When cared for properly, hamsters do make good pets for kids. They are one of the easiest pets for parents to get their kids because of their low costs and minimal maintenance.
But before you get a hamster for your child, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons for your family.
Hamsters introduce responsibility and commitment to children.
Despite their low maintenance, they require your attention to stay healthy and happy.
Let’s check out a few reasons for and against giving a child a hamster.
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Are Hamsters Good Pets?
Hamsters are one of the cutest pets your kiddo can make their own. Hamsters have fluffy coats, oversized teeth, and big puffy cheeks.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of your kid having a pet hamster.
Pros of Giving Your Child A Pet Hamster
Hamsters don’t require a ton of time or attention. Some hamsters prefer to be left alone. Your kiddo won’t have to take their pet hamster for a long walk every morning or play fetch with it every night. Though they can enjoy being handled from time to time, they won’t need much more than a few minutes of your child’s day.
Hamsters make silly faces and generally look funny, enjoying their wheel or just running around their cage. Kids like silly things! Your child will enjoy watching their pet spin on its hamster ball for hours without even taking it out of the cage.
Don’t Require Much Space
A hamster cage is typically small enough to fit on a desk. All your hamster needs is a small area for its cage, and that’s it. Pets like snakes or other large reptiles require more space to manage. Hamsters can easily fit in your child’s room.
Clean Up Is Easy
Hamsters tend to be clean animals. You rarely, if ever, have to bathe them unless they get themselves into some messy bind. Like cats, hamsters are meticulous about their personal hygiene and keep themselves clean and tidy. It’s super fun to watch them bathe themselves!
They also take great care of their homes. They’ll use one corner of their cage to go to the bathroom and then clean the rest of their cage. This is one of the reasons it’s so easy to take care of them–they do most of the housekeeping.
Hamsters are one of the most affordable pets you can find in pet stores. Buying a hamster won’t break the bank.
However, you’ll also have to buy them a hamster cage, food, treats, regular bedding, and any vet bills you have to splurge on. Most people find hamsters to be more affordable than dogs or cats.
You’ll love having a pet hamster if your kid suffers from allergies. Their new furry friend is hypoallergenic and rarely sheds.
No more sneezing, sniffling, or coughing from pet allergies. Children who are particularly allergic to animals won’t have to suffer through holding a hamster. Most parents see this as a big advantage to owning one.
Because hamsters are nocturnal, you won’t find them making noise during the day, and even at night, the noise factor is kept to a minimum. Hamsters rarely make noise on their exercise wheel, too. In general, they are quiet, stress-free pets.
Perfect For Renting
Hamsters are also the right pet if you’re worried about admittance into no-pet buildings. City people find this to be a huge plus.
This pet only lives 2-4 years, so your kids won’t have to commit to them for a long time. Other animals require years of commitment.
Hamsters are adorable! Children quickly fall in love with their fluffy cheeks and body, and it’s easy to see why. Certain breeds are even cuter, like the dwarf hamsters. They are smaller than their counterparts, like Syrian hamsters or guinea pigs.
Cons of Giving Your Child A Pet Hamster
Depending on your child, a hamster might be a good pet for your kid. Yes, hamsters are generally good for kids, but they require a level of responsibility and patience that your child likely hasn’t developed.
Hamsters aren’t patient pets. They won’t tolerate being held incorrectly or having their ears pulled. They aren’t shy about biting or scratching their owners and wiggling out of your hands if they aren’t properly trained. Small children don’t do well with hamsters, especially in comparison to older kids.
Hamsters are nocturnal creatures, which means that as your kid lays down for bed, your hamster will start waking up. That means playing with your pet is difficult.
Also, anytime you suddenly wake them up, you’re frightening them. Kids don’t typically understand this, making it a stressful environment for the hamster.
Younger children under 5 are at risk for contracting zoonotic diseases because their immune systems are underdeveloped. The younger the child, the more likely they are to be at risk of illnesses like Salmonella and Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, which can severely sicken young children.
Hamsters do bite. And they do so more often than other pet rodents. Their poor eyesight is the cause of much of their biting.
Their sense of smell, sound, and taste leads their way. When little ones stick their fingers inside a hamster’s cage, it isn’t surprising when it gets bitten. Some bites can even bleed.
Yes, we see this as both a pro and a con. For some children, the short lifespan of a hamster can be distressing. Your child will experience the sadness of losing an animal they’ve bonded with. It’s a difficult lesson to learn at 7-10 years old.
