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Hamsters: A pet for all ages

Hamsters are easy pets for practically any family. They have simple needs and are cheap to keep. Provide a dry living space outfitted with a gnawing log and a hiding place and a hamster is content.

There are two main types of hamsters suitable to bring into your home -- the golden, or Syrian, hamster and the dwarf. Dwarf hamsters are not as friendly as the golden, are smaller and can give birth to eyeless offspring. If you must have two golden hamsters, keep them separated or they will injure or kill each other. The dwarfs have no problem living together.

Hamsters are very economical pets. You can buy them for as little as $5 each and their diet won't break your budget either -- they eat small quantities of fruits and vegetables.

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Plastic cages -- lightweight and easy to clean -- are perfect for hamsters and their owners. A good cage will cost $50 to $75. Install an exercise wheel to keep your pet active and healthy. At the Ferretstore.com wheels are priced at $3, $6 and $11 depending on the size. You will also need to create a cozy hiding space in your hamster's cage for daytime use.

These animals love to chew. It is normal for them to store food in their cheeks for eating at a later time. You should be concerned only with the food in and around the cage. Replace old food with fresh supplies daily.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals. If you can't deal with a pet that sleeps most of the day, then don't consider the hamster. They get aggressive if their daytime rest is interrupted and are at their best in late evening. Your nighttime rest might be disturbed by your pet's activities.

Hamsters must be housed in a place not susceptible to excess heat or cold. The extremes in temperature can affect their health.

Hamsters like interacting with people and might live a happy life in domesticity, but not for very long. They have a life span of only 1,000 days, so you might want to include the cost of a replacement pet. Your total cost of bringing home a hamster can easily be under $100.

 
 
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