For Valentine's Day this year, my boyfriend surprised me with a long-haired Syrian hamster named Walter. When I opened the small cardboard box from Petco, my heart was full of excitement and joy as I laid eyes on my little orange and white fluffball. We put Walter's cage together and welcomed him into his new home. My boyfriend and I just stared at him in awe as he ran on his wheel all night.
Since hamsters are nocturnal, Walter is usually getting ready for bed as I'm waking up. He pokes his little head up from his bedding and then gently closes his eyes, ready for sleep. Throughout the day, he'll wake up around three or four times for water. When he's done hydrating, it's right back to bed. It's important not to disturb hamsters while they're sleeping during the day because this can cause unnecessary stress on their bodies.
Around 9 p.m., Walter finally wakes up and is ready to start his day. It's at this time I usually fill his bowl with food. Depending on if he pouches his entire bowl of food in his cheeks, the bowl of food lasts about two or three days. I must say, even though it's a waste of food, watching little Walter shove 20 pellets of food into his cheeks is pretty adorable. Hamsters' cheeks can actually stretch all the way down to their hips, which allows them to carry as much food as possible back to their burrows.
When Walter is finished eating or pouching, he'll usually just play around in his cage with the chew sticks I give him. Chew sticks are really great for preventing boredom and entertaining your hamster. If a hamster becomes bored, they'll start trying to climb out of their cage or chewing on the bars of the cage.
After play time, Walter will proceed to run on his wheel for the entire length of the night. This is fascinating to watch because these small animals can run so fast. Some wheels can be super noisy while you're trying to sleep, so I suggest either purchasing a silent wheel, or placing the cage in another room with a light on.
For extras, I purchased a small playpen for Walter with some wooden toys for him to climb on and chew on. This allows him to run around outside of his cage and for new entertainment. I also have a ball that he likes to roll around in to explore his surroundings. The ball is super useful when cleaning the cage because I don't have to worry about losing him and he gets some extra playtime.
I usually clean his cage once a week, while doing spot checks (cleaning out any poop I can see on the top of his bedding) daily. Without the spot checks, the cage can become really smelly, which isn't pleasant for anyone. I throw out the bedding on the bottom of the cage, clean his wheel with soap and water, as well as any other attachments. Once everything is properly cleaned off, I put everything back into place inside. I refill his water bottle, add some more food to his bowl, and finally place him back into his new clean home.
Having a hamster is truly so exciting because it's like having a little buddy all the time. Anything they do is adorable and I find myself wanting to capture Walter's every move on my phone. I highly suggest investing in a hamster – they'll be your little buddy and you'll instantly fall in love with their adorable little faces.