to look after
A pet hamster pretty much looks after itself during its nocturnal adventures, and in terms of equipment, all it needs is a suitable cage with a few toys.
3. Feeding hamsters is not expensive
Although a hamster stuffs all the food you give it into its cheek pouches, this doesn’t Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels mean they’re greedy!
The hamster simply hoards the food in its favorite corner and doesn’t actually eat very much on any given day. Your bag of dried food will last several weeks, especially when supplemented with a few slices of fresh fruit and veggies.
4. Hamsters are healthy!
These little rodents are generally healthy during their short lives, as long as they are kept in a suitable cage and fed a nutritious diet. The biggest hazard they face is sustaining injuries through falling, so they need to be handled with care.
5. Hamsters love to Explore
Endlessly inquisitive, hamsters love getting out and about in a hamster ball. If you can set up a secure enclosure, they will love exploring its every nook and cranny. Leave some treats hidden in the enclosure or stuffed into wicker balls, and the hamster will have a great time tracking them down and rooting them out. They also love playing on ladders or in runs.
6. Hamsters Don’t Need Intensive Training!
Hand-taming a hamster is the beginning and end of the necessary training. There’s no pressure to teach obedience tricks or toilet training, making them a very low-maintenance pet.
7. Hamsters Don’t Take Up Much Space
These are small mammals, making them suitable even for small flats.
8. Hamsters Are Very Clean
Unlike most rodents, hamsters choose one spot in their cage for the toilet, making them very easy to clean out. They are also scrupulously clean themselves, forever fussing with their fur. This means their human friends don’t have to do any of the pet washing.
9. Hamsters are Calming
Nothing seems to ruffle a hamster. No woofing, no running away in a panic. They scurry around content and are the most relaxing things to watch outside of a peaceful fish tank!
10. Hamsters Don’t Shed Fur
Many people with allergies say that hamsters cause them no problems. This is linked to the fact that they don’t send tiny bits of fur drifting through the air or sticking to carpets. A hamster is nothing to be sneezed at!
12 April – World Hamster Day
On 12 April, hamster owners all over the world celebrate their furry friends. They are one of the most popular pets in the world, and yet they have only been kept as pets for the last 90 years or so.
The story of pet hamsters begins on 12 April 1930, when Israel Aharoni, a zoologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, captured a female Golden (or Syrian) hamster and her litter in Aleppo, Syria. Little did he know that this female would be the source of ALL pet Golden hamsters!
The hamsters were kept as laboratory animals, but escapees became the source of most of the wild Syrian hamsters in Israel today. Descendants of Aharoni’s captive hamsters were shipped to Britain in 1931, and the Zoological Society of London acquired a pair in 1932.
This pioneering pair were the Adam and Eve of British hamsters – in 1937, descendants of these pioneering rodents were given to private breeders, and these were the source of all the Golden hamsters in the British pet trade. If you own one, it’s 99,9% certain that its ancestry goes back to those London Zoo hamsters.
Mitochondrial DNA studies have confirmed that all domestic golden hamsters in the UK and the USA are descended from a single animal – the one captured in 1930 by Israel Aharoni.
That international brotherhood and sisterhood of hamsters is certainly something worth celebrating!
Photo by Silje Roseneng on Unsplash
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Giving your pet hamster a daily health check will enable you to spot common health problems before they become serious. A visual check will tell you if there are any cuts, limps, or problems with the hamster’s eyes, ears, teeth, and nails. You will also be able to spot other potential problems such as runny droppings or blood in the urine. Each time you handle your pet, you can feel for lumps and bumps, too.
In general, hamsters are healthy little animals, but it is important to be aware of some of the more common problems.
Hamsters can develop infections if they have cut themselves, and abscesses may form. A hamster who chews the bars of the cage constantly may develop an abscess in the mouth, for example.
Abscesses need to be treated by a vet.
Hamsters sometimes develop colds, and can catch the same common cold virus as humans. This is an illness you might hear before you actually see, as the hamster will usually develop a wheeze and a cough along with a runny nose.
