Are hamsters suitable for children?
Hamsters are often recommended as pets for children. They seem to require little care and do not have a long life span. But do they really offer added value for children?
After all, they are nocturnal and solitary animals that die quickly if kept incorrectly. On closer inspection, this seems totally unsuitable for children.
Is a hamster a good beginner animal and ideal as a first responsibility or the exact opposite? We will give you the answer here.
In this article you will learn whether and under what conditions hamsters are suitable as a pet for children and what there is to consider. We also give you tips and tricks for dealing between the small rodents and the human offspring.
Are hamsters suitable pets for children?
That depends entirely on the child, the expectations and the support in keeping them. It should be clear that hamsters are not cuddly animals that like to be carried and stroked.
In addition, you should not underestimate the work involved in keeping them in a species-appropriate manner.
If these requirements are met, nothing stands in the way of the acquisition.
From what age are children good hamster owners?
A rough orientation is the entry into school or better the end of elementary school. Because then they can better experience the active phases of the hamster.
In addition, it becomes possible for them to take care of the animal themselves to a large extent.
For parents it should be clear that important tasks still fall to them. This includes first of all the instruction for the correct handling and the appropriate care.
From proper and safe carrying to feeding and cleaning the cage, there is more to consider than many assume.
This also involves employment and the times when the animal is active. Children need to be clear that they should not disturb the hamster during the day.
Many find this difficult.
Location for the cage
Because of the times hamsters sleep and the noise children can make while playing, the children’s room is an unfavorable location for the cage or hamster home.
Better is a room that is quiet during the day.
Here again arises a disadvantage for children. They are usually not awake so long in the evening or so early in the morning that they can follow its play phases or the search for food.
With older children or teenagers, this disadvantage does not exist.
As long as the room is quiet during the day, the hamster home can sit quietly in it. Especially with teenagers, this is often a given.
Occupation with the hamster
With younger children, it is imperative to teach proper handling of the small rodents.
They usually grip too tightly, are too hectic, or want an animal they can cuddle and pet.
Unfortunately, this is hardly possible with hamsters.
Even tame and playful individuals enjoy petting and cuddling only to a limited extent and only for a very short time.
In addition, especially with small children’s hands, they can quickly fall off and injure themselves.
The occupation with the hamster must therefore look different. Children can easily lure the hamster with food, make hamster toys and set up a small course.
Children can also have fun collecting or growing food themselves.
A good test of suitability is when the acquisition is deliberate and well prepared.
Children should be involved in this step and be able to actively participate.
Important points here are:
Understanding the demands of the animal
Planning of the hamster home
Clarification of the diet
Restrictions on playing and cuddling
If you can convey all this to a child, and also trust compliance, nothing stands in the way of keeping it.
Hamsters and children in practice: typical problems.
Although hamsters are often purchased for children, the same problems often arise from the hasty purchase.
- Dissatisfaction on the part of the child: the fluffy hamster cannot be touched? If there is a lack of understanding, this will cause disappointment and frustration in the young owner.
- Aggression: If hamsters are not kept and treated appropriately for their species, they can become bored, aggressive or develop other obsessive-compulsive disorders. This is not only an imposition on the animal and not fair to it. It can also cause injury to the child if bitten or scratched. So caution is advised here.
- Stress and diseases: Loud play, abrupt movements and disruptions in sleep stress hamsters. The immune system can suffer as a result. Diseases and behavioral problems are common consequences. This significantly reduces the quality of life and shortens the lifespan.
- Child disturbances: Children often and understandably want the hamster to live in their room. However, if it rustles in its cage at night or runs in its wheel, this can disturb the child’s sleep.
- Runaway hamsters: Children want to keep their pet busy and play with it. Unfortunately, they are often not careful enough or forget to close the cage properly afterwards. This often leads to a hamster running free in the apartment, hiding behind or under furniture. To lure the animal out again and catch it is usually difficult.
Alternatives to the hamster as a pet for children
Since hamsters are more suitable for older children and teenagers, alternatives should be considered for younger children.
Guinea pigs or rabbits are obvious, but mice are also a possibility. Unlike hamsters, these animals need conspecifics for company, so they should not be kept alone.
In addition, rabbits and guinea pigs require more space and are somewhat more expensive to keep.
On the other hand, they have a longer lifespan and are in many respects more robust and trusting. They are easier to tame and are diurnal and therefore often the better choice.
Involving children in the selection and necessary preparations is nevertheless important.
On the one hand, they learn crucial information about husbandry. On the other hand, it is already possible to assess whether interest will quickly wane and another animal will be higher on the list in two days.
Hamsters for children
Hamsters are not suitable pets for small children, if only because of the different activity phases.
In addition, keeping them in a species-appropriate manner seems much easier in theory than it is in practice.
Older children and teenagers, on the other hand, can definitely benefit from a hamster, learning responsibility and becoming more engaged with it.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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