Hamsters are often thought of as an ideal first pet for a child; they can make wonderful pets but beware that they can and may well bite. Hamsters are delicate little creatures, so as with all animals; children should always be supervised by an adult when around them to ensure the children are handling them correctly.
Sometimes children can be disappointed because hamsters are nocturnal, meaning that they may well be asleep most of the day when the child was hoping to play, and are awake all night when the children are ‘hopefully’ asleep!
My stepson had a hamster when he was growing up. He kept it in a cage in the corner of his bedroom. My stepson liked his sleep, so when the Hamster was awake at night, playing on it’s wheel; the squeaking noise kept him awake. He placed the cage complete with hamster and wheel in the bottom of wardrobe where he could no longer hear it. This was good in that it meant he could now get his head down, but not so good because his school shirt was hanging just in reach of the little critter and by the time the morning came, the bottom of Jamie’s shirt was in shreds in the hamsters cage! We removed the cage from his bedroom at night and placed it in the utility room.
My sisters and I had hamsters when we were growing up;, so I have a few tales to tell. Hamsters have to be kept apart (with the exception of certain hamster breeds) as they will fight. The cage I kept my hamster in had a dodgy door fastening and my parents had instructed me to place a heavy object against it to ensure it was safe; which I did, but somehow my hamster managed to escape. I was extremely upset and insisted that I had done as I was told, anyway, my parents must have believed me; as the next day they gave me an identical looking hamster. I put him in his cage and put the heavy item in its place to stop this one escaping, mum asked me if I had done that and I told her I had. An hour or so later the doorbell rang; it was our neighbour asking if we had lost a hamster as they had found one in their shed. Mum gave me a knowing look thinking that I had also let this one escape; but when we went to check he was sitting in his cage cleaning his whiskers! The hamster the neighbours had found was the original one; so now I had two hamsters to take care of! My dad cleverly divided the cage in half so the animals wouldn’t fight.
My sister’s hamster one managed to get out of its cage and we saw him disappear into the wood burner (luckily it was summer time, so it wasn’t alight) He managed to go in one side and scramble all the way to the other side where he emerged; he was white when he went in, and black with soot by the time he came out! Other than being covered in soot, he was none the worse for his adventure.
Hamsters don’t live to a grand old age; 18 months to 2 years is average. When one of ours died, we were all upset. My dad would normally have buried it in the garden; but that day, we had heavy snow and frost on the ground, so.in order not to prolong our agony any longer, he placed it in the bin outside. Christmas came and went and the bin became very full. The refuse collection men were also on strike; so dad had to jump on the bin contents to make more room. A few days later, while dad was asleep upstairs (because he was working nights) mum went to put some rubbish in the bin, when she removed the lid there was my “dead” hamster crawling along the top! She screamed so loudly that not only did she wake my dad, but some neighbours came to see if she was alright too. If a hamster’s temperature gets too low it goes into a sort of hibernation; which to the untrained eye appears to be dead. When it did die for real; we were too afraid to bury it and kept it in a box, in a warm place hoping it would revive. After a week we took it to the vet explaining the situation. He opened the box, held his nose and told us “It’s defiantly dead!”
When my children were growing up we lived in an old house. My youngest son decided to let his hamster have a run around his bedroom, the hamster decided to crawl into a small gap between the floor boards and disappeared. The following day while eating breakfast we were reminded of his existence when we heard him scurrying across the ceiling; the kitchen was directly under his bedroom. My husband cut a hole in the ceiling in order to get the creature out, but when he put his hand into the hole there was no sign of it; this continued for a while and several holes later he retrieved the hamster! Luckily my husband is at DIY, and successfully patched the holes in the ceiling. We gave our boys strict instructions; not to let pets loose in the house again!
Be careful that your children don’t overfeed their hamsters, they tend to store their food in cheek pouches and empty it later. To help keep hamster cages clean I placed an empty jam jar inside the cage and encouraged my hamster to use it as a toilet by placing his droppings in there. We also used to make hamster adventure playgrounds from cardboard boxes.
If you decide to get a hamster for your child; learn from my stories. Hamsters can be great escape artists; but also can make a fantastic pets if treated well.
As always, any questions or comments are most welcome.