Is your kid bugging you that they want a pet? However, you are very much not on board because you know that you will end up being in charge of this little creature picking up poo, cleaning pee, and most importantly, paying for all the costs?
Well, to be honest, you have every right to say no and shoot down the idea. However, perhaps your children are asking for a smaller pet, like a hamster? Having a pet where your child is in charge of is a great way of teaching children responsibility. But before we jump on the ca rand head to the nearest pound shelter or pet shop, let’s discuss this idea first.
Having a pet is not an easy job regardless of the size of the pet. However, it’s true that having a pet as tiny as a hamster or other rodents (except Capybara duh!) is much easier compared to looking after a dog or a cat.
If a hamster is on the cards, here, at hamster care, we can help you weigh the pros and cons of the idea of having a pet. In this post, we are already assuming you have decided to consider hamster as a pet for your kid.
ALSO READ: Compatible pets with a hamster
IS HAMSTER A GOOD PET FOR KIDS
In this blog, we’ve said a few times that hamsters are not the best pet for kids, however, we’re not saying kids shouldn’t have hamster pets. Many of us or we known at least one friend who had a hamster growing up or perhaps there was a classroom pet that was a hamster.
Our only concern about very young kids who are thinking to have a hamster as a pet is the fact that the parents barely do any research or put effort into educating themselves and their youngsters about hamsters.
Kids are great with hamster because they are very curious and excited to have someone to take care of. However, hamsters are highly sensitive animals. They are territorial, defensive, and can be aggressive if treated badly. They are one of hte most misunderstood domesticated animals.
Hamster bites when feeling scared, unsafe, or nervous. When a hamster bites a kid, the kid pulls away and started developing unpleasant feeling towards the hamster resulting in abandoned hamsters.
