Hamsters are small rodents, just like gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, and rats. They are native to southeast Europe and Syria. Hamsters now occur in other places including Israel, Armenia, the United States, China, Romania, and Greece. However, the Syrian hamsters still make up to 90 percent of the entire hamster population. And, it is this kind of hamsters that most people like to keep as pets. The Syrian hamster is colored light, reddish brown with grayish white underside. Other color variants of hamsters include albino, cinnamon, cream, and piebald. Hamsters are good pets especially when they are not handled violently. They are commonly used for scientific research.
Lifestyle of Hamsters
Biologically, hamsters are classified in the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, family Cricetidae, order Rodentia, and class Mammalia. The natural habitats of hamsters include deep burrows, tree branches, and thick vegetation. Hamsters preferably like to live in burrows because burrows are nice hideouts from predators. Burrows also provide cooler temperature and higher humidity to hamsters than what exists in the desert. Hamsters reproduce by mating. Female hamsters are very prolific, giving birth to 3 or 7 babies per time. During the breeding season, male hamster mates with a female hamster. Mating usually occurs in the evening; and gestation period ranges between 16 and 22 days. Baby hamsters are born hairless, blind, and with closed ears. Hamsters are nocturnal animals. Their young ones are weaned about 21 days from birth. Check moremore Hamsters are nesting animals. Thus, a lack of nesting materials may occasionally induce cannibalism – a practice whereby a female hamster eat her baby. Red fox is a common predator of hamsters. However, if not killed in the wild, hamsters can live up to 3 years. Because hamsters like keeping tidy habitats, they are disgusted by old foods. They are solitary animals. The smell organs of hamsters are far better than their eyes. Thus, they depend more on their smell organs than their eyes in order to avoid predators.
Hamsters typically feed on green vegetables including leaves, seeds, and fruits in moderate quantities. Their teeth grow continuously to support their feeding habit. And they like to hide themselves. See alsoreference. In addition, hamsters enjoy taking a few treats such as banana, strawberry, and carrots. However, hamsters also enjoy eating insects. And for this reason, hamsters are omnivores. Hamsters also enjoy commercial rations of feeds including a mixture of insect lava, cereals, mature insects, and seeds. Where hamsters are being reared at home, they prefer to have their food placed right on their cage floor or in a flat dish. Where their feed is placed in a non-flat dish, hamsters will normally turn over the food. Hamsters have cheek pouches, and they like to store food in the pouches to transport to their hideouts. Hamsters like to rest between feeds; and would not eat just because they have food in store. Hamsters typically leave at least 2 hours between feeding sessions. Even though hamsters will eat nearly everything, not all foods are safe for them. Chocolate and foods containing alcohol are poisonous, and should not be fed to them. Other foods that are poisonous to hamsters include grapefruits, lemon, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, garlic and oranges.
Furthermore, hamsters are excellent chewers. This is one way whereby hamsters keep themselves busy round the clock. It is a way they relax too. Therefore, where hamsters are being kept as pets at home, it is vital to provide them with enough materials to chew on so they do not get bored or irritated. Materials that can be provided to chew on include hey cube, cardboard, coconut shell, seagrass, and pumice stone. Woods such as dogwood, quince, yucca, hazelnut, and poplar.
Almonds and Hamsters
Almonds, known scientifically as Prunus dulcis is a plant native to Iran in the Middle East. Other places where almonds now thrive well include Israel, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and California in the United States. In fact, California in the United States is the world’s most famous producer of almonds, accounting for nearly 80 percent on annual basis. Almonds are of two types: sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Almonds provide the same food nutrients to hamsters as they provide for humans. However, because hamsters like to eat sweet foods, sweet almonds are great for hamsters; and of course, they do enjoy it. But bitter almonds are not at all good for hamsters. Bitter almonds, apart from containing a killer acid, poisonous to hamsters, they may become more harmful to hamsters when flavors and salt have been added to them. Salt is particularly harmful to hamsters because it tends to cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and dehydration in hamsters. Almonds contain fats which is vital for hamsters but when hamsters consume almonds regularly, fats tend to build up in their body, and this may result in obesity. Obesity has the likelihood to reduce the life span of hamsters. In addition, hamsters tend to be choked by almonds, especially when the almonds are not chopped to smaller pieces before they are fed to hamsters. However, hamsters can enjoy almond diets quite well when they are fed with the correct variety and in moderate quantities too.
Other Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are not only beneficial to hamsters. But they are just as useful for humans too. And fortunately, almonds offer the same nutritional benefits to hamsters and humans. First, almonds are a source of antioxidants that fight against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress tends to damage vital cell molecules, induce inflammation, aging and cancer. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium which help in regulating body metabolic rates and blood sugar levels. Nutritionists have also found that almonds can help in maintaining modest body weight and also help regulate cholesterol levels, thereby contributing to better heart health. Last but not least, almonds contain fibers that aid digestion.
Seeds of almonds have high nutritional benefits for both hamsters and humans. However, the sweet kind of almonds should be fed to hamsters in modest quantities while the bitter variety should be excluded from hamsters’ diets altogether. Production of almonds in higher quantities should be encouraged because of their nutritional and health benefits not only for hamsters but for humans as well.