Colds pass quickly, but it advisable to take the hamster to a vet, as the symptoms may be the result of a respiratory infection or allergy.
Small cuts can be cleaned with a cloth and lukewarm water. The main task is to find out how the hamster cut itself, and to minimize the danger of repeated injury. There may have been a fight, or the hamster may have fallen after climbing.
If the cut looks bad, or if there is an associated limp, take the hamster to the vet for an assessment.
Ear infections can cause hamsters to run in circles aimlessly. The condition is distressing, but rarely fatal.
A vet can prescribe a medicine that will help clear the ear infection, and can also check to ensure that there is not a more serious brain-related problem.
Dry ears are a common problem. The symptoms are flaky skin and lots of ear-scratching.
Rubbing a little petroleum jelly onto the affected area will help treat dry ears.
Eyelid problems, protruding eyes or weeping, infected “sticky” eyes are all possible health problems, and have various causes.
A vet will be able to advise you on the type, cause, and treatment of the eye problem. If one of the eyes is simply gummed up, dabbing it with warm water will help clear the sticky stuff. This is a fairly common issue in older hamsters.
A physical examination, carried out gently when you are handling your pet, will be able to detect lumps and bumps. Most of these will be benign swellings, but there are more serious conditions including testicular cancer and mastitis.
Take the hamster to a vet if it develops lumps.
This skin condition is caused by skin-burrowing mites, and the presence of scabs, dry skin and matted hair are signs of infestation.
A vet will be able to prescribe a treatment for mange mites and other parasites, and you will find some handy remedies in pet shops too.
If your hamster seems to be unsteady on its feet or constantly stumbling, it could be due to a leg injury, or it could be the effects of a stroke. One of the symptoms of the latter is a constant swaying motion, even when the hamster is at rest.
There is no treatment for strokes, but most of them are mild. You simply need to keep your pet comfortable, with plenty of food and water, and remove obstacles such as hamster wheels from the cage.
A sudden loss of appetite in a hamster may indicate a tooth or other oral problem. Damaged or overgrown teeth make it difficult for the animal to eat. A visual check will soon reveal if there is a tooth issue.
The hamster will need to have its teeth altered by a vet to enable it to eat properly.
If you spot blood on your hamster’s bedding, it could be due to an injury, a burst abscess, or a urinary infection. An examination of the hamster’s bedding will tell you if it is the latter problem. A change in urine color, or a lack of urine, indicate health issues too.
Physically examine your pet: a bloated stomach is a sign of bladder stones, which block the urinary system and can cause blood to appear in the urine. A trip to the vet is essential, as this condition is painful and can prove fatal.
Wet tail is a nasty form of bacterial diarrhea, and tends to kill hamsters very quickly. The signs of this disease are wet and feces-soaked fur around the tail.
Isolate your pet, provide lots of water (as the diarrhea will have dehydrated the hamster), and take it the vet. Antibiotics can sometimes save the animal’s life.
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Save 15% on the best selling Qute Hamster and Gerbil Cage with storage this weekend. This stylish and modern cage is sure to be a hit with both pets and owners!
The levelled design will encourage natural nesting and burrowing instincts, it is super simple to keep clean and hygienic, extremely secure, and thanks to the removable bedding tray it will be easier than ever to spend quality time with your pets. The convenient storage section under the cage is perfect for keeping all your pets things in one place, making keeping hamsters or gerbils easier and more fun than ever!
Use promo code SEIZE15 to get 15% off all Qute cages with storage until Monday evening!
Terms and conditions
Promotion of 15% off Qute with storage runs from 10/08/20 – midnight 10/12/20. Use promo code SEIZE15 at checkout. Includes all colors of Qute Hamster and Gerbil Cage with storage. All Qutes without storage are excluded. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts, or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Gerbils
There are five hamster species commonly kept as pets. They are all similar in their needs, but with one or two important differences between species.
The most familiar is the Golden, or Syrian hamster, which is also the largest of the five. The others are all in the group known as Dwarf hamsters – Campbell’s, Roborovski, Chinese and Winter White.
