Hamsters are very agile and active animals that need a sufficient amount of activity.
A running wheel alone is not enough.
In this article, we’ll give you 7 ingenious employment tips that will make your hamster an all-around happy rodent.
Do hamsters need to be kept busy?
Yes, because otherwise their health will suffer. Exercise and activity are important for a species-appropriate husbandry and ensure that both brain and muscles are trained.
With our tips you can easily keep your hamster fit and offer him a lot of variety – more about that in a moment.
Make sure that the appropriate security is always given. Because this is also crucial for small pets.
Why is boredom dangerous for hamsters?
Hamsters are busy doing various things in nature during their active phases.
They search for food and water, increase their supplies and create burrows. They also need to protect themselves from enemies or flee from theirs, as well as defend their territory.
In addition, females reproduce and raise their young.
Even without these, however, hamsters cover several kilometers per day.
As a pet, your hamster will have plenty of food and water available at all times. This eliminates an essential factor of daily occupation.
Also the escape from conspecifics or predators is not necessary, because you offer your animal appropriate protection.
At first glance, these are all advantages.
The disadvantage, however, is that this leaves your hamster with nothing to do. Various problems can develop from this.
lack of muscles
Recognizing boredom – these are the signs
Boredom, for example, can cause your hamster to start gnawing on the bars and breaking its teeth.
Hectic pacing back and forth and aggressive behavior toward you are also potential clues.
In addition, your hamster’s body is not firm and tight, but bony or soft. Overweight and weakness are also possible as a result. Likewise, your pet may sit apathetically in the cage.
So boredom can manifest itself in many different ways.
It can also cause hamsters to be more susceptible to disease. This is because boredom creates stress, which in turn negatively affects the immune system.
The risk for infections, cardiovascular problems, and even self-generated, poorly healing injuries is significantly higher.
In addition, it is difficult to tame the hamster because it can react aggressively to approaches. Even already trusting animals can change their behavior due to boredom and suddenly bite or react defensively.
So there are many good reasons to stop boredom and keep your hamster busy.
How this can work, you will see in the following…
The 7 best employment tips for hamsters
Only seven ideas for keeping them busy?
Don’t worry, there are significantly more suggestions. However, as a foundation, you only need these seven tips that you can always adapt and change.
1: Offer a wheel
Many owners of hamsters are afraid that a running wheel can lead their animal to compulsive disorders.
But the opposite is true!
Through the movement, the small rodents reduce energy, train muscles and can pursue the species-appropriate urge to move. Because in their active phases they cover several kilometers a day. In a cage, this is not possible without an exercise wheel.
When choosing a running wheel, make sure that it is closed and very large. This will allow your hamster to keep his back straight while running and the risk of injury is significantly reduced.
Also, don’t be surprised if your hamster keeps pausing while running.
This is his natural behavior.
He is watching and checking the environment to make sure there are no enemies in the area or that he is missing food.
2: Create tunnels
Tubes are a wonderful way to create burrows for hamsters.
Cardboard rolls of kitchen roll or toilet paper are very popular for this purpose, are inexpensive and easy to use.
You can also use rolls of cork, wood or plastic.
It is favorable to alternate the materials again and again. In this way you prevent boredom and give your animal again and again the opportunity to reorganize and orient itself, as in a new area.
Don’t change everything at once, though, because your pet needs some familiarity, too. Think of the tubes as a playground that can be easily moved around or replaced piece by piece when cleaning the cage.
By the way, you can also use the tubes as climbing opportunities or fill them with food, straw and hay. In this way you enable your hamster to work out the food and keep him busy in many ways.
In addition, you can use cardboard or cork rolls to build wonderful mazes that run throughout the cage.
3: Ground as an occupation
Hamsters are desert animals that dig into the ground and expend energy doing so as well. If you’ve only provided the cage with a thin layer of wood chips, this is not possible.
Instead, you should offer variety. Possible options are for example:
You can also put a stone in the hamster home or use paper strips that the animal can use for hiding or as nesting material.
