If you've decided to add a ham-ham to the family, congratulations! Here are some tips for setting up a happy hamster habitat!
Pine, Cedar, and other softwoods should NOT be used for hamsters or small rodents, because they contain oils that are too harsh for small critters. They can cause the rodents to lose their fur and have almost an allergic reaction. Aspen (hardwood) or shredded, unprinted newspaper is a much better choice. (Check your local newspaper's office, sometimes they sell leftover rolls at a decent price.) Carefresh is good as well, but can be expensive. Also, be careful what type of cat litter you're using as some are too dusty for a hamster. Baked sand is an inexpensive alternative. (check Google for ways of doing this)
Open wheels need to have cardboard woven around them, as this is easier on your hamster's feet. Wheels also come in different sizes, so be sure that yours is made for hamsters.
Do NOT have more than one Syrian hamster in a cage. (Syrians are also known as teddy bears, pandas, normal hamsters; basically the ones most commonly sold in pet stores) Certain breeds of dwarf hamsters can be kept together if introduced at a young age, but if you're not 100% sure don't try it.
Look around your house for things that are safe to put in your hamster's cage. The cardboard inside from a toilet paper (or paper towel) roll, empty Kleenex boxes with the plastic removed, the boxes that toothpaste tubes come in with the ends removed, the rings of canning jar lids hung from the cage (embroidery floss is safe to hang them with and is easy to use), all these things can be used in your habitat. One of my hamsters has nested in an empty sandwich bag box with the flap removed. Use your imagination and have fun!
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