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Our 10-year-old, Izzy, doesn’t really ask for a lot of things. She is pretty content with gifts like new pencils, but when she wants something, she wants it HARD. We’ve never had any pets, but starting about 6 months before her birthday last year, she started begging for a pet … any pet. Eventually she zeroed in on a hamster. I guess she figured in a house without pets, she’d have the most success with a hamster. She was right.
And she got her wish. Izzy named her hamster Icy (the similarities of the names was not lost to her).
Izzy and her hamster are so close, he doesn’t try to squirm away from her at all and just lets her hold him. Or you know, bottle-feed him his water.
Her twin sisters, Ally and Shelly, have their birthday exactly one month later and what did they want?! Hamsters – their own hamsters. This is going to sound insane, but the possibility REALLY DID NOT OCCUR TO ME. I imagined we’d have a hamster and anyone in the family who “needed time with a hamster” could get their fill, but nope, they wanted their own. Matt and I really debated this. On one side, how could we not get them a gift that was available to their younger sister? On the other side, would we seriously own THREE hamsters in our family and officially become “Hamster People”? Neither of us really felt like we were meant to become Hamster People, but then … parents often make irrational decisions because they love their children.
On Ally and Shelly’s 12th birthday, we officially became Hamster People.
Meet Stormy and Feisty.
At the time, Ally and Shelly shared a bedroom, so we thought to save room, we could have their hamsters share a cage. We would buy two hamsters from the pet store that were socialized together.
That did not work out well, though, because their cage wasn’t big enough for two hamsters. It is actually very difficult to find hamster cages large enough to keep one hamster happy, let alone 2 hamsters. We watched a YouTube video that suggested you could even make a hamster cage yourself, so we gave that a try.
The homemade cage did not work out because it was too hard to clean and smelled terribly! In any case, we realized these two hamsters were not meant to be together, because Feisty, accurately named because of his attitude and escape skills, was just too dominant. Sweet Stormy never really got the space he needed and we worried about his health. I then ordered another cage to help split the hamsters up (if you’re counting, this is cage #4 for our house).
The “problem” with the new cage, is that it was so superior to all of the other cages. The girls were sweet about it, but I also couldn’t help noticing how much better the new cage was comparatively. The biggest thing to me is how much easier it is to clean, and it feels cleaner and smells better in between cleanings too. The biggest thing to the hamsters would be how much more room to explore in the newest cage. I can’t help loving these three hamsters, and I started to feel bad that two of the hamsters weren’t in as nice of a home. Weird-mom-guilt is the worst.
Matt thoroughly laughed at me, but I ended up buying 2 more of the favorite cages (yes, that would be cages #5 and #6). I feel confident these will be the last cages we own though.
Feisty came to hang out with the other hamsters while Michelle cleaned his cage. He has a blue/green cage like the one on the right. These are our favorite kind of cages, in both the blue/green and pink/purple:
And in case you were wondering, hamsters are incredible climbers! Stormy made this climb every day, several times a day.
Our List of Favorites for fellow Hamster People
If you are in the process of becoming hamster people, I’ve decided to accumulate a list of our favorite things that you’ll need. We’ve tried 4 different kinds of fluff, for example, to figure out what kind of cage fluff we prefer. I want to save anyone else that kind of trouble! Also, this list could serve as a checklist if you are new to hamster-owning.
*These links all go to Amazon items, but you can find some of these at your local pet store too. These cages I could only find online.
- A Large, Roomy Cage – Hamsters are little adventurers at heart. Multiple times I’ve found our hamsters have climbed the wires of their cage to sniff the top corner. They are so much more athletic than their chubby little figures might suggest. A hamster with more room to explore will be happier, but you still have to get cages meant for small pets, because they can squeeze through spaces tinier than you’d imagine.
- Medium Wheels – We got some different wheels than came with the cage, because the wheels that come with cages don’t seem to be awesome. These wheels don’t make a lot of noise at night (hamsters are nocturnal) and give the hamsters plenty of space.
- Corner Potty – Did you know that you can potty train hamsters? You’re wondering why I didn’t lead with this?? Well, before you’re too excited. They can only train for #1, they go #2 all over the cage. We use playground sand in the potty. It’s a lot cheaper than the pea crystals, or whatever they are, especially for three potties cleaned regularly.
- Cage Bedding – We subscribed to this on Amazon, because it is the best price for what we like. We’ve tried all the different kinds of fluff or wood chip and even pure sand. This is definitely our favorite.
These are things you’ll need, but we don’t have any specific favorites. We cycle through buying these based on best price at the time or whatever catches our eyes.
- Dry Food – The best price for food tends to be the bulk food at the pet store, but it’s nice to have a package on hand as backup if we run out in between trips to the pet store.
- Vitamin Drops – Put some in the water every time you change it out.
- Salt Wheel – Hamsters need salt to survive.
- Chew Toys – Each hamster has his favorite chew toys, but we often come back to the wood sticks.
- Rice Chews – One of our hamsters takes these and hides them around his cage. It is fun to watch.
- Treats – Our hamsters prefer these yogurt drops, but we’ve tried a lot and there are a lot of good treats.
- Exercise ball and track for the ball – we mostly use this as one of the places hamsters can go while their cage is being cleaned.
- Backup housing – We ONLY use this when the cage is being cleaned. I think it is cruel to keep them in this tiny cage for too long, but 30 minutes once a week isn’t too bad. They trust us now and know it won’t be too long, so they started to relax.
So far they’ve kept their promise and hamster maintenance has been drama free.
(I have them clean the cages on the back porch. And I definitely remember to clean this table before we eat!)
When the cages are being cleaned, the girls will often put hamsters near each other.
Are you a hamster person? Are you becoming a hamster family?? Best of luck to you! If I missed any of your favorite supplies, please comment below!
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