Welcome to Dashing Hamsters. I created this website back in 2005, initially to have a place to share my love of hamsters. Throughout the years I have come across a lot of information that just often doesn't match up. Care standards and information are outdated, and these little creatures are misunderstood by many. So I decided to make this website as more than just a hamster lover's website, but a hamster website for modern owners who are looking for up to date advice on how to care for and understand their beloved hamsters. On DH you can learn about hamsters, see some cute pictures and read through a hamster filled blog.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Minimum Cage Sizes

     Recently I was bored and I decided to do something a little bit productive I guess. I took some yarn, a tape measure, some tape and some hamster supplies and decided to put a pictorial thing together of different cage minimums. These are just a few randoms one's that I pulled out of books and off the internet. If you guys have any other ones then I'll add them too I suppose. 
     I did two separate pictures for each minimum. One reenacting a setup for a single syrian and one for two dwarfs. I used some basic supplies and kept it minimum (wheel, bed, water bottle, food dish, toy). For the syrian setup I used an 8" comfort wheel, a small food dish, an oasis water bottle, and mini (second smallest) igloo and a puzzle playground see-saw. For the dwarf setup I used two 6.5" silent spinner wheels, two itty bitty igloos (smallest size), a large food dish, an oasis water bottle and a puzzle playground see-saw.
I just measured out the yarn to act as the base of each minimum cage size.

Mine (Hamster Hideout's)-- 360 square inches


OSPCA's, Humane Society's, Popular Pets Magazine: Hamsters (Hamsters for Dummies and the Hamster Handbook has similar minimums varying by no more than a few inches)-- 10 gallon/ 2 square feet


RSPCA's 75cm by 50 cm


German Style 100cm by 40 cm


One square Metre (mentioned in a German Study):


Hamsters: The Ultimate Pocket Pet by Virginia Parker Guidry's- 19 square inch minimum


German Style Cages

     Have you been hearing about 'German style cages' lately? Recently there's been what can only be called an invasion of information for German websites, owners and studies. All over the world,  informed owners are looking at this information and infusing it into their own knowledge. So what are these 'German style cages' though?

     In German speaking countries the hamsters are living the high life. Knowledge about hamsters and the most suitable home for them live in is way ahead of our own. Thanks to some kind people, some studies that were previously only available to anyone that could read German, are now being translated for those of us that speak English. Basically it has been found that hamsters need big cages. And not just big cages but humongous cages, especially for those that think a cage with 360 square inches of floorspace is too big. Yes they have found that hamsters need at least one square metre of floorspace. Yes you read that right. When you really watch your hamsters playing around, exploring, running, digging, hoarding and just being hamsters you can see that such space would not go to waste.

     That's not all that they have found out. They also found that bedding depth, stimulation in the cage and access to a large enough wheel is just as important as a large enough cage. Here are some links for some more direct from the source reading:
Scientific facts about hamster homes
A pet should be kept better than in a lab
Why Have a Natural Hamster Cage?
The Subterranean House
Is Climbing Important?
Bedding Depth and Hamsters

     I don't have any pictures but why not check out this blog so you can get an idea of what it is that I'm talking about: Natural Hamster Cages. It seems that they still consider the minimum cage size is about half a square metre of floorspace.

     So what does that mean? It means that there is proof that hamster need large cages, scientific proof. Will everyone follow this right away? No I don't think so. Not when it is hard enough to convince people that hamsters need even 360 square inches of floorspace. I think that 360 square inches is still a fair, though rather bare minimum. However as animal lovers, hamster owners should strive for a far better and more stimulating cage then the bare minimum. Overtime the bare minimum will get bigger, it always does but until people can grasp that every animals deserves the best we sometimes need to settle for a smaller set up. So what I'm saying is: I still think that 360 square inches is big enough for a hamster but that a hamster lover should be striving to get a much larger and more stimulating cage then that. These studies are still only reaching our attention but it is up to us as modern and informed animal lovers to provide the best for these little creatures.

