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very cute hamster

Hamster care guide: how to look after a hamster

So you’ve decided to welcome a hamster into your home? That’s great news!

Let’s take a closer look at how to look after a hamster: the equipment you’ll need, the ideal enclosure, what to feed your hamster and how to keep them entertained and stimulated.

You will need…

Before bringing your new friend home, it’s a good idea to get yourself ready – this will include doing some shopping. Your hamster will need:

  • A cage with plenty of room for them to move around in
  • Food bowls and a water bottle
  • Food
  • Bedding
  • An exercise wheel
  • Toys
  • Gnawing materials (to stop their teeth growing too long)

Your hamster’s cage

Your hamster will spend a lot of time in their cage, so it’s important to keep them comfortable. First off, choose a good-sized cage – your hamster should have plenty of space to move around. You’ll want to keep toys and bedding in there too, so plan extra space for those.

Hamsters are natural burrowers. If a cage is faulty or not secure, they may escape. Make sure there’s enough bedding so they can burrow themselves under it; this will help your hamster to feel safe and sheltered.

Take care with where you store your hamster’s cage too. Wild hamsters live in warm climates, so avoid anywhere with a draft or damp. Hamsters tend to be creatures of the night: keep their cage away from direct sunlight or any devices that produce light or sound, such as the TV or vacuum cleaner.

Read more: Different types of hamsters: the ultimate guide

How often should you clean a hamster cage?

You should aim to clean their cage around once a week. Ensure your hamster’s bedding is changed regularly, especially if it gets wet. You’ll also want to get rid of any uneaten food – keeping their supply of food and water as fresh as possible.

hamster and vegetables

Diet and exercise

Your hamster should enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet consisting of feeding pellets, fruit and veggies, high-fibre hay, high-protein snacks and clean, fresh water.

Read more: Hamster diet guide: which foods can hamsters eat?

Wild hamsters are incredibly active, and cover a lot of ground during an average night. Make sure their cage comes equipped with a sizeable exercise wheel so your hamster can keep their step-count up!

That said, don’t rely solely on the wheel. Provide your hamster with other toys to keep both their mind and muscles active. Climbable structures are a great idea; you could also get a hamster ball so they can run around your living room.

Entertainment and stimulation

Hamsters can be timid creatures, and many love their own company – meaning they’re not the best pet for young children. It’s also a bad idea to keep more than one hamster in the same cage.

Providing they get a combination of suitable food, gnawing material (to sharpen their teeth) and toys, your hamster will keep themselves entertained just fine.

Be very careful when handling your hamster, and aim not to do it too often. They’re usually active at night, but you may catch them up and about – first thing in the morning or last thing at night – for a bit of playtime.

Finding a vet

Close supervision is an important part of responsible hamster care. It’s a good idea to start researching local vets before you buy your hamster, and to register soon after.

If you notice your hamster is behaving strangely – not eating/exercising, or exhibiting restless/ repetitive behaviour, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Need more info?

For more help and advice on how to look after a hamster, have a chat with your local vet. 

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.