If you are thinking of getting a hamster as a pet, you will be happy to hear that these cute critters are low-maintenance and sure to provide hours of entertainment thanks to their natural curiosity. As a parent with young children, my first concern when getting a hamster as a pet was whether hamsters have sharp teeth that might hurt my kids or damage my home.
Do Hamsters Have Sharp Teeth? Hamsters have small sharp teeth that allow them to enjoy their favorite foods, like crunchy celery and carrots. You should also know that hamsters have unique teeth that grow continuously throughout their entire lives. Luckily, there are fast, easy, and cheap ways to keep a hamster’s teeth from getting too sharp or long so their exceptional dentistry shouldn’t deter you.
When I first found out that hamster teeth never stop growing, I must confess that I weirded out. However, I soon found out that keeping a rodent’s teeth in check doesn’t require much, if any, work on the owner’s part.
Do Hamsters Have Sharp Teeth?
Hamsters are small rodents. The word rodent comes from the Latin for “rodere,” which translates roughly to “to gnaw.”
It should come as no surprise then that gnawing is part of a hamster’s everyday activity.
The creatures use their incisors, the front teeth, to bite off small bits of food. Hamsters have four incisors, two on the top, and two on the bottom.
They may then eat the food right away or store bits of it in their cheek pouches.
These large, muscular outpouchings on either side of the face are used to transport food, bedding, and even hamster babies.
The animals then use their front paws to gently massage whatever they are carrying in their cheeks back out of the mouth.
A hamster’s incisors never stop growing. This can result in health issues. If your hamster’s incisors get too long, they will not be able to eat or chew properly.
They can also hurt themselves with their sharp teeth, poking holes into their tongues or gums.
If the incisors get too long, they may hit each other when the animal closes its mouth, causing pain and even breakage.
Hamsters also have cheek teeth located at the back of the mouth. They have 12 of these molars. These are used for chewing.
For this reason, bits of food may get stuck in the back teeth. In the worst-case scenario, this will lead to a bacterial infection.
So how can you help your hamster keep their teeth at an appropriate length and sharpness?
It’s all about the food you feed them.
To ensure a nutritious hamster diet, you should give your hamster a continuously available supply of good quality commercial hamster mix (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned) together with lab blocks (Amazon, #CommissionsEarned). You can buy these goods at your local pet store or online.
Supplement these ready-made foods with small amounts of vegetables and fruits. My hamster loves cucumbers, apples, and broccoli, to name just a few. All of these goods have a natural crunch to them.
Your hamster will thus naturally keep their teeth short by merely eating their food every day.
Don’t feed your hamster foods with sugar, which can attract bacteria to the molars and increase the risk of infection.
Additionally, invest in some wooden sticks, and chew toys.
Yes, chew toys aren’t just for dogs. Your hamster will be naturally drawn to gnaw on these items, further wearing their teeth down and preventing them from getting too sharp or long.
Another benefit is that the animal will paw at the chew toy or block, likewise shortening their nails in the process — so you are killing two birds with one stone.
Just make sure to get items specifically designed for hamsters.
You don’t want to put a wooden toy block in their cage, for example, because it may have paint on it that is toxic to the animal.
Chew toys, blocks, and sticks made for hamsters are safe and don’t have glue, nails, paint, or other potentially hazardous materials.
How to Tell If Your Hamster’s Teeth Are Too Sharp and Long
If a hamster’s incisors are too long, they may gnaw on the bars of their cage.
Hamsters with cheek teeth problems may have a swollen lower jaw or inflammation around the eyes.
If a hamster is in pain, it may eat less and lose weight. You may also notice that there aren’t as many droppings in the cage since they eat less than usual.
What to Do if Your Hamster’s Teeth Are Too Sharp and Long
If you do notice symptoms of hamster oral health issues, don’t panic. A veterinarian who works with rodents can help.
The teeth may need to be trimmed or surgically extracted. The vet may also prescribe antibiotics to address infections.
The good news is that if you take the preventive measures described above, it’s highly unlikely your hamster will experience such issues.
After reading the above information, you may still have some additional questions about what it takes to care for a hamster — especially their teeth!
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hamster dental care.
Do hamsters need their teeth trimmed?
If you follow the above care tips, it’s unlikely that your hamster will require teeth trimming. If your pet’s teeth do need trimming, this job is best left to a veterinarian specializing in exotic pet care.
Does a hamster bite hurt?
If you get nipped by your hamster, it won’t hurt much. Proper handling and ensuring that you have tamed your hamster can minimize the chances of your pet nibbling.
What should a hamster’s teeth look like?
Healthy hamster teeth are brownish-white in color. You will only be able to see the front incisors, which should be free of breaks and cracks.
If you were wondering, “do hamsters have sharp teeth?” this article hopefully gave you an answer to your question — and then some!
While hamsters are very reliant on their teeth and have unique dental requirements, they are ultimately low-maintenance.
Just follow the above tips and enjoy your cute pet.