     It should also be mentioned that in Germany and surrounding countries, plastic cages and supplies are looked down upon. They feel that these supplies are too dangerous as the plastic poses a risk if it is chewed and swallowed. As long as you pay attention to your hamsters cage and supplies and remove any damaged supplies then this shouldn't be a problem. They like their cages to be as natural as possible but that doesn't mean that you can't use plastic if you want a large 'German style' cage.


  1. Can syrians be housed together?
    No, syrians are solitary animals by nature and will fight till death if kept together. Even if they do not fight they will continue to be stressed by this unnatural situation and their immune system will be lowered making them susceptible to illness.
  2. Can dwarfs or Chinese hamsters be housed together?
    Yes, though they have specific housing needs and if they fight then they must be separated.
  3. My hamsters has escaped what should I do?
    Be sure to put away any predatory animals and leave food in the middle of each room to draw the hamster out. I've heard of countless ways to set 'traps' for your hamster but I have never had any luck with them. The only way that I've ever found any missing hamsters was when I got down on my hands and knees and turned every room upside down until I found that elusive hamster.
  4. I read that 10 gallon tanks are perfect for hamsters, is this true?
    No, hamsters may be small but they need lots of room. The minimum floorspace required must equal to an area of 360 square inches (aka a 20 gallon long tank).
  5. Will brothers and sisters breed with each other?
    Yes, this is called inbreeding and is highly dangerous to both the mother and the babies.
  6. I know that cedar shavings are dangerous but pine is safe, right?
    Nope. Pine and any other softwood shavings contain phenols just like cedar that cause respiratory problems.
  7. Can I put two or more different species together?
    No, none of these species of hamsters would meet up in the wild. Trying to house them together would be stressful as they have different ways of communicating and sometimes different care needs.
  8. My Syrian has brown scabs on his hips, is he ok?
    Yes, he's fine. Syrians have scent glands on their hips to mark their territory. You'll sometimes see them rubbing up against things, this leaves their scent behind. Dwarfs and Chinese hamsters have a scent gland on their belly.
  9. Can I let my hamster go swimming?
    No they could drown, catch a cold or just become terrified and stressed. Bathing them also strips the natural oils from their coat and skin. Hamsters do not enjoy getting wet and so you should simply avoid the stress that it causes.
  10. If hamsters shouldn't swim, then how can I bathe my hamster?
    Bathing isn't necessary. Hamsters keep themselves very clean all on their own. If their fur looks greasy then you can provide a sand bath (using Chinchilla sand or children's play sand). They will roll around in it and it will make their coat look great!
  11. Do hamsters smell?
    They have a slight scent but nothing that is overpowering or bad unless you don't keep their cage clean that is. Though females do emit a musky odour when they are in heat however most people don't even notice this smell.
  12. My hamster is chewing on the bars, what should I do?
    Hamsters chew on the bars for a few reasons. They may need to wear down their teeth, they may be bored or they may be trying to get your attention. Providing some wood chews or milkbones for your hamster will give them something else to chew on. Next you need to make sure that their cage is big enough and that they have plenty to do. Finally be sure to give your hamster plenty of attention and out of the cage time each day. If you have done all of this then it is likely just a bad habit. Rubbing lemon juice on the bars will deter your hamster from chewing on the bars.
  13. My hamster is chewing on the silicone glue on his tank, will he die?
    Nope, the glue is safe (or else it would leech into the water and kill fish). Chewing on the glue is often a sign of boredom, so make sure that the tank is large enough and that they have plenty to do.
  14. I bought a bed for my hamster but she won't sleep in it, how do I make her move?
    You can try to tempt her to move into the bed by placing treats and bedding inside. However where she will sleep is up to her and you cannot force her to move.

Upgrade Your Information

"I had hamsters 10 years ago and they never had any problems with __________".
"I used to breed hamsters thirty years ago, I know what I'm talking about".
"When I was a kid we never did that for our hamsters."

