So, what will you need?
A heavy ceramic food dish and a ball bearing drip water bottle attached to the cage at a suitable drinking height are a must.
A good mix of dry hamster food that does not contain additives should be provided, such as Harry/Hazel Hamster or Vita mix complimented with a small selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Only give small portions of fresh food at a time as too much can cause stomach upsets, and also to ensure your pet eats it and is not left rotting in their food stash.
Your Hamster will need a nest of some kind, many people choose to provide a house or box where he or she can feel safe away from prying eyes. There are many on the market and this can be a fun way to add a bit of interest to your pets home, of course Syrian hamsters are much larger than their Dwarf cousins and will need something bigger.
The cheapest and best nesting material is plain, ordinary toilet tissue or paper towel torn into strips and placed into the cage, ideally, it should be easy to pull apart when wet in case it gets pouched/swallowed. NEVER use the fluffy type of bedding, this is very dangerous to your pet should it be swallowed or become trapped around their limbs.
The base nesting material can be wood shavings, avoid Cedar shavings as they have been proved to give off toxic fumes and can cause lung problems. Pine shavings are a hot subject on many hamster forums, there is no conclusive research to prove that it is harmful to hamsters so I will keep an open mind on this subject. Of course you may choose to use paper based alternatives, the most common being Aspen or Carefresh. This is very much a personal choice and can be adapted to suit your hamster’s needs and your budget.
A good sized exercise wheel is an excellent way to amuse your pet and also vital for exercise. It is important to purchase a solid wheel if you can because the metal, or runged versions can be dangerous if feet or limbs become caught and may result in a breakage. An excellent way to make these wheels safer if you have one or can’t afford/find a solid one is to wind cardboard strips around it stopping any danger of small feet becoming trapped.
Your hamster should be able to run on his/her wheel without bending their back, often the wheels that come with cages are very small and although fine for Dwarfs, a fully grown Syrian hamster will need something larger. These are often referred to as ‘Jumbo’ wheels and come with different brand choices, Wodent Wheel, Rolly Jumbo, Comfort Wheel and Silent Spinner all being popular. Take time to choose the one that is right for your Hamster
There are many different toys available for hamsters but more often than not a simple cardboard tube or box can provide hours of entertainment as can an empty and cleaned ceramic flour pot or glass jar. This are particularly useful in hot weather, providing a welcome cool spot to retreat to.
Wood chews should be provided to help prevent your hamsters teeth overgrowing, try to find ones with natural or no colouring, remember hamsters have poor eyesight and really don’t care what things look like!