We all know what these crazy little things are, these loveable rodents with cute furry faces. Thousands upon thousands of hamsters die every year, probably every day, due to improper care by new owners, neglect, and stupidity in general. I'm no hamster expert, but at times in my life I've cared for as many as 50 at once, and I didn't even breed to sell them.. actually most of them were bred accidentally (it happens..). Below is a list of some things I've picked up on my own that most books fail to mention:

- Your hamster needs sleep. You can't keep the poor thing awake all day long just because you want to play with it! I shouldn't say that, you can, but you'll be cutting its life in half. The best times to play with them is when you come upon them already awake, and they do wake up sometimes, believe it or not. As they age, you'll want to play with them a little bit less, because they need more sleep. The longest I've had a hamster live is 5 or 6 years, and I'm told that's far above average.

- If you take your hamster to the vet when it's sick, 9 out of 10 times they'll tell you there is nothing you can do, mostly because they don't care. At least, this has been my experience, though I'm sure it may vary drastically from place to place. There are some common pretty successfully treatable diseases (like wet-tail) found in hamsters that you can look up in various books, on websites, etc., etc.. make sure you keep an eye on the little thing, they can't tell you when they're sick. If you look for them, you'll likely be able to recognize behavioural changes that may indicate illness, like increased irritability, lethargy, and some other important stuff.

- Make sure you know what your hamster can and cannot eat. They get bloated easily from foods that aren't appropriate for them.. cabbage is one thing you shouldn't give to the poor little guys. Again, research is the key.

- DO NOT breed your hamster just so you can have cute little babies. One, most people haven't the slightest idea how to care for a pregnant hamster and don't bother to do anything differently. Secondly, most people also don't know what to do after the babies are born. It's also important to note that you will not be the only one with the idea to breed and sell hamsters, so you'll likely end up with a bunch of little critters that you don't know what to do with, because you surely can't keep them all. (Actually, you can keep an awful lot, but it might get costly and VERY time consuming as far as cleaning goes). Think before you breed them, and research!

If that last part came too late, and you've already got a pregnant hamster.. I'm going to compile some tips for taking care of hamster babies and their mommy.

Well, that was kind of long-winded. Any way.. for more hamster information, try: http://www.hamsters.co.uk/ It's helped me dozens of times during my hamster raising years. Tee-hee.

Remember, just 'cause they're rodents doesn't mean you can abuse them, hamsters are living things too. Oh.. and don't give them to tiny kids so that they can get their eyeballs squeezed out of their tiny little heads. Use common sense.

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