STARTER LIST ESSENTIALS

This is a basic list (summary) of what to buy, or what you should have already, to start with as well as what to avoid.

REFER TO THE DETAILED TOPIC PAGES FOR COMPREHENSIVE INFO (link in each item description). Take note of the Bad items listed too!

 

Please also see the IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS page and then, if you're still keen on a hamster as a pet,

get the essentials BEFORE you get the hamster.

These are the absolute MUST HAVE'S....no negotiation. If you are not going to set up with the

correct requirements, please consider another type of pet.

REMEMBER: JUST BECAUSE A PET SHOP SELLS IT, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S OK!

TAKE YOUR TAPE MEASURE WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO SHOPPING (AND THE BASIC CARE SHEET to refer to :           )

SEE THE SHOPPING PAGE FOR SOME RECOMMENDED PLACES TO PURCHASE ITEMS.

If you're too lazy to read through everything, feel free to watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/102889264667711/videos/154685473099656

ESSENTIAL

DO NOT EVER GET !!!

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HAMSTER

Decide what kind of hamster you are going to get, or take note of the type you already have. You will need to get certain items in the correct size.

Pages to refer to for details: SPECIES + IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

When you're ready, please consider adopting rather than supporting the trade of live animals via pet shops. See our ADOPTIONS page on Facebook. 

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CAN ONLY KEEP ONE HAMSTER PER HABITAT!

OUR HAMSTERS IN SA ARE ALL SOLITARY & TERRITORIAL

AS THEY APPROACH ADULTHOOD - see topics about Breeding & Pairing

HAMSTER

DON'T get the hamster until you have the basic essentials

(if you're getting a new one or for the first time).

DON'T get the incorrect size items for your chosen species.

DON'T start until you have taken into account the

important considerations

DON'T support the trade of live animals from pet shops

and back-yard breeders.

DON'T get more than one hamster per habitat! If you want three hamsters, you will need three habitats.

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WHEELABSOLUTE MINIMUM SIZE:

DWARFS 21cm-30cm /8.3-11.8”

SYRIANS/TEDDY BEAR – 27cm-35cm/11-14" (the larger the better)

Get a solid wheel, preferably the free-standing type.

(Flying Saucer Wheels: Dwarfs 25cm (9.8") and Syrians 35cm (14") ...or larger)      

Page to refer to for in-depth details: WHEELS & BALLS

WHEELS to avoid:

DON'T get anything smaller ....your hamster's back will suffer over time.

DON'T get a mesh wheel with any framework or bars across the opening.

DON'T get a wheel with rungs.

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CAGE/HABITAT (and minimum size requirements):

SYRIAN hamsters –

  • MINIMUM 5000 - 7500 cm2 ​(e.g. 1m/1.5m x 50cm) or larger.

 

DWARF hamsters – 

  • MINIMUM 4000 - 5000 cm2 (e.g. 80cm/1m x 50cm) or larger.

 

(Length x Width, in cm, at the base = cm2 ...shelves don't count!)

(an additional low shelf is convenient to keep food & water out of the substrates)

JOINING TWO UNDERSIZED CAGES/BINS TOGETHER VIA STANDARD HAMSTER TUBES DOES NOT EQUATE TO THE RECOMMENDED SIZE.

 

These sizes are still difficult to get in SA, so look for a second hand fish tank, reptile cage, or make your own CLEAR bin cage setup or custom habitat.

Page to refer to for in-depth details: CAGES & HABITATS (HOUSING)

CAGE/HABITAT to avoid:

DON'T get anything smaller than the minimum recommended. Those small cages are travel cages and it is CRUEL to keep the hamster living in it permanently.

DON'T get a tall cage with lots of levels...they are dangerous.

DON'T get a round/oval cage - your hamster will feel insecure.

DON'T get a modular cage setup - even the main part is too small.

DON'T build a solid colour bin cage setup without a clear window in the                 front (you can't have your hamster living in a dark hole).

JOINING TWO UNDERSIZED CAGES/BINS TOGETHER VIA STANDARD HAMSTER TUBES DOES NOT EQUATE TO THE RECOMMENDED SIZE.

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CAGES SOLD IN MOST PET SHOPS ARE NOT SUITABLE

and are only meant for travel purposes!!!!

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Lids/roofs of bins, fish tanks and reptile enclosures need to be modified

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BEDDING:

Hyggelig Paper Bedding, Robyn's Hamster Bedding, Budwud's, Keri's Custom Cabins beddings, & Holistic Hamster bedding.

Those are the safe options in SA at the moment.

Pages to refer to for in-depth details: BEDDING SUBSTRATES

and HOW TO USE EFFECTIVELY & ECONOMICALLY

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BEDDING to avoid:

DON'T get PINE SHAVINGS, corncob, wood pellets, sawdust.

DON'T get SCENTED or medicated bedding.       

These will cause various health issues.

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PLEASE FREEZE SUBSTRATES FOR 24-48 HOURS BEFORE OPENING THE BAG to kill anything that may hatch and cause infestation. 

If you have a large freezer, storing the substrates in there will ensure safety.

NESTING:

A roll of 1-ply toilet paper is all you need because it's the safest!

Nothing else. It's cheap too!

Alternatively, there are some ready stripped paper nestings available.

Page to refer to for in-depth details: NESTING SUBSTRATES

NESTING TO AVOID:

DON'T ever get fluffy ("Cotton Snuggle Stuff") or woolly or fabric nesting substrates! Similarly, DON'T use cotton wool.

Don't get 2-ply toilet paper or facial tissues (too dusty when shredded).

They are all incredibly dangerous.

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SAND: Yes, your hamster will need a sand bath and/or potty!

Kid's Play Sand, Bentonite clumping cat litter/gravel (plain), Reptile Sand (plain only), Reptile Resort Chinchilla Bath Sand (import grade only).

