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Cute Fury Friends
Member Name: k2705
Advantages: Cheap to look after, ideal for children, make lovely pets
Whilst I have not had a hamster for several years now when I was younger we always had hamsters as pets, they are an ideal pet for children as they are very easy to look after, they need a few basic supplies but other than that their requirements are minimum.
Basic Equipment for a Hamster
A CAGE - This is obvious, there are many cages that you can buy now, they come in all shapes and sizes with various attachable tubes which can link up more than one cage. The first hamster cage I had was quite basic to what you can buy now, it had a large plastic tray at the bottom which was reasonably deep with the remainder of the cage being wire bars, inside it had a metal sloped ladder which led up to a wire shelf. On the front of the cage was a small door for taking the hamster out of the cage. The wire frame simply lifted off of the plastic tray making it easy to clean out. Really I suppose it was similar to a large bird cage. I later had a rotary stack cage, this is a cage that you can buy hundreds of attachments for including various sized and shaped cages and hide out areas all connected with clear plastic tubes, these cages are usually brightly coloured. The rotary stack cages can be massive and with enough attachments could be spread around the entire house!!!! Mine just had 2 main round cages with some tubes to connect them and a small round bed area for the hamster. These cages are ideal for children as they are fun and can be arranged in many different shapes and patterns, they are also attractive with the brightly coloured plastic. So yes a cage is a must have.
FOOD - Again this can be bought relatively cheaply from pet shops or even markets with a pet stall. Hamsters need a small bowl of dried food, this usually consists of dried veg and various grains and rices. I also use to give my hamsters a few bits of fresh fruit and veg as a change, however this does not need to cost much, hamsters eat very small amounts so a few slices of carrot or something from you tea is plenty, although I did have a hamster which ate angel delight (not sure how I found that one out) A bag of food can be bought for a pound or two and will last the hamster several weeks.
A WATER BOTTLE - Again a necessary for hamsters. These can be purchased for about £1 from pet shops or market stalls, they are very basic consisting of a plastic bottle with a screw lid, attached to the lid is a metal tube with a small ball in the end of it, the hamster presses the ball in the tube as it drinks releasing the water from the bottle, or at least I think that's how they work. These come in various sizes as they are the same bottles used for rabbits, however again hamsters drink such a small amount, the smallest size would be plenty big enough!!!
BEDDING & SAWDUST - The sawdust is for the bottom of the cage to soak up any mess, hamsters tend to chose one corner of the cage as their toilet making it easy to just scoop that area of sawdust out each day and replace it with a little bit more. Some people use torn up paper in the bottom of the cage but speaking from personal experience I find sawdust is much more absorbent. As for bedding there are many different types you can get, I use to by a cotton wool type product, the hamsters loved it, it was soft light and fluffy and could easily be made into a net for them to sleep in. With bedding it is best to keep any eye on the hamsters feet as I had a hamster called TJ who managed to get a bit of cotton wool wrapped around his back foot resulting in the blood being cut off to it, he spent a couple of weeks in the vets waiting for the foot to drop off as it was dead, eventually it did and he lived several happy years with 3 feet and a stump but it is worth just checking them every so often as I didn't realise that could happen. Hamsters seem to like something that they can easily carry off and make into a nest type bed. Both sawdust and bedding can be bought cheaply from a pet shop costing a few pounds for a large bag of each, again this will aslt a long time, although it really depends on the size cage you have, the bigger the cage the more you will need.
SOMEWHERE TO SLEEP - Hamsters will sleep pretty much anywhere if they are given some bedding, they will create a nest in the corner of the cage. However I have always bought my hamsters a little house type toy to sleep in. A house was the first one I ever bought for my first hamster, it came apart making cleaning very easy and was made of plastic. Now though you can buy them in all shapes sizes and materials including straw type materials, OK if you hamster doesn't use it as a toilet, plastic is much better for cleaning. Again price varies on these but more basic ones can be purchased for a few pounds.
AN EXERCISE WHEEL - 9 times out of 10 these come with the cage, it really does what it says it gives the hamster some exercise and something to do until you take them out of the cage. So really this should cost nothing.
So really buying a hamster and looking after one really is not that expensive once you have bought the cage, I think this is the most expensive part. Whilst hamsters do make ideal pets for children you do need to be careful with very small children as hamster are very small and quite delicate animals. There are many different breeds of hamsters, some are smaller than others, I personally would say that they slightly bigger ones would be more suitable for smaller children rather than the tiny ones.
BREEDS OF HAMSTERS
The usual long or short haired ones - these are slightly bigger hamsters and would be ideal for smaller children, I had a several of these and they all lived for several years, the first one I had for about 4 years, he started off a a long haired hamster but by the time he died he was going a little bit bald in places due to old age.
Syrian Hamsters - These are quite big hamsters and again good with children, I had one of these hamsters and again she lived for several years
Russian Hamsters - These are very small hamsters and possible not ideal for very small children especially unsupervised, but they do make lovely pets, generally they are grey in colour with a black line down their backs. I had 2 of these hamsters at the same time, they were brothers and lived together, they generally get on well living in pairs, I had not problems with my 2 being in the same cage.
There are many other breeds you can get but these are the ones I have had experience with. All of mine lived for several years. Traditionally hamsters do not live that long but most of mine lived for 3 to 4 years. Hamsters make lovely pets, they are not violent and are quite happy to be taken out of their cage and played with. I had the large plastic balls that they would run around in, it meant they could run around the floor but be safe from our cat. Although we had one hamster that would chase the cat in the ball and was terrified when the ball came apart one day and she came face to face with the hamster!!!!!
A lot of people say that hamsters sleep all day and are awake all night, to some extent this is true, however if you are around the house and the cage is in a place where people are they tend to get into a routine where they are awake when you are, although they may go for a little nap and have a run in their wheel at night, but they are very sociable animals!!!!
Overall I would certainly recommend hamsters as pets, especially for children, they are easy to look after, do not require much once you have brought the basics. All they really need is a bit of love and attention, some food and water and their cage cleaning out every few days and possibly a few toys to play with.
Summary: If you want a pet thats easy to look after get a hamster
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