|Lifespan:||Very Short (Less than 3 years)|
Hamsters can make great pets for some families, but the cute and cuddly 6-inch rodents are naturally timid and require proper handling, especially in their infancy. Choose your hamster wisely. Dwarf hamsters are smaller and harder to tame than Syrians, so Dwarfs do not make good pets for kids or inexperienced handlers. Also, hamsters are nocturnal (and can be prone to biting if not handled properly), so consider whether this is suitable for your lifestyle--if you have young children, the answer is probably no. You might want to consider going with the guinea pig instead.
Once brought home, your hamster should be left alone for the first day or so. You can begin the taming process by offering him food out of your hand. Once your hamster is comfortable with that, try to hold him, but proceed cautiously. Also, like gerbils, hamsters are chewers, and gnawing on the metal bars of their cages can cause damage to their brain and teeth. Consider going with an aquarium cage. And, while Syrian hamsters are most commonly kept as pets, you don't want more than one living together. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, are sociable and enjoy the company of other dwarfs, so getting two is best! As always, check with your veterinarian with any questions you have about the health or care of your hamster.
For more information about hamster ownership and care, check out Raleigh Rodent Rescue.