     I've heard it all when it comes to people who are not new to hamsters be rather new to today's information regarding hamsters. Thirty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago there wasn't a whole lot known about hamsters. So much new information is out there and as the years continue to progress we are learning more and more. We never knew that cedar shavings were dangerous thirty years ago and it has only been in the last five to seven years that people have accepted that all softwood shavings are dangerous for example. Cage sizes were small and it was considered ok, now we know that they need so much more room. Knowledge on every area of hamsters has changed because we know more now and we are learning more and more everyday.
     Hamsters aren't a popular area of study so we learn slowly, but we are indeed learning. Now for those that used to have hamsters but have taken a break it is important to research again. Pet store employees and old books aren't the only resource that can be used in your studies, the internet is a vast and powerful tool too. There are websites, blogs and forums that hold a ton of information and experience. Times have changed, mostly for the better when it comes to our beloved hamsters. So while a small cage, no wheel, table scraps and cedar shaving may have been accepted twenty or so years ago they should no longer be accepted at all today.
     I understand that it is difficult to change what you know, but when new evidence comes up, it does need to be taken into consideration and more often then not acted upon. In the end it is up to you to decide if you should upgrade your information, though at least knowing the updated information of the pet you are keeping is important, even if you will continue using past and outdated information. For those that base their care on such outdated information, I am not saying you are bad owners, only that you reconsider what was once considered the norm for hamster care. This is what this site is all about- providing the updated information on hamster care.

The Three C's

     There are some pretty scary rumours about hamsters being cannibalistic. It isn't all lies though. Hamsters can be cannibalistic, but please do not fear. They aren't some crazy mythical tribe on some lost island waiting to eat any other hamster that comes by. Hamsters may become cannibalistic for two and only two reasons. The first reason is more common then the second and is seen when Mother hamsters eat their young. This is done when a pup dies or is ill. If the pup is ill then it likely would have died painfully or lived a short life otherwise. This may also be done if the mother is under a lot of stress. In her eyes this is what is best in order to bring more little hamsters into the world. They eat dead babies in order to keep the predators from being attracted to the nest, which is what happens in the wild. It's eat or be eaten.
     The second reason a hamster may resort to cannibalism is if a cage mate passes away. I've never actually seen this myself and it seems to be less common then it used to be. They will not eat each other alive, they eat the body of a deceased cage mate once again to stop predators from becoming attracted to their home. This isn't really necessary now, but hamsters still have many of their wild instincts.
     Feeding meat to your hamster will not make it become a cannibal and it will not make it want to eat you. Feeding meat does not give it 'the taste for blood' despite what some... imaginative people may tell you. It's part of nature and you should not feel angry with your hamster for doing this, it's instinct not some grudge against the other hamster. A lot of people also blame their hamster for killing it's cage mate, remember this is very unlikely. The cage mate likely died from some other cause. So while it is gross and perhaps a little creepy it is nature.


     Coprophagy is very normal and very healthy. But what is it, exactly? Well it's when your hamsters eat their own feces. Yes, doesn't that sound lovely? Certain droppings still contain needed nutrients that aren't extracted the first time, so your hamster may reach down and eat some of his droppings as they come out. They know which is good and which is just plain garbage. It's gross, but normal so don't worry about it.


     As with any pet, a hamster will require care for its entire life, which could be 2-3 years or longer. This commitment requires not only routine feeding, care and time spent with the hamster but provision of vet treatment if the hamster becomes ill or injured which can be costly. Although proper care will go along way to keep a hamster healthy there may still be times when prompt vet treatment is needed, once a hamster is ill it can deteriorate quickly. Be sure that you are able to care for your hamster for it's full life, once you have your hamster is it completely dependent on you and you are responsible for its life. Luckily hamsters are rather simple to take care of  once you know how!