Page to refer to for in-depth details: SAND, POTTIES & PITS

Please refer to the page for instructions on sterilizing play and river sands.

POTTIES/CONTAINERS: You do not need to get a commercial potty/ bath. There are many cheaper/better easy options (refer to page).

SAND TO AVOID

DON'T get scented sands, coloured sands, sawdust/wood litter,

ordinary cat litter, clumping cat litter that has silica and/or scent,

pellet litter, beach sand, play sand that has silica (BounceKing brand),

Bath Dust, Reptile Sand with additives (calcium/meds/lime),

Don't get a commercial potty/bath that is too small for your hamster.

The hamster will need enough space to pee and dig/roll in.

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Reptile Resort 

IMPORT GRADE ONLY

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FOOD

ONLY the top quality DRY FOODS foods are acceptable...no compromises:

Hyggelig Hamster Haven Food Mix, Oliver's Burrow Hamster Snack, 

Burgess Hamster-Gerbil-&-Mouse nuggets, Harry Hamster, 

Witte Molen PUUR (Hamster or Dwarf Hamster)    

Versele-Laga Crispy Muesli mixed with Versele-Laga Snack Range (Protein, Cereal, Nutties, Flowers)

Page to refer to for in-depth details: FOOD & TREATS - DRY & FRESH

FOOD TO AVOID

 

DON'T get cheap or incomplete foods!

Pet shops' own mixes (usually unbranded), bird seed alone, and most cheap commercial mixes which lack sufficient nutrition and balance.

Note that the Versele-Laga "Snack" range is not a complete diet and is purely additional to give variety to the good brands. You cannot improve a poor quality food with it.

FRESH FOOD - refer to the page for dangerous foods on the list.

FRESH FOODS will be easy from your own fridge - refer to the list on page.

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PLEASE FREEZE FOOD FOR 24-48 HOURS BEFORE OPENING THE BAG to kill anything that may hatch from seeds and cause infestation. 

Dry foods will stay fresh for longer if you store the bulk of it in the fridge.

WATER BOTTLE OR BOWL: (min. 75ml)

MPet Glass Drinking Bottle, Living World Eco Water Bottle (glass), DeLuxe acrylic water bottle (hamster or mouse size).

The spout must be steel and have a flow ball-bearing in it.

If you have a tank/bin cage, you also need to get a stand for the bottle, or make an easy one yourself (see DIY STUFF page).

Bowls: A small, sturdy, ceramic or thick glass, straight-sided bowl will do.

Page to refer to for in-depth details: WATER & SUPPLEMENTS

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WATER BOTTLES OR BOWLS TO AVOID

DON'T get a soft or plastic water bottle, especially if it's not BPA-free.

DON'T get a thin glass bottle nor one that has a glass spout.

DON'T get a bottle that does not have a flow ball-bearing in the spout.

Bowls: DON'T use a thin glass bowl, nor a large bowl. Your hamster must not be able to tilt, chew, or chip it, nor fit into it. 

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FOOD BOWLS:

You do not have to buy specific hamster food bowls. Any small strong bowls will do - one for food, and one or two for fresh food.

Preferably avoid plastic hamster bowls as some hamsters have the tendency to chew these...metal or thick ceramic/glass is good if you end up with a chewing hamster.

OTHER IMPORTANT ITEMS TO START WITH

Some of these you really don't have to buy....refer to the DIY STUFF page to make them.

GNAWS: Whimzee (dog chew), baked home-made seed treats, Sekelbos Sticks.

BEDROOM (a small cardboard box is healthier than a plastic "house")

TUBES (empty toilet rolls, cardboard postage tubes, etc.)

SMALL CARDBOARD BOXES with fronts and/or holes cut out.

TRAVEL CAGE: Don't buy a brand new one! Get a cheap 2nd hand cage from a charity shop, or make a small bin cage. 

OTHER ITEMS THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER GET!!!: 

These are hazardous and unnecessary.

DOG CHEWS THAT ARE NOT THE WHIMZEE BRAND.

HAMSTER TONIC, SALT LICKS AND CALCIUM / MINERAL STONES.

HAMSTER SHAMPOO (dry or wet)

HAMSTER OR SMALL ANIMAL HARNESS

DARK OR NON-TRANSPARENT EXERCISE BALL.

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BACK TO THE HAMSTER YOU WANT

Once you have all the essential gooddies, and you are ready to get the actual hamster, please check with animal rescue organisations, shelters, and pet adoption groups for little ones desperately looking for good homes.

Page to refer to: ADOPTIONS on Facebook

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BACK TO THE HAMSTER YOU WANT

PLEASE try your best not to support the trade of selling live animals out of pet shops or via dubious backyard breeders. There is much effort underway to get bylaws implemented with regard to the selling and housing of caged animals in shops, as well as breeding.

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ONCE YOU HAVE ALL OF THE BASIC ESSENTIALS LISTED ABOVE, PLEASE LOOK AT THE OTHER PAGES ON THE SITE

TO ADD ENRICHMENT TO YOUR HAMSTER'S LIFE:

ACCESSORIES & ENRICHMENT

DIY STUFF (make things yourself)

PAPER BEDDING - HOW TO USE

POTTY TRAINING TIPS

TAMING YOUR HAMSTER

WEATHER COMFORT TIPS

HEALTH & MEDICAL

ETC.

ETC.

ETC.

NOTE THAT THERE ARE QUITE A FEW ONLINE HAMSTER-RELATED BUSINESSES FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T GET CORRECT ITEMS IN SMALLER TOWNS AND CITIES....SEE THE SHOPPING PAGE OR LINKS WITH SOME OF THE PRODUCTS ILLUSTRATED ON THE VARIOUS PAGES.

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