Are hamsters friendly family pets?
The thought of getting a hamster has probably crossed your mind if you’re looking to get your kids a small pet. There are a few things to think about before purchasing a hamster, though. If you have young children, keep reading to find out why hamsters aren’t really the best family pet.
The hamster lifestyle
Being primarily nocturnal, hamsters are more active at night than during the day. On average, they have a lifespan of two or three years.
In order to protect themselves, hamsters like to burrow, so they require bedding that is deep enough for them to do so or a hiding place in their cage.
It’s vital to understand what to feed hamsters. As household pets, hamsters typically eat commercial pet food with the occasional addition of fruit or vegetables. Their teeth erupt and erode over time from constant chewing.
Hamsters and children: The good
A small, cute, furry pet is frequently a dream come true for kids. There are benefits to owning a hamster, which does fall under this category.
Hamsters are small and inexpensive. The average price of a hamster, a cage, toys, and a month’s worth of food is $50. Since their cages are typically small enough to fit on a desk or table, these animals won’t take up much space in your home. Additionally, they are typically fairly simple to maintain.
Hamsters make for interesting viewing. Your kids will probably find it fascinating when the pets engage in behaviors like burrowing, running through tunnels, using hamster wheels, and rolling around in hamster balls.
Hamsters and children: The bad
You might be wondering why hamsters don’t actually make good family pets now that you’ve read the advantages of owning one. Although they make good pets, older kids or adults would probably prefer them.
Because hamsters aren’t typically active when kids are awake, they can’t play with their pet as frequently as they’d like. Hamsters have been known to bite when startled from sleep. Additionally, some hamsters do not like to be handled at all and can bite if not handled carefully. Due to their small size, hamsters can be hurt when handled roughly.
Because they are territorial by nature, some hamster species shouldn’t be kept together. An expectant mother may eat her young if she feels uncomfortable. Some hamsters carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause a stomach illness. They can also spread the hantavirus, which causes an infection of the respiratory system. And finally, a young child might find it difficult to deal with a hamster’s short lifespan.
Alternatives to hamsters
So, if a hamster right now doesn’t sound like the best option for your child, here are some good substitutes. Other rodents are typically better suited for young children, and fish or hermit crabs are always good choices for simple pets.
The guinea pig is a larger cousin of the hamster. They require a longer-term commitment because their lifespan ranges from 5 to 7 years. Since guinea pigs are less aggressive than hamsters, young children can handle them without risk of harm. Even under stress, they rarely bite. They need a bigger cage than hamsters do, and they can’t fit through rodent wheels or tunnels. Since they are social creatures, same-sex pairs of guinea pigs are permitted. Fresh hay and vegetables must be a part of their diet.
Rats also make a wonderful pet choice for toddlers and young children, despite not generally being considered to be cute animals. If properly raised, rats are extremely sociable and enjoy being handled. Additionally social, they ought to be kept in same-sex pairs. Their life expectancy is comparable to that of hamsters or slightly longer. Rats should frequently be let out of their cages for stimulation and exercise. Simple tricks are teachable to rats.
Hamsters are adorable and appear cuddly. But as we’ve found out, they’re not really soft. Consider all of your options very carefully before choosing a rodent for your child. A pet that is perfect for your home might not be appropriate for another. Enjoy your little new friend if you decide to get a hamster!
If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!
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