Many people think of hamsters as pets for children, because they are so small and cute. However hamsters are nocturnal by nature and therefore do not fit too well into a child's timetable. Hamsters are also not always too pleased to be woken up in the daytime and can give a nip if you touch them [source: ASPCA]. But if you do decide to have a hamster, here's how to care for it.
- Buy as large a cage as you can manage, as hamsters like to move around and play.
- Place the cage in a dry place, out of direct sunlight. It should not be in a drafty place.
- Don't use cage bedding derived from cedar wood or pine chips, as it can be bad for your hamster.
- Put a hamster running wheel in the cage, along with some empty cardboard toilet roll holders and a small box with an entrance cut in it. The box should be large enough for the hamster to crawl into [source: ask the vet].
- Feed your hamster a good quality hamster food mix. In addition, every few days give it some fresh greens or carrots. Hamsters are great chewers and like to exercise their teeth on untreated pieces of wood, or dog biscuits. You could even buy toys specifically designed from them to chew on at your local pet store [source: Michigan Humane Society].
- Provide your hamster with fresh water to drink. Attach a water bottle to the side of the cage, with a tube for the hamster to drink from. Change the water every day [source: Michigan Humane Society].
- Clean the cage every day, by removing any uneaten food, droppings or dirty bedding from the cage. Replace the bedding and clean the cage more thoroughly once a week [source: Michigan Humane Society].
- Let your hamster run around on the floor outside of the cage every day for a while. You'll have to make a safe secure area for this purpose.
- Provide your hamster with medical care, when necessary. If your hamster has dull-looking eyes or matted fur, loses weight, has diarrhea or is shaking, take it to the vet [source: ASPCA].