Looking After a Golden Hamster
An estimated 75% of pet hamsters are Syrians, largely because they have been popular for many years, and are therefore widely available. This species 6–7 inches long, and is relatively slow moving (compared to the much nippier Dwarf species). This makes them easy to handle, and that is one of the keys to their popularity. A nervous owner will find handling very easy (i.e. the hamster is not going to run up your sleeve or make a bolt for the door before you can stop it!)
The Golden is a loner, and that means its owner will be its only companion – which is great for forming owner–pet bonds. The hamster will usually live for 2 to 2 ½ years, and can be hand-tamed from a very early age, so you will usually have a long and satisfying friendship with these little bundles of fun.
There are different types of Golden hamster. One of the most popular is the long-haired ‘Teddy Bear’. There are also different color varieties, with mixtures of gold, brown, russet, yellow, grey, black, and white.
IDEAL FOR: first time hamster owners looking for a single, easy-going pet that is easy to handle.
Looking After a Chinese Hamster
The Chinese – also known as the Striped, Grey or Rat-tailed – is the least common of the hamsters in the pet trade, although its popularity is growing all the time. There is a lot to love in these little characters – they are very gentle, and once hand-tamed they will love their daily human interaction.
This species grows to a length of between 4–5 inches and, and is dark grey with a darker stripe running down the back. It has a long tail, by hamster standards, hence the ‘Rat-tailed’ tag label. It tends to live a little longer than the Golden hamster, with a lifespan of 2 ½ to 3 years, and like the Golden it likes to live alone. This makes it bond very easily with a human companion.
IDEAL FOR: first time owners, or owners looking for something a little less common than the Golden, but with a similar personality.
Looking After a Roborovski Hamster
This is a lively little pet, and likes to live with at least one other fellow Roborovski – in a same-sex pair or small group. Single animals will do just fine, though, as long as they get lots of human company and handling. They are 10 cm (4 inches) long, and are endlessly curious about the world around them. When handling, you need to be alert, as these are fast movers.
Roborovskis are long-lived, by hamster standards, generally lasting between 3 and 3 ½ years. Being keen climbers and explorers, they will need a cage large enough to accommodate their endless expeditions, so space is sometimes an issue for would-be owners. They also have a rather strong smell, so they need cleaning out very regularly.
IDEAL FOR: owners who want to keep more than one hamster at a time, and have space for a larger cage.
Looking After a Winter White Hamster
This species is also called the Siberian, due to its wonderful color change during the Winter. It is grey-brown for much of the year, with a handsome black stripe down its back. In Winter the fur becomes white, but the black stripe remains.
This little creature reaches just over 4 inches in length, and can live alone very happily, making it a good pet for someone who has lots of time to handle and bond with their pet, and who is not nervous handling a fast-moving, small animal. Winter Whites only live 1 ½ to 2 years, and this makes them less popular than some of the other species.
IDEAL FOR: hamster lovers looking for a change from the commoner species, and who cannot wait to see that wonderful change to wintry white!
Looking After a Campbell’s Hamster
This is another short-lived hamster, with a lifespan of 1 ½ to 2 years. They are usually kept in same-sex pairs or groups, but can thrive alone as long as they get a lot of handling and attention from their owner. Their small size makes them tricky to handle, being both swift and fragile, so they are not suitable for young or nervous owners.
IDEAL FOR: owners who want to keep a group of hamsters together in a larger cage.
This entry was posted in Hamsters
All hamsters have cheek pouches. These expandable parts of the oral mucosa resemble small deflated balloons that can be filled with food, sometimes all the way back to the hip bone.
The main purpose of the pouches is to carry food from the source back to the burrow. This doesn’t only mean that the hamster can eat their food in peace, but also that they limit the number of times they have to leave the safety of their home. Hamsters in the wild are prey animals that have to eat every two hours, and if they had to return to the nest every time they found a seed or nut, they would potentially expose the position of the nest to predators. Instead they go out to collect food in the evening, and thanks to their pouches they only need to go once or maybe twice.
