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Is a hamster a good pet for kids?

User
Jan. 29, 2015

My daughter has wanted a pet since she was just a toddler. We're now ready to let her get one, but the rules are that she has to take care of it herself. Is a hamster a good beginner pet for a kid? How hard are they to take care of?

Answers
User in Clayton, CA
April 21, 2018

I know. Ewww but how about a rat? Not a rat like runs across your roof but a domestic rat like in the movie home alone? They actually are rather clean and clean themselves and also go potty in the same spot and won't eat thier food if it's contaminated with waste. They are very affectionate as well . I've had a few. I used to let one run around the room and when I called it would come out from hiding and let me put it back.

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User in Irvine, CA
April 21, 2018

A couple of caveats--no matter who promises what--it is always the parents who end up taking care of the pet. This isn't meant to be harsh, but how long are you wanting to have the pet for? Hamsters, rats and mice are a couple of years (and yes hamsters are notorious biters and easy to squish). Guinea pigs and rabbits can have wonderful personalities and guinea pigs are talkers which can be fun--for upwards of 7 years. Cats are also wonderful, take a little more care and mine has just turned 19! Most though are in the 12 year range. And of course dogs are also great but require the most time commitment. For an absolute starter pet, goldfish, while not cuddly do exhibit personality and will learn to follow a finger and eat from your hand if you have patience. They also exhibit some longevity-mine have lasted from 2-5 years and my son's dwarf African frogs ended up being ridiculously long lived and lasted 7.

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User in Pottstown, PA
April 21, 2018

I'd start them of very simple to see if they're responsible enough to take care of an animal first. For example a fish, the most basic one. My little sister wanted a hamster so my parents got her fish, yet all the fish died and she never fed them, so this shows she is definitely not ready for a hamster! Once you know if they're responsible enough then make them take it a step further like actually cleaning the tank, because a hamster cage gets a lot messier than a fish tank if they can handle it then the rest is up to you, Alexandra also made a good point they can bite, but so can all animals! well good luck!

maybe your parents should stop buying her fish

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User in Fremont, OH
April 21, 2018

i have 9 hamsters because my hamster had babies and i have their father still but its not hard for me at all all u need to do is give them fresh water and food everyday and clean out their cage and play with them but make sure they have a ball or wheel so they can exercise.and may i remind you im 14

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It depends on the child. Do they tend to play rough or are they a gentle child? Hamsters require a gentle hand caring for them, and some hamsters when not handled properly may bite. Hamsters also tend to escape easily from their cages. They do make good pets, but I would recommend your child be a bit older (probably older than 6) in order to best understand how to handle such a small creature.

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User in Newark, DE
May 15, 2015

Hamsters are an amazing pet to start out with. I suggest looking on youtube (I refer to a youtuber called hoppinghammy) to show you exactly what you need for a hamster and what to avoid buying. I have a hamster and got a storage bin from target and am using it as a cage. Most, if not all, cages sold at pet stores for hamsters are too small. Once you have a good, spacious home for the critter, your child will love watching him/her run around in their hamster heaven!

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Hamsters are great to start with. Just remember, with any new responsibility, she must have proper training and supervision to make sure all of the pet's needs are met. :)

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Hamsters are relatively easy to take care of, but they are not afraid to bite you. If you do get a hamster, be careful of what is in the cage. If the hamster gets too fat, he could get stuck in or behind something, and die, which would scar your child for years. I personally have rats and they are awesome! They are easy to take care of- clean the cage once or twice a week, make sure they have water, give them food. They can eat most table food (occasionally, not constantly). They are very intelligent animals, and you can teach them tricks- some places have rats that play basketball! As for the attention, they love as much as you give them! My rat loves to sit on my shoulder.

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User in Morrison, IL
May 14, 2015

Hamsters are very easy to take care of. I had a total of 3 during my childhood. All it needs is food, water and a clean litter-box. Depending on the temperament they occasionally will need to be held or played with but can mostly keep to themselves. I highly recommend a hamster as a first pet!

