Hamster care guide: how to take care of a hamster for beginners

Keep your little furry rodent healthy and happy with these hamster care tips.

Updated August 28, 2019

a white hamster eating food in a cage

Hamsters are cute and cuddly, but also require quite a bit of care. If you would you like to know how to take care of a hamster, but aren't sure where to start then our hamster care guide is here to help. When you take your furry little friend home for the first time, we'll show you how to take care of a hamster for beginners.

Make sure your furry friend always has fresh, clean water. This is one of the most important hamster care tips – after all, a hydrated hamster is a happy hamster!    

Get a quality cage

One of the most important things you need for a hamster is a quality cage. Taking care of a hamster means keeping them safe and secure, so make sure the cage you buy is just that. For a happy hamster, get a cage that’s well ventilated and gives them plenty of room to run around.

Give your hamster pet a home

You’ve got the cage, now it’s time to make it homely. First off, place the cage in a safe spot and out of direct sunlight. Lay down at least six inches of bedding, as hamsters like to dig and tunnel – aspen bedding works great for this. Finally, set up a food tray and secure a water bottle to the cage side at a level they can reach easily.

Keep it clean

Another key part of learning how to take care of a hamster is making sure you keep their cage clean. Use an effective dishwashing liquid, such as Sunlight, to wash it down every few weeks. Start by emptying the cage then fill a medium-sized spray bottle with water and two tablespoons of dish soap. Spray the solution over the cage and scrub using a washcloth. Rinse with clean water, dry, and add new bedding to finish. If you prefer, you can also use white vinegar as a natural alternative in the same way (diluted with water).

Know what to feed hamsters

Having a hamster as a pet is a big responsibility. Along with looking after their safety, you have to keep them healthy with the right food. This is the most important piece of knowledge you’ll need when learning how to look after a hamster as it's easy to feed them the wrong thing or just give them too much food in general!

  • Pelleted food is best.
  • Keep their bowl around three-quarters full to avoid overfeeding.
  • Hamsters can eat a small amount of dark, leafy greens every other day and fruit such as bananas, apples, and melons once a week as a treat.

Hamster pet grooming and play

So far, our hamster care tips have been all about the practical considerations. Now it’s time for the fun stuff - learning how to keep them entertained and looking good!

Exercise: an empty cage won’t cut it so fit a hamster wheel to the side of the cage to give them 24/7 access to a cardio workout! Get them out in an exercise ball when cleaning their cage so they can explore a bigger area of your home in safety.

Grooming: a healthy hamster will keep itself clean so you shouldn't need to do anything here. If you don't think your hamster is cleaning itself, visit your vet for advice.

Keeping your hamster healthy

Feeding and caring for your pet will help them stay healthy. However, as with all pets, you may sometimes need a trip to the vet.

Here are some of the signs that it’s time to take your furry friend for a check-up:

  • Runny nose
  • Loose stools
  • Blood in urine
  • Bald patches
  • Not eating or drinking regularly
  • Wheezing
  • Sores
  • Not cleaning/grooming themselves

There you have it, our ultimate hamster care guide. From making sure you have the things you need for a hamster to knowing what to feed hamsters, you’re now equipped with all the necessary information to help keep yours happy. Have fun caring for your furry friend!

  • Invest it a good quality, secure cage where they'll be safe.
  • Fill the cage with bedding and change it regularly.
  • Add a hamster wheel to allow your pet time to exercise.
  • Choose the right food but make sure you don't overfeed your new friend.
  • Always give them access to water. Change it every couple of days to keep it fresh.
  • Give the cage, water bottle, food bowl, and play equipment a thorough clean every couple of weeks.
  • Head for the vet if your hamster is showing signs of being unwell.
  • Originally published August 5, 2019