In January I posted about the worst things I’d bought and/or used with Beanie, but this week I wanted to specifically talk about the mistakes I made. Despite how much research I did before getting Beanie, I made a ton of mistakes with her. I hope by sharing my mistakes you can avoid making them, or be made aware so you can fix any mistakes you’ve made and give your hamster a better life.
I will have posts about these specific topics linked at the end if you’d like to learn more about them 😉
Too Small Cage
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I did keep Beanie in unsuitable cages for the first two months I had her.
The first cage had about 200 square inches of floor space, and was very focused on height, with three additional levels.
Back in the day I believed that levels added to floor space, but this is not true because hamsters benefit from solid floor space since they are burrowers.
To calculate the square inches of floor space in your hamster’s cage simply measure the length and width of the cage base and multiply it. The cage needs to be 450 square inches of unbroken floor space at the minimum. If it is below that there is an easy fix: upgrade your enclosure!
After learning what I was doing wrong I upgraded Beanie to my old fish tank, which had 410 square inches. Beanie was so happy for the space, and after another month I upgraded her to a bin cage with 680 square inches of floor space.
I once used a wire mesh hamster wheel. I covered the mesh with cardboard to prevent Bumblefoot, a painful foot infection, however, Bumblefoot is not the only danger of those wheels.
Those parallel side-support bars found on wire barred or mesh wheels are a common cause of injury. Hamsters get trapped in those bars, making these wheels unsafe.
Beanie could’ve been seriously hurt on that wheel, but thankfully I upgraded her wheel to a 12″ Comfort Wheel soon after her first cage upgrade and she was never injured.
When I got Beanie I knew very little about proper hamster diet, so I purchased the cheapest, best looking hamster seed mix in Walmart.
That mix was pretty much pellets and corn, and the Guaranteed Analysis was very low.
About a year after I got Beanie I researched and wrote a blog post about hamster diet. I learned the food I was feeding was terrible, and I upgraded Beanie’s diet to Higgins Sunburst Hamster and Gerbil mix, which Beanie seemed to really enjoy.
Picking Through the Seed Mix
In Beanie’s first diet there were a number of things she didn’t like eating, which I would pick out of the mix.
this is very unhealthy, as it offsets the balance in the mix, resulting in malnutrition or obesity.
When researching hamster dietary needs, I learned this and corrected my mistake.
Not Enough Substrate
For the first few months I had Beanie I didn’t give enough substrate to burrow in. Being a Syrian, she needed 6 inches at the minimum, but I was only giving 3-4 inches. I suppose I thought she didn’t want to burrow because she didn’t try to in the puny amount I was offering.
When I started blogging her Monthly Makeovers I gave her more because I wanted to set a good example, and it was the most rewarding thing ever to see her burrowing happily. Providing enough substrate was really worth it.
Using a Hamster Ball
I had a hamster ball at one point, which I used occasionally for Beanie until I learned how dangerous they are.
Hamsters escape from them, break toes in them, fall down stairs in them, overheat in them, and sometimes get seriously dehydrated when in hamster balls.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend using hamster balls for any animal. If you’d like to learn more about them I do have a blog post specifically about them, which will be linked at the end.
I made a hamster playpen, and eventually upgraded Beanie to free-roaming, so the hamster ball was never really used.
I made lots of mistakes with little Beanie, and she deserved better. However, I learned a lot about hamsters from her, and without her this blog wouldn’t exist. Thanks to her people can now learn what not to do so their hamsters can have happier lives, and that applies to myself, as well.
I want to make a post like this for every hamster I ever own, because I’m not perfect. I will undoubtedly make more mistakes, even if they’re not as life-threatening as my first few. I hope this post will help educate people so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.
But everybody makes mistakes, the important thing is that you fix them.
I hope this post was inspiring and informative, and 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!