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I got my first hamster on Christmas of third grade. His name was Joe and we were very good friends. I used to carry him around in my hoodie pocket and put him into his ball so he could roll around. However, I needed my parent's help with emptying his cage. I did dread the chore, but I wanted to keep Joe clean and happy so I did it. I think that hamsters are great beginner pets, and I fully recommend them!

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User in Des Moines, IA
March 14, 2015

First of all, you and your family are going to have to decide on who is going to provide to the pet. Children tell their parents all the time that if they get a certain pet, they will care for it. Instead, after finding out how much responsibility it takes (more for a child than an adult). This pet is going to need the entire household watch and care for it and make sure it is cared for daily. And my recommendation is that if your daughter is 4 years or younger, they recommend a Guinea Pig for starters because they are easier to handle.

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We have had several hamsters, and at night they are noisy and dirty. They have been known to bite. Not one of my favorite pets to own.

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User in Wichita, KS
March 1, 2015

In my experience, hamsters are not good pets. They have a high possibility of being mean. If you want a small caged animal like a rodent, I actually recommend a rat. I myself have a rat. They are very clean, require minimal care: just food (can be dog food), water, and a clean cage. Children can hold them, let them run around, train them, and make toys for them. My rat is trained to walk a tightrope, come when called, and we're working on teaching her to play basketball. Children can make sock pinatas for them, make them homes, make treats for them (they can eat almost anything). You can give them baths as well, or take them outside. The only things I would look out for is nibbling (not biting) if you frequently give them food from your hand or their nails and teeth growing too long (occasionally you have to cut them with finger nail clippers) They typically live 2-4 years. Other people mentioned a guinea pig, and while I don't know a lot about guinea pigs, they would also be great pets, I'm sure. I hope you find what you're looking for!

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It depends on the age of your child. Typically for younger children rats and ferrets are able to be handled a bit more roughly. They are very smart and affectionate. Guinea pigs are great pets as well. They are even bigger and also are fantastic pets. When guinea pigs are adults, they may be a bit too big if your child is smaller. I would let your child play with a few different species and see what they are most comfortable with, also you must be comfortable with the pet too, considering you will have to be cleaning and feeding the pet. In terms of life span, you do want to think about what you will do if your child has no interest after a year, then what would happen to the animal if you adopt a ferret or a guinea pig and it lives for the next several years without receiving love and attention. Or possibly your child will be really into pets and fall in love and never grow away from wanting to take care of it, which in the case you would want to purchase something that lives a while. Also, with veterinary care, you want to have something that you are prepared for. Guinea pigs and ferrets may require veterinary care in their lives, whereas a hamster or rat may not because if they are too sick, euthanasia is typically the best option for those. Hamsters are great pets, they were my first pet, and I loved them. Two-three years was a long time to me as a child and they need their cages cleaned at least once a week, and to have fresh food and water daily. They get exercise on the wheels and are also fun to watch as a child. They can even be put into the balls and run around the house in them. I would recommend staying away from the dwarf hamsters and adopt something bigger, such as a black bear hamster, or one of a similar size. Also not all hamsters are not nice at first, they require daily handling to stay used to humans. If you miss a week of interaction they can revert. Ultimately, it depends of a variety of factors. Good luck with the new pet!

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User in Wiggins, CO
Feb. 17, 2015

I believe that this would be a good first pet. She can learn responsibility aand about caring for one. They are easy keepers. They do need handled a lot though or they can be very mean (biting). They love to play in hamster wheels, balls, mazes, etc.. I would get some literature that you and your daughter can read before making the decision. This way she is educated prior to having one. Have fun with your new pet. Crystal

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User in Muncie, IN
Jan. 29, 2015

Small rodents are a good way for kids to learn responsibility and to treat animals respectfully. Cages tend to smell but not nearly as much as ferrets. Guinea pigs are a bit more sturdy and friendly in my opinion. Hamsters are often too afraid of humans and can easily run out of the child's hands. Also guinea pigs will go to the bathroom in the same corner every time, as long as that corner is cleaned about every other day then the smell and mess is greatly minimized, but the entire bedding should be replaced about every two weeks or once a month.Be careful when choosing bedding, some can irritate the animal; shredded newspaper or cedar chips are preferred.

