Introduction to Hamsters
Hamsters in the wild are desert creatures from Syria and live in burrows. Apparently, almost all the hamsters sold in the US as pets are descended from one family of hamsters captured in the 1930's, but there are other lines of hamsters available known as Siberian, Chinese, European, and American.
Hamsters are fun because you can make intriguing habitats for them with lots of tunnels and burrows and exercise wheels and so forth. The worst thing about these little creatures, though, is that they have fairly short life spans of about 2 years.
Hamsters are solitary creatures and usually do best when housed alone or small numbers if the cage is big. Speaking of cages, be sure it is chew proof.
Many vets have had people bring in hamsters that they thought were very sick or even dead, when all that was wrong was that the little guys were HIBERNATING!
They do this if the environment gets too cold. Ideal temperature for these creatures is between 65 and 75 F (just like us)
Another common problem we vets see in hamsters are impacted cheek pouches or cheek abscess’. We’ll get to more veterinary problems and comments later, but in the meantime, here’s some basic info:
Average weights are 85-150 grams with the FEMALE more likely to be larger! Maybe that’s why hamsters aren’t typically Muslim Fundamentalists, even though they’re from Syria.
Normal body temp is 99-101 F
Resp rate ranges from 34-150
Heart rate ranges from 250-500
Hamsters in the wild are omnivores. The best diet for pets, though, are the commercial hamster pellets although it’s okay and appreciated by the hamster is you supplement with fruits, nuts, and cereal. Hamsters like to bury or hoard food, so don’t supplement with large quantities of things that might go “bad”.
Puberty is at just 10 weeks of age
Gestation is just 15 days plus or minus one day
Litter size is up to 10
Babies need to nurse for about 3 weeks
When females are in heat, they have a lot of white vaginal discharge and like cats will keep coming into heat until bred. Hamsters are so called seasonally estrus, but all that means is that they are MORE LIKELY to go into heat during the Spring than at other times of the year.
Veterinary Problems we frequently see in hamsters are similar to those we see in Guinea Pigs except that instead of vitamin C deficiencies, we see vitamin E deficiencies. Other problems include skin abscess’s , mange, and rashes. Overgrown front teeth that need to be trimmed, and bladder infections and stones.
Health Problems and their treatment
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