NUTRITION - WATER & SUPPLEMENTS
Correct nutrition, from as young as possible, will make a big difference in your hamster’s well-being and longevity.
The diet needs to consist of (1) GOOD QUALITY HAMSTER-SPECIFIC DRY FOOD MIX, (2) FRESH FOOD (fruit, veggies & protein), and (3) FRESH WATER.
SUPPLEMENTS may be beneficial from time-to-time for general health or to assist in the recovery of an illness or condition.
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GOOD SUPPLEMENTS WHEN NECESSARY
PROTEXIN SOLUBLE (probiotic) is excellent to promote the immune system of hamsters recovering from serious illnesses, operations, parasite treatment, and high stress situations & malnutrition (particularly rescued hamsters), and also during and after pregnancy & nursing, and antibiotic treatment.
* A healthy pinch is a good enough dose, and it has a sweet taste so the little one will take it gladly in his food.
* Occasional short 3-7-day courses of Protexin, e.g. once every month or two, will ensure general health for any hamster.
* Elderly hamsters will also benefit from having more regular courses: 1 week on and 1 week off.
NOTE: CONTAINS GLUCOSE, SO DO NOT USE WITH A DWARF HAMSTER THAT ALREADY HAS DIABETES.
DURING ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATION:
While your hamster is on antibiotic meds, Protexin should be given during and after treatment since it balances and replaces the good bacteria that antibiotics tend to kill, and will keep the tummy settled.
However, be aware that it should not be given within 2 hours either side of administering the antibiotic. Therefore, don't place this in the hamster's water until after the course of antibiotics is completed. Instead, place the powder in/over his food a few hours after antibiotics are given (fresh or dry food, but you'll be more likely to get the full amount down in a portion of his favourite moist food).
Not a problem if he is on a once a day dose of antibiotics, in which case you can do the ab's in morning and the Protexin in the evening, or vice versa.
For twice a day antibiotic treatment and you are not at home during the day: antibiotics in the morning, and again as soon as you get home from work; and give the Protexin on your way to bed later in the evening.
It is recommended that you keep the hamster on the Course of Protexin for another 2 - 4 weeks after the antibiotic course if complete.
* Available from most vet shops and some pet shops and not terribly expensive.
ANIMA STRATH GRANULES (highly recommended) - YEAST
These granules are unique, because they help prevent potential disease and deficiencies, help strengthen your pet’s immune system, encourage healthy skin and hair growth, reduces recovery time, combats anxiety, supports normal development of the foetus, assist with concentration, and SO MUCH MORE.
Rich in plasmolysed Herbal Yeast, Anima-Strath is made up of 11 Vitamins, 18 Amino Acids, 19 Minerals (and Trace elements), 13 substances, and ALL of these nutrients are from natural raw ingredients and free from artificial colourants, flavourants, preservatives and synthetic substances.
If your hamster will not readily eat a few granules on their own, simply use a blender/electric coffee grinder/pestle& mortar to grind them into a finer form and mix a pinch into his daily mushier foods.
DO NOT GIVE TO HAMSTERS THAT HAVE OR HAVE HAD BLADDER/KIDNEY/UTERINE ISSUES, unless your exotics vet gives approval.
For immediate medical ailments: 1 pinch daily for 10-14 days. Then reduce to 1 or 2 pinches a week (or give as necessary for general health).
For general health: 1 pinch once or twice a week, or a little 3 day course once a month.
Do not keep your hamster on yeast supplements continuously. It either becomes ineffective, or can cause other health issues. Yeast is a very healthy supplement, but very powerful too.
Watch Erin's video about the benefits of yeast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLO_5AI62Ek
Note: We do not recommend the elixir version of this product, since it contains honey and orange, which are not healthy for hamsters.
Actually great for all your 4-legged pets!
Available in shops mainly in the Gauteng & KZN areas at the moment https://anima-strath.co.za/where-to-buy/, but also online at places like CatBox Pet Hyper http://pethypers.co.za/anima-strath-granules-100g/ where you can buy your Puur Hamster food and snacks (if you order over R500, delivery is free).
CBD OIL / TINCTURE (for hamsters) (highly recommended)
Following patient discussions with a CannaMed SA representative, we are pleased to have better insight and guidance for the use of CBD oils and tinctures for hamsters.
Just like nearly all animals, hamsters have an Endocannabinoid System. That means by using CBD oil with hamsters, we can allow them to reap the same benefits as humans and our larger pets! People have used this for themselves, cats, dogs, and horses with good results, and the same can be done for our hamster companions.
