Hamster care is essential to keeping your hamster healthy.

Hamsters are small nocturnal rodents. They love to hoard food in their cheeks and also love to chew! They are pretty good at escaping so make sure you have a very secure cage. There are many different species of hamsters with Syrian hamsters, also known as golden or teddy bear hamsters, being the most common ones kept as pets.

Download the Hamster Care Guide.

When Should I Bring My Sick Hamster to the Vet?

  • Wet or soiled tail
  • Blood in the urine or straining to urinate
  • Sneezing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sitting hunched or lethargic
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Diarrhea
  • Actively bleeding
  • Unresponsive, unconscious or limp
  • Seizures

Hamster Health Care

  • Hamsters by nature hide symptoms and signs of illnesses making early detection of disease difficult.
  • New patient exams and yearly examinations are therefore strongly recommended to help your hamster live a long and happy life.
  • If you notice any changes in your hamster’s behavior, appetite or bowel movements we would recommend contacting us immediately.

Hamster Housing


  • Provide the largest cage possible to allow your hamster ample space to move around.
  • Wire cages with plastic bottoms are ideal for hamsters as they provide good ventilation.


  • Provide hiding boxes in the cage such as paper towel rolls and cardboard boxes with bedding or hay in the bottom for your hamster to nest in.
  • Always use unscented bedding and avoid cedar and pine shavings – strongly smelling bedding can cause irritation to the nose and lungs and contribute to respiratory disease.
  • CareFresh or recycled newspaper beddings (eg Yesterday’s News) are recommended as they are good absorbable unscented materials.
  • Ensure to clean the bedding regularly – spot cleans the bedding daily and changes all the bedding 2-3 times a week.

Hamster Nutrition

Always have fresh water available via a drinking bottle or bowl.


  • Commercial hamster diets such as Oxbow Essentials Hamster and Gerbil Food should make up the majority of the diet.
  • They can also be too high in fats leading to excessive weight gain.
  • Avoid pellets that are sold as “mixes” containing seeds, fruits or nuts – your hamster may pick out their favorite food and often not obtain the balanced diet they need.


  • Grass hay such as timothy, orchard, oat or botanical hay can always be available to your hamster.
  • Timothy hay tunnels can also provide great enrichment and enjoyment to your hamster.


  • Should be given sparingly to your hamster.
  • Oxbow Animal Health has a variety of healthy treats that can be given.
  • Small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables can be used as treats.
  • Be consistent with treats and introduce new ones slowly to prevent stomach upset.

Hamster Behavior

  • Most hamsters need to be housed alone as they tend to fight when together.
  • If housed in pairs they will need to be paired before puberty to try to prevent fighting.
  • Alternatively, males can be neutered to prevent aggression and unwanted breeding.
  • Provide a running wheel with a solid floor.
  • Provide plenty of objects to chew on such as hay, paper towel rolls, and cardboard boxes.