Golden hamsters are popular as house pets due to their docile, inquisitive nature, cuteness, and small size. However, these animals have some special requirements that must be met for them to be healthy. Although some people think of them as a pet for young children, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends hamsters as pets only for people over age 6 and the child should be supervised by an adult. Cages should be a suitable size, safe, comfortable, and interesting. If a hamster is consistently chewing, then it needs more stimulation or a larger cage. The minimum recommended size for a hamster cage is 450 square inches or 2903. 22 square centimeters, of continuous floor space (although the source of this recommendation is unknown). These can be made from a plastic storage bin or a large glass tank. The majority of hamster cages sold in pet stores do not meet these size requirements. The ASPCA article cited recommends a minimum glass aquarium size of 10 gallons (which is typically 10" x 20" or 200 square inches). A hamster wheel is a common type of environmental enrichment, and it is important that hamsters have a wheel in their cage. The wheel should be a minimum of eight inches in diameter and made of a solid material. Hamsters can get their feet stuck in wire or mesh wheels which causes a condition called bumblefoot. Eight inches is the minimum size for a wheel, many hamsters end up needing a nine or ten-inch wheel once they are fully grown. A hamster should be able to run on its wheel without arching its back. A hamster that has to run with an arched back can have back pain and spine problems. A variety of toys, either shop-bought or home-made can help to keep them entertained. Cardboard tubes and boxes are stimulating. Golden hamsters are energetic and need space to exercise.
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