Hamster Myths: True or False?

7 May, 2020
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If you like hamsters, you want to do your best in caring for them.

But there’s so much information out there, and much of it conflicting. It can be hard to know which are hamster myths.

Here are five statements I’ve seen hotly debated – are they true or false?

chinese hamster peering through a heart shape

Corn and sugary treats cause hamster diabetes

FALSE. Diabetes in hamsters has a big genetic component; it is not commonly due to obesity. Picking elements out of a hamster mix can upset the nutritional balance. Remember to keep sugary treats to a minimum in general though! There are many options for healthier treats.

Hamsters can be safely kept in glass tanks

TRUE. A hamster can live well in a tank-style cage, whether it is made from glass or plastic. As with any cage, make sure it is placed out of direct sunlight and that the top of the cage is both secure and well ventilated. Deep substrate will help absorb moisture from urine and also prevent slipping on shiny floors.

Hamsters are cheap pets

FALSE. Because hamsters cost only £10 to buy, they are often called a pocket money pet. However the cages and other accessories can be pricey. You will have regular ongoing expenditure on substrate, food and enrichment items. Vet bills can add up if your hamster becomes unwell. 

Chinese hamsters are dwarf hamsters

TRUE. Some people choose to use the term ‘dwarf’ to only apply to the more social Phodopus hamster species but this is incorrect.

Chinese hamsters belong to the genus Cricetulus. According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, the Phodopus genus is known as the small desert hamster whereas Cricetulus is known as the dwarf hamster. 

Before you rush off to get into an argument on social media or forums about what ‘counts’ as a dwarf hamster, remember to THINK first.

Hamster cages must be fully cleaned weekly

FALSE. Hamsters rely heavily on their sense of smell, and many can find very frequent full cleaning distressing. Having a cage that allows a deeper layer of substrate will enable you to fully clean out less often. You will still need to check for uneaten fresh food and spot clean (replace soiled areas of substrate or damaged enrichment items) on a regular basis.

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