Newest Review: ... up in their beds as their genetic make - up dictates, this little beauty was sitting at the front of her cage observing the activity ... more
Great pet for the right owners
Member Name: broxi3781
Advantages: small, easy to care for, can be trained to do some tricks.
Disadvantages: Often bought without much knowledge. Frequently bite, Short lifespan.
I know many of you love hamsters, and may at first not be too happy that I am only giving them 3 stars. In the right home of course they can be a 5 star pet, but I think less then half get the right homes. I have not owned a hamster for years, but asked permission for this review, based on previous experience as a pet owner and a lot more from when I worked in a pet shop, and took a few as "temporary pets".
My own hamsters: I got my first hamster when I was 9 years old. I saved up my own money and my Mom let me buy him, but he was totally my responsibility. Unfortunately I did not know any better and tried to lift him up when he was sleeping and was quite badly bitten. After that I was shy of him, and he knew it. Still I did my best to look after him, but did many things wrong. I used newspaper for bedding and fed him mostly table scraps. The one thing I think I did right was to put him in a very deep square plastic box when I cleaned his cage. I would put in dirt and tunnels and grass and hide treats for him, and I am sure the hamster enjoyed these days out. The hamster died at age 2 with bad teeth. I am sure the diet contribute to the fact. One animal likely killed by incompetence.
A couple of years later my mother surprised me with a new one, and one for my brother as well. She bought two males so they would have company and not be alone.... Mine killed my brothers. My Mom was going to buy him another, but I had made a trip to the library and began to learn a bit how to look after the creatures. I said he might as well have mine. I would be looking after it anyway, I could care less who officially owned the animal. It still ended up a fairly aggressive animal, and my brother could never touch it. It got loose and bit my stepfather and disappeared afterward. Three animals now with shortened lifespans because they were chosen by well meaning, but less than competent owners.
The pet shop:
We sold about 3-4 hamsters a week. Mostly as children's pets. At least we were encouraged to be honest with people. We advised them to keep just one and informed parents that most children are not able to handle hamster enough to get them really tame at first. If a parent is not going to help, it is not a good idea to buy one for a very young child. We also told them that hamsters may bite anyway. But still we got people bringing them back in, threatening to give to a friend with a boa etc... as sure enough the wee creature had bitten someone.
I took a few as "temporary pets" and took them home until I could find better homes, as the pet shop was not allowed to take returns. Most of my fish came to me from someone who had tired of them, and I had hamsters and birds from time to time. One fellow just left them in a box on a busy road outside the door. They chewed through before they were found and one escaped onto the road another shortened lifespan there, but the other was thankfully re homed the same day.
Hamsters are cute little things. They can be trained. I trained several to respond to a tap at the cage door by coming to the front and standing up with a paw out for a treat. Of course I only did this because it made it easier to get rid of them. I did not want any permanently. They can become very tame, and many children love them. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to care for.
The downside though is they are often bought for children who are not ready to care for them on their own. One fellow told me he wanted one as he knew the kids would kill it through lack of care and that would give him an excuse not to ever let them have a pup - I refused the sale, my manager agreed.
If you are buying one as adult for yourself, fine. If you want a hamster for the kids, please be prepared to do the work, and the handling yourself. Accept that you very likely might get bitten, and your children may as well. Mice and rats are actually less likely to bite, but of course a rat does far more damage. Be sure the children know how to handle the hamster though and never to touch a sleeping hamster.
My own son wanted one recently. After further discussion though it was more the fancy cage and tunnels he wanted. Most of these are terribly small as well. When he realised the amount of space a proper set up would take in his room, and the amount of work, he changed his mind. Children often want something without realising how much work it will be.
If a parent allows the pet, the parent is responsible.
Also buy as large a cage as possible. Hamsters are active and must have a wheel, but they should have room to scurry about as well. Hiding treats will keep them active and happy. Dried corn cobs are wonderful for their teeth, but even the occasional dog biscuit will do. Be sure your hamster gets plenty of proper hamster food mixes as well. They enjoy hay and even a bit of fresh grass if you are sure no lawn chemicals have been used on it. Of course fresh water is an obvious necessity. So it a lot of cleaning. Keep in mind a dirty cage will draw wild mice to your house as well, and no animal should live in it's own dirt.
Summary: A cute pet, but be sure it is really what you want before making the plunge.
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