Hamsters can be lively, active creatures so it is important to give them enough to do to break up the boredom. Many owners will like to provide their hamster with an exercise wheel and you will need one that is large enough to prevent any arching of the spine as the hamster runs. It is very important when choosing a wheel that you choose one that has a closed back and running surface as open rung wheels can cause a hamster’s foot to become trapped leading to serious injury. Whilst many hamsters will enjoy a wheel, there are some who aren’t keen to use it and the first thing that an owner should check is whether the hamster can actually use it and if necessary, grease the spindle with a little bit of food oil to make it easier to turn. If you have a sick or elderly hamster, it might be advisable to remove the wheel from the cage but your veterinarian will be able to give you advice.
Some owners find that choosing toys for their new pet is one of the more fun parts of the preparation but you don’t need to spend lots of money. Hamsters love cardboard boxes and tubes that you’ll find around your home too.
Outside Cage Playtime
A lot of hamsters love to spend time outside their cage but they will need to be supervised during this time as they can fit through the smallest gaps (particularly the dwarf and Chinese species) and can chew through wires and cables relatively quickly. Hamster balls were often traditionally used but there are mixed opinions on the use of these so do your research and consider your own pet’s personality before you make your decision. If using one, you should block off any steps and only leave them inside for a few minutes. Other playtime options could include putting your hamster into a bathtub or playpen with some toys but again, it’s important to supervise your pet during this time.
Playtime is an ideal opportunity to get to know your hamster. If you’re using a playpen or a bathtub, you could even climb in and let them crawl all over you in a safe environment! Once they’re used to you a hamster could happily sit on your lap, run through your clothes or sit in your bent elbow. However if your hamster shows signs of distress or becomes agitated or nervous then it is time to return them to their cage.