Is a hamster the right pet for you?
It can be tempting to buy a hamster on the spur of the moment. After all, these little guys are adorable: small, round, furry, and inquisitive. Isn’t this a great first pet? Absolutely not! Here are some important questions to ask yourself before jumping into a relationship.
Adopt instead of shopping
When small animals, such as hamsters, are bred for pet stores, they are frequently mistreated and forced to live in deplorable conditions – look for a local rescue first, and avoid pet stores.
Suit your schedule
Because hamsters are nocturnal, they are most active at night. A squeaking wheel at 2 a.m. might not be a good fit if you are a light sleeper who is disturbed by even the smallest of sounds. If you work the graveyard shift and are looking for furry companionship during the day, hamsters are likely to disappoint. However, if you’re a night owl, a hamster could be the ideal companion when you’re up late!
Hamsters and children
Hamsters are frequently purchased as pets for children who want to play with them during the day due to their small size. However, just as your child is about to retire for the night, a hamster awakens. A hamster that has abruptly awakened from a nap during the day may bite. As a result, children under the age of eight should only handle hamsters with adult supervision.
Hamsters require gentle handling and can be startled by sudden movement or loud noises.
Children under the age of eight usually do not have refined enough motor skills to make a hamster feel comfortable being handled. Young children who lack fine motor control and self-control may inadvertently drop, squeeze, or scare hamsters into biting.
Young children are also more vulnerable to zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) due to their immature immune systems and proclivity for close contact with pets without proper hand-washing. Salmonella, a type of intestinal bacteria that hamsters can carry, is especially dangerous to children under the age of five. Although it is uncommon, hamsters have been known to carry Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, a virus that can seriously afflict young children.
Salmonella, an intestinal bacteria that causes brief but severe illness in healthy adults, can be carried by hamsters. It can, however, cause more serious problems if a pregnant woman passes it on to her unborn child. Salmonella can also seriously illen someone who is already weak from other medical conditions.
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a virus that has been found in hamsters. This virus causes flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all in healthy adults. It can, however, be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child and can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems.
Syrian hamsters are solitary, territorial creatures that require their own living space. If hamsters are housed in the same quarters, they will fight and inflict serious injuries on each other, so each must have their own space. Allowing hamsters to breed is not recommended because a female who gives birth may kill and eat her babies if disturbed. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, may be able to coexist if properly introduced.
A hamster’s adoption or purchase price is typically low, but there are startup costs and ongoing needs to consider. The following items are likely to be included in the initial purchase of equipment and supplies:
- Wire cage, aquarium, or modular habitat
- Bedding and nesting materials
- Nesting box
- Exercise wheel
- Food dish
- Water bottle
- Hamster chow
Are you willing to spend several hundred dollars per year on your new friend, not including veterinary expenses, if your hamster develops a chronic condition such as diabetes or requires emergency treatment?
Hamsters are fairly independent and can entertain themselves for extended periods of time if their environment is properly enriched with toys, bedding, and burrowing and climbing opportunities. To be happy and well-adjusted, your hamster should be handled and interacted with on a daily basis. Remember that you must thoroughly clean your hamster’s cage once a week.
Preparing for commitment
A hamster’s average lifespan is 2.5 to 3 years, with slight variations between species. If you can’t commit to a pet for an extended period of time, this trait may appeal to you. However, if you have young children and aren’t ready for them to witness the death of a pet, you might prefer a longer-living animal.
Do you live in Hawaii?
In Hawaii, it is illegal to keep pet hamsters. The climate is similar to that of hamsters’ natural desert habitat, and agricultural and environmental officials are concerned that released or escaped hamsters will establish wild colonies and cause damage to crops, native plants, and animals.
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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