HAMSTERS SOUTH AFRICA
EXCUSE THE MESS! * SITE UNDERGOING UPGRADE *
WATER & SUPPLEMENTS
WATER IS AS IMPORTANT AS FOOD. HOW YOU PREFER TO PROVIDE IT IS UP TO YOU, AS LONG AS IT'S FRESH & ALWAYS AVAILABLE.
SUPPLEMENTS CAN BE USEFUL AT TIMES, BUT NOT EVERYTHING IS SAFE OR EVEN BENEFICIAL.
Occasionally your hamster may need a little boost, be it age-related, ailment or recovery from an operation.
Other supplements can be given as courses for general health maintenance.
NOTE: As with most supplements, do not keep your hamster permanently on any, unless advised by an exotics vet.
Courses should be administered for treatment of immediate issues, and then given a break in order to not lose ongoing effectiveness.
PROTEXIN SOLUBLE (Probiotic)
A 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 pregnancy & lactation, and antibiotic treatment.
A healthy pinch is a good enough dose, and it has a sweet taste so many hamsters should take it gladly in food or water.
Occasional short 3-7-day courses of Protexin, e.g. once every month or two, will ensure general health for any hamster.
Elderly hamsters and those with lowered immunity 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.
* Available from most vet shops and some pet shops and not terribly expensive *
DURING ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATION:
If your hamster has been prescribed antibiotics, Protexin should be given after treatment since it balances and replaces the good bacteria that antibiotics tend to kill, and will keep the tummy settled.
You may also give during antibiotic treatment, but please note:
Be aware that a probiotic 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 small portion of his favourite moist food).
Remove the probiotic food at least 2 hours before the next dose of A-B's.
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.
NOTE THAT THE SAME APPLIES WITH PROBIOTIC YOGURT.
ANIMA-STRATH GRANULES (Yeast supplement)
Great for all your 4-legged pets!
Available in shops and online.
These unique granules assist in the prevention of potential diseases and deficiencies, help strengthen your pet’s immune system, encourage healthy skin and hair growth, reduce 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.
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 give to hamsters that have or have had bladder, kidney, or uterine issues, unless under advisement from your exotics vet.
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.
The elixir version of this product is not safe for hamsters, since it contains honey and orange.
MIRRA-COTE (Vitamin & EFA supplement)
Great tonic for hamsters suffering fur loss and dry skin from nutritional deficiencies or illness.
Contains Omega oils, fats, and vitamins essential for coats.
For immediate medical ailments: 1/4 to 1/2 pump (approx. 2ml) daily for 7-10 days on/in food. Then reduce to twice a week.
For general health: 2ml once or twice a week, or little 3-4 day courses as necessary.
FOR HAMSTERS, DO NOT USE THE MIRRA-COTE WITH BIOZINC.
CBD OIL FOR HAMSTERS
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.
RECOMMENDED BRANDS 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
076 530 2870
CANNAMED CBD FECO with Hemp Seed Oil (Pet Tincture) - This product is fairly new and not yet marketed on the website, so please let Michele know that you are a member 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
AFRICANPURE PETS CBD DROPS (300mg) - This one is nice and plain (do not get the 300mg for children, which has a flavourant added).
May be available in certain health shops:
https://africanpure.co/where-to-find-us/ but do call the outlets first, as some may not stock the pet range.
Alternatively, available online:
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.
Similarly, beware of people who make their own CBD products in their home kitchens. They may not have suitable knowledge of cannabis strains, bases, and dilutions for hamsters, which could negatively affect your hamster, or have no benefit at all!
Hamsters need the plainest of low percentage/dilution CBD oil with a coconut/MCT or hempseed carrier oil only, from a reputable source.
DOSAGE: At this stage there is still very little research into the exact dosage for these small rodents. 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.
Cautionary 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.
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).
NOTE ON FRESHLY GROWN CANNABIS
While a piece or two of a small blade of leaf appears to be fine, the buds will be too potent and you should therefore avoid giving that part of the plant to hamsters, unless via consultation with a knowledgeable exotics vet.
If you really feel that your hamster needs a general health tonic, weak ROOIBOS TEA is healthy and can be very beneficial.
A few drops squeezed from a wet teabag, just enough to discolour the drinking water, is sufficient.
Alternatively, steep a teabag in boiling water and remove after a few seconds.
Preferably use organic Rooibos Tea (although one would think that most RT would be organic?)
Safe to be given daily if your hamster likes it, otherwise every few days will be good.
FRESH PARSLEY is said to have good tonic benefits.
An occasional little leaf (once or twice a week).
