Posted: March 27, 2012, 3:45 p.m. EDT
A unique physical trait of the hamster is its cheek pouches, which are very sensitive. Your hamster will not always have the common sense not to overstuff its cheeks with whatever food you provide, so never feed it anything too sharp or sticky. Anything sharp may cut or scratch your hamster’s cheek and cause an infection. Avoid feeding hamsters long pieces of foods such as carrots or any sharp bit of hard food.
If your hamster has an injury to its pouch or has an infection anywhere on its body, consult a vet as soon as possible. Sticky foods such as honey, syrups or gelatins have a tendency to gum up the hamster’s pouches. This can prevent food from being properly ejected from the cheeks. The sticky goop inside a cheek pouch may also cause an infection.
Some foods are poisonous to your hamster even though humans or other mammals eat them. Keep these foods away from your hamster.
One rule of thumb is not to feed anything to your hamster that may cause stomach upset or gas. Hamsters have a two-section stomach system that makes it impossible for them to burp up trapped gases from their digestive tract. A bad case of gastric indigestion can kill a hamster. Symptoms of gastric indigestion include lethargy, bloating, weeping eyes and a shaky or hunched walk.
Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Hamsters here.