Believe it or not, not everything sold for hamsters is actually suitable for them. There are tons of unsafe items on the market for hamsters. And it’s sad that most new hamster owners see ‘for hamsters’ on the cute packaging, and they presume that these torcherous, and even deadly items, are perfect for their new pet. Most of the time these people mean well, and they just follow an employee’s instructions, and they do really love hamsters, but they just don’t know any better. Here you will learn about the most popular, unsuitable, available hamster items.
You can go to any pet store and find hamster wheels. They are everywhere. And so they should be. As well as hamsters, Gerbils, Mice, Rats, Chinchillas, and Sugergliders all need wheels, so it would be dumb of the company not to sell them. The issue is that most of the time the wheels are cheap, mesh ones. People like cheap, but if you’ve read my lesson on wheels, then you’re cringing at the thought of the poor residents on those terrible mesh wheels.
Mesh wheels cause Bumblefoot, which is essentially hundreds of infected papercuts on each paw, and it’s caused by mesh wheels. And besides being mesh, these wheels are usually too small. People think, ‘tiny, cute, cheap hamsters need tiny, cute, cheap wheels.’ Which is not true. When you get any wheel it needs to be the required size, which you can also read about in my lesson on wheels. I know there’s a 4.5 inch solid surface wheel on the market. That thing is useless except for maybe a baby Robo.
- Read my lesson on wheels for proper hamster wheel sizes for each species.
- get a solid surface wheel, like a Comfort Wheel or Silent Spinner.
When you go into the small pet section in the pet store you will see very small cages, like, below 100 square inches. There’s a pretty recent line of these tiny cages, called TinyTales. They’re marketed for kids. They come with stickers, and LED lights, and they have a castle, house, barn, rocket, and tons of other designs. These are bad because they do not reach the required 450 square inches bare minimum, and you need the cage even bigger for Syrians.
So now kids are like, ‘Oh look at that, I want it, it’s cute.’ Then they get this poor hamster in this puny cage. Even if it’s a tiered cage that tallies up to 450, it doesn’t count. Hamsters need 450 of unbroken floorspace. You can always add levels to an appropriately sized cage if you’re set on having levels, especially for hamsters who love climbing.
- Get an appropriately sized cage, 450+ square inches of unbroken floorspace.
- To calculate square inches times the width of the cage by the length.
- Don’t get something for a living thing because you like it.
- You can add levels to a cage that already meets the required size.
There are many commercial treats that are not very healthy for hamsters. I’m looking at you, Yogurt Drops! Yogurt drops are very sugary, so they should be served no more than once a week. But inexperienced hamster owners, including myself at one point, will not know that, especially when it says, ‘serve one a day,’ on the packaging! I know, it’s crazy, but true. It says things like that on treat packaging, so then the treats get used up faster and you have to buy more. It’s a marketing scheme. Don’t fall for it, and for diabetes prone hamsters especially.
- Don’t fall for the treat manufacturer’s marketing scheme. Only feed one of any treat once a week, after all, it is a treat, not their diet.
- Be very careful to only feed one treat a week to more diabetes-prone hamsters.
These are totally unnecessary and unhealthy. Why would a hamster need supplements? That’s a lot of sodium. Hamsters should be getting enough vitamins and minerals from their diet and water, which should be from your minerally tap. There’s loads of natural minerals and vitamins in fruits, veggies, and unseasoned animal protein, which should be in your hamster’s omnivorous diet already.
- Do not feed supplements unless instructed by a vet.
- Supplements are unhealthy for healthy hamsters.
- Hamsters get enough vitamins and minerals from their diets, which should consist of water, a good seed mix, safe fruits and veggies, and a weekly treat.
This is a very debated topic: should I or shouldn’t I buy cotton nesting material? The simple answer is no. Why? Well, cotton, whether it be marketed as nesting, or just cotton balls, is made of very fine fibres and strands. This is very dangerous, for hamsters especially because when they put it in their cheeks it will get wrapped around their teeth, or if they digest it they can get plugged up and die. And it has been known that rodents have gotten cotton wrapped around their limbs too, then they get amputations, which is just sad. Many rodents have died from cotton nesting material. It is very dangerous, and if you own any, or have it in your rodent’s cage, remove it immediately. Right now. Wake them up if you have to. It can and has killed rodents before. Instead use shredded toilet paper or tissue. This is made to dissolve, so if ingested, the rodent will just poop it out. Toilet paper shreds are also very warm, and if you’re looking for something cooler for the summer, use hay.
- Anything cotton kills rodents.
- Remove cotton from your pet’s cage immediately.
- Replace cotton with shredded toilet paper/tissue.
- If toilet paper is too hot use hay.
There are many unsafe or torturous rodent products available, so just be very careful with what you buy, and do plenty of research beforehand.
If I missed any important or popular yet dangerous products, comment below and let me know so I can add them 🙂
If you’re interested in more hamster-related content be sure to like this post and follow the blog, and I’ll be back on Tuesday with more small pet care, DIYs, recipes, cage setups, stories and more, have a ham-tastic day!