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19 - 24°C (65 - 75°F) 

Either side of these, please ensure you apply methods accordingly.



Summers in South Africa can be brutal! Signs that your hamster is taking strain and in need of help:

  • Not curled up in its usual sleeping spot,

  • Moved out of the bedroom box and opting for a corner on top of the bedding or in the sand/potty.

  • SEVERE HEAT INDICATIONS: Laboured breathing, lethargic, sprawled flat on top of bedding, looking like a melted blob on a shelf, etc.


  • NEVER have the habitat situated in direct sunlight regardless of any weather conditions! Your hamster is locked in the enclosure and cannot move to another area, like it would in the wild.

  • Keep the curtains in the room closed to keep some of the heat out, particularly when the sun is shining through that window. Open again at night to let the cooler air in..

  • A fan is good to help circulate air but be sure that it does not blast directly into the habitat as the draught could make your hamster ill. Aim the fan to swivel and blow just past the habitat, or above the mesh, or against the solid side/glass.

  • PROPER VENTILATION IS CRUCIAL! At least 80% of your habitat lid must be open and covered with strong wire mesh.

  • WATER reminder: Please get into the habit of checking the spout of your water bottle every time you look at the habitat. Spouts often get plugged and water flow stops! Do have a small water bowl in addition to the bottle (you could even place an ice cube in the water during extreme heat).

  • MOSQUITOES can also be a nuisance in warm weather and can bite your hamster.

Hopefully one of our ideas will help to keep your hamster cool this summer.

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A MINI AIR COOLER can work nicely near the habitat on hot days, if you are at home most of the day to re-fill the small water tank every few hours.

Quite a variety to choose from at reasonable prices (R250-R700).

Note that they are not really air conditioners, as some advertise, but more like personal space coolers, which will be fine at your hamster zone.

Do not aim it directly at open wire/bar fronts or cages as it could be too cold.

Available from places like Game and Makro, or online via Takealot.

Read the reviews before you decide on which one will suit you. Some of them apparently leak quite badly.

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On the flipside of summer, winters are also brutal in some parts of SA and your hamster will be inclined to stay snuggled in his nest more than usual in order to avoid the cold.  

  • Note that your hamsters’ fur may turn lighter in winter.

  • Depending on dominance of certain genes, some Dwarfs will turn pure, or from the lower stripes down. This is normal and they usually darken again in summer.

  • Do not be tempted to put clothing on your hamster! Not only could you hurt him in the process, but it will stress him out.


  • Make sure the habitat is not in a draughty zone. If possible, move it to the warmest room in the house.

  • Keep curtains closed when the sun starts setting.

  • Provide a little bedroom box if he doesn't have one already (even a simple plain cardboard box with the front cut out will do).

  • Provide extra nesting material (stripped up1-PLY toilet paper or soft paper bedding). If he prefers to sleep outside of a box, this is even more important.

  • Sand can get very cold in winter. You could consider swapping the sand in a large sandpit for coco peat instead, which is much warmer.

  • See "Insulation" below.

TORPOR (often confused as hibernation)

If the room gets too cold (below 15degC), the hamster can go into a state of torpor (similar to hibernation, but not the same). This is a fairly natural reaction, which allows the hamster to raise it's body temperature and the state can last for an hour or longer, until the hamster brings itself out of it once warm again.

However, you should prevent this from happening at all! If the state of torpor lasts too long they can pass away.

If you suspect that your hamster is in a state of torpor, you need to bring him out of it ASAP. Do not wait to see if he comes out of it on his own! 


Some people find their hamsters in torpor and assume they have passed away. Please make sure that your hamster is officially dead before you bury!

If you find him/her seemingly dead during a cold spell, check:

  • Is he still breathing faintly? Hold the back of a metal teaspoon close to his nose and mouth. A little spot of "mist" may appear, indicating breath.

  • Is there a heartbeat (although this may be so slowed down that you can’t detect it)?

  • The whiskers may also twitch a little.

  • Is he still limp? A dead hamster will develop rigor mortis within half an hour of passing and become stiff. However, they can become a little "hard" from being cold, and will be cold to the touch, so do try to warm him up before declaring his passing.


He will be unresponsive to your calling and touching, and may feel cool to the touch, but you will need to bring him out of this state gently and slowly by warming him up:

  • Hold him against your chest and gently cup him to your skin (your own body heat is probably the safest temperature), or place him on a blanket on top of a warm bottle (not boiling hot).

  • Keep rubbing his back gently until he starts responding.

  • Keep him warm until he’s fully responsive. This procedure could take an hour or longer and he may seem quite drowsy for a while afterwards.

  • Offer him some lukewarm (not hot) food and/or water to help him warm up from the inside too. 

  • Ensure that the room or his habitat stays warmer from now on.


  • No matter what method you're using, insulating the habitat will help to retain a comfortable warmth within.

  • Cover 50% (max) of the lid on an average 5000cm2 habitat with a blanket or thick cardboard during very cold days, and no more than 80% at night (there still has to be ventilation).

  • Make sure that the hamster cannot reach the blanket to nibble at.

Glass tanks can be wrapped with cardboard at the back and sides, or a blanket can be attached, for extra warmth. 

  • If you're not using a heat bad, you may even want to consider lining the back and sides on the inside with cardboard, just up to the main activity height, since glass can be extremely cold.

  • Use the hot water bottle method in the absence of a heat pad.

Similarly, bin cage setups can be partially covered or wrapped with a blanket, in combination with the heat pad or hot water bottle method.