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It depends on her age and temperament, as well as the hamster's temperament. If your daughter is still quite young and/or very energetic and rough at play, I'd say no to the hamster idea. She needs a sturdier pet she can play with without hurting it or overwhelming it. Even if your daughter is older and gentle, if she wants to play with the hamster, you should make absolutely sure that the hamster you're getting is ok with being held and played with. It is possible to own a rodent you can't actually play with, because it bites or runs away. Your daughter might be disappointed by that. In terms of caring for the animal, a hamster is easy for the most part, but cages and chips for the bottom of the cage must be kept clean; a young child may find that difficult on her own. One more downside, or upside depending on how you look at it, is a hamster's life span. They typically don't live more than a few years to my understanding, so on the one hand your daughter may have some keen distress over the death of a pet coming up very soon but on the other hand this is a pet that won't be around an incredibly long time if it turns out your daughter doesn't take to it well.

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If she's gentle with animals and understands that they have feelings, maybe. It really depends on her own self awareness. She needs to know her strength or she'll squish him. If you don't think she can handle something so fragile, it might be best to go with something bigger, like a rabbit or a guinea pig. I had a hamster when I was about five. They're pretty easy to take care of. They really only need food, water and fresh bedding now and again. She also needs to be able to remember to latch the cage after herself. If you do get one, i would suggest getting it at a place where the hamster cages have an open top, like Pet Supermarket. There, they are used to being held. Sometimes, hamsters from places like petco or petsmart can be viscous and will bite until they get to know you. Always try to handle the hamster before you buy it.

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User in Mebane, NC
Feb. 9, 2015

A pet fills a child's heart. A pet is a whole-family commitment. A guinea pig is a great first pet. Get two. They keep each other company and live longer, happier lives. They play and stay healthier. They call when hungry or thirsty and will not be ignored easily. They snuggle and can bite, yes, but do so in self-defense. The poo is from a herbivore so it is a dry pellet and easy to sweep up. Check out C & C cages for large, open set-ups with fleece lining. If your daughter likes to fuss over them and the cage is inspiring, she might have a very successful first pet going this route.

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User in Grinnell, IA
March 10, 2015

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 8 years old. Hamsters require a gentle touch and may be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises. The motor skills of children under 8 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. Young children are also at greater risk for zoonotic diseases (diseases that are can be passed from animals to humans) because of their undeveloped immune systems and because of their tendency for close contact with pets without proper hand-washing. Children under 5 are particularly vulnerable to the effects of salmonella, a type of intestinal bacteria that hamsters can carry. Although rare, hamsters have been known to carry Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, a virus that can seriously sicken young children. 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: Wire cage, aquarium, or modular habitat" Bedding and nesting materials Nesting box Exercise wheel Food dish Water bottle Hamster chow Treats Toys Are you prepared to spend several hundred dollars a year on your new friend, not including veterinary costs, if your hamster develops a chronic condition like diabetes or requires emergency treatment? 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 average lifespan for a hamster is 2.5 to 3 years, with slight variations among species. 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.

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Hamsters are easy to take care of, but they are nocturnal and run in their wheels all night. Hamsters are not social creatures and don't really like being held or cuddled. If you get a hamster, get a Teddy Bear hamster. They are the most docile. Hamsters are good for kids aged 10-13 as a first time pet that they can learn to be responsible for. They only live a few years though. Just think about that when deciding to get one for your child.

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User in Norwalk, CT
Jan. 30, 2015

Keep in mind that a hamster only lives 2/3 years. Guinea pigs live longer. That might b hard for a child if it lives a short time.

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I grew up with hamsters and they all bite , hard! Plus they run fast and get lost really easily. I just got my grand daughter a giuniea pig, did the research and bought her one,,very cute and they don't run fast, great first pet and they live for aprox 6 years, my grand daughter is 5 and carries it everywhere, they poop a lot but sweeper attachment picks it right up.

