You'd never dream of hurting your fuzzy little hamster on purpose, but sadly, many hamster owners unknowingly make mistakes that end up harming their pets' health. If you don't want your furry friend to end up in the vet's office (or dead before his time), make sure you avoid these common hamster care mistakes.
Using cedar wood shavings.
Cedar shavings are often sold in pet stores, and many hamster owners find them appealing because the cedar scent seems to cover the scent of hamster urine. However, cedar can be irritating to hamsters' eyes and noses, leading to respiratory issues. Aspen shavings are a much safer choice since they don't release irritating oils. There are also manufactured hamster beddings marketed specifically for hamsters. Shredded paper (without ink) also works well.
Putting the cage in a drafty area.
Hamsters are quite sensitive to the cold, and they can't exactly leave their cage and head for warmer spaces if they catch a chill. A lot of pet owners place their hamster cages near windows or air vents to help keep the smell at bay, but if there's a draft coming through the window or vent, it could make your hamster chilly, leaving him more prone to an infection. Place your hamster in a corner away from any windows or doors that may have air leaks – especially in the fall and winter.
Not providing enough exercise.
Hamsters are active little creatures, but their cages don't typically give them a lot of space to run. Without enough exercise, they can grow obese – which is bad for their hearts and overall health. Make sure you're letting your hamster out of his cage to run at least a few times per week. Usually, putting your hamster in a ball is the best way to accomplish this without losing him.
Giving too many fruit or veggies.
Supplementing your hamster's pelleted diet with a little fresh produce ensures their nutrient needs are met, but if you give too many of these foods, your hamster could end up with diarrhea. Give your hamster just a small amount of these foods – one grape, a slice of carrot, or one cube or apple is enough. Don't give your hamster onion or any citrus fruits, as these are too acidic and can upset his digestive system.
If you have any questions about proper hamster care, talk to your vet. It's easier to prevent health problems than to treat them.