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HAMSTER-PROOFING

In the wild, your hamster would be responsible for the care of her burrow and the safety of her family. She would use her sense of caution to stay out of danger. Always alert against predators, hamsters are very capable of taking care of themselves. However, as a domesticated pet, your hamster is ill equipped to deal with the dangers that are present in your house. She is too small to protect herself against dangers of an oversized (from her perspective) household; she needs your help to stay safe. There are some obvious dangers to her health, like being crushed by human feet, but there are also some subtle dangers that can't be guarded against without some knowledge on the subject.

Obviously, hamster-proofing is the logical first step to keeping your hamster safe, and the first-line defense in this process is to house her in a proper cage. A good cage allows your pet to spend time in it without becoming bored, stressed, or lazy. It prevents other animals, like dogs and cats (and kids) from getting into the cage to distress your hamster. Most important, a good cage will not allow your pet to escape (or you'll find out how well - or how poorly - you proofed your house).

As you initiate your hamster-proofing, consider these questions:

  • Your hamster only eats what you feed her. Your pet has no choice but to eat the food you provide to her, and even if it is hazardous to her health, or has dangerous bacteria from mold, she will still eat it. When you give her food, ask yourself a few questions. When was the last time her food bowl was cleaned and disinfected? Is this a substance that she has been fed before. Do you know that it is safe? Is her food bowl area clean, or does it have pieces of food lying around it? These all pose hazards for your pet.
  • When was the last time you changed your pet's bedding? There are several health problems that can result from bedding staying in the cage for too long, the most serious of which is aspergillus, a spore that grows in areas where your pet urinates. If you maintain a clean cage, your pet will definitely have a healthier life.
  • Your hamster is a burrower by nature. Keeping this in mind, walk around the rooms where your pet is allowed access. Are there any holes, grates or vents that she can wriggle though? Are there any open drawers or closets where she might get shut inside? These are areas that your hamster will go to, especially if she becomes frightened.

Also, keep your veterinary emergency phone numbers posted near your telephone.

Hamster-proofing your home may not be the most enjoyable aspect of owning a pet, but it is certainly the most essential. Without hamster-proofing your house and your pet's cage, her chances for a healthy life are diminished. These practices will give you a far longer and happier time with your pet.