Traveling and Staycation

Traveling with your Hamster
If you are moving, going on a trip or whatever and you want to bring your hamster along then check out these tips:
(the hamster shall be referred to as female here)

- If possible then use your hamster' s cage instead of some sort of travel cage so that she is in familiar surroundings.
- If not possible then find the roomiest travel cage available. Habitrail-like cages work well or your own bin travel cages can work too
- Don't pack too many toys and beds into the cage as it may fall over while in the car
- Don't put the water bottle in, with all of the jostling it will leak
- Put food high in water content in instead, such as cucumber or water melon if you don't have a species that is prone to diabetes
- Make sure the cage isn't in direct sunlight
- Keep it quiet; no loud music, arguing or yelling
- If possible and if needed turn on the A/C or heat (weather determined) to keep the hamster and you comfortable.
- Take a towel or blanket and cover the cage (don't block ventilation though). Being in a dark environment will calm her
- Try not to take too many stops, get there as soon as you can
- If you are going on plane then make sure the airline will allow you to take her and make sure she cannot chew out of the cage
- If you are staying in hotels make sure that they are animal friendly.
- When you get where ever you are going be sure to set up her cage as soon as possible.

     Are you going on a 2 to 4 day long vacation and can't bring your hamster? Fear not, for your hamster can enjoy a 'stay-cation' without you! Hamsters are natural hoarders and this means that they won't eat all of their food in one sitting and so can be left alone without any problems once in awhile. The maximum I've left my hamsters alone was for five days but I don't think I'd do it again. (It worried me too much, hehe). Here's some tips:
- Make sure that the cage is clean prior to leaving
- Leave several handfuls of seed mix/lab blocks in the cage for your hamster --enough to last those few days
- Make sure that the cage is secure and that there is no way for your hamster to escape
- Make sure the water bottle works, and if you're worried set up a second one
- I would advise against giving any perishable foods, in case they rot while you are gone
- Make sure you leave a key and a way you can be contacted in the event of an emergency (flood, bad storm, etc) with a friend or neighbour

     If you are going to be away for longer then you will need to find a hamster-sitter. Here's some things to consider:
- Has this person ever kept a hamster before? If not then it may be best to suggest that they don't handle your hamster unless you are willing to show them how first and are confident that your hamster will not escape from them.
- Does this person know much about hamsters? If not then you should leave a detailed care sheet or set of instructions for them. (Well you should do this anyways)
- Are they going to be coming to your house? It would be best if your hamster can keep his life as normal as possible by staying at home and besides, his cage is likely too big for your hamster sitter. So he'll either need a travel cage or your sitter will need to make some room if he needs to go to their place.
- Does your hamster have any special needs? Any allergies or needed medications need to be considered when selecting a sitter. You need to find someone who will be careful enough to watch for any problems and administer any medications.
- If you pick out a lot of things from your seed mix then you should probably make sure that these are picked out prior to your trip so that your sitter doesn't have to worry about it. The same goes for any fresh foods you want given to your hamster- they should be cut to the size you want prior to you leaving.
- If you are going for more then a week, you need to be sure that the sitter is willing to clean the cage, be sure to provide substrate and bedding.
- Leave contact information for you and for your vet. Also leave instructions for what to do in the event that your hamster falls ill. You may also want to leave money for any emergencies or talk to your vet about paying when you return.
- If your hamster is old then warn your sitter, so that if the hamster passes away in her sleep then your sitter won't have a panic attack about what to do. Also maybe mention to your sitter that in the event that your hamster does die, not to let you know until you return. Bad news like that can really ruin a vacation, and your hamster wouldn't want that.
- Make sure that all necessary supplies are in plain view or with the hamster.
- Don't worry too much and enjoy your vacation!

My Opinion on Exercise Balls

Hamster Balls - Cruel?

     I have heard much debate as to whether run around balls are cruel. In my experience I have yet to find evidence of that if they are used properly. I have had a large amount of hamsters over the years and everyone of them has enjoyed spending time in their run around ball. Yet there are still those that argue that these toys are cruel. So I wanted to share my views on how the run around ball is not cruel, here are some of the most common arguments made against the Hamster ball.

Hamster balls have poor ventilation.
Properly made hamster balls have adequate ventilation and are designed so that no toes are caught in the holes. I have yet to ever hear of a hamster that has issues breathing in a hamster ball. Besides that hamsters are not in their balls long enough for ammonia to build up to cause problems with lack of oxygen. Hamsters also live in burrows in the wild, which also have little fresh air and ventilation.