USES/BENEFITS - Can assist with the following:
Anxiety, Stress, and PTSD due to traumatic events.
Could assist in reduction of chronic pain (including cancer).
Has been found to be effective in treating pain related to degenerative myelopathy (spinal cord issues) and arthritis.
May decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration.
Assists in slowing down Cushings Disease in hamsters and helps to alleviate associated discomfort.
Skin and fur ailments.
General health maintenance, particularly with ageing hamsters.
*** IMPORTANT *** However, as beneficial as this supplement can be, please DO NOT simply purchase the first CBD oil or tincture that you see for pets or children, since some manufacturers use additional ingredients that may provide extra flavour or benefits for cats, dogs, and horses. Certain terpenes/terpenoids/myrcenes from these ingredients and specific carrier oils, etc. may not be safe for hamsters. Furthermore, some tinctures (particularly those for human use) can contain quite a large amount of alcohol and even the smallest quantity will be highly unsafe for a hamster.
You need the plainest of low percentage/dilution CBD oil with a coconut/MCT or hempseed carrier oil only!
Similarly, beware of people who make their own CBD products in their home kitchens. They may not have suitable knowledge of cannabis strains and dilutions for animals, which could negatively affect your hamster, or have no benefit at all!
Dosage: At this stage there is still very little research into the exact dosage for these small rodents. Experimentation suggests the following -
For general health with a healthy hamster give 1 drop a day.
In cases of severe anxiety or stress, 2 or 3 drops (Syrians) can be given every 12 hours (slight over-dosage doesn't appear to have radical side effects, other than possibly a little sleepiness with a hamster that is new to CBD treatment, so don't panic if you accidentally give an extra drop). Dwarf hamsters should only have 1 or 2 drops at a time.
Further investigation suggests that you can also build up to more drops a day over 14 days (depending on the ailment, or severity thereof), preferably staggering the drops by giving a few in the morning and a few at night, but it's best not to exceed 5-6 drops (Syrians), or 3 drops (Dwarfs), a day without professional consultation.
If you are lucky enough to have an exotics vet who has good knowledge of CBD treatment for smaller rodents, please discuss this with him/her.
As with other recommended supplements, you could also simply put your hamster on courses of CBD purely for general health benefits. In this case, 1 drop a day for a week, every few weeks, should be sufficient.
How to administer: Some hamsters will happily lick it off your finger or a vegetable leaf. Alternatively, mix it into a small portion of your hamster's favourite food that you know will all be gobbled up.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO STORE YOUR PRODUCT IN THE FRIDGE TO MAINTAIN QUALITY.
Shake the bottle before using.
(Some oils with a pure coconut oil base may thicken, but you can simply remove a drop-size piece and mix into food...give the bottle a good shake before putting into the fridge).
RECOMMENDED CBD OILS/TINCTURES for hamsters:
NVJ QUALITY PRODUCTS - CBD PET OIL - Tried and tested by some of our admins, this has proven to be very effective for most ailments. https://nvjqualityproducts.co.za/. Contact: email@example.com / 076 530 2870 (Facebook).
CANNAMED CBD FECO with Hemp Seed Oil (Pet Tincture) - This product is very new and not yet marketed on the website, so please let Michele know that you are from/ part of Hamsters South Africa in order for her to supply the correct product (the standard Pet Tincture, currently advertised, has a hemp & grapeseed oil base, and the latter may not be safe for hamsters). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 072 663 3349 (Facebook).
AFRICANPURE PETS CBD DROPS (300mg) - This one is nice and plain, but please note that it is the 300mg one that you want and not the 600mg (nor the 300mg for children as this now has a flavourant added). May be available in certain health shops: https://africanpure.co/where-to-find-us/ but please call the outlets first, as some may not stock the pet range. Alternatively, available online: https://africanpure.co/product/pets-cbd-oil-300mg-30ml/ (Facebook)
If you really feel that the little one needs a TONIC/SUPPLEMENT in addition to its food, a few drops of ROOIBOS TEA (preferably organic) can be added to the drinking water for a day or two from time-to-time.
An occasional little leaf of fresh PARSLEY is said to have good tonic benefits too, but to be avoided for pregnant hamsters as it can stimulate premature birth.
BRUNEL MULTIVIT SYRUP (alcohol-free) can be used as a course when your hamster is recovering from severe illness and displaying lethargy (lack of energy).
