Hamsters are Cute but Not Low Maintenance Pets!
14 July, 2015
If you are looking to add a pet to your family, a hamster can be an excellent choice as a starter pet. However, hamsters, like cats and dogs, do require maintenance, love, care and a big home (habitat) of their own. They are fun, furry creatures but do require a bit of an investment and care to keep them happy and healthy.
Before you decide to take the plunge, below are some things you should consider:
Hamsters are nocturnal and are their noisiest at night
Hamsters are nocturnal which means they will be most active at night. If you’re a light sleeper who is disturbed by the smallest of sounds, a squeaky wheel at 1 a.m. might drive you to distraction. If you work a graveyard shift and are looking for furry companionship during the day, hamsters are bound to frustrate your expectations. But if you’re a night owl, a hamster could be the perfect companion when you’re working or staying up late at night.
Hamsters will need to be watched if you have children under seven years of age.
Because of their small size, hamsters are often purchased as pets for children who want to play with them during the day. However, just when it’s time for your child to go to sleep, it’s time for a hamster to wake up. A hamster awakened suddenly from a nap during the day may bite. Therefore, hamsters need to be handled only with adult supervision by children under 7 years old.
Hamsters require a gentle touch and may be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises. The motor skills of children under 7 are usually not refined enough to make a hamster feel comfortable being handled. Young children who lack fine motor control and self-restraint may inadvertently drop a hamster, squeeze him, or scare him into biting.
The cost of adopting a hamster is minimal but the supplies also need to be considered
The adoption fee or purchase price for a hamster is typically small, but there are startup costs and ongoing needs to anticipate. The initial purchase of equipment and supplies is likely to include the following: a wire cage, aquarium, or modular habitat, bedding and nesting materials, nesting box, exercise wheel, a food dish, water bottle, hamster food and hay, treats and toys.
Hamsters need daily ‘love’ and a cleaning of the cage
Hamsters are fairly independent and can entertain themselves for extended periods of time, provided their housing is properly enriched with toys, bedding, and opportunities for burrowing and climbing. Still, to be happy and well-adjusted, your hamster should receive daily handling and interaction. Keep in mind that you’ll need to thoroughly clean your hamster’s cage every week.
The lifespan of a hamster is not very long
The average lifespan for a hamster is 2.5 to 3 years with slight variations among hamster breeds. If you can’t make a long commitment to a pet, this characteristic may be appealing. But if you have young children and aren’t prepared for them to experience the death of a pet, you may prefer a longer-lived animal.
Below are some other items to be considered:
Don’t forget your housekeeping duties such as removing droppings, uneaten food and soiled bedding every day. Every week, remove and replace all the bedding, and scrub the bottom of the cage with hot, soapy water.
A hamster’s teeth grow continuously, so your pet will need to chew to keep his teeth in tip-top condition. Make sure he always has a piece of wood or twig that has not been treated with pesticides, other chemicals or paints. Pieces of dog biscuit will work well, too, or even a carrot.
It’s important to get your little hamster used to you, and used to being handled. Start by feeding your hamster treats; once he’s comfortable accepting treats from your hand, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first and then gradually increase your time with him.
Once you’ve hand-tamed your hamster, you should let him play outside of the cage, in a secure, enclosed area, while you supervise. Be sure to remove any electrical wires from the area, and anything else your curious pet could, but shouldn’t, gnaw on. Hamsters need to run their legs a little bit and get their daily exercise.
Hamsters need to have annual vet visits just like dog and cats
If you think your hamster is sick, it is important to get medical attention immediately. Common signs that something isn’t right with your hamster may include dull-looking eyes, matted fur, weight loss, shaking, runny nose and diarrhea. Also hamsters are more susceptible to respiratory problems, especially the common cold, which they can catch from their human pet parents.
Hamsters are great pets but do require love, care, daily cleaning of the cages and vet visits. They will thrive and make you happy if you care for them properly.
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