To be avoided for pregnant hamsters as it can stimulate premature birth.
BRUNEL MULTIVIT SYRUP
This is alcohol-free and can be used as a course when your hamster is recovering from severe illness and displaying lethargy (lack of energy).
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 most Pharmacies.
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.
A high calorie nutritional supplement. for hamsters suffering severe weight loss and lack of appetite due to illness, an injury or operation, malnutrition, etc.
Use for a short while only until weight and appetite stabilises. Don't let the hamster become dependent on it for nutrition (it's yummy).
Initially allow the hamster to lick up a little, or mix into small amounts of food, gradually decreasing the amount Nutrostim until he's eating food only again.
Available from most vet shops and online.
These things that most pet shops sell are an utter waste of money, and some are also potentially dangerous!
Hamsters on a good diet do not need any such additives.
COMMERCIAL HAMSTER TONIC
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 it is loaded with sugar and therefore harmful to dwarf hamsters that are prone to diabetes.
It is cruel to force your hamster to consume these tonics since he will have no choice when thirsty! Some will even refuse to drink and will then suffer from dehydration.
Rather provide one of the other healthy supplements as advised above in "Good Supplements".
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:
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 your hamster.
There is never a good reason to have a salt lick in the habby.
You may think these are nice gnaw treats, but they are very dangerous! Too much calcium will cause painful kidney stones that are not always treatable.
Other ingredients include Plaster of Paris, limestone, crushed shells, tapioca, and artificial colourings, all of which are really bad and harmful for hamsters.
PLEASE AVOID THESE BLOCKS. Your hamster will receive adequate minerals and vitamins, including calcium, from a proper nutritious diet. Rather provide safer, healthier food and gnawing treats.
It should go without saying that fresh clean water HAS to be on supply at all times.
While it may appear to us that hamsters (particularly Dwarfs) 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.
WATER BOWLS are possibly easier to use in habitats. They also mimic the hamster's natural source of water in the wild and encourage a more natural drinking posture, reducing discomfort to the spine.
Like water bottles, the bowls should be cleaned at least every 2 or 3 days, if not every day.
Be sure to top up every day, especially in hot weather when evaporation is at a peak.
Place on a low shelf/platform to keep out of bedding and to avoid substrates getting kicked in.
With baby hamsters:
When they are first emerging from the nest, they will still be drinking from their mother, but the bowl needs to be moved out of reach to prevent them falling into a bowl and drowning. Only mom should be able to get to it.
A bottle is generally safer for hamsters under 4 or 5 weeks old to prevent them from falling in and drowning or getting too wet. However, if you cannot provide a water bottle, the "mountain peak bowl" (similar to the Niteangel bowls) will be safer, or a bowl with a large sterilised stone in the center, or have the water just covering a layer of sterilised pebbles.
This is not to say that you should not use a water bottle, if that is your preference, but simply a natural option, or to solve the issue if you have a hamster that uses it's bottle & stand as leverage to try and escape or reach the mesh at the top of the habitat.
To sterilise stones & pebbles: Wash off any dirt in hot water, place in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil and allow to bubble for 20-30min, pour off water and allow to cool before giving a final rinse.
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.
There are many different types of water bottles available so there is much choice, but you will want one that holds at least 50ml of liquid.
The SPOUT should be made of steel and must also have ball-bearing to assist proper water flow and cleanliness.
Bottles are supposed to be attached to the bars of a cage, but since cages are no longer recommended, there are crafty ideas on the internet with ways of attaching the one to the sides of a habitat.
Alternatively, special free-standing bottle holders are available from a few pet shops or online, or make one yourself, to stand on a low shelf/box lid.
BEST QUALITY & LEAK-PROOF BOTTLES:
CLEAR ACRYLIC BOTTLES are good and hardy, but do check that the packaging states that the material is "BPA-FREE". Deluxe Water Bottle (Mouse size).
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.)
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.
NOTE: We recommend also providing a water bowl, on a low shelf, box, or clean clay brick away from the bedding substrate as a backup.
WATER 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.
Never get a bottle that does not have a ball-bearing in the tube/spout. They have a really high tendency to stop flowing, as well as the possibility of dirt entering the bottle. There is also a known case where the hamster's tongue got stuck in the spout (possibly in desperation to get the water out) and was ripped off!
Small bottles with less than 50ml 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 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.
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
Check water DAILY. Top up.. Check spout on bottle.
Wash water bowls/bottles thoroughly, and put in fresh water AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK. Use a bottlebrush with bottles.
Don't forget to wash the bottle spout (a cotton bud works well). You may be surprised how at easily algae forms inside the spout.