Hamsters are naturally very clean animals that take care of their own bodies. In captivity, however, they occasionally need a little help. Here you can read how to properly care for your hamster.
Hamsters clean themselves regularly from head to toe – several times a day. Usually, after they have eaten, emptied their cheek pouches, or slept. They stroke their heads and ears several times with their front paws. The hind legs are held and licked with the front feet. In addition, you can support your hamsters in their care.
Grooming the hamster’s fur
Short-haired hamsters do very well with grooming on their own. If you still want to support their grooming, you can place a bowl of chinchilla sand in your little roommate’s enclosure. Dwarf hamsters in particular are happy about a regular and extensive sand bath.
Only long-haired hamsters really need help with grooming, as the long fur can become matted. If some food or bedding has gotten stuck in their hair, you can try combing it out with a toothbrush. But first, pet the little rodent to check if there are tangles or knots in the fur. Under no circumstances should you try to comb them out. Matted areas should be cut out with nail scissors. Only use blunt-ended nail scissors so you don’t hurt the hamster! It is best to get your long-haired rodent used to this procedure from an early age.
Check fur at a health check
During regular health checks, you should observe your hamster’s fur and regularly check for swelling. If the hamster has diarrhea or is very dirty, you can gently wipe over the dirty areas with a damp cotton ball. Never exert pressure! The water must not penetrate the skin of the small rodent or even get into the nose or ears. You must then dry the damp areas thoroughly but gently.
Caring for the hamster’s teeth
Hamster teeth, like all other rodents, continue to grow throughout their lives. Therefore, the little one needs plenty of gnawing material to regularly grind down his teeth. Fresh twigs are good for nibbling, for example. However, these must not be sprayed. Wash the branches thoroughly with warm water before placing them in the cage.
Untreated softwood from the pet shop is also suitable as a gnawing material. Some hamsters have a so-called tooth anomaly, i.e. a malposition of the teeth. However, this is much less common than, for example, in guinea pigs. In such a case, it is best to seek advice from a veterinarian.
Hamster claw care
Even with claw care you only have to help a little. Hamsters naturally scratch a lot, so the claws wear out naturally. Nevertheless, check the claws regularly, especially those of the front paws. Because the “nails” of rodents always grow back. However, if you design the hamster home properly and incorporate some natural “nail files,” your little housemate’s claws will sharpen themselves. Roots, tree bark, stones, a sand bath, or some soil for digging are suitable for this. If for whatever reason, the claws get too long and maybe even start to curl, then the veterinarian will have to trim them.