Hamsters can both eat and run with their cheeks full. They can stuff the cheeks with up to 20% of their body weight, but as the cheeks are extremely elastic and stay in place along the shoulders, they don’t noticeably affect the speed of the hamster or how far they can travel.
To keep the food fresh and dry during foraging trips, the hamster’s mouth doesn’t release any saliva into the pouches.
Female hamsters in the wild occasionally carry or hide their babies in the cheek pouches if the nest has to be evacuated for some reason. This is however probably not something you will see among pet hamsters.
In the wild hamsters will regularly sort through their stash and throw away food that has gone off. Again, you will probably not see this behaviour with a pet hamster, as they don’t have to forage for their food in the same way. If you give your hamster fresh fruit and veg, it is therefore important that you check if they have been storing these somewhere in the cage, and remove them before they go mouldy.
Hamsters do not only carry food in their pouches, they can also bring bedding or building material back to the burrow for nesting or decorating.
Some hamsters have a favorite cheek pouch that they will fill before the other one, whereas others always go for equal amounts in both.
Pet hamsters can sometimes experience problems with their cheek pouches, including abscesses, infections and tumours, so it’s important that owners keep an eye out and carry out regular health checks. The only thing you as an owner can do to avoid these problems is to stay away from sharp or sticky food that might get stuck in the cheeks or cause cuts, as well as contact your vet if you do notice something that doesn’t seem right.
This entry was posted in Hamsters
All hamster owners know that they make great pets! They are cute and cuddly, but also very independent and clever. Whether you’re a beginner or a long term hamster fan there is always more to learn about these amazing critters! That’s why we’ve put together this Best of Hamsters, a few blog blogs with more information and advice, perfect for teaching your children about their pet, as well as some DIY fun you can do together!
Interesting Facts About Hamsters
Hamsters are rodents from the subfamily Cricetinae. They were brought to the United States from Syria in 1936. There are approximately… Read more
How to Understand Your Hamster’s Body Language
Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can… Read more
Want to Teach your Hamster Tricks? Here are our Best Tips!
Someone once said that you can train anything that has a brain that connects to a stomach, and that goes for hamsters as well. They are actually very clever little creatures and probably capable of more than you think – like learning tricks for example! Training your hamster is a… Read more
Get Creative – Make a Hamster Maze
Hamsters love to play and explore! There are many toys and treats available to buy for your furry friend, but wouldn’t it be great to design and construct an exciting maze for them? They are… Read more
Download this cute colouring page and print for the whole family to enjoy! Send us your finished images, we would love to see them!
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Choosing a small pet is a big decision. Although their needs differ, hamsters and guinea pigs require equal amounts of planning. Where will the enclosure go? Is there enough space? Who is going to carry out the daily feeding and weekly cleaning? Can you afford all the equipment – and all the food the pets will nibble through?
Small mammals of the rodent and rabbit families may all look cute, fluffy and vaguely similar, but there are important differences in the needs and personalities of each species. There are two broad groups – animals that spend all their time indoors, such as hamsters; and those that spend part of their time outdoors and therefore need runs and tunnels, such as the guinea pig.
Hamster keeping – simple, but brief
There’s no doubt that hamsters suit people who want a pet that can pretty much look after itself. But it’s important to have some kind of interaction with your pet, otherwise there’s little point in having it in the house in the first place.
The defining feature of the hamster is its nocturnal lifestyle. This means hamster owners only get to interact with their furry friends in the evening, or early in the morning. Waking them up in the daytime will only make them confused and irritable.
These night-time habits mean that bedrooms are not the ideal location for a hamster cage. Busy little hamster feet, squeaky hamster wheels, rattling water bottles and gnawing rodent teeth are the kinds of sounds guaranteed to disturb a good night’s sleep. This is an important consideration for a child – if the hamster cage is not going to be in the bedroom, will it still be appreciated and looked after?
The answer might still be yes, if the kids are happy to interact with the hamster just before bedtime. The animals can be hand-tamed, and perhaps half an hour each day is exactly what the children are looking for. They can replenish the food and water each morning before school while the hamster settles in for another day’s deep sleep.
