September 25, 2012

Are Hamsters Nocturnal?

Filed under: Hamster Health,hamster nutrition,nocturnal hamster — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:20 am

Some of the most commonly asked questions about pet hamsters are about the hamster sleep cycle.

“Are hamsters nocturnal?”

“Will a hamster keep me up at night?”

“Do hamsters sleep only during the day?”

These are important questions to ask when thinking about buying a hamster.

Hamsters are Nocturnal

Nocturnal. Active at night.

Hamsters are indeed nocturnal creatures. In the wild, hamsters forage for food at night and sleep during the day.

They do this for better protection from predators. Although your pet hamster does not have to worry about predators (unless you own an ambitious cat), it will still follow its natural instincts and go about its hamster business all night.

Your hamster’s individual sleep cycle may vary, but most domestic hamsters have a brief active period during the day. Usually this happens right around mid-day. After that, most hamsters will sleep until the late evening.

Anyone who has placed a hamster cage too close to their own beds knows first-hand that night time is a pet hamster’s favorite time to eat, dig, and run on its wheel.

Take care to protect your own natural sleep cycle! Try not to put your hamster’s cage in the same room you sleep in. It’s tempting to put a hamster in a bedroom, but a better place would be somewhere uninhabited at night. For example, the living room or a spare room.

Can Hamsters Be Trained Out of Day Sleeping?

Some owners claim that they can train their hamsters out of their nocturnal ways. In reality, however, this goes against a hamster’s wild nature. It may be harmful to your hamster’s health.

Think about it this way. Human beings can shift their sleep cycles to be nocturnal. People who work consistent night shifts do this regularly. However, people also tend to suffer health concerns when they don’t see the sun for long periods. A person may suffer a vitamin D deficiency or depression.

People are built to be active during the day. Hamsters are built for the night.

Instead of trying to make a hamster sleep cycle conform to your own, hamster owners should take advantage of a hamster’s natural daytime wake periods for play and companionship.

This way, you still get to interact with your hamster, but you won’t be kept up all night.

September 19, 2012

Is a Raw Food Diet Good for Your Dog?

Filed under: dangerous foods for your dog,home made dog food — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:00 pm

Some pet owners have recently embraced getting the best ingredients for their dog’s pet food. As a result, the high-end prepared dog food industry has seen a boom.

But some owners are looking at nother new option: raw dog food.

The trend has particularly taken off in New York City.  It consists of specially prepared foods like uncooked lamb livers, bison, alfalfa sprouts, and kale.  Yet, raw food diets are not a new initiative; many dogs were fed uncooked meat before kibble was introduced in the 1950’s.

The advocates of the raw food diet give multiple anecdotes as evidence of raw food diet benefits. Below is a list of the pros and cons of the raw food diet.

Be an informed pet owner and make a decision on whether the raw food diet is right for your pet.


  • Raw food acts a natural tooth brush.
  • The time it takes a dog to chew a raw meaty bone gives their stomach adequate time to get the acids moving. This is meant to help proper digestion.
  • Advocates argue that sluggish dogs become completely new dogs once they have begun the new raw food diet.
  • Raw bones are safer than cooked bones because they don’t splinter.
  • Your dog will have better breath.
  • Raw food diets are ideal for dogs that need to lose weight – they contain fewer calories and more energy than regular kibble – or for dogs with other diet related diseases like diabetes
  • No chemicals, preservatives, sweeteners, fillers and additives.


  • Sanitary concerns: raw food carries microbes that could harm the pet and the household.
  • Modern dogs have been domesticated for centuries, or even thousands of years. They may not be able to properly digest raw food.
  • Some dogs with allergies can’t stomach raw food diets.
  • The benefits aren’t proven; they’re anecdotal.
  • Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
  • They are time-intensive: as an owner, you will have to take the time to figure out what raw meat is the best for your dog, and this will take time.  Additionally, you need to be present when the dog is eating they’re bone – you don’t want them to swallow a bone whole!
  • Raw food diets are more expensive.

Warning to all: before starting a raw food diet, you should consult with your vet. He or she will know what to watch for in future visits.

If a raw food diet isn’t right for your dog, but you are looking to increase the nutritional value of your dog’s meals, consider a nutritional supplement

September 13, 2012

Are Ferrets Good Pets?

