Dwarf Hamster Husbandry and Care

Last Review Date: May 3, 2018

I. Purpose

This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outlines the animal care requirements associated with the daily husbandry of dwarf hamsters to ensure consistent and uniform care. This procedure applies to all personnel involved in the care of dwarf hamsters housed in the Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) facility on the campus of the University of Montana.

II. Policy

It is a LAR policy to meet or exceed all federal, state, and local regulations and guidelines and to comply with all institutional policies and procedures as they apply to the use of animals in research. LAR personnel must pass on-line animal training modules and attend applicable training in animal care and use, occupational health and safety, and equipment operation prior to performing activities outlined in this SOP. Animal housing rooms should be entered using appropriate personal protective gear for the species and disease or hazard containment level.

III. Husbandry and Care Procedures

Morning observation:

  • Record room temperature: room temperature should be no higher than 67oF, preferably ~64oF (if the temperature exceeds 67oF, contact Dr. Good or someone in his group immediately and inform the Facility Manager).
  • Check for any special feeding or watering instructions.
  • Observe animals for signs of disease, illness or injury.
  • Check to see if dwarf hamsters are eating and drinking water.
  • Light timers are on a 14L-10D light cycle. Do not touch automated light timers. Contact Facility Manager as soon as possible if a light issue arises.
    • The HS005B light cycle is adjusted by the investigator to shorten daylight hours.  DO NOT enter the room during dark cycle posted on the door.

Daily routine

  • Observe animals for signs of disease or illness as above.
  • Top off all water bottles (if ½ full or less) daily, check that lixits are free of debris before replacing on bottles.
  • Wipe down counter surfaces with Rescue RTU.
  • Sweep and mop the floor with Rescue Concentrate in the mop bucket.
  • Empty trash.
  • Replenish bedding and feed bin as needed (check for expiration of feed) and fill out index card on bedding and food bins after sanitizing containers and refill (once monthly at a minimum).
  • Fill out checklist sheet, census sheet, and initial daily log.
  • Report any animal illness or deaths to Dr. Good or someone in his group and the Facility Manager as soon as possible.

Weekend routine

  • Follow daily routine except do not mop the floor.

Weekly routine

  • To be completed by Dr. Good’s lab personnel.
  • Download data from HOBO data logger on day length and temperature.

Every 2 weeks

  • Complete cage change.
  • Exchange cage with clean dwarf hamster cage.
  • Prepare cages with clean autoclaved SaniChip bedding, clean feeders, clean water bottles, and new enrichment devices (sunflower seeds, nestlets, wooden blocks, paper towel rolls or egg carton houses, autoclaved).
  • Remove dwarf hamster from the dirty cage and gently place into the clean cage and transfer cage card.
  • Wash dirty caging unit, bottles, and feeders in the cage washer.  Store clean items in HS007.
  • Change RAIR Rack filters every other month.  Document RAIR Rack information (fans, temperature, filter usage, performance, operating hours) on room clipboard on the first of every month.


  • All Surface Clean (ASC) animal housing rooms, wash walls, feed bins, sinks, counters, light diffusers, floors, and threshold with disinfectant. Let stand 3 minutes and rinse with clean water.  Dry surfaces with paper towels if necessary.
  • Initial checklist, ASC sheets, and daily log.

Wet Box

  • Remove rodents from the wet box and dry off with KimWipe or other absorbable material minutes and rinse with clean water.  Dry surfaces with paper towels if necessary.
  • Replace wet housing box and related items (filter top, hopper, clean water bottle, lixit and cage card holder) with clean housing set up
  • Shred up a new nestlet and place into a corner with a new TP roll
  • Clear the bedding from one end of the box and place a heating pad underneath on medium heat (use only if AV recommends).
  • Add a small amount of moistened rodent chow on floor of cage ( 2-3 food pellets)
  • Re-check mice for next several hours until no signs of distress are present
  • Unplug the heating pad and leave a sticky note on the box for further checking
  • Document cage number, mouse ID on daily log sheet