Adult hamsters can grow up to 18cm in length with females being slightly larger than the males. Adults are fiercely territorial and should be housed individually due to the frequent and fierce fighting with other hamsters.
Housing your hamster
There are many houses available on the market but either a large glass or plastic tank with a secure ventilated lid, or a wire cage are best. The well known tunnel systems are not recommended as fatter or pregnant hamsters can sometimes get stuck in the tubes and this cage type is also difficult to access for cleaning.
Wire cages are best for Syrians and if you are going to get one with bars then try and get black bars as they are easier to see your pet through than white bars. Although the tank style cages are popular due to their ease of cleaning and the inability of even the most determined hamster to kick sawdust out of it, Syrians like having bars to climb and barred cages act as a good way of keeping them fit. Please buy the biggest cage you can afford as hamsters love to run around, however three tier cages can be dangerous if the hamster falls.
You should always aim to house your hamster in a quiet and dimly lighted area of the house. The cage should also be situated away from other pets such as cats and dogs. Hamsters will thrive satisfactorily in temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, very cold temperatures may send hamsters into hibernation. If this happens gently warm them in your hands to wake them. Avoid drafts, excess humidity and drastic changes in temperature, such as in an air-conditioned room, bathroom or laundry room, as they can contribute to respiratory problems and do not situate the cage (or tank especially) near a window where the sun can shine on it all day or in a conservatory as this can cause heatstroke.
Getting an exercise wheel for the cage is essential and cannot be over emphasised, hamsters are naturally active and will run many miles a night given the opportunity. The silent spinner range is a big improvement on the noisy hamster wheels of old. An exercise ball for use outside the cage is also a good investment as it gives the opportunity for additional exercise and stimulation for the animal, and is a good safe source of entertainment for youngsters and adults alike.
Feeding your hamster
There are many foods available on the market for hamsters however Hamster Health by Pascoes. This is not the easiest food to get hold of however we know it can be obtained from Makro, Countrywide Farmers, Surrey Pet Supplies, The Vital Group (www.vital-group.co.uk) www.k9capers.com www.ukpetstop.com . As a guide one bag of this tends should last your hamster a year.
As this is a non selective food it means your pet gets a balanced diet and is not able to leave the fibrous grass pellet element that most hamsters try to avoid but is needed for an efficient digestive system. If you want to give your hamster a treat there are many options available to buy in the shops, or they will love you just as much if not more if you give them a bit of fresh salad or carrot, although make sure you do not give them too much as this can give them diarrhoea.