10 mistakes new hamster owners make

A common mistake - letting a hamster get too fat!

Get our top hamster tips to keep your hamster happy!

Ideally, a new hamster owner should thoroughly research hamster care before buying their pet. Unfortunately, not everybody does this.

Hamsters are often impulse buys – purchased at short notice with little or no planning – or surprise gifts. This leads to new hamster owners who don’t know the key dos and don’ts of hamster care.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not something to be ashamed of. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes and become better hamster owners over time.

This means learning not just from our own mistakes, but from other people’s mistakes too. And that’s why we’ve put this list of mistakes and top hamster tips together: to help new hamster owners learn from other people’s mistakes.

So, here, in no particular order, are 10 mistakes new hamster owners make… and our top hamster tips to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Keeping males and females together… when you don’t want babies!

Hamsters breed quite easily! If you add a male and a female to a cage then don’t be surprised if you notice signs of pregnancy in the female hamster very soon!

Plus, female hamsters have been known to give birth to up to twenty babies (pups) at a time. So not only could you end up with babies… you could end up with lots of babies!

Don’t put male and female hamsters together unless you WANT them to have babies.

Mistake 2: Using unsuitable bedding

Despite what some pet stores may tell you, you should never use any of the following as bedding in a hamster cage:

  • Newspaper
  • Pine and cedar wood shavings
  • “Fluffy bedding”
  • Any scented bedding
  • Cat litter
  • Corn cob

Read our article on hamster bedding to make sure you choose suitable bedding for your hamster. Or get started with one of these great options:

Mistake 3: Feeding a bad diet

You should take care to feed your hamster a healthy, balanced diet.

Never feed your hamster citrus fruits or pieces of onion. These foods are acidic and this can interfere with your hamsters digestion.

You should also avoid sharp pieces of food or foods that are sticky. These types of food can get stuck in your hamster’s cheeks and cause injury and infection.

Kaytee Fiesta Hamster And Gerbil Food, 4.5-Lb Bag
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
Wild Harvest Wh-83543 Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet For Hamsters Or Gerbils, 4.5-Pound
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food For Mice And Rats, 5-Pound
Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition Dwarf Hamster Food, 2 LBS
Kaytee Fiesta Hamster And Gerbil Food, 4.5-Lb Bag
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
Wild Harvest Wh-83543 Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet For Hamsters Or Gerbils, 4.5-Pound
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food For Mice And Rats, 5-Pound
Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition Dwarf Hamster Food, 2 LBS
$24.54
$6.42
$10.99
$8.49
$24.39
Kaytee Fiesta Hamster And Gerbil Food, 4.5-Lb Bag
Kaytee Fiesta Hamster And Gerbil Food, 4.5-Lb Bag
$24.54
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix 2lbs
$6.42
Wild Harvest Wh-83543 Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet For Hamsters Or Gerbils, 4.5-Pound
Wild Harvest Wh-83543 Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet For Hamsters Or Gerbils, 4.5-Pound
$10.99
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food For Mice And Rats, 5-Pound
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Food For Mice And Rats, 5-Pound
$8.49
Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition Dwarf Hamster Food, 2 LBS
Sunseed Vita Prima Complete Nutrition Dwarf Hamster Food, 2 LBS
$24.39

Mistake 4: Not learning about causes and symptoms of disease

The two key things to remember when thinking about hamster illness are:

  • prevention is better than cure
  • if your hamster does get ill then the sooner you treat it, the better

In order to stop your hamster from getting ill – and spot any illness at the earliest opportunity – it’s important that you LEARN about the causes and symptoms of common hamster diseases.

Mistake 5: Keeping your hamster in too small a cage

Lenny-300In the wild, hamsters run for many miles every night. They won’t be healthy or happy if they are kept in small, cramped cages.

Find out more about recommended hamster cages.

Mistake 6: Giving your hamster too small a wheel

A wheel is an essential component of any hamster cage. Your hamster wheel keeps your hamster healthy and happy, as it allows them to get much-needed exercise.

However, a wheel that is too small for your hamster could end up doing more harm than good. A small wheel forces your hamster to arch its back when it runs, which can be extremely bad for your hamster’s health.

Buy a nice big wheel for your hamster and look to make sure your hamster isn’t arching its back as it runs.

We recommend these hamster wheels:

Mistake 7: Using a dangerous cage or wheel

This may surprise you, but not all hamster cages and wheels are made to be suitable for hamsters!

Unfortunately, some companies manufacture low quality cages and wheels that use a rung and gap structure (like a ladder) rather than a solid surface.

These types of wheel and cage can be very dangerous, as the delicate legs of your hamster can fall through the gaps and break. Even worse, hamsters have even been known to break their necks or suffocate when their heads have got caught between the rungs of a cage or wheel.

Never buy any hamster product that contains small gaps where your hamster could get stuck. If in doubt, don’t buy it!

Mistake 8: Failing to look after your hamster when they’re out of their cage

Letting your hamster run around the house inside a hamster ball can be great fun for both you and your hamster!

But you need to be careful! Never let your hamster roll around the house unattended or near stairs. If your hamster falls down the stairs then it is likely to be seriously injured – even if it is inside a hamster ball at the time.

Never allow your hamster to run loose around the house. Hamsters can crawl through very small gaps, so even in what appears to be a well-sealed room, your hamster could escape and never be seen again!

Mistake 9: Not cleaning your hamster’s cage often enough

Just like a human home, a hamster home needs to be kept clean in order for the hamster to stay healthy and happy.

Never leave soiled bedding or old food rotting inside a hamster cage.

Clean your hamster cage once per week – leaving just a small amount of the old bedding behind so that your hamster recognises a familiar scent after the cage has been cleaned.

Mistake 10: Letting your hamsters get fat

If your hamster eats too much or doesn’t get enough exercise then it will, of course, get fat. And, just like it is for humans, being overweight is very bad for a hamster’s health!

To stop your hamster from getting fat you should make sure to feed your hamster a healthy diet and give them plenty of exercise in a wheel or hamster ball.

There’s lots to learn in order to care for a hamster properly, but reading these 10 common mistakes and our top hamster tips gives you a great chance of being a good hamster owner!

If you’re new to keeping hamsters then we hope you can learn from these mistakes and avoid making similar mistakes yourself. You can also find more hamster tips and hamster care advice in our BIG hamster care guide.

What mistakes did you make when you got your first hamster? If you think we’ve missed any important mistakes then please do leave a comment below!