[Please note: Do not use commercial hamster tonic (see below)].
Use an eye-dropper or pour into a dropper bottle.
1 x drop every day for 5 days
Thereafter, 1 x drop two to three times a week, when necessary.
Due to sugar and preservative content, please do not keep your hamster on this for longer than necessary. Continuing with a healthy varied diet will ensure sufficient natural vitamin intake.
Available from DisChem and select Clicks Stores
NUTRO-STIM, which is a high calorie nutritional supplement, can be given to severely underweight hamsters for a short period as an addition to a good diet.
Available from most vet shops and online via Faithful-to-Nature.
NOTE: It is always advisable to first seek professional advice from an experienced exotics vet in dire health situations, as other vital medical treatment may also/instead be deemed necessary.
SALT LICKS, TONICS & MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
These things that most pet shops sell are completely unnecessary, an utter waste of money, and some are also potentially dangerous to your hamster’s health. Hamsters on a good diet do not need any such additives and most are not even interested in them for very long.
COMMERCIAL HAMSTER TONIC:
Once again, completely unnecessary for hamsters on a healthy diet, and potentially harmful. Since no ingredients ever appear on the packaging, it is unknown as to what exactly is in these tonics. They even smell suspicious! Some brands also have a sweet fruity flavour & scent, which implies that there is sugar present and this would therefore be harmful to dwarf hamsters who are prone to diabetes.
It is cruel to force your hamster to consume these tonics since s/he will have no choice when thirsty! Some will even refuse to drink and would then suffer from dehydration.
Rather provide one of the other healthy supplements as advised above in "Good Supplements". There are also a few herbs with medicinal properties that can be given per ailment (see topic on the Health & Medical page)
Hamsters that are ill, ageing, pregnant or nursing can be given adequate additional vitamins and minerals via extra provision of specific fresh foods relating to the ailment or condition (see FOOD page for info on these conditions).
The only and proper way to use this product: https://www.facebook.com/video
NEVER! Salt is very dangerous for hamsters.
Your hamster will obtain sufficient natural salt from its dry food mix and fresh foods. Supplying even an occasional lick from a block like this will be excessive salt, which puts strain on the kidneys, risking an early, painful death for the little one.
There is never a good reason to have a salt lick in the habby.
While these can provide a small amount of calcium and gnawing properties, they are also unnecessary and potentially dangerous, since too much calcium will cause painful kidney stones that are not always treatable.
And did you know that these blocks are made from Plaster of Paris?
PLEASE AVOID THESE BLOCKS ...your hamster will receive enough minerals and vitamins, including calcium, from a natural nutritious diet. Rather provide safer, healthier food and gnawing alternatives (see "Treats" and Fresh Foods on the Food page).
WATER - BOWLS & BOTTLES
It should go without saying that fresh water HAS to be on supply at all times. While it may appear to us that hamsters, particularly the dwarf species, do not drink much they can die from dehydration within a matter of days. Babies and old hamsters are most vulnerable and will perish in less time.
There are many different types of water bottles available so there is much choice, but you will want one that holds at least 75ml of liquid. Mouse and Hamster bottles are the most recommended.
BEST QUALITY & LEAK-PROOF BOTTLES
Most can be attached to the bars of a cage. If you have a bin or tank set-up there are crafty ideas on the internet with ways of attaching the bottle to the sides, or special free-standing bottle holders are available from a few pet shops or online (or you can make your own quite easily - see our DIY STUFF page).
The SPOUT should be made of steel and must also have ball-bearing to assist proper water flow and cleanliness.
CLEAR ACRYLIC BOTTLES are good and hardy, but do check that the packaging states that the material is "BPA-FREE".
GLASS WATER BOTTLES are favoured by many hamster owners because of the more hygienic properties, as well as maintenance of water quality and assurance that there are no BPA risks.
However, because of the risks of glass breaking and/or chipping, please be sure to only get the durable types of bottles, e.g.:
MPet Glass Drinking Bottle (175ml/Small)
Living World Eco Water Bottle (177ml/Small)
Kaytee Chew Proof Water Bottle (6oz/177ml)
(Note that most of these sturdy/heavier glass bottles will need sturdier customised stands, as they don't all fit into the standard bottle stands...see the DIY page)
Deluxe Acrylic Water Bottle (Mouse or Hamster size)
Avoid the thin types of glass bottles.