But if your kids want a pet who sticks around during the day, a hamster isn’t the best choice. With a lifespan of just two years, their pet won’t be around for very long, and children may feel they hardly had time to get to know their little friend.
Guinea pigs – garden lovers
Guinea pigs require lots more attention than hamsters, and that’s what a lot of pet owners are looking for. Getting to know a pet GP takes time, as they are nervous little creatures, but once you’ve gained their trust, you have a friend for life.
Children will have a real sense of being part of the animals’ community. There’s a lot to be done in GP upkeep, including replenishing hay – lots and lots of it – and chopping up veg for the food bowl. Hutches, runs and tunnels need weekly maintenance. If you have a good tunnel system such as the Zippi as part of your set up, the animals can freely move between their hutch and one or several runs or playpens at their own will. Watching the animals in action will give everyone hours of fun.
A guinea pig that is well taken care of can easily live for five to eight years, so it’s a long term commitment that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
Guinea pigs are active in the day time, so their waking, eating and sleeping patterns match those of their human neighbours.
10 questions to decide: Hamster or Guinea Pig?
Still undecided? Answer the following questions, and then total up your score, H vs. GP. The higher number reveals the ideal pet choice for you!
1. Is someone around during the day to look after the pets?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
2. Is the pet for a child?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
3. Do you have some space in the garden for an enclosure or run?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
4. Does anyone in the household have a pet allergy? (This may mean keeping the pets outdoors)
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – Score 1 GP and 1 H
5. Do you want to keep just one pet?
Yes – score 1 H
No – score 1 GP
6. Is someone prepared to prepare fresh veg each day for the pet?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
7. Do you only have room for a small cage?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
8. Is the pet owner ‘late to bed, late to rise’?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 GP and 1 H
9. Is the cage within earshot of your bedroom?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No score 1 H and 1 GP
10. Are you looking for a pet as a long-term companion?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
More GPs than Hs, or the other way round? Either way, you will hopefully now have a firmer idea of which pet will best suit you and your household.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Transform your hamster’s home this autumn, and upgrade to the Qute Hamster & Gerbil Cage from Omlet, now with free delivery for a limited time only. Use code SUPERQUTE to claim this special offer!
Easy to clean, secure and stylish, the Qute Cage has a clear and removable bedding tray which makes it easier to handle and interact with your hamster or gerbils. Available in white, walnut or birch effect, this luxury hamster house also features an optional storage section below for keeping all your hamster’s feed and bedding tidily in one place.
The Qute Hamster & Gerbil Cage is a modern and practical upgrade from traditional small pet cages, which will seamlessly fit in your home like a contemporary piece of furniture. If you have been looking to have hamsters but have been put off by the clunky, plastic cages found in pet stores – look no further than the Omlet Qute!
Available now from $99, with FREE delivery until midnight on Monday. Use promo code SUPERQUTE.
Terms & conditions
Free delivery promotion is only valid from 10/25/19 – midnight on 10/28/19. For free delivery use promo code SUPERQUTE. This offer is only available on Qute Hamster & Gerbil Cages. Offer applies to Standard Delivery Service only. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders shipped to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, USA and Spain. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Gerbils
Hamsters love to play and explore! There are many toys and treats available to buy for your furry friend, but wouldn’t it be great to design and construct an exciting maze for them? They are easy and fun to make and will provide hours of fun!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A shallow box, something like a vegetable box from a supermarket or an old suitcase.
- Thin cardboard to make the walls, tunnels and other parts of the maze.
- Non toxic glue – we used a glue gun.
Now for the fun part!
Create walls, tunnels, bridges, caves and more, securing them to your box using non toxic glue. The more things in the maze, the better!
We added a little teepee as a finish point, and placed a treat inside for our hamster to find.
Not all routes need to lead to the teepee. Some paths could lead to a dead end, or you could give your hamster an option of two different tunnels to go through, leading to two different parts of the maze. The green tunnel or the yellow tunnel…which will your hamster choose?
