Harry's Guide to
This leaflet includes information on how to care for your hamster including
feeding, housing and common illnesses.
Hamsters are very clever and adventurous animals and deserve consideration
and commitment when being looked after as a pet.
History of Hamsters
Hamsters belong to the rodent family. The name “hamster” is derived
from the German word “hamstern” which means “to hoard”.
Wild hamsters live in hot areas of Central Asia. To avoid the heat of the day
hamsters live in burrows and are nocturnal.
In the cool of the evening and during the night hamsters will search for food
- and can travel up to 8 miles in one night. They collect food in
their cheek pouches and return to their burrows and empty the cheek pouches
into their food store. They are able to carry up to half their body weight in
Hamsters have the latin name Mesocricetus auratus which means “golden
There are over 20 different breeds of hamsters, each with their own individual
markings and colours.
The Dwarf Hamsters (Russian, Chinese and Roborovski) are smaller in stature,
are very sociable, and will enjoy being kept in pairs or in groups (remember
to keep them in single sex pairs or groups if you don’t want to breed
Russian Hamsters are mainly white, grey and brown in colour, and the Roborovski
Hamster is always brown. The Chinese Hamster has a greyish
brown coat, with a dark stripe down it’s back.
In their natural habitat hamsters eat a range of grasses, wind-blown seeds
and grain. Hamsters are often mistaken as herbivores, but they are omnivores
and need high amounts of protein in their diet to keep them healthy. Left alone
in the wild, they will find grubs and insects to supplement their diet. The
bulk of their diet is cereals and other hard foods which are chewed and digested
slowly. This slow eating would make them easy targets in the wild, so they would
normally bring their food back to their burrow to eat it in the safety of their
own home. This also allows them to hoard spare food, in case it becomes difficult
to find food at a later date.
Feeding Your Hamster
The first food ever approved by the National Hamster Council, Harry Hamster
is a coarse mix and contains all the nutrients and goodness that your hamster
requires to keep fit and healthy. Harry Hamster is a mix of ingredients including
alfalfa, maize, wheat, naked oats, beans, peas and sunflower seeds, as well
as soya extrusions and pellets to provide just the right amount of protein in
your hamster’s diet. This variety of ingredients encourages foraging –
a natural behaviour in hamsters.
Hamsters need feeding every day. As they are nocturnal, an evening feed is
better for them. They will normally wake at feeding time and will be happy to
play with you once they have been fed. A good quality, heavy, earthenware food
bowl is essential to keep the food dry and clean. Plastic should be avoided
as hamsters will chew it. Their bowls must be cleaned after every use.
Harry Hamster Yippee Treats
A tasty mix of crunchy sticks, bursting with the flavours of carrot, apple and
maize that hamsters love! Hide one or two around the cage to encourage your
hamster to forage. If you have a Dwarf Hamster, break the stick in half before
you give it to him.
Changing your hamster ’s diet
If you are not feeding Harry Hamster food at present but would like to try it,
you must introduce it gradually into your hamster’s diet. Mix about one
quarter of the new food with three quarters of the old food on the first day
and then gradually increase the new food and decrease the old food over a 10-day
period. This should make sure that your hamster has no tummy upsets.
You should try to ensure that your hamster eats all his food from a very young
age by calculating the correct daily requirement and feeding in
the evening. However, if you notice that your hamster tends to leave some of
the ingredients in coarse mixes, reduce the amount you give him until he is
eating all of it. Then slowly increase the amount again to the recommended daily
Ensure there is fresh drinking water available at all times.
Looking After Your Hamster
Hamsters can be housed in a wire cage with a plastic base, a plastic hamster
home or an adapted aquarium (vivarium) with a well-ventilated cover. Wooden
cages should not be used as hamsters can chew their way out! The most important
thing to remember is that a hamster home can never be too big – they love
to explore and exercise. Multi-level cages are a good idea as they add interest
to the hamster’s environment – but be careful with plastic tubes
as the larger Syrian hamsters may get stuck. The hamster home must always have
a place for your hamster to rest and hide, and another area for play, exercise
Hamsters must always be kept indoors and careful thought should be given to
where your hamster’s home is situated. The temperature in the room should
be constant, away from direct sunlight and draughts, and away from constant
noise (ie: a freezer). Because they have sensitive hearing they should never
be placed near a television, CD player, Hi-Fi, etc.
Keep It Clean is a cage and hutch cleaner that eliminates pet odours, germs
and bacteria (which can harm your pet). Keep It Clean can be sprayed on the
bedding as well as inside the cage or hutch ensuring that your pet’s home
is truly clean at all times
Keeping your hamster warm and cosy is very important. You need bedding that
is absorbent which makes cleaning easier for you. Do not use bedding that
is synthetic as this could harm your hamster if he ate it and might block his
cheek pouches, food pipe or gut.
Russel Bedding is made from the highest quality barley straw, chopped for extra
comfort. It fluffs up to provide a natural, warm bedding that is ideal for your
hamster. Because it is completely natural, Russel Bedding is safer than some
other types of bedding. It is also treated with a non-toxic cleaning agent to
eliminate pet odours, germs and bacteria, and has been specially processed to
ensure it is completely free from dust (many animals are allergic to dust).
