In addition to being undeniably cute, hamsters are often considered a great starter pet. But before you adopt a furry friend, here are five important things your family should consider before living with hamsters.
Because hamsters are nocturnal animals, they will be most active at night. A hamster isn't likely to be an active companion during daytime hours, but if you're prepared to have playtime later in the evening, hamster adoption might be just right for your family.
These small, furry friends require a gentle touch! According to the Humane Society, children under the age of eight should have adult supervision when handling hamsters. Moreover, loud noises and abrupt movements easily alarm them. Hamsters are the perfect, petite size for small hands to hold, but adults will need to make sure that young children don't accidentally drop hamsters, squeeze them too hard, or scare them into biting.
According to the CDC, pet rodents like hamsters are a potential source of salmonella, a type of food poisoning that can cause intense sickness in healthy adults, and more severe problems for those with weakened immune systems. Children under the age of five are especially susceptible to the bacteria. Additionally, the Humane Society notes that salmonella can produce more severe complications if a mother passes the bacteria to her unborn child.
One of the reasons hamsters can be ideal starter pets is that they typically don't cost a lot to care for. That said, you will want to consider the price of necessary hamster supplies. The ASPCA estimates that hamster owners spend around $35 on a cage and approximately $290 each year on items like bedding, food, and toys. The breakdown of yearly fees is listed below (not including additional fees, such as veterinarian appointments).
Compared to dogs and cats, hamsters have a relatively short lifespan of 2.5 to 3 years. This can be an appealing characteristic for new families who test out life with a pet. Of course, it can also be difficult for young children to come to terms with the death of a pet, which is another factor to keep in mind.