If you landed on this article, I want to say how much the hamster community appreciates you doing your research before getting a hamster. Hamsters, despite their size, is not at all easy pets, they are lower maintenance than dogs and cats but they are nowhere undemanding.
Are hamsters good pets? In this article, we will discuss if a hamster is a suitable pet for kids, adults, or busy people. We will talk about why hamsters are good pets, what to expect from hamsters as pets, the cost of taking care of one, and what are their needs.
My job is not to convince you to get a hamster pet, instead, I am here to lay down one by one all hamster’s needs and demands, so you can make an informed decision if the hamster is a suitable pet for you or your family.
My goal is for you to realise if a hamster is a good pet for you to lessen the number of hamsters that die prematurely and are abandoned. I also recommend you read our article on things to know before buying a hamster.
WHY HAMSTERS ARE GOOD PETS
Hamsters are low-maintenance if you compare them to dogs. Hamsters don’t need to be walked to do their business and get their exercise. Hamsters don’t need constant attention from humans. Hamsters are even relatively easier animals than cats since they don’t require their litter to be cleaned or their food bowl to be refilled that often.
Pros of hamsters as pets
To show it easily, here’s a quick list of good things about having a hamster pet and I will explain them further later:
- low maintenace
- solitary and are okay to be alone for longer period of times
- doesn’t make too loud noises
- short life span – meaning shorter commitment
- no shedded fur/hair that will ruin your clothes/furniture
- not gross pets
- affordable compared to regular domesticated pets
- allowed inside no-pet buildings/houses – great city pets
- can be left home alone for 1-2 days
Low maitenance pets
Hamsters don’t need to be walked like dogs, they can do all their business inside their big cage. They also don’t need to be cuddled or pet too often and honestly prefers less attention as much as possible.
Their food and water don’t need to be replenished every day, of course, if you can, fresh water every day is great but if you have to go away or busy, they are fine for a few days. Hamsters hoard food, so, if you see that their food bowl is half full, that’s okay, they have lots of them stashed somewhere.
Hamsters also don’t need to be “bathe”, as long as you have set up a great and safe sand bath, that’s all they need. You are not to wash your hamster with water, they don’t like getting wet, this can also cause diseases if their coats are not thoroughly dry.
It’s a myth that hamsters need companions or that hamsters get sad. Hamsters are solitary, territorial, and are much better being alone. Because of this, hamsters don’t need you to constantly check up with them or snuggle with them. They are happiest when burrowing, chewing toys, and running on their wheels.
Don’t make noises
This is one of the best answers to are hamsters good pets? Hamsters almost don’t make noise and if they do, you can barely hear them. The most common noises hamsters make are often comes from running wheels, biting on bar cages, and when they squeak at each other.
If you didn’t buy a silent spinner hamster wheel, you will hear the screws and the wheel hitting each other. You can solve this by adding oil to the metal screw or buy a silent wheel. Hamsters bite their cage’s bar if they are bored, stressed, or want to tell you something. Often, it’s because their cage is too small and needs an upgrade or they need more chew toys to keep their teeth at a healthy length.
You can stop your hamster from biting bar cages by upgrading their cage to a bigger one or a cage without bars, giving them more chew toys or making the bedding deep and hide treats under, and letting them out of the cage to their playpen for 10 minutes a day.
If they live with another hamster and are starting to fight or they have reached six (6) weeks old, it’s time to separate them before they cause serious injury towards one another or get each other impregnated.
READ MORE: Can hamsters live together?
I know it sounds awful that this is a reason why hamsters are a good pet. However, if you are a person who doesn’t want to commit to a pet for more than 3 years, a hamster is a great one. In my opinion, it’s best to commit to a pet whom you can give a great life throughout their natural life than have one and decide to abandon them just after a few years down the road.
Hamsters only live between 2-3 years, if you want to commit to becoming a great pet parent but don’t want to or are unsure if you can do a decade of commitment, hamsters are great for you. However, at the same time, you have to prepare yourself to say goodbye to your hamster faster than you have thought.
No visible shedding
Of course, hamsters shed but due to their size, you can’t tell and their fur doesn’t stick on your clothes and furniture. I have tried pet sitting my friend’s dog who shed way too much for me. I couldn’t stand the hair on my furniture, clothes, and even the dining table – that’s when I realised pets that shed that much is not suitable for me.
Even after a hamster roll on top of you during their shedding season (moulting) which is between spring and fall, you will not notice anything, or at least not to amount that you will need a lint remover/sticky clothes roller.
Not gross pets
Hamster’s poop is so tiny, as small as a piece of a grain of rice and dry (if they are wet, it could be a sign that the hamster is ill). Without training, as long as you place a sand bath, hamsters instinctively know that’s the place where they have to pee.
