Are You Ready for a Hamster?
If you are looking to adopt an animal into your family, but don’t have the time or space for a cat or dog, you may want to consider adopting a hamster. These adorable, furry, little rodents can be a lot of fun to have around, but you need to think about a few things before fully committing. Read on to learn more about hamsters and whether or not adopting one is the right choice for you.
Hamsters do make wonderful animal companions for those with limited space to keep an animal. They are small and their habitats don’t take up much room. You also don’t have to worry about your hamster being home alone all day while you are at work; hamsters are nocturnal, so they’ll just be sleeping anyway. And you won’t have to deal with grooming hamsters, who are great at keeping themselves neat and clean. Additionally, hamsters are diverse animals, with many differences in size, breed, color, and personalities, so you’ll get to choose one who is right for you (hamsterhelper.com).
But, just like any other companion animal, there are some things to consider before adopting a hamster to ensure that bringing one home is the right choice both for you and the hamster.
First, while hamsters are often seen as classroom pets, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the best choice for families with children. According to the Humane Society, hamsters are small, nocturnal animals and generally would not be the right animal for families with young children. They require a confident, yet gentle grip when handled in order to not feel startled or accidentally get squeezed too tightly or dropped. Additionally, as nocturnal animals, hamsters are busy at night while the kids are asleep and snoozing all day while the kids are awake. Not only might this result in frustration for the kids who feel they are missing out on all the fun, it may lead to inadvertent bites when sleeping hamsters are startled awake during the day by curious children.
Second, hamsters have a lifespan of only two to three years on average (humanesociety.org). This may mean you’ll have to say goodbye to your fuzzy friend sooner than you might expect. The grief of losing an animal may be even harder on children, so keep this in mind before bringing home that fuzzy companion.
Third, while they do not require as many resources as dogs and cats, hamsters do still need interaction with you, space in your home, food and toys, and veterinary care (humanesociety.org). You will have to give them the time they need (at night) interacting with them, and all the food and gear they require, including a cage, bedding, and toys, plus you will need to ensure that their health is looked after. All of this adds up, and while it may still be less time-consuming and expensive than other animals, it is enough of a commitment to warrant consideration before deciding on bringing a hamster home.
Finally, hamsters can carry several zoonotic diseases, including salmonella, so you’ll need to use caution when handling them and cleaning the cage. Pregnant women, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system needs to be cognizant of the risk of contracting salmonella from a hamster and avoid or strictly limit contact.
While it seems like there are many significant caveats to adopting a hamster, it is important to remember that despite these potential drawbacks, hamsters can make wonderful animals for the right families. Just do your research, know your needs and limitations, and you will surely choose well.