According to a report in the daily 20 Minuten, 51 hamsters needed to be treated at the local animal hospital last year, almost twice as many as in 2003.
Experts estimate there are about 10,000 hamsters in Zurich apartments.
"Hamsters are very popular pets," the paper quotes Kathrin Herzog, a researcher at the Zurich Animal Protection charity as saying. "They are small, seemingly need little space and you can keep them without needing a permit in a rented accommodation."
The popular pets however appear to be often mistreated. "Half of our hamster patients are sick because they are not held properly," vet Marcus Clauss from Zurich University is quoted as saying in the report. Even when the owners act with their best intentions, such as when they feed the animals, they end up causing harm and make the pets overweight. "Few people know that hamsters are not a toy to play with, but a pet to watch and observe,” Herzog was quoted as saying.
Zurich Animal Protection said it is issuing guidelines to help owners get familiar with the most appropriate rules to keep the furry pets healthy and happy, the paper said.