Tips for Increasing the Life Expectancy of Hamsters
Although hamsters are a part of the rodent family, the life expectancy of hamsters can be quite different than what one would expect with rats or mice. Hamsters are a common pet that are often chosen because of their reputation for being an easy “first pet” for children. This pet can definitely bring you or your child several years of fond memories as long as you are aware of the fact that hamsters do have certain needs which must be met. Let’s take a look at some tips that can be implemented into a pet care routine that could actually increase the life expectancy of hamsters.
As with any animal, the hamster’s diet will have a profound effect on not only its overall health but also the duration of its life. A hamster that is feed the wrong foods or fed too much food can live a very sickly life that could be cut unnecessarily short. The best way to avoid sentencing a hamster to a shortened life span is to educate yourself on how to properly feed a hamster. This species thrives best on commercially prepared food, typically available in pellet form. This type of food has been carefully formulated to provide a balance between vital nutrients that will meet a hamster’s dietary needs.
In the wild, a hamster will typically consume a diet of insects, fruit, roots, and leaves. For someone who is inexperienced with hamsters, it could be dangerous to attempt to create a diet for their pet using these items even though they are “natural” for this species. Why? Simply put, the physical needs of this species require certain amounts of protein versus fats, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. If these nutrients a not provided in the correct amount, it could prove harmful to the hamster’s health. On occasion it would be acceptable to provide your hamster with a piece of Cheerio cereal, pinch of bread, or even a bit of dog biscuit; however this should be reserved as a treat to prevent digestive upset.
Exercise is an important aspect of any animal’s health. Without adequate exercise, the life expectancy of hamsters can be greatly diminished. The best way to encourage your hamster to exercise is to allow him to roam around the house, monitored of course. Hamsters are adventurous and love the chance to explore. Encourage this, as a trip across the living room floor is a great way to give your hamster’s body a daily workout. You could also purchase an exercise wheel which can be fitted right into your hamster’s cage. This is usually made of metal to prevent the hamster from chewing through it, as chewing is a favored pastime for this creature! If you are worried about letting your hamster loose in the house due to a family member’s allergies or cleanliness issues, you may be better off investing in a hamster ball. This is a plastic device that opens up to allow the hamster to be placed inside. The door should then be closed and the ball placed on the floor. There are air holes in the ball to allow the hamster adequate airflow. As the hamster walks inside the ball, the ball travels over the floor giving the hamster the same access to floor space without allowing him to climb up curtains or furniture.
An adequate living environment can have a huge effect on the life expectancy of hamsters. If a human were to live in an environment riddled with feces and dampness, they would surely become ill in a short time! The same is true for hamsters. A hamster’s cage should provide a safe bedding material that is clean, non-toxic, and absorbent. Good options include shredded newspaper, wood chips, and processed corncob. The material should be cleaned on a regular basis as well as whenever accidents occur to prevent the spread of bacteria and the development of mold.
If you follow these tips, you are sure to give your hamster the happiest, highest quality of life possible!