hamster still sits in a cage

5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Hamster

hamster still sits in a cage

Hamsters are playful by nature, fun to be around and cute beyond belief when they gnaw on a piece of vegetable with their cute little teeth. And if you are short on time or just want a low maintenance pet, taking care of a hamster (and actually getting one…) is one of the best choices you can make.

As easy as it is to have a hamster, there are also a few things to consider before you bring home your little bundle of energy.

1. Not Ideal For Small Children

Getting a hamster for small kids is a natural instinct for many parents. After all, hamsters are extremely cute and they really do look like a teddy bear.

However, hamster require a gentle touch due to their agility and small size which make them hard to handle for small children. Children simply lack the fine motor control to have this gentle touch, which can lead to them dropping or squeezing hamsters – or for the hamster to bite the child.

In addition, children are also more prone to be smitten by a disease due to their less developed immune system.

For these reasons, The American Humane Society recommends not getting hamsters for children under the age of 8.

white hamster held in hand

2. Get a Decently Sized Wheel

When you are shopping for hamster toys, the single most important item to get is a hamster wheel.

In nature, hamsters scavenge for food several miles from their homes and they are thus genetically engineered to use their legs to run long distances. This is not possible in their hamster cage without a good wheel.

And when you decide what kind of wheel to get, the single most important feature is size.

The way to figure out if your wheel is large enough is to look at your hamster when it uses the wheel. Here you check that there is no arching in the spine. If this is satisfied, the wheel is sufficiently large.

Another thing to consider when getting a hamster wheel is the choice between metal and plastic.

The recommended choice is a plastic wheel as the hamster can get stuck on the ladder-like bars on a metal wheel.

brown hamster on purple hamster wheel

3. Hamsters Are Nocturnal

If you are looking for a pet to greet you when you come home from work, a hamster is not for you (unless you work a lot!).

Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are awake during the night. They usually wake up at 7 PM and stay awake for most of the night (where they amazingly, can run as much as 5 miles on their hamster wheel). This is quite a feat considering most hamsters are 4-5 inches long!

And, just like humans, hamsters are grumpy if they get waken up during a good nap, so unless you want a grumpy hamster that potentially bites you, do not wake it during the day. This is also yet another reason why hamsters are not optimal for families with small children.

close up of hamster

4. Hamsters Require Minimal Care

Hamsters are one of the animals that require the least attention. If you give it 20-30 minutes of play-time a day everything’s just fine.

20-30 minutes is also more than sufficient for cleaning the hamster cage. However, as everybody knows, cleaning is not the most enjoyable task.

Therefore, before getting a hamster, you should do an internal check and ask yourself: “Do I want to clean a hamster cage once a week?”.

For most, the answer would be a yes (it can be done in 10 minutes), but for some, this is simply not worth it and it is so much better for you and the hamster, if you ask yourself this question up front.

hamster still sits in a cage with pink hamster wheel in background

5. Get a Hamster Ball

Getting a hamster ball is the most important thing you can do for yourself. It will allow your hamster to have fun exploring outside its cage – and it will allow you to enjoy your hamster discovering new stuff.

A hamster ball is an enclosed ball made of clear plastic so the hamster can see where it’s going – and you can observe it while it’s exploring.

As a bonus, the hamster ball also makes a great temporary holding space for when you’re cleaning its cage.

All in all, the small investment in a hamster ball will be one of the best investments you can make as a hamster owner.

white hamster inside of red hamster ball

Ready to Get a Hamster?

Overall, hamsters are low maintenance and easy to have as long as you remember a few basic pointers. If you think you can live up to these guidelines, you can without a doubt provide a loving home for your little furry friend and get a lot of love in return.

If you are planning to get a hamster, you should check with your local animal shelter before going to a pet store. Often, they will have a hamster you can get, which they have checked for diseases. If there are not any hamsters to adopt, you can always go to the pet store.

close up of white hamster on short grass

About the Author:

Susan from My Perky Pet is a proud pet owner and teacher who loves to share pet tips for the benefit of pet and owner.

 

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 Need help preparing for a hamster? Check out these essential hamster items.

Package of Living world hamster food mix

Living World Premium Hamster (2 lb)

Lixit small animal water bottle

Lixit Pet Wide Mouth Water Bottle (32 oz)

SuperPet CritterTrail One Level Habitat

SuperPet CritterTrail One Level Habitat

 

1 reply
  1. Julia
    Julia says:

    You shouldn’t be cleaning a hamster cage once a week, they get really stressed after a cage cleaning so its best to do it once a month. And you should never leave your hamster in the hamster ball for more then 10 mins unless they seem like they are enjoying it. Being in the ball can get very stressful for the hamster so they will most likely not want to be in there for very long.

    Reply

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