As all responsible hamster owners out there know, a hamster's teeth are very important - not just for eating, mind you, for all important things, like chewing bars and loo rolls and carpets too - but they can also be a source of concern too...

A hamsters teeth never stop growing, hence the need for all the "knaagery" (or in English - "chewing" things) in their never ending quest to wear them down. Survival instinct I reckon! And beware the foolish owner who lets a wayward finger (or any other piece of skin for that matter - they're not picky) stray in the "chew zone" when they're feeling chewy!

Now, trying to be the responsible hamster owner, I regularly check my two ham's teeth to make certain they're ok, ie:
- the correct colour (yellow or brownish white)
- the correct length (too short and they wont be able to eat and can starve, too long and they wont be able to eat and will starve or worst case scenario they get too long and grow into the brain and kill the hamster)
- not broken (ie. one tooth longer than the other - this will hinder their eating and they can starve)
- the hamster doesn't have an inherited problem called "malloclusion" (misalignment of the teeth - this one will necesitate regular visits to the vet for checking and trimming)

Suey, my Syrian girl hamster, loves chewing - carpets, in particular, but she will also settle for her cage bars, cardboard and loo rolls when carpets are not to hand....or should I say teeth! Well, on checking her teeth tonight, I noticed that her one bottom tooth was broken and now way shorter than the other one - which made me rather concerned because she could either have trouble eating or her other bottom tooth could be broken off - either way, it was a problem! I wouldn't be able to take her to the vet any time soon (for various reasons) so armed with a makeshift wedge stick to keep her mouth open and my trusty nail clippers, D and I decided it had to be done.*

Oh boy! Drama drama drama!

Suey was not impressed about being made to "smile" and we were concerned about not hurting her - what a palava! After trying to just get the little wedge stick in her mouth a couple of times we gave up and left her to calm down. D thought he'd read up a bit more about "teeth trimming" and reads me a story of these parents who tried to trim their kids hamster's teeth, but as they were about to cut the teeth, the hamster moved his head and they cut his lip instead, and the hamster bled to death. Word to the wise - don't read stories like this if you're preparing to trim their does not instill conficence!!!!!

Finally we were all calmed down and decided to give it one more go and after a little bit of nimble fingerwork, I managed to trim her tooth...!

Suey wasn't hurt at all - thank goodness! She went straight to her food bowl and started munching and then went back to her piece of cardboard and started chewing, as if nothing had happened at all.

I started crying. I don't think I could do that again!

* don't do this on your own - there needs to be two people
* THINK about it before you do it - remember you are putting your hamster's life at risk
* if you do decide to go ahead and do it, first let your vet do it while you watch so he can show you how to do it properly