As we’ve outlined, hamsters are low maintenance, but parents should supervise children and hamsters. If mishandled, a hamster will bite. Children must be taught how to handle and interact with their new pet.
Feeding, cleaning the cage, and exercising the hamster should also be taught before children are turned loose. Supervising kids whenever they want to play with their hamsters can be exhausting for parents.
What Is The Friendliest Hamster for Children?
The breed of hamster you get matters.
Aside from the aforementioned breed, there are 20 different species of hamsters. They look similar but come in different sizes and temperaments and have unique care requirements.
Let’s take a look at the top five hamster breeds for kids.
#1. Syrian Hamster
Syrian hamsters are considered the best pet hamster for children. They are solitary animals, which means you won’t need to buy more than one for them to be happy. They are also happier, larger, and easier to train. A properly cared for Syrian hamster will grow between 5-7 inches and live approximately 3 years.
Syrian hamsters are also docile and less likely to bite, making them the best hamster for children. Syrian hamsters were discovered in Syria but have been found worldwide. Get them young and train them with your scent, voice, and touch as your child grows in confidence.
#2. Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster
This breed comes from Northern Asia and has comparable coloration and habits to its sister breed, the Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamster. They grow to 3 inches and are well suited for a tank since they have a tendency to squeeze themselves between cage bars. They are also docile and do like the company of another hamster.
#3. Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamster
This breed grows between 3-4 inches and can live for 2 years. They live well in same-sex groups if introduced to one another at an early age.
Dwarf Campbells are sweet and a bit harder to tame, but they hold up thanks to their size. They do get scared easily and can nip at young fingers. Supervise interactions for the best outcome.
#4. Chinese Hamster
Also known as the Striped hamster, this breed has a large dark line running down its back. It looks similar to a mouse and loves to play and hide. However, they are not fond of being held for long amounts of time.
They live up to 3 years and prefer being alone rather than with other hamsters. They make great pets but are tough with children because they are fragile, fast, and flexible. Kids may have difficulty keeping a Chinese hamster in their arms or hands. They also love playtime.
#5. Roborovski Dwarf Hamster
These small, fast hamsters quickly bolt from one side of their cage to the other. They are incredibly cute to look at, and their small size makes them difficult to tame. Experts consider them the escape artists of the hamster world.
You can keep them in same-sex groups and expect them to live 3-4 years. They aren’t much bigger than 2 inches in size. Small children aren’t a great fit for this breed since they need to be handled with care.
Male and Female Hamsters–Which is Better for A Small Child?
It’s difficult to detect the gender of young hamsters. They do display different features which help identify their gender. It’s a good idea to know what sex your hamster is in advance. All hamsters are unique, but their gender can dictate who you group them with in a cage. Let’s take a look at the small identifying characteristics of male and female hamsters.
Male hamsters are typically calmer and more relaxed than females. They are usually stockier, making them easier to handle. Males also have more prominent scent glands than females, so expect them to be stinkier.
Males are also known to be more docile and don’t enjoy their hamster wheel as much as female hamsters do. You’ll find most male hamsters asleep in the corner of their cage, eating food or just relaxing.
On the other hand, female hamsters tend to be more energetic, always busying themselves with various activities around their cage.
Whether fixing their bedding or being active, a female hamster’s job is never quite done. Like humans, female hamsters are always busy!
Their appearance is also thinner and slightly more difficult to handle than males. They are enjoyable to watch but quick to get away from you and spend a good deal of time spinning on their wheels and burrowing and digging all over their cage.
It’s not uncommon to find them moving their entire bedding material around their cage. If you don’t like noisy hamsters, a female of this species might not be right for you. They are more vocal and aren’t afraid to tell you when they disapprove of something.
No matter which gender you decide on, however, expect that taming your hamster is an important part of your job as a pet owner.
The time, patience, and care you put into your pet greatly determines how it will behave. Long-term quality care is dependent on your approach to their health and happiness.
Pet Hamsters & Your Young Child
There is so much to love about hamsters, and it’s easy to see why so many children and parents make hamsters part of their families. Without much time investment, low costs, and minimal space requirements, hamsters are the perfect pet.
However, a happy hamster is the best hamster, and if you have young children, it could stress them out. It’s up to you as a parent to decide whether or not your child is mature enough for a pet hamster.
Most hamsters don’t enjoy being squeezed, pulled on, or yelled at. Loud noises, too, can cause your pet to stress out.
Use your judgment before you head out to your local pet shops on the hunt for your family’s next best pet!