They also use a sandbath to clean their coat. Hamsters don’t like smelly things and are great at keeping their living area clean and tidy.
Before you get too excited, affordable doesn’t mean dirt cheap. Hamster’s cage costs between $80-$150, their bedding that needs to be changed every 6 weeks is about $20 a pop, chew toys which you need to provide once a month of more often costs about $45, bathing sand that needs replenishing once a week is $10, not to mention water bottle which hamsters chew on meaning you need to buy a new one at some point, plus hideouts, wheels, playpen, treats, and vet fund that has to be $500 for emergencies ready to use.
Bottom line, to be able to bring your hamster home with complete supply, it will cost you about $800. We have an estimated cost of a hamster pet broken down one by one here.
ALSO READ: Basic supplies that hamsters need
Regardless, it is still relatively cheap in a long run to have a hamster than dogs or cats. The thing that racks up a hamster’s cost often comes down to cage and vet funds. Since hamsters have to be checked by an exotic vet, they are often more expensive than vets who specialise in dogs and cats.
Great pets for city folks
Even though hamsters are sensitive to noise, this won’t make them bad pets to people who live in the city. Due to its size, hamsters are often accepted as pets in apartment building or houses that says pets are not allowed. Like fishes, hamsters don’t make noise and won’t destroy the interior of the rented premises.
Can be left home for a few days
While I don’t recommend you leave your hamster for longer than 2-3 days, they will be fine after that as long as you have someone to check in with them. Someone who will replace fresh water in the bottle and refill their food bowl. If possible, you should also instruct the person to let your hamster out in the playpen for 10-minutes a day, of course, only if they are aware or familiar with your hamster and hamster care.
If you will be gone for a longer time, find a pet sitter and show them a few times what things should be done without your hamster biting them.
Cons of hamsters as pets
Hamsters as a pet are not heaven, there are still things that people might find them not suitable pets. Here’s a quick list and I will explain further later:
- their cage needs a big space
- bedding change and food replenish
- escape artists
- short life span – meaning they can only be your companion for a few years
- still cost lots of money
- get stressed easily
- nocturnal/crepuscular animals
- can’t be brought abroad/hard to transport
Big cage and space requirement
A minimum hamster’s cage size is 80x50x50 cm (32x20x20 in) and it has to be bigger if you decide to have a Syrian hamster. The cage should also be placed in a quiet area with low light (away from TV or speakers). Before getting a hamster, take a look at your place and see if you have a space for their cage.
RELATED POST: Species of hamsters
Bedding change and food replenish
Even though hamsters are low maintenance pets, they still need you to care for them. They need spot cleaning once a week and deep cleaning of the cage once every six (6) weeks. Their food and water needs to be replenished every other day and should be fed cooked food, vegetables, and fruits at least twice (2) a week (although they are okay with dry mixes if you are away).
When a hamster just came home with you, due to a change of environment, your hamster will try to escape and they are good at it. After they settle down, they will still try to escape if they are bored, stressed or if their cage is too small.
Hamsters can escape by chewing through their plastic cage, too wide spaces between metal bars, or climbing to the top of the cage. Female Syrian hamsters are the best escape artist and are known to never get contented. Once a hamster escapes, it is very hard to find them and if you have other pets like cats or holes where hamsters can squeeze through, finding them will be hard.
Hamsters are super aggressive, when feeling unease, they will attack and bite you. Due to their size, they are prey animals in the wild and often think anything and everyone around them is there to hurt them, hence, their high defence instinct.
If a hamster is not tamed and you didn’t take the time to earn its trust, it is likely that your hamster will always be aggressive and they will be one of the “only to look at” kind of pets. If you want a Roborovski hamster, this hamster is the smallest and the hardest to tame. You have to come to terms that you may not be able to cuddle your hamster.
There are many reasons a hamster would act aggressively towards you and bite. Read our article on why hamsters bit and how to stop it to understand your pet more.
Again, while this is great for people who cannot commit for a long time to a pet, it also comes with such devasting conclusion. Having a pet with a short lifespan meaning you can only have them in your life for a few years before you have to say goodbye to them.
Still cost lots of money
If you are like me, I spent money on a cage that is unsuitable for my hamster. I ended up upgrading my hamster’s cage to the right one and wasting money on a cage I couldn’t use at all.
Like what a mentioned before, hamster costs at least $800 just to bring them home and have basic necessities and vet fund ready. But on top of that, if you make mistakes as I did, it would cost more.
Gets stressed easy
A new scent, random noise, bright lights, sudden movements, change of environment – all of these can cause hamster stress. Hamsters are jumpy animals, hence, any small changes can cause them anxiety resulting in aggression. Even after you tame your hamster or earned their trust, when stressed, your hamster might still be aggressive and try to escape from its cage.