  • Placing the bin on a thick blanket or space blanket will also help to insulate from the bottom.

Wire cages: If you're in the process of getting a proper habitat and still using an open wire cage:

  • Cover 3 x sides and the top..

  • Since many hamsters will chew a blanket or towel, you may want to cut up a cardboard box to fit the sides and top before placing the fabric over it. (Covering the sides and back of an open wire cage does make the hamster feel more secure than being exposed 360deg all the way around anyway.) 

  • Stand the cage on a thick blanket or space blanket to insulate the bottom.

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A ROOM HEATER is the best and easiest option (sorry Eskom!)

  • To ensure that the air does not dry out too badly from these devices, we suggest placing a bowl of water near the habitat.

  • Reasonably priced heaters with thermostatic controls, and not too heavy on electricity consumption.

  • The Mellerware Swiss 2000W Floor Fan Heater is excellent for larger rooms, and heats the space quickly.

The Milex Nanotec Wall Plug Heater is ideal for small rooms (4x5m), or to place near the habitat, but not directly blasting against it.


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HOT WATER BOTTLE & BLANKET (“electric” or water) can also be placed on top of the habitat's meshed lid and covered with a blanket to trap and create some warmth within the enclosure.

  • Do make sure the hamster cannot reach the bottle to nibble it broken.

  • If using an old-fashioned bottle with boiling water, please make sure that it is not perishing or leaking. This would be very dangerous.

  • Cover 50% of an average 5000cm2 habitat lid with a blanket during the day, and no more than 80% at night (there still has to be ventilation).

SLIGHTLY WARM FRESH FOOD will be more comforting than serving icy cold food directly from the fridge.  


These relatively inexpensive items are great to take the edge off the cold within the habitat.

Some animal groups may advise against them, claiming them to be dangerous. 

However, IF USED PROPERLY UNDER A HABITAT they are perfectly safe to use for a few hours or even the whole night and/or day, depending on the wattage of your pad and what your habitat base is made of. 

  • A 20W or 25W pad is the best recommended and usually fine to leave on throughout the night with tanks and melamine habitats (even 24/7 during the coldest months), but you can test how long you can/want to leave it on with your particular enclosure.

  • The idea is to JUST take the chill out of the air within the habitat, not overheat.

  • To protect furniture that has glue or varnish, or a vinyl type of cloth, do place a sheet of thick cardboard under the heat pad.

Available at most pet shops that supply for exotic reptiles, and even hydroponics shops ("seedling heaters"), or online: 

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How to use a heat pad SAFELY:


A small 350x200mm pad is usually sufficient for a section in most cases but, if you have a particularly large habitat, the 350x350 would work better.

  • NEVER PUT THE PAD DIRECTLY UNDER THE BEDROOM/NEST AREA as this will make the hamster too hot, forcing him to move out, which can result in him getting cold, ill, go into shock, or into a state of torpor.

Your hamster's nest will be perfectly warm inside as his body heat warms up the space and nesting material.

  • NEVER PUT THE HEAT PAD ANYWHERE INSIDE THE HABITATnot even under a sheet of glass or board, as this will be too hot and also hazardous!


Most habitats are too heavy and the pressure will damage the fine thermo wires, resulting in short-circuit and fire. The habitat HAS to be raised slightly.​

  • For flat bottomed habitats that don't have "feet" or a gap underneath, simply raise by placing 1.5 - 2cm high blocks/strips of wood or polystyrene to create the space to easily slide the heating pad under.

  • When you first use a heat pad, keep checking the inside at the base of your habitat every few hours to see how it heats, in order to ascertain how long to leave the pad on for, depending on the material your habitat is made of.

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Heating Pads


Like your cats and dogs, your hamster can also become frightened by loud bangs and flashes during thunder & lightning storms or firework festivities. High stress and anxiety can lead to severe health issues faster than you can imagine. If you are in a zone that is prone to such storms, or a neighbourhood that is prone letting off fireworks (Guy Fawkes, Diwali, New Year’s Eve, etc.), or near to the "legal" let-off sites, please observe your hamster closely and take necessary precautions if he is behaving out of character.


  • Shut the windows and draw the curtains in the room.

  • Make sure the hamster has a good hidey spot to make him feel more secure.

    • A simple little cardboard or wooden box with just one entrance hole is perfect but the thicker the walls, the better to shield from loud noise and flashes.

    • Put a good amount of stripped 1-ply toilet paper inside.

    • A spoonful of hamster mix and a piece of cucumber inside will ensure he won’t be hungry or thirsty in case he is too frightened to leave during the noisy time.

    • Place the box in a corner and cover with as much bedding substrate as possible to dull the loud bangs even more.

  • During firework times, move your habitat to a quieter side of the house if at all possible.

  • Cover the habitat with a thick blanket that will also help to dull out the loud bangs and flashes, but remember to leave a space open for ventilation.

  • Check in on him regularly to see that he’s still OK, but don’t disturb him until the mayhem is over. Speak calmly and stroke him gently if he is out of the hideaway and looking anxious, but don’t take him out of his safe space in case he gets startled and flees to even more terror.

  • Please report any illegal firework activity to your local SAPS or Law Enforcement Office. Take care!

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CBD OIL can have a calming effect, and may be useful to give a drop or two before or at the start of the anticipated mayhem.

A BONDING SCARF/SNOOD/BAG can be very useful to comfort your anxious hamster, or when it is ailing or cold.

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Do not be tempted to randomly use herbal calming remedies for dogs and cats.

Many contain high quantities of Valerian and other ingredients that are not safe for hamsters (and other smaller animals).

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