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User in Berkeley, CA
Feb. 17, 2015

Hamsters tend to not be very social, interactive pets. If you want a sturdier, very social animal for her to learn on, you should consider getting her a pet rat. They are easy to take care of, definitely no harder than a hamster, and are also incredibly affectionate, intelligent creatures. I was given my first rat when I was seven, but I'd say it depends on your daughter. Rodents are not especially good pets for very young children, as they need to be treated gently. If your daughter hasn't learned to be gentle with animals yet, I'd say wait until she is a little older

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User in New York, NY
Feb. 17, 2015

I don't recommend hamsters for young children simply because they are fragile animals and don't live very long. While many are friendly, there are also ones that will bite. In my opinion, this is determined by the owner and the amount of handling it receives. Their cages are also more difficult to keep clean as the entire cage must be emptied, washed, and refilled with newspaper, or other filler each week. If you want something that is small and unobtrusive in your routine, a guinea pig may be a good idea. I've found that these guys will bite unwarranted sometimes although, again, it depends on how mush they are handled and how they are cared for. But again, the cages are a little more demanding to clean. You could also consider a rabbit! They can be litter box trained and are very loving and calm creatures. If you want an animal that is low maintenance, "durable" and will live long enough to see your child graduate high school, a kitty can be the perfect pet for your daughter. I suggest going to a local adoption location and picking out a cat who's mannerisms are already developed so you can be sure you have a cuddler. I suggest a pet with a longer lifespan because pet's do become a member of the family and when they pass away, it is very hard on a child. Best of luck with your new family member! Alexandra

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User in Aurora, IL
Jan. 30, 2015

I think an important factor to consider is the sturdiness of the animal. Most rodents will not survive exposure to the common cold, which could be devastating to your daughter. Her own habits are also important to consider. Will she wash her hands after handling the animal? Will she tell you if something happens (animal gets lost, she gets bit, etc.)?

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To be honest, hamsters are a pain in the rear. They smell, they sometimes bite, they can get loose, the cage is a pain to clean once a week, and the parent will probably end up doing most of the work. I really think as a very first pet, a small open bowl fish tank with only one gold fish is the best way to go. Goldfish don't need a lot of space to swim because they hover most of the time, they only need to be fed about 2-3 times a week, and changing the water is pretty simple since you can literally put the goldfish in a cup of water , drain the bowl, and refill it. Also, you don't need a light, a heater, or filter for a goldfish. They adapt extremely quickly to any environment.

It's really never a good idea to put a goldfish by itself. They are social fish and will do better in groups of three to five. With this in mind, you would need at least a filter (goldfish are high-waste fish), and some sort of heater if they aren't in a warm part of the house. It is also not a good idea to completely drain a tank whenever you clean it. By doing this, you disrupt the nitrogen cycle which can be detrimental. Goldfish may be more resilient than other fish, but they deserve a good environment. As with any animal, they should never be taken lightly.

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Hello! I have worked at a pet store and have cared for the hamsters and have owned a hamster myself when I was a young girl. The answer: NO. I would not recommend a hamster as a pet for your young daughter. Hamsters are part of the rodent family, meaning that their feces and urine may carry diseases harmful to people, especially children. Hamsters can grow pretty large and can become territorial and aggressive w/ age. A hamster bite can be painful and draw blood. Hamsters are fascinating and humorous furry critters to watch interact w/ each other and scurry around in their cage, but I would not personally recommend one as a pet for any child younger then 13 years of age. Hope this helps!

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I have had 3 Syrian boy hamsters before and honestly, even though they were one of my favorite kind of pets, they are a lot of work and have more cons than pros (in my experience). Cons from my experience; Hamsters have a strong pee scent, they can bite and hiss when scared/when you first bring them home, 2 of my hamsters took months to tame (at least able to hold and not hissing/biting) and some can take longer, they are good chewers and escape experts, and lastly, they can get sick/injured so easily and usually only live 2-3 years. The pros are few but rewarding; After taming, hamsters can be a cute, snugly pet and can be fun to watch.       

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