Your hamsters will more than likely try to climb out of their maze from time to time so make sure you keep a close eye on them while they are having fun exploring!
Grab some card, glue and a box and get creative!
We’d love to see photos of the mazes that you produce, please send them to email@example.com and we will share our favorites!
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Have you ever checked on your hamster to find someone has accidentally left the cage door open and your furry friend has decided to go on a little adventure…?
Try and stay calm, because even though they are tiny little things they aren’t as hard to find as you might think!
Follow our top tips and we hope you’ll be reunited in no time!
1 – Don’t look for them during the day!
Hamsters are nocturnal, so they have more than likely found a comfy corner to sleep in during the day. It’s best to try and track them down at night when they are off exploring their new surroundings!
2 – They can’t resist a treat!
Leave their favourite treats in corners of the room (or rooms) where you think your hamster may be and check to see if any gets eaten. Bananas are a great treat to try and tempt them with.
3 – Turn the lights off
Hamsters are more likely to move from their hiding place if the room is dark and quiet. Try sitting in a dark room and listen out for them!
4 – Become a secret agent and look for paw prints
Try sprinkling some flour across doorways and in front of suspected hiding spots and check for little footprints!
5 – Stop and listen
If you suspect they are hiding in a room, turn off the tv and listen. You may be able to hear the pitter patter of their tiny feet on the wooden floor, or a snuffle or squeak that will help you locate them.
6 – Finding their own way home
Sometimes hamsters will come back to their cage on their own, so leave their cage on the floor with the door open, with a fresh supply of food, and the wanderer may return. Eventually they will get hungry and appear when you least expect it!
To stop hamsters escaping, make sure they cages are secure at all times. The Qute hamster cage is the ideal alternative when choosing a safe and secure home for your furry friend. Find out more here.
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can we tell our hamster is happy too, or not? Like all animals, hamsters have the ability to communicate with one another and with their owners. They use body language much like we do and can display a range of emotions that include being happy, afraid, threatened, curious, startled, angry and many other emotions.
Stretching and yawning: yawning is often a sign your hamster is feeling comfortable and relaxed, rather than being very sleepy. If your hamster stretches as he yawns, this is even more proof that he is a very relaxed hamster.
Freezing: this involves your hamster staying in one position, sometimes for a few minutes. Its ears are straight up and he is completely stiff to the touch. There are lots of potential reasons for hamsters to stop moving temporarily: they can freeze both out of fear and surprise, or they can pause their movement so that they can listen more carefully to something that they’re unsure about.
Sitting up on back legs, ears forward: something has captured his attention. Your hamster is standing on its hind legs to see and hear better.
Grooming: hamsters spend a large amount of their time grooming themselves. When a hamster grooms itself, washing its feet, hands and fur, it means that he is feeling secure and happy.
Chewing: if your hamster keeps biting the bars of its cage, then there may be some things that you need to do to improve your pet’s life. Gnawing on the bars of the cage can indicate one of a number of things, including boredom, a lack of space, or overgrown teeth.
Biting: hamsters can bite when they’re scared, when they’re stressed, or when they’re confused. if your hamster bites you, then there’s almost certainly a reason for it. Maybe your hamster is in pain, or simply uncertain how to react to you. Never get angry at your hamster but try to understand the reason behind his behavior.
Ears folded back, eyes half closed: your hamster has just woken up and is still sleepy. It is best not to take out your hamster out of its cage until it has woken up fully.
Running: hamsters are born to run. In their natural habitat they can run up to 5 miles per night! It’s therefore important that hamsters kept as pets have the opportunity to run, usually provided by a wheel. Hyperactivity and repetitive behavior, on the other hand, can also be a sign of stress. A stressed hamster will move constantly, run on his wheels quickly, try and climb his cage and appears more nervous and alert than usual.
All hamsters will have their own personalities. Spend time watching your hamster and get to know his personality and mannerisms. As you get to know your pet, you’ll be able to recognize when they are their usual selves, and when they are not. Observing your hamster’s body language is a great way to be more “in tune” with the needs of your pet, which can be crucial to their health and well being. Visit our extensive hamster guide at the bottom of this page for more information about hamster and tips on how to keep them healthy and happy.
