Doric Hamsters and Exotics

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New Owner's Shopping List

Cage that is a sensible size and suitable for your chosen species. I'd advise asking me what would suit your new pup before you purchase if you aren't sure. Remember I do not recommend cages larger than 80cm or too tall. You can read more on my Cage Reviews page.
Bedding/litter that is dust free and non scented. Facebook page fan Molly recommends you avoid fluffy bedding. I agree. Fluffy or cotton wool type nesting material can become impacted in pouches, in the gut or get wrapped around feet and tails. Facebook page fan Sadie loves to use loo roll for nesting instead of fancier, more expensive products. You can also use kitchen roll. The cheaper types are less dusty and remember, no scented! Take a look at my Bedding Reviews
A muesli mix and any added extras. You can read more on my Mixing Food page but start with a bag of Harry Hamster and you can just add a little wild bird seed and a little dog kibble to this. Any kibble will do, depending on your preference but avoid those overly coloured.
Treats. Avoid those packaged treats and buy a bag of dog biscuits, these are preferred for gnawing says Andrew, a hamster club member. I've certainly found Biscroks go down well as well as puppy bones and milky bones. If you want to you can try them on dried herbs but I'd stick with fresh food. You can feed them many fruits and vegetables except citrus fruits and onions. Attach a fresh corn on the cob instead of the dried one that's less healthy.
You can also feed millet sprays and monkey nuts but feed all treats in moderation as it's most important that they eat their normal food.
Toys. You will need a house, something to climb on, perhaps a shelf, tubes and maybe a sand bath at the very least. They'll need things to chew too. A sputnik, some wooden ladders, cardboard tubes or rat/ferret plastic tubes and an upturned shallow bowl with childrens playsand in will do. Add cardboard boxes, egg boxes and extra loo roll tubes but make sure to cut these down one side for Syrians so they don't get stuck. You make your own from lollipop sticks and papier mache if you want. Some hamsters enjoy hammocks, others just chew them so see what your hamster prefers. Make sure to trim any trailing cotton off these.
Water bottle. Buy one to use and one spare, just in case you need it.
First Aid Kit. It's handy to have some trimmex for nails, plastic syringes, vet bed, an under tank heater or snugglesafe and some vet wrap bandages handy. You should not need to bandage your hamster at home as it should have gone to the vet in the first instance. Trimmex is very useful for nails if you catch one and it bleeds but you can use plain flour too. A plastic tank, the syringes, vet bed and heat source are all useful for a poorly hamster that is recovering. Again, you should use these on the advice of a qualified vet that has seen your animal first.
Carrier. You should bring a plastic carrier to pick your pet up in but it is good to put some thought into this. You'll need it throughout their life for any vet trips, or travelling when it's safer to do this in the carrier rather than a cage. You can go for something like an Aladino, or a plastic tank like a Ferplast Geo, Hagen or Rosewood. The tanks are more secure for long journeys but most pets will be fine in an Aladino style. Please do not buy they very tiny carriers that some pet shops sell. They don't hold a pedigree Syrian for it's lifetime and your pet should still be able to turn around comfortably in it's carrier. Have a look at websites like Amazon, Zooplus, Cages World and also some reptile sites sell plastic tanks too.

Hospital Cage. A tank or large carrier like the plastic tanks above, can be used for a poorly hamster. It makes them easy to observe or capture for medication. It can be easily heated with an underfloor heater if needed, and is an easy way to restrict movement for post operative care or for a healing broken limb. It's possible to keep an animal in a 12 litre plastic tank for a week if needed. You can also make a plastic bin cage of around 24 litres if you prefer something bigger or a mini duna cage for a syrian. It's important to remember that this is only temporary caging for a sick or recovering animal.

Register at a vet. Before your pet gets ill, have a think about where to register your new pup. Take it along for a health check and see what you think of your vet. This gives you time to find another one before you have an emergency on your hands. Your vet should be keen to see you pet and unafraid to handle it. You do not need an exotic specialist, any normal vet with an interest in small animals will be fine.