Gerbils & Hamsters/Hamster advive


QUESTION: Hi Sheila,
I got a new hamster about a month ago.  She is a teddy bear hamster. I named her aOreo.  I notice that she occasionally jumps in her sleep, not just slightly, but her front paws actually leave the ground.  I don't know if she's having a nightmare, or if she has epilepsy.  She is very friendly and loves to play with me, or anyone else, for example, when I open her door, she crawls onto my hand, scurries up my arm, the I offer her my opposite elbow, which she runs down and back into her cage.  The second all four paws are in her cage, she quickly turns around and scurries back onto my hand.  She does this over and over again.  Usually I get sore from standing, so I close her cage and lay down.  She actually has a temper tantrum.  She chews on the wire of her cage extra loud, and this is the only time she chews on it so loudly.  I keep an excer saucer in there cage which she loves, and a wooden toy she chews on.  I feed her Simple Selection hamster and gerbal blend because the guy at the Peterlee told me that it has probiotics in it.  I also have treats that hang in her cage, but if I don't think she's eating enough food, I'll take the treats out for a day or two.

ANSWER: Hi Jinene

Your new hamster sounds like a real character.  I love female hamsters because they tend to have great personalities.

It is strange when a hamster sleeps in that many seem to snore or twitch.  I think this is normal.  I always worry they're having a nightmare, but who knows what they dream of.  On one occasion I was so worried by the sounds one of my hamsters was making I woke them up and cuddled them.  I don't know if there is any scientific proof that hamsters dream, but certainly on that occasion I felt that mine was having a nightmare of some sort.

She clearly loves to come out and play with you, judging by her tantrum she has when she is back in her cage.  Do you have an exercise ball for her?  If you get tired of handling her perhaps you could put her in one of these so that she can continue exploring outside of her cage.  Do tape over any joins in these balls as some have a nasty habit of opening if they bang into furniture.

I'm sure she does eat enough food.  It's hard to know how much they eat as they do love to store it.  As long as she has a good variety of foods including some fresh vegetables and hard food she should be fine.


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QUESTION: I put her in a ball when her cage is being cleaned, but I don't think she likes it.  She digs in her ball and even chews aggressively at it whenever she is in it so I only put her in it once a week.

Hi Jinene

Some hamsters don't like going in the exercise ball or try to chew their way out. If mine do this I gently move it so that they start running in it again.  After a while they wedge the ball against furniture and keep chewing or fall asleep.  That is the time I put them back in their cage but as soon as I do they want to come out again!

Your hamster sounds like a real character!


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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