Sometimes, stress even cause disturbance in the stomach, loss of appetite, and other illness.
You can say that hamsters are night stalkers. They are nocturnal and crepuscular animals, meaning they are super active at night and sleeps during the day. Hence, hamsters are not great pets for kids, because when the children are awake, the hamsters are asleep.
If you try to wake up a hamster, expect them to be annoyed and angry – I mean who wouldn’t? Many people would complain that when they come home their hamsters are asleep and when you are ready to go to bed, your hamster will want attention or start playing in the cage.
Don’t like too much cuddles
Hamsters are fluffy and just so nice to cuddle, however, they don’t particularly like it that much. While they do like the attention especially when you let them out of the cage to the playpen to spend time together, they prefer their own company. Plus, since they are night stalkers, unless you are also one, your schedule just won’t match (don’t force changing their sleeping routine).
When you handle a hamster too often, it can cause stress to them even though you managed to tame them and gained their trust.
Hard to transport
If you move apartment or home, hamster’s are kind of hard to transport. Not all airlines or countries allow hamsters in the plane while driving can really stress and exhaust them. If you are moving abroad, it’s almost certain you cannot bring your hamster with you. Unless you are just crossing the land border and the trip will only last for a few hours not to mention if your destination allows you to bring hamsters.
ARE HAMSTERS GOOD PETS FOR KIDS
The answer is no, however, as a parent, if you take responsibility too, hamsters can be a great pet for young children. There are many reasons why hamsters are not good pets for kids, but one that is the biggest contribution is the fact that they are very territorial which results in being aggressive and super defensive towards anyone.
When a hamster is disturbed from sleep or was handled by someone they don’t trust or was startled, they will act aggressively and will bite as result. Once a child got bitten by a hamster, they develop trauma and will end up losing interest in the hamster and wanting to abandon the pet.
Hamsters take time to build trust and in some cases, they might never trust their owner, hence, patience is the key. If as a parent, you are willing to take responsibility for the hamster care once your child loses interest instead of abandoning the pet, then your family is maybe ready to have a hamster in your household.
If as a parent, you are not ready for this responsibility as well, then a hamster or any pet is not suitable for your family. Remember, as a parent the way you treat pets will be absorbed by your young children.
Other reasons why hamsters are not suitable for young children
- money requirement to buy the suitable cage, food, vet emergency, toys, and more
- hamster cage must be kept tidy
- hamsters have high chance to be a pet that is “for looking only” kind of pets due to their aggression
- they don’t live long, meaning you need to explain to your young child about death
- hamsters are sensitive to loud noises and bright lights
- hamsters are asleep during the day and active at night making it impossible for kids to spend time with them
- don’t like too much cuddles
ARE HAMSTERS GOOD PETS FOR ADULTS/BUSY ADULTS
My first own pet was a hamster, while I started with the wrong information, I did more researched, found great hamster communities and forums – I was able to change the cage and look after my hamster well.
I’ve decided to go with a hamster due to their life span, I know it sounds grim but I wasn’t sure I could commit for long years to a pet I wasn’t well experienced yet. I wanted a pet a could give a great life to while they are with me.
Apart from that, since I work from home and travels a lot, I wanted a pet that won’t distract me from working from home but also someone I could leave alone for a few days.
Hamsters are great pets for adults and busy adults, however, it’s vital that you have someone to rely on if you have to be away from home for longer than 2-3 days. The hamster’s water and food bowl should be replenished every other day, it can last for up to 3-4 days but is recommended to have someone to check if the hamster is okay, haven’t escaped, and have fresh water and filled food bowl.
Other reasons why hamsters are suitable for adults
- adults have the money to look after a hamster – cages alone run up to $80-$150
- adults have the patience to tame a hamster or are okay not being able to cuddle their pet if taming is unsuccesfful
- busy adults don’t have to worry about getting up early or being home in time to walk their pet
- hamster’s cage don’t need deep cleaning for up to 5-6 weeks
- hamsters only want or need attention 10 minutes a day (when they want to go to their playpen)
- hamsters are quiet pets
Hamsters are amazing pets however, they are not toys. One who wants to have a hamster pet must do their research, be ready to spend money, understands the pros and cons of having a hamster, be ready to commit for the next 2-3 years, be responsible, and be loving.
Even though they don’t live that long and don’t have a tail to wag (except Chinese hamster), they deserve a loving home, a person who will be there to look after them, and someone they can trust.
I love my hamster pets, while dogs are fun, they weren’t a fit for me. I grew up with cats and love them too, but for now, I’m happy to love and nurture my hamsters.
I hope that you found this is hamsters good pets article helpful, if you have other pros and cons about hamsters being a pet, share them with us below.