NOTE: Try to get into the habit of checking the water spout several times a day! Many spouts can become plugged from time to time, particularly in hot weather, stopping the flow of water and your hamster could then become dehydrated. If this happens too often (and similarly if the bottle leaks), you need to buy a new bottle or provide a water bowl as back-up. A bowl, on a nice flat shelf or raised tile or brick, away from the bedding substrate is always a good idea as a backup in any event.
BOTTLES TO BE AVOIDED
Thin glass bottles and those with glass spouts need to be avoided. The risk of injuries that could be caused from sharp edges and glass shards in the event of breakage is simply not worth taking. If you like the idea of glass, rather get the more durable MPET or latest Living World glass bottles, since those will not break or chip easily.
Those that do not have a ball-bearing in the tube/spout have a really high tendency to stop flowing, as well as the possibility of dirt entering the bottle.
Small bottles with less than 75ml capacity are only suitable for small travel cages, but should be removed for the journey due to spurting during bumpy rides. For short trips, rather place a chunk of juicy cucumber in the cage.
Soft Plastic bottles are usually not BPA-Free and also tend to get chewed too easily.
Some owners can become complacent about regular water changes with large bottles (usually for bunnies and guinea pigs) because the level does not reduce very quickly. This results in water becoming stale, and algae forming on the inside of the bottle and spout.
Nifty idea courtesy of Keri Rall:
Get a cheap glass clamp-top jar and remove the lid by unfastening the wire frame, and discarding the rubber seal, and voila! you have a nice water bowl.
The jar can then be used as a sand potty too.
Optionally you could use a small water bowl, which may be a more natural choice. Using a water bowl in addition to a bottle is a wise decision as this will ensure a back-up supply in the event of the water bottle becoming plugged while you are out.
To prevent your hamster from becoming wet, the bowl should be small enough that s/he cannot climb inside, and should preferably have a heavy/wide base with straight sides to prevent tipping over. A small ceramic ramekin is an example of a good bowl, but thin glass containers should be avoided at all costs. Reptile "rock" bowls and small thick glass ashtrays are also nice and sturdy.
If you only have a lightweight bowl, this can be secured by a piece of Prestik underneath (but ensure that none of the tik-tak is accessible to chewing!)
If you cannot find a really small bowl to avoid the risk of your hamster falling in and getting too wet, some nice smooth pebbles placed in the larger dish, with a bigger/taller stone towards the back, is a good idea. You can even use polished gemstones to match your colour scheme!
Alternatively, and even better, try to mimic the Niteangel water bowl (not available in SA) by placing a large stone or rock in the middle of a bowl.
To sterilize stones, simply wash off any dust in hot water, place in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Let them boil for 20 minutes, and allow to cool off. Remember that these should also be cleaned regularly in hot water with each water change, so it may be handy to have extra (ready-cleaned) stones on standby to make it easier for yourself.
NOTE: For safety reasons, baby hamsters under 10 weeks old should be given a BOTTLE, since they could fall into a bowl and get sick or drown.
If you don't have a bottle for the babies, use the Niteangel method. Alternatively, the pebble method in a bowl could work, but is still not 100% ideal since they can still get very wet among the pebbles, but at least they won't drown.
PLACEMENT of bottles and bowls is important to prevent bedding becoming wet due to any leakage or tipping. It is best to place bowls and free-standing bottles on flat surfaces, such as a shelf or on solid tiles, instead of directly in or over cage substrates. Attached bottles should also hover over a small bowl or solid cleanable surface. Water bowls should never be placed among bedding as substrate (and even faeces) gets kicked in too easily, resulting in dirty water.
ALERT: It is a very common occurrence where hamsters use their water bottles as leverage to reach up and climb out the top of open habitats and escape, or to the top rungs where they then climb across the cage ceiling and fall, possibly injuring themselves when they land awkwardly on something below. Careful thought therefore needs to be given to placement, whether you have an attached or free-standing bottle.
CLEANING & WATER CHANGES: No matter what size bottle you have, this should be cleaned at least 3 times a week, preferably with a bottle brush to make sure the inside is perfectly clean - don't forget to wash inside the spout too to prevent algae growth (an earbud works well to get inside).
Bowls should be cleaned daily (as well as stones/pebbles if you have those in the bowl).
Water bottles vs bowls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyui1W-ikds
Salt licks and mineral blocks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0xUf4AJhEg&list=PLdeNpGX3yFqFNnQaJUrLnU9C9rRVFaNV7&index=45
DIY free-standing water bottle holder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2qt8reJIrA