This way your hamster will always have new and different incentives, which can be easily changed when cleaning the cage.
4: Sand bath
Hamsters are clean animals. They spend a lot of time grooming their fur and preening themselves.
They can do this by taking a sand bath.
This loosens dirt particles and dander in the fur. To do this, they roll around in the sand.
You can permanently put a bowl in the hamster home for this purpose or offer it every now and then. Because hamsters tend to use sand as a toilet as well. For this very reason, you can sift the sand from time to time and should replace it regularly.
Note: Use bathing sand for rodents or for chinchillas. This is very fine and clean, so it does not create a lot of dust. This is important so that your hamster is well and the bath, in addition to the occupation for the animal, also serves the fur care.
In the wild, hamsters spend a lot of time foraging for food and working it out. With your pet, you can recreate this in many ways.
We’ve put together a few of them:
A small food tree will make your hamster stand up and stretch to get to the food.
You can easily restock it and offer a wide variety of fresh foods. It is also inexpensive to purchase.
Food balls for hamsters can be found in different designs.
With some you can fill in treats and the hamster has to roll it to make them fall out.
Metal versions can be filled with hay or straw. With these, you can hide tasty things in the middle for your hamster, such as a piece of egg, mealworms or seeds.
Just as with the food balls and food balls, you can mix food and filling material in simple tubes so that your hamster has to find the food in them and pull out the hay or straw first.
From cardboard boxes you can make a whole range of activities with food. Create a maze in it where your hamster will have to find the food.
Fill it with different materials so that your pet can build a nest in it.
Pushing games for hamsters
Intelligence toys for hamsters can be wonderfully filled with food.
Your pet must then figure out how to operate the flaps or sliders to grab the treats.
Once your hamster has figured it out, you should keep changing the toys. This way you can offer variety and prevent boredom.
Distribute the food in different places in the cage or hamster home. This also stimulates the animal’s natural search behavior and keeps it busy.
6: Climbing areas
Hamsters can climb and use this, among other things, to get over smaller obstacles. Therefore, offer a variety of options on a rotating basis.
These can be made of different materials and the texture should also be clearly different.
Suitable are, among others:
However, you should pay attention to a few factors when building it. These include:
Choose woods that can be gnawed on easily and therefore pose no risk. Leafy branches are also ideal because they combine gnawing and movement.
Hamsters see differently than humans.
They are not good at estimating distances and therefore heights on sight.
Because of their small size and relatively delicate musculoskeletal system, they can sustain significant injuries even at low heights.
So make sure that climbing opportunities are not too high.
Ten centimeters is perfectly sufficient.
Even then, the hamster should be able to land softly. Make absolutely sure that they are the opportunities to climb up and down above a thick layer of bedding.
Fall over hazard:
If you have heavier items, you should urgently make sure they are stable and sturdy. Otherwise, they can fall on your hamster, trapping him or even causing fractures.
Also, do not use ladders or stairs with open spacing. Here, your pet could slip and get trapped between the steps or break something.
7: Learn tricks
Hamsters are intelligent animals that learn quickly. Therefore, you can try to teach your pet tricks.
The first, of course, should be to come to you when called.
To do this, lure your hamster with popular treats. Popular treats include tiny pieces of boiled egg white, a mealworm, or a sunflower seed.
Hold the treat between your fingertips so your pet can pick it up without biting you.
Likewise, you can lure your hamster to other places on command, make him run over seesaws or make him roll over. Even jumping through hoops is possible.
To do this, simply hold the respective treat in such a way that you lure him in the relevant direction. Your animal will receive the reward as soon as it has performed the trick.
Here you also have several advantages:
the bond between you and your hamster is strengthened
your pet moves more
the mental fitness is trained
the food is worked out
So by teaching tricks both you and your hamster can have fun and avoid boredom.
A final recommendation
Alternate the occupation again and again and combine several with each other!
This way, your pet will be fully occupied and you can always find new activities.
This is the best basis for a good attitude and joy on both sides.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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