This entry was posted in Hamsters
Someone once said that you can train anything that has a brain that connects to a stomach, and that goes for hamsters as well. They are actually very clever little creatures and probably capable of more than you think – like learning tricks for example!
Training your hamster is a wonderful way to vary your daily playtime and spend time together, and it’s something that both stimulates your pet mentally and creates a strong bond between the two of you. It should be said though that this training takes a lot of time and patience, and every hamster is different, so there’s never a guarantee that your hamster will learn these specific tricks, or any tricks at all.
As with most pets there are advantages of getting a young hamster when it comes to training and getting the hamster used to your and your family, as they have not yet developed habits and routines that can be difficult to break. This is not to say you can’t teach an old hamster new tricks, but it will take much longer to train him or her.
The most important thing is that your hamster feels comfortable around you, and that your smell and your voice has a positive association. Try to always stay calm around your hamster, and avoid raising your voice, as that can cause unnecessary stress. Spend a good few weeks together with your hamster before you move on to tricks, so you know that you can trust each other!
Now you need treats. Maybe you already know what your hamster’s favorite is, but if you don’t, we recommend sunflower seeds. They are however very fatty, so make sure that you limit the intake to training sessions or special occasions. You can also try with small pieces of chopped vegetables like carrots or broccoli.
Start with an easy trick, a good first one is ”Stand”. Hold the treat in front of the hamster just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. As you do this, use your command ”Stand”. Your hamster will instinctively stand up to get closer to the treat.When the hamster stands, give the treat and verbal praise. Only give the treat if the hamster stands, as they otherwise won’t understand why they are being rewarded. If you hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Try again a bit later.Repeat this a few times a day for a week or two, until your hamster stands even when you don’t have a treat in your hand. Stick to one command at the time, and still always reward the hamster for standing.
Now you can move on to another trick. Use the ”stand” command, and then move the treat up and forward and say ”jump”. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat.If your hamster is happy to jump you can add a hoop into the mix. Hold some sort of hoop between the hamster and a treat, so that they have to move through the hoop to get to it. As they go though, say ”hoop” or ”jump through the hoop”. Start with the hoop touching the ground, and then gradually lift it if you hamster seems to enjoy the game.
- ROLL OVER
Another fun and easy trick is ”roll over”. All you need to do is to carefully place the seed on your hamster’s back and ask him or her to roll over. If they do it, reward with the seed. After a while the hamster will roll over even without you putting the seed on their back.
Be consistent with the training, and let it take time, but it doesn’t hurt to shake up the routine every now and then to keep things interesting. Some tricks are easier than others, and all hamsters are different, so be patient and do not push your pet or get frustrated if it’s taking longer than you expected.
If both you and your hamster enjoy the training, there is really no limit as to how much you can teach your pet. You can use toys or build obstacle courses; make up the tricks as you go along and show off to friends and family!
Check out Omlet’s range of awesome Hamster houses!
This entry was posted in Hamsters
The school summer holidays are in full swing and there’s no better time to do some baking with the kids! Ruby and Harry decided they would like to make some treats for their Syrian Hamster called Ginny!!
So here’s a simple recipe to make some yummy Crunchy Honey Delights!
Cheerios (sugar-free kind)
1. Add sesame seeds and oats into a bowl
2. Crush the Cheerios in a small bag, don’t crush them into dust, just small pieces
3. Add the Cheerios to the sesame seeds and oats and mix together
4. Drizzle honey over the mixture and coat well
5. Use your fingers to mold the mixture into small balls that your hamster can hold,
then put them on a baking tray and into the fridge for 15 minutes
6. Heat your oven to 370 degrees farenheit and bake treats for 8-10 minutes and then let them cool completely
7. It’s time for the taste test….. does Ginny like the new treats….?
8. Ginny loved the Crunchy Honey Delights!
Happy Baking and remember to only give your Hamster little treats once or twice a week!
Check out the Qute Hamster House from $99.00.
This entry was posted in Hamsters