The fancy bear hamster is an adorable and curious little critter that has captured the hearts of hamster lovers around the world. With their cuddly teddy bear-like appearance and playful personality, it’s no wonder these hamsters make such popular pets.
But caring for a fancy bear hamster requires more than just giving them a cute name and a cozy habitat. To help these hamsters live long, healthy and happy lives, owners need to learn about their specific care needs.
This complete guide covers everything you need to know about these delightful hamsters, from choosing the right hamster supplies to keeping them entertained and healthy.
An Overview of Fancy Bear Hamsters
The fancy bear hamster, also sometimes called teddy bear hamsters, refer to a specific type of Syrian hamster. They are larger than dwarf hamsters, growing up to 5-7 inches in length.
Their name comes from their incredibly soft, fluffy fur which resembles a cute stuffed animal. Fancy bear hamster colors encompass grey, brown, white, black, and mixes of these hues. No two of these hamsters look exactly alike – their unique coat patterns and markings are part of what makes them so special.
Some people may confuse fancy bears with Campbell’s dwarf hamsters due to similarities in their fur textures and colors. But Syrian hamsters like fancy bears are notably larger with stockier bodies. Dwarf hamsters tend to have slimmer proportions. Fancy bear hamsters also have shorter tails and bigger ears than dwarf hamsters.
While genetic mutations may play a role, selective breeding is likely responsible for producing fancy bear hamsters’ distinct fur types. Their origins can be traced back to breeding practices in scientific laboratories in the 1930s and pet stores in the 1990s. They grew in popularity as a pet in Europe before becoming a sensation worldwide in the early 2000s.
Housing Needs for Fancy Bear Hamsters
Proper housing is essential to keep your fancy bear hamster comfortable and healthy. Here are some cage requirements to follow:
- Minimum dimensions of 24 x 12 x 12 inches – Bigger is always better to allow for burrowing, toys and exercise.
- A wire cage with 1/2 inch bar spacing to prevent escapes. Glass aquariums can also be used.
- At least 6 inches of paper, aspen ortimothy hay bedding material for burrowing. Avoid cedar or pine.
- Multi-level spaces, platforms, tubes and hideaways for climbing and hiding.
- A removable bottom tray for easy cleaning.
- Good ventilation but no drafts.
- Placement away from direct sunlight or high noise.
In addition to their main habitat, a separate exercise wheel of at least 8 inches in diameter should be provided along with a sandbox for dust baths. Owners will need to spot clean dirty bedding daily and fully clean the cage every 1-2 weeks. Frequent cleaning is vital as these hamsters can be quite smelly!
Caring for Fancy Bear Hamsters: Diet, Health and More
Caring for a fancy bear hamster goes beyond just giving them some bedding and food. Here are some top tips for keeping them healthy and happy:
- High quality commercial hamster food should be available at all times. Supplement with small amounts of fresh fruits/veggies daily.
- Provide a constant source of clean water via a sipper bottle.
- Offer treats like nuts, seeds or mealworms only in moderation due to high fat content.
- Avoid sudden diet changes which can upset their sensitive gut.
- Weigh your hamster weekly to check for weight loss which can indicate illness.
- Trim teeth and nails every couple of months if needed. Long teeth can prevent them from eating.
- Watch for signs of wet tail disease, serious diarrhea that requires prompt veterinary treatment.
- Take them to an exotic vet annually and if any health concerns arise.
Handling and Taming
- Give new hamsters several days to settle in before handling. Then begin by hand feeding treats.
- Scoop them up gently, supporting their feet and bottom. Never grab their tail!
- Tame them slowly with daily handling sessions of 5-10 minutes.
- Create a play pen for safe outside-cage exercise and interaction.
- Give them tunnels, hideaways, chew toys and an exercise wheel to keep them engaged and active.
- Rotate toys weekly to provide novelty. Hide treats in toys to stimulate natural foraging.
- Provide supervised time outside the cage to explore and play at least every other day.
Proper care in all these areas will keep your fancy bear hamster content!
Interesting Facts About Fancy Bear Hamsters
Beyond just being cute and cuddly, fancy bear hamsters have some intriguing traits and behaviors that make them fascinating to own:
- They stuff food in cheek pouches which can make their heads look comically large.
- Hamsters are crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn and dusk. But they’ll adjust to your schedule.
- They are solitary and must be housed alone as they will fight with other hamsters.
- Fancy bears have poor eyesight but excellent senses of smell and hearing.
- When they feel threatened, they will emit a strong scent from scent glands on their hips.
- Hamsters are champion nest builders, gathering bedding to create cozy chambers for sleeping and hoarding food.
- If they escape their cage, they tend not to wander far, often hunkering down in a hiding spot.
- Hamsters are champion diggers, able to quickly burrow tunnels through loose substrates.
- The average lifespan of a fancy bear hamster is 2-3 years with proper care, but they can live up to 5 years.
