Adopting a hamster from an area shelter? Congratulations! Hamsters and other small animals are frequently brought to area shelters for re-homing. You will want to make your hamster's transition as stress-free as possible; she is likely to feel stressed by the transition to an unfamiliar environment, and may even be away from her littermates for the first time. She will no doubt be overwhelmed and frightened by new sounds and smells.
You can help ease your hamster's stress by following a few simple steps:
Set up your hamster's cage before bringing her home – put in her bedding, accessories, food and water before bringing her home. Use the same kind of food, bedding and nesting materials she was used to at the shelter, and introduce any new products gradually. Please be aware that cedar and pine shavings are not appropriate bedding materials and can cause respiratory and other health problems in hamsters. Use paper products for your hamster’s bedding.
Give your hamster her privacy for the first couple of days. Don’t handle her and don’t let friends and visitors handle her for a few days. Let her explore and get used to her new surroundings with some privacy. Provide her with fresh food and water daily, but give her two or three days to get used to her new home before she has to start getting used to you petting her and picking her up.
Syrians hamsters prefer to live alone, but if you have adopted a dwarf hamster as a companion for another dwarf hamster, you need to wait at least two weeks before starting the bonding process. This ensures that the new hamster is healthy and will not transmit any diseases to your original hamster, and it also gives the new hamster time to acclimate to his surroundings. After a couple of weeks, start the bonding process slowly by placing the cages side by side for a couple more weeks to let them get used to each other safely. Hamsters that are already somewhat familiar with each other will bond more smoothly.
With time and patience, your hamster(s) will adjust to their new surroundings with a minimum of stress!
The Humane Society of Greater Dayton and Robyn’s Nest Rescue often have adoptable hamsters. You may go to their websites to see what adoptable small pets they have, but it is never a bad idea to call and see if a hamster or other small pet has arrived at the shelter in the last day or two and simply has not been posted to the website yet.
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