Filed under: Ferrets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 11:50 am

Ferrets are active and curious creatures. Their loving and playful nature makes it easy to bond with them. They are very adorable and have mischievous eyes. Previously, they gained negative publicity and are still banned in some states due to injury concerns by ferret bites.

The American Veterinary Medical Association stated “It is also recommended that no ferret be left unattended with any individual incapable of removing himself or herself from the ferret.”

Is a Ferret Right for You?
Ferrets are expensive, high-maintenance pets. Do not go for a ferret as a pet if you think you cannot afford one. Giving them adequate time and attention is essential as their physical and mental health depends on it.

They like playing with their owners. They are very energetic at certain times of the day and would like to come out of their cages and play. You should have the time to supervise them. They are intelligent and make interesting companions.

It is not advisable to have ferrets as pets around small children. Ferrets might harm them in their playfulness.

How Much Does a Ferret Cost?
Ferrets can be bought from a pet store for up to $200 but you can adopt them for less than $100. Make sure the ferret you buy looks healthy and active. It is advisable to purchase a ferret that is between eight to sixteen weeks old, though it is better to wait until the ferret is at least twelve weeks old.

Ferrets release a musky odor. It is better to find a de-scented and neutered ferret to avoid the smell.

For best health, ferrets need to have a large cage so they can freely climb and play. A ferret cage can cost about $500. Their other needs include a litter tray and scoop, food dish, and water bottle. Some old blankets, or specially made sleeping bags, are also needed to give them comfort. Ferret-safe toys and tunnels are also necessary to keep them busy.

What to Feed a Ferret
Ferrets require lots of fresh water. Their diet should be high in protein and fat.

Many ferret owners feed cat food to their pets because ferret food is not widely available. Dog food is not recommended for your pet as it may fill up your pet without fulfilling its nutritional requirements.

It is best to purchase specially formulated ferret food.

Moreover, treating them once in a while is a good idea. It brings a variety to their diet and you can enjoy the amusing show they put up to get their treat.

Rolling over, begging and other such tricks are quite a sight when you treat your ferret.

Can You Train a Ferret?
Yes, actually.

Ferrets are intelligent creatures and can be easily trained. You can litter-train them using reinforcement techniques like verbal praises or little treats.

Also, they must be trained not to bite or nip. Young ferrets as pets will not be able to distinguish between aggressiveness and playfulness. It is your responsibility to gradually train and tame them. The more attention and care you put into training, the more effective it will be.

They also need exercise to release their energy, taking them to a walk in the park with a ferret-sized leash and a bit of training can help you both enjoy a leisurely evening stroll!

September 4, 2012

Names for Hamsters

Filed under: hamster names — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:20 am

After getting a pet hamster for your little one, naming them is the next important step.

The name should be easy to pronounce. Determine the gender of your hamster before deciding on a name or else you might end up calling your female hamster ‘Alex’.

It is very important to pick a proper hamster name. It’s not a good idea to change it later. Changing your hamster’s name once it has grown used to it can confuse the little creature and it may not respond to your calling. Your hamster will learn its name with some training and will respond to it.

Hamsters have a lifespan of two to three years but they can live longer than that. Try keeping a name that your child can recall when cherishing the memory of his/her beloved pet. Below are a few ideas of hamster names that you can keep.

General Names for Hamsters

There are a few names which can be used for both girl and boy hamsters:

  • Fluffy
  • Cuppy
  • Marshmallow
  • Dimples
  • Coco
  • Almond
  • Cinnamon
  • Crackers
  • Pistachio

Hamster Names for Boys

There are many unique and cute names for male hamsters. The list is long but here I will mention a few common ones that most people like to keep. Some good hamster names for boys include:

  • Coconut
  • Cookie
  • Henry
  • Angel
  • Biscuit
  • Tom
  • Zippy
  • Scruffy
  • Rufus
  • Shaggy

Hamster Names for Girls
A charming and attractive name is a nice choice for girl hamsters. A few of the hamster names for girls are:

  • Nina
  • Dolly
  • Daisy
  • Jasmine
  • Rosie
  • Crimson
  • Emily
  • Caramel
  • Penelope
  • Amber

Funny/Weird Names
You can also come up with your own unique names. Some people like keeping funny and weird names for their hamsters. A few of them include:

  • Barbie
  • Goblin
  • Tequila
  • Fudge
  • Butler
  • Beethoven
  • Meatloaf
  • Peggy
  • Snoopy
  • Goldilocks

So, what will you name your little pet?

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.