Choosing Your Fancy Bear Hamster
When adopting a fancy bear hamster, here are some things to look for:
- Search for reputable breeders or shelters/rescues to adopt from. Avoid pet stores.
- Pick a young hamster, ideally 4-12 weeks old. Check for bright, active temperament.
- Examine their eyes, ears, mouth and rear for signs of discharge, diarrhea or parasites.
- Look for a hamster with a clean, healthy-looking coat. Avoid wet or patched fur.
- Gently pick up the hamster to check their temperament. Go for one that stays relaxed in your hands.
- Purchase all necessary supplies beforehand so their habitat is fully ready when they come home.
- Consider adopting a pair of same-sex siblings who are already bonded if housing multiples.
Choosing the right individual hamster and being fully prepared with their habitat in place will help ensure a good start to a happy life together.
See also: Why Do Hamsters’ Eyes Pop Out?
Common Health Problems to Watch For
While fancy bear hamsters are generally hardy pets, they can encounter certain health issues owners should monitor them for, including:
- Dental problems – Malocclusion and overgrown teeth require trimming by a vet. Offer chew toys.
- Diarrhea – Can be a sign of stress, poor diet, or wet tail disease. Treat mild cases by removing fresh foods. Seek medical care for severe diarrhea.
- Respiratory infections – Caused by drafts, stress or dirtiness. Symptoms are wheezing, discharge and lethargy. Antibiotics from a vet will be needed.
- Obesity – Avoid by measuring food, not overfeeding treats and providing ample exercise opportunities.
- Skin issues – Ringworm, mites and allergies may cause thinning fur, itching and flakes. Seek vet inspection and treatment.
- Injuries – Common from falls while climbing cage levels. Limit heights and provide soft landing areas.
Catching health problems early maximizes the chances of successful treatment. Contact your exotic vet if you have any concerns.
10 Fun Ways to Keep Fancy Bear Hamsters Entertained
The key to a happy hamster is staving off boredom by providing plenty of enrichment and playtime. Here are some great ideas:
- Let them run through hamster tunnels and climbers.
- Hide small treats in paper towel tubes and boxes.
- Provide different natural chew toys like wood and mineral chews.
- Add a dig box filled with soil, sand or rice for burrowing.
- Play with them using an exercise ball for secure rolling playtime.
- Engage their foraging instinct by scattering food in their substrate.
- Offer puzzle toys and treats stuffed inside paper rolls to stimulate the brain.
- Provide a shallow bowl of water for safe splashing and swimming.
- Allow exploratory playtime in an enclosed playpen area outside their cage.
- Interact using a soft paintbrush, your hand or a toy to pet and play with them.
With a little creativity and effort, you can keep your fancy bear hamster mentally and physically active for better health! Don’t forget to post cute pics and videos of their playtime antics.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fancy Bear Hamsters
Here are answers to some common questions prospective owners have about these special little pets:
1. Are fancy bear hamsters good for kids?
While their cute appearance appeals to children, adult supervision is required. Kids under 10 may not be able to handle them as gently as needed. Teach proper care and help kids interact positively.
2. What do I put in a fancy bear hamster’s playpen?
Fill their enclosed playpen with fun toys, tubes, chews and hides. Add bedding deep enough to dig and burrow in. Supervise play sessions to ensure they don’t escape or chew on undesirable items.
3. How often should I clean a fancy bear hamster’s cage?
Do a full cage clean including disinfecting every 1-2 weeks. Spot clean soiled bedding daily and replace water and food as needed. Cleaning frequency depends on cage size, number of hamsters and overall cleanliness.
4. Can fancy bear hamsters eat fresh veggies?
Yes, they can eat small amounts of veggies like cucumber, celery, broccoli, carrots and leafy greens a few times per week. Introduce new foods slowly. Always remove uneaten fresh foods within 24 hours.
5. Do fancy bear hamsters bite?
Any hamster may nip if they feel threatened or get handled roughly. But with gentle handling from a young age, most fancy bears become quite tame and enjoyable to hold. Supervise kids carefully.
6. Why is my fancy bear hamster flicking their paws?
Rapid paw flicking against their face is normal self-grooming. They are just licking a bit of water or food off their paws and fur. No concern unless it seems excessive and related to skin irritation.
Enjoying Life with a Fancy Bear Hamster
For small pet lovers, few creatures can compare to the fancy bear hamster in terms of friendly personality and irresistible cuteness. While they do require some special care, their relatively small size makes them a more manageable first-time pocket pet. By choosing your hamster carefully, creating a suitable living space, feeding them well, and providing lots of playtime and handling, fancy bear hamsters can become a delightful companion animals. So consider adopting one of these “bears” to brighten up your home and heart! With their plush furry hugs and inquisitive antics, everyday feels more fun with a fancy bear hamster by your side.
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