Posted in Pets

Care of a Syrian Hamster

This little furry guy is Oliver (named for Oliver Queen – yup, total nerd here – for the dark circles around his eyes), or “Ollie” for short. He is a long-haired Syrian hamster who loves to sleep all day and doesn’t get up until after 10p most nights. We inherited him from a friend and I had no idea what these little guys needed. I found that many of these guys in the United States are kept in much too small a cage which can cause stress on their tiny little bodies. They won’t complain though, but I feel that if you own a pet, you’ve made the commitment to make their lives as comfortable as possible for the joy of their companionship.

Firstly, we keep this guy in our office since he’s almost completely nocturnal. He will get up during the day for a bit of food and water, but his high activity times are definitely late at night. If you are a light sleeper, their activities may keep you (or your child) up at night. Everyone functions better on a good night’s rest. It is advised that you keep your hamster in a cage that is at least 15″ tall and has 464 square inches of floor space. Levels in your cage DO NOT count into the square inches of floor space! I had been keeping Ollie in a 10 gallon aquarium as a baby knowing that I’d need to upgrade his cage in the future. The need for a larger cage will come quicker than you expect if you go that route.

Ollie's "Palace"
Ollie’s “Palace”

We ended up purchasing this cage on which gives him 540″ of living space. It was one of the few that met space requirements and had close enough bar spacing so Ollie shouldn’t be able to use that as a means of escape. I removed the 3rd shelf that had the food bowl recessed into the shelf as I felt he didn’t really have a need to go swimming in this huge bowl every time he wanted to eat. I use a ceramic food bowl I found at PetSmart for food instead. You will need some form of water bottle as a supply for your pet. I chose a glass one because I find them easier to clean, but that’s completely up to personal preference.

As you can see, Ollie’s running wheel is quite large. I purchased a 12″ wheel because in the United, we don’t seem to carry 8″ wheels that Syrian’s require. I also wanted a really silent wheel because I sleep lightly and even with his being in the office, he’d sometimes wake me up with his smaller saucer I purchased in the beginning. This Silent Spinner had the best reviews concerning noise level on Amazon and Fosters & Smith (Fosters & Smith had the lowest price if you’re looking). You can also mount it on wire or use the stand it comes with. If you purchase this wheel, I highly suggest you check the finish of the inside of the wheel before placing it in your pet’s cage. Ours came with some raised points from the mold used to create it that may have damaged Ollie’s feet had he run on it. I filed these down with a small nail file until it was flush with the rest of the wheel and we’ve had no injuries. I check it to make sure it’s still holding together well at every cage cleaning because I found some reviews that stated the color part can come away from the rest causing a safety hazard. Wheels should also not be made of mesh or wire for Syrians as they can cause injury to their feet/legs.


Ollie enjoying an apple sliver.
Ollie enjoying an apple sliver.

Food & Treats

Syrian Hamsters, like other rodents, have teeth that never stop growing. It is important to choose a food (and most of the time FOODS) that contains some sort of pellet that can grind their teeth down as they consume it. I have fed Ollie:
*Vitakraft VitaSmart Complete Nutrition for Hamsters
*Oxbow Animal Health Essentials Healthy Handfuls Hamster & Gerbil Food
*Hazel Hamster Tasty Mix
Of the 3, he seems to enjoy foraging through Hazel Hamster most. I’ll give him any of the 3 when I have them. None seem to impress him more than the other.

For treats I look for anything without added sugar or I’ll feed him something we’ve had at home for dinner or snack. He loves small apple slices, broccoli, and cauliflower. He wasn’t much of a fan of green beans, blackberries or strawberries. I’ve heard of Syrian Hamsters enjoying pasta and other fruits and vegetables as well, but haven’t got around to treating him to those yet. I always consult Google before offering him something new as there are some things they shouldn’t consume.

Ollie doesn’t really care for toys. You should offer something for them to gnaw on and something to hide in. His favorite thing is his Snak Shak. He loves it a bit too much as it’s nearing replacement since he’s almost destroyed the roof. His Critter House is also another favorite where he chooses to cram a bunch of bedding inside. It’s just another little hiding spot and we’ve never used it for the sand baths it’s designed for.

So, that’s it. That’s my major down low on Syrian Hamster needs. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading….and you get an Ollie gallery. 🙂

Pet Momming It Up,


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