Many people enjoy having hamsters as pets. These small creatures make a unique and very friendly addition to your family. Hamsters are inexpensive, both to purchase and maintain, as well as being cute and cuddly, easily fitting into the palm of your hand. The downside to having a pet hamster is their short lives. Most live only a year or two, which is very difficult for younger children.

If you choose to adopt a hamster, caring for them is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines. There are some things that you should know about hamster care that will really make a difference in how healthy your family pet is going to be. Here are some tips that will help you to make the most out of your new pet hamster:

1. HOUSING

Perhaps one of the first things that you need to consider in order to make sure your hamster is as healthy as possible is the right type of housing. There are plenty of commercial hamster cages on the market which can provide a lot of options for your new pet. Some people also build their own hamster cages, either out of wire or plastic tubes. One thing your hamster is going to enjoy, regardless of which type of cage you choose, is a lot of room to roam around and explore. This can help to keep your hamster happy and also provide him with a considerable amount of exercise, which is essential for good health.

Most caging is plastic and your hamster will try to chew or claw free. You will want to monitor their activity when you clean the cage to make sure they are not producing a hole. Some hamster owners go with a metal wire cage with tiny slits to avoid the chewing escape.

2. CAGE LOCATION

Of course it is important to choose an efficient and suitable cage for your hamster, but equally important is choosing the proper location for your hamster’s new home. Make sure that you are not putting them in harm's way by putting their cage in direct sunlight or too close to a heater, both of which may provide unnatural and unsafe temperature extremes. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of problems, so plan for your hamster’s arrival in advance.

3. FEEDING AND WATER

When it comes to feeding your hamster, commercially available hamster food and hamster treats will provide them with ample nutrition. If you plan on feeding them some vegetables or other scraps, you must absolutely make sure that there are no pesticides on them. Hamsters are very delicate creatures and even the tiniest amount of pesticide can have disastrous, even fatal, results. For this reason, you should never feed a hamster grass clippings, or the many other things from your lawn that regularly come in contact with these dangerous chemicals.

The amount and quality of water available to your hamster is essential for his health. You will want to make sure a clean, fresh supply of water is readily available at all times. There are water bottles which attach to the side of the hamster cages and are a great way to provide them with the liquids that they need. However, water at room temperature does grow bacteria easily, so make sure you empty the bottle daily, rinse it out and refill with fresh water. Although your hamster is not going to drink a lot of water, it must always be clean and in sufficient amounts.

4. EXERCISE

Hamsters, like other pets, need to have exercise regularly to help with digestion and overall health. There are lots of hamster accessories available. Providing a wheel to run on or having a hamster ball to run around the house in is good for them. Tubing and cages come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. You can create straight pathways to other larger home areas or curve them around to re-enter the same cage.

Hamsters make great pets. Although it's tempting to handle them often, this should be kept to a minimum. Hamsters have a tendency to bite when they are scared or uncomfortable with handling, so it is important to handle them at least once a day. Remember to use caution with young children, and teach them to wash their hands before and after handling to help keep themselves and their furry friend healthy.