HAMSTER WHEELS: You should ALWAYS provide an exercise wheel for your hamster. Make sure that the wheel is large enough so their back doesn't bend when they run on their wheel. If a hamster's back does bend the wheel is way too small. When a hamster's back does bend, the hamster will develop back problems later in life. I have the 8" Wodent Wheel Jr. I highly suggest Wodent Wheels for all hamsters. My Wodent Wheel is completely silent. I know many people who have noisy Wodent Wheels. To make your Wodent Wheel completely silent, disassemble the wheel, and rub some baby oil, or vegetable oil on the axle, and you're wheel should be silent. There is a better wheel. Wodent Wheels have large holes so the hamster can climb in the wheel. But this wheel also keeps the hamster secure while it runs, so it doesn't fly off from running so fast. The reason you should always have a wheel in your hamster's cage is because pretty much all hamsters get bored at one point. When they do, they will be occupied with exercise. If your hamster is occupied with exercise when its bored, then it will maintain a healthy life. Now I'm not saying that you should give your hamster a tiny cage, and no or very few chew toys so it will be forced to go on its wheel for something to do. But I mean that you should have a large cage and many chew toys, and a wheel will give them something extra to do. This my opinion. But this is what I think: A lot of people say "Well, what if I put my hamster in a ball every day? Shouldn't that be enough?" Unfortunately, most hamsters are nocturnal. So our day is their night. And I don't think many people are very likely to get up in the middle of the night just to put their hamster in a ball. Besides, in the middle of the night, how would you like to get stuffed into a strange moving object, and on top of that you can't get out when you want! Hamster balls really cause a lot of stress on your hamster, so please use a wheel. Because they can get on and off when they want, and its a lot less stressful as well.
NAIL CLIPPING: Have you ever wondered why your hamster's nail has started bleeding or fallen off? It is probably because you have not made nail trimming part of your monthly routine. Nail clipping is a VERY important part of hamster health. When you cut your hamster's nails, you need to look out for the quick. The quick is technically a blood vessel in the nail. That is why it is so important to not cut the quick. Wouldn't it hurt if someone cut a blood vessel in your nail? Before you cut the nail, first examine it to make sure that the nail hasn't already started bleeding. If it has, you need to act fast. When the nail has started bleeding it is because the quick has started to crack. That is a sign the nail is soon going to fall off. If you observe any of these signs, it is a good idea to take your hamster to the vet. Some consequences of the nail falling off are: the hamster bleeding to death since it is an open blood vessel. If the bleeding stops (clots) the "toe" will most likely get infected. Both of those consequences will lead to death if you do not take your hamster to the vet. I hate to say this, but the easiest way to get your hamster to cooperate with you in order to trim their nails is to wake them up during the day. If you wait until they wake up at night, your hamster will not want to stay still! When I tried this with Cody, he jumped right off my lap. (He was fine.) Anyway, if you attempt to trim their nails during the day you will probably get a better result. (Such as them staying calm.) You see, I've trained Cody to fall asleep in my lap, if you are trying to train your hamster to fall asleep in your lap I am going to warn you that it takes patience and a lot of time. However, since Cody is still kind of sleepy (or asleep,) he doesn't realize that I'm cutting his nails. Every once in a while he will open his eyes while I clip the first few nails. If you recently got your hamster, it is probably best to wait at least a month before you attempt to cut you hamster's nails. That way you know if you hamster is truly tame, or so your hamster knows if he (or she) can truly trust you. If you are searching for hamster nail clippers, I suggest you go to your local PetSmart. That is where I purchased mine. I think the nail clippers are generally a pretty good price. At my PetSmart, the nail clippers were about $5.00. I am going to warn you that on the cardboard that the nail clippers are attached to, it says for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ferrets, or other small animals. It does not say hamsters specifically. But the thing is, you have to look hard to find the label that says or other small animals. Because I think that the label is written in the tiniest letters I have ever seen. So don't freak out id you don't see for hamsters. They work just fine for all rodents. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask on my blog!
GROOMING: Grooming is also an important part of hamster health for mostly Angora hamsters (Angora means long haired.) If you do not brush your hamster's fur, they could get knots. Over time, knots are pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to untangle. Cutting their fur is NOT an option. But the vet is. Knots are bad because the hamster can not (heh, heh) do anything about it. I suggest a mini hair pick for angoras. You can purchase real hamster grooming tools for your hamster. But, I already had an unused hair pick. For short haired hamsters, I suggest a toothbrush. (UNUSED) Toothbrushes are the perfect size for you hamster's body. You honestly don't need to groom short haired hamsters. However, sometimes dust from the bedding will stick to their fur. Your hamster will be very pleased to have someone brush the dust off for them. Many people give their hamsters baths! You should NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER... (Okay, I think you get the point.) Give your hamster a bath! You should never put your hamster anywhere near water! Some people also use "non toxic" baby wipes. You shouldn't do that either. Many hamsters are very allergic to baby wipes. One bath option is a chinchilla sand bath. Sand is very safe for your hamster, and most hamsters will definitely enjoy rolling in the sand. For more information, go to the Hamster Hygiene page.
Something many people don't do is take their hamster to the vet. Just because hamsters are small animals doesn't mean they don't need vet attention. Like all animals, hamsters can get sick. The most common illness ( I'm sure all of you hamster experts know) is Wet Tail. I still shudder when I hear those words. Wet Tail is an illness caused by stress, and sometimes a very dirty cage. I'm not going to get into much detail about this because there is another page on this. Another common illness is a cold. Hamsters can actually catch a cold from you! So if you have one, PLEASE ask someone else to take care of your hamster! Hamster survival is based on how strong their immune system is. A lot of people say to use pet disinfectant every time you clean your hamster's cage. DO NOT DO THAT! When you disinfect your hamster's cage every time you clean it, your hamster's immune system will go down because they will be so used to fighting of germs with extra help, that when real deadly germs come they won't be able to fight off the germs. Have you ever realized that most pet disinfectants say they kill 99.9% of germs? Well that 1.1% that is missing is the bad germs. Disinfectants don't kill bad germs, they kill weakened germs that actually help your hamster's immune system. So I suggest that you only use Pet disinfectant once a month.