Hamster balls have poor visibility, the hamsters can't see where they are going.
Hamsters have terrible eyesight as it is, they can only see a few inches in front of them. If you are truly worried about this, then buying a clear ball instead of a coloured one would solve this problem.

Hamsters don't enjoy the ball, but they have nowhere else to go so they have to run, which looks like they are enjoying it.
I have seen when hamsters have grown bored of their run around balls. They don't run when they want out; they stop and chew on the ball, go to sleep or start to eat food from their pouches. My hamsters go into the ball on their own terms and when they look bored then they are let out. Playtime in the ball should be supervised anyways. You need to understand your hamster and their body language so that you can understand what they want. After a couple of years it isn't difficult to understand when a hamster is not enjoying something.

The hamster is stuck in the ball until the owner lets it out.
That is why playtime in the ball should always be supervised so that when the hamster does want out the owner can let them out.

When a hamster ball crashes into a wall or an obstacle, it's like a car crash for hamsters.
How so? Hamsters aren't going nearly fast enough for the impact to be so devastating. Most hamsters become good at steering their balls anyways, given time. Some of mine had even figured out the layout of the room, steering themselves with amazing precision.

Playpens are better then balls for exercise.
Playpens are just as good as balls for exercise. I enjoy giving my hamsters the best of both worlds, free roam time and playtime in the ball. The ball allows them to explore further and in a safer environment while time in the playpen is just a good time to play around outside of the cage.

Hamsters are curious and will step into the ball without realizing what they are getting themselves into.
Perhaps the first time yes, but if they enjoy it then they will look forward to going in. They aren't stupid, they know what they like and what they don't like. When I hold the ball up to their cage for them to step into they rush in and try to start going before I can even put the lid on, I find it difficult to see how they hate it.
     In conclusion I believe that hamster exercise balls are excellent toys to provide physical stimulation; provided that they are used in a safe manner. By supervising the hamster while it is in the ball, blocking and eliminating hazards (such as stairs), limiting time spent in the ball, buying a well made ball and ensuring that you are vigilant in watching for signs of stress, discomfort or general displeasure then the supposed dangers of the exercise ball are eliminated. I have found that those against the exercise ball are looking at extreme cases such as hamsters left in their balls for hours at a time, hamster allowed to roll down stairs and other similar stories/videos. The ball is a great toy if used properly.
**A note about hamster balls: I would like to mention something about the run around ball. Let your hamster eat, drink and go to the washroom before allowing them into the ball. Only allow them to run for 15-30 minutes at a time. If they do not like their run-around-ball (they chew on it, go to sleep or pull out food to eat from their cheek pouches, seem distressed) then don't force it on them, find something else to do with them. Always supervise your hamster while it's in the ball, the ball is not a ham-sitter. Block off stairs so that they don't fall down them. Do not force your hamster to run, spin them around while in the ball or push them around - they are in the ball and should run on their terms only.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Hamster Day!

I'm working away at this to see if it will end up working but I am also looking into other options. I like the way that it is looking right now but I'm not sure if it will work for the rest of what I need it for.

~Holly, Rory & Bones

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome to Dashing Hamsters

I'm merely testing this whole blogspot host thing out. My website is currently hosted by freewebs, which I have become increasingly frustrated with as they continue to limit what I can use for free on their website. From storage space to the amount of pages I can have. I have also changed the site's name. It has been Hamster Wheel for years but I have always come across other small websites with the same name and this name is better. Dashing Hamsters is named after my first hamster, Dash.

I'm still figuring this whole thing out so we'll see how this pans out. If it seems to actually be better than I may switch over to this host. There's really no point to this post other than to see how it will look on the main page and to try and figure out some neat functions. I really hope that this works out seeing as my current site is starting to suck what with all the limits on it. Why pay money for more pages when I can find a better host?

~Holly, Rory & Bones