May 302012
 

Hamsters are great pets. They are considered as “pocket” pets because they are small enough to fit inside a pocket; and because of their size, they are wonderful animals to have if you live in a small apartment. They are quite cheap and there are also a number of types to choose from.

Types of Hamsters

Choosing one can be difficult because so many cute varieties are available. Popular types include the Roborovski, White Russian/Russian, Chinese and Syrian/Golden hamsters.

Roborovski Hamster

Affectionately known as Robo hamsters, these are among the smallest hamsters around. They are always moving about and because these hamsters are so active, it’s hard to handle them. So, if you prefer a lively critter that you can just watch, a Robo hamster is a good choice. Robo hamsters can live well with others of the same sex as long as they are introduced to each other at a very young age.

White Russian and Russian Hamsters

The coat of the White Russian changes with the seasons. During summer, its coat is gray and in winter, it turns white. The Russian hamster’s coat is brownish. Like the Robo hamsters, these kinds of hamsters can also live in groups if the animals are brought together when they are very young.

Chinese Hamster

These animals are the types that most closely resemble rats. You can have Chinese hamsters in pairs if they are introduced together while very young. However, there are cases wherein the hamsters turn aggressive towards each other. So, consider having just one per cage if you are leaning towards a Chinese hamster.

Syrian/Golden Hamster

The Syrian hamster is a solitary animal and it can live for about 2 years. There are Syrian hamsters with long furs that make them look like tiny teddy bears. Because of this, such hamsters are popularly known as “Teddy Bear” hamsters. Those with gold or brown coats are known as “Golden” hamsters.

Choosing a Hamster

Hamster

Before getting a hamster, be aware of certain signs that indicate that an animal is healthy. Check out the body, head, legs, and attitude.

Body

– A healthy hamster is active and its body should be just right – not very thin and not very fat.

– Its coat should be shiny. Watch out for bald patches, very thin fur, or matting. For instance, matting near the rear is a sign that a hamster has diarrhea. This is also known as “wet bottom” or “wet tail.”

Head

– The eyes, ears and nose should have no discharge, wetness or crusting.

– Eyes should be bright and alert. Dull, sunken and watery eyes are indications of illness.

– There should be no wheezing or gurgling sounds when breathing.

Legs

– Observe how the hamster moves. Watch out for disabilities that are obvious when the animal moves around. Examples include: difficulty in walking or climbing, limping, having stiff-legs, or being in a “hunched” position.

Attitude

– A healthy hamster is naturally curious and some species like to interact with humans.

– A hamster should not be sluggish or appear weary. A lethargic hamster may be sick with colds, influenza or Tyzzer’s disease. Tyzzer’s disease is often transmitted by wild mice and is usually fatal.

– It should be active and able to balance well. Observe for head tilting, which is a sign of ear infection or stroke.

So, these are just a few essential things that you should know before choosing a pet hamster. Arm yourself with knowledge before getting one so that you’ll be able to pick out a healthy animal. It’s also important to be aware of what your hamster needs.

Citations:
The writer, Claire Reed, breeds different types of hamsters. She worked for a decade for Rove Pest Control, which has made her aware of the many problems that arise because of rodent infestations. However, this has not discouraged her from keeping pet hamsters, which, like mice, are also rodents.

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