Supreme Choice Woodshavings
A high quality, fresh bedding which is highly absorbent and dust extracted.
Available in a compressed pack and is good value for money.
Supreme Science – Carefresh
Supreme Science – Carefresh is even more absorbent than traditional bedding,
and eliminates pet odours. It is dust free and hypo-allergenic and is, therefore,
particularly suitable if your hamster has any sort of allergy. It is safe and
hygienic and has been heat treated to inhibit bacteria and fungi growth.
It is extremely important that your hamster has the opportunity to exercise
If you provide a wheel for your hamster to play in, it MUST be big enough so
that the hamster does not have to bend his back when he is inside, and must
have a solid floor rather than rungs as these can cause injuries to the feet
and tail. Although hamsters sleep during the day, they are really energetic
and will exercise for 3-4 hours a night.
A hamster’s natural instinct is to forage and explore. Mealtime is always
over too quickly and this could mean that your hamster will get bored. It only
takes a few items to create an exciting environment for him to be in.
Place objects like tubes, tunnels and small cardboard boxes in the cage for
him to play with. Place twigs of willow, beach or hazel in the cage for him
to climb and gnaw on. By hiding food and the occasional treat in different areas
of the animal’s cage, your hamster will be forced to hunt for his food
– this will keep him occupied for many happy hours and prevent boredom.
Check out the ‘Furry Fun’ accessories range from Supreme Petfoods.
Handling Your Hamster
Before attempting handling, make sure that your hamster is fully awake and
alert. Try not to wake your hamster suddenly if he is asleep.
Always approach him slowly and gently. Place a closed fist in front of your
pet, and allow him to approach and sniff you. Hamsters rely on olfactory cues
(smells) rather than sound and, therefore, smell is important so they can detect
what is approaching. If your hamster is confident and appears interested, slowly
unclench your fist and offer your palm. He may well crawl on to your hand or
you can gently
scoop him up. Cup him in the palms of your two hands to ensure that he is safe
and won’t be dropped. Lift him up slowly, as picking him up too quickly
would be the equivalent of going up the Empire State Building in 3 seconds!
To ensure he is safe at all times you should hold
him over your lap or close to your chest.
Never scruff a hamster to pick him up, as this can put immense pressure on
the head region possibly resulting in a prolapsed eye.
Dwarf hamsters in the wild live in large colonies with a well-structured hierarchy
and are happy in a pair or a group. Syrian or Golden Hamsters are solitary and
must be kept alone.
If you are intending to have more than one hamster, you must have a cage which
is large enough. It is best to acquire littermates in order to avoid fighting.
Female pairs or groups will be fine. Males will live happily together but may
become agitated if in the vicinity of females. Females and males will be happy
together but will result in litters. You should never breed from related individuals.
Hamsters do not often become ill but, because of their size, they can deteriorate
very quickly if they do become ill.
Diarrhoea – overfeeding with green food is a common
cause of diarrhoea. You should stop feeding green food immediately if your hamster
has diarrhoea and allow it only to eat its hamster mix. If the diarrhoea persists,
your hamster should be taken to the vet.
Constipation – conversely, if there is a lack of droppings
in the cage and your hamster has a hunched appearance, it may have constipation.
Feeding with a small amount of green vegetables may relieve your hamster, but
if there is no improvement it should be taken to the vet.
Wet Tail – is often confused with diarrhoea, but is
a bacterial infection that can cause extreme diarrhoea, with a distinctive smell.
The anus and tail area of the hamster appear wet and sticky. The hamster may
appear hunched up as it is in pain. Hamsters with Wet Tail should be isolated
from other hamsters as it is highly infectious. You must wash your hands thoroughly
before you handle any other hamster. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Overgrown Teeth – as hamsters’ teeth continue
to grow throughout their life, hamsters need to be provided with hard material
to gnaw. Special wood gnaws can be purchased from pet shops to encourage gnawing,
or feed Harry Hamster Yippee Treats. If there is a chipped tooth, or their teeth
do not meet properly, this may cause overgrowth and pain, and your hamster will
find it difficult to eat.
Overgrown Nails – nails can also become overgrown and
should be trimmed by a vet to ensure your hamster is comfortable.
Always consult a vet if you have ANY reason for concern.
Latin Name: Mesocricetus auratus
Life span: 1-3 years
Litter Size: 4-12 pups
Birth weight: 2-3gms
Eyes open: 12-14 days
Gestation period: 15-18 days
Average weight: Male 85-130gms
Sexual maturity: Male 6-8 weeks
Female 4 weeks
Weaning age: 3 weeks
Supreme Petfoods is dedicated to the feeding and well- being of small animals.
Supreme specialises in small animal nutrition and each product is a complete
food, individually formulated to fulfil the nutritional requirements of that
All Supreme foods are a unique blend of selected high-quality ingredients to
give a complete and balanced diet.
Over 1 million small animals worldwide are fed with Supreme products every
day, so you can be confident you have chosen the right food for your pet.
If you would like any more information on Harry Hamster or any other products
in the Supreme range, please contact us:
Supreme Petfoods Ltd
Supreme House The Briars Waterberry Drive Waterlooville
Hampshire. PO7 7YH
Tel: (023) 9236 9000
Fax: (023) 9236 4800