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September 1, 2014

One reason might just be the simple fact that these little animals are downright cute. Additionally, their size and ease of care also makes them a good animal for classrooms, families with small children or people who live in urban settings, which helps boost their popularity.

There are a lot of fun habitats and accessories specifically for hamsters. Pair that with the healthy options for food and treats and the new innovations in bedding that aid in clean up, and retailers have a category primed for growth.

Making It Fun

Create your own hamster circus with the new Critter Trail Circus Habitat from Kaytee. Hamsters can play under a big top tent, which includes a cannon-themed hideout. Kaytee also has a new two-level, round habitat, which is great for viewing the hamsters at play and also makes clean up easy.

“People often will buy more than one cage and connect them with our tubes, which expands the hamster’s living space, giving the animals more options and keeping them occupied during the day,” said Mary Ann Loveland, associate brand manager, Kaytee Hard Goods.

Keep the fun going with Radical Sips from Lixit. These BPA-free plastic water bottles are transparent so pet owners can easily see water levels, but they feature colorful graphics including skulls, sharks and polka dots.

And of course, no hamster habitat is complete without some fun accessories.

In addition to water bottles, Lixit makes hundreds of products, one of which is a Hamster House, a small, cozy house made of cardboard that can be decorated with stickers. Hamsters love to burrow in it and nest, and will also chew the house, which is non-toxic, so it’s both edible and interactive.

Another edible accessory is the Timothy Hideout from Oxbow Animal Health. Made of hand-woven, Timothy hay, the tunnel is the perfect size for hamsters to burrow in, or you can stuff treats in it for more interaction.

Good Nutrition

According to the latest survey from the American Pet Products Association, 88 percent of hamster owners purchase treats. In addition to the fun factor, treats are a necessary element of hamster health, as the gnawing necessary for enjoying some treats helps keeps teeth trimmed.

Oxbow Animal Health’s new Timothy Twists are a great example of fun and health rolled into one. Made of all-natural timothy hay, they are a perfect size to be played with by hamsters while they gnaw on them.

Keeping a variety of treats available for customers to choose from is important, and Vitakraft has retailers covered with their ever-popular Hamster Drops and Hamsters Sticks. The drops come in strawberry, yogurt and milk and honey flavors, while the sticks are honey, fruit or nut.

“Our treat sticks have a wooden core dipped in a batter coated with seeds and grains, that’s triple baked for long-lasting flavor and to help hold it together,” said Lisa Kniceley, marketing and trade specialist at Vitakraft. “They’re popular because they’re appealing to customers, hamsters love them and it’s a nutritious treat. They’re familiar to customers, and sometimes the tried and true works best.”

As the treats show, good nutrition can be fun, and that’s not limited to just between-meal snacks. Hamster foods are packed with fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds that are fun for hamsters to eat because the blends allow them to mimic the foraging these animals would do in the wild. And today’s discerning customers are looking for natural items that are good for their pets.

The new SunSations line includes an all-natural hamster diet containing 20-percent fruits and vegetables, high-fiber hay and grains, seeds and pellets to make it a fortified diet high in protein.

“This is a good option for pet owners looking for something without the artificial colors or preservatives,” Kniceley said.
Vitakraft is also launching a new diet, the Vita Prima Dwarf Hamster Formula, designed specifically for dwarf hamsters and containing omega-3s, pre-biotics and probiotics.

For customers who are dedicated to the Carefresh Complete Menu, the hamster formula has recently been enhanced with whole seeds and grains to encourage the animals’ natural foraging instincts. Scarlett Pet Food also offers formulas specifically for hamsters in its Mardi Gras, Nutra and Naturals lines, all made with natural ingredients and providing a variety of texture and flavors.

Clean and Fresh

Most people dread cleaning out the cage, but it’s a necessary evil in order to keep the animal healthy and the house smelling fresh. Luckily, some new products make it less of a chore.

The Critter Trail Bedding Tray is one of them. Rather than having to take apart the cage and relocate the animals for a routine cleaning, the tray allows owners to slide it out, pull a layer off and put the tray with now fresh Clean and Cozy bedding back in the cage.

“It’s a lot like a frozen TV dinner, where you just pull the top protective layer off and it’s ready to go,” said Jason Casto, director of Kaytee Hard Goods. With three removable layers, it allows for convenient clean up in between major sanitizing.

Both Carefresh and Oxbow Animal Health have introduced new bedding for hamsters.

“Carefresh Custom Bedding is designed specifically for hamsters and gerbils as it caters to their instinctual burrowing behaviors like never before,” said Jim Gorrell, brand manager, Healthy Pet. “Unlike other wood shavings or paper products that easily collapse, we have designed a paper product that uses correctly sized pieces that are comfortable and secure, supporting hamsters all day long.”

Oxbow’s Pure Comfort bedding also provides a great option for active nesters such as hamsters who require a constant supply of clean, soft bedding.

“The 100-percent pure paper absorbs up to 800 percent of its weight in moisture,” said Melissa Ross, director of marketing and education.

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