Hamsters are often considered the archetypal childrens pet, but they are suitable for people of all ages. They do make a good pet for children, as they are relatively low maintenance (compared to say a cat or a dog) and their everyday costs can be covered on a "pocket money" budget.
- Top up food.
- Change the drinking water.
- Handle the hamster and do a quick health check.
Hamsters should be fed on a complete (not complimentary!) dry mix designed specifically for hamsters, generic small animal mixes are not ideal. "Fresh" treats, such as vegetables or egg may be given every couple of days, but only in small amounts as hamsters tend to hoard food and large quantities will spoil.
- A full health check (teeth, nails etc).
- Dependent on cage size, do a full clean. Larger cages (e.g. over 70cm x 45cm) may be cleaned every fortnight, but the toilet areas should be cleaned weekly. For pairs/groups of dwarfs, I advise fortnightly cleanouts as a precaution against the hamsters falling out. They are very sensitive to scents, and if cleaned too often appear more prone to falling out over territory squabbles.
The cage should be lined with a suitable substrate, such as megazorb, carefresh, aubiose or wood shavings. A paper-based nesting material should be provided for the hamster to make its bed from. "Fluffy" bedding, or other fabric based material should be avoided as it presents a potential choking hazard.
Although illnesses are fairly rare in hamsters, it is worth putting some money aside in case your pet needs to see a vet. Appointments for hamsters are cheap, with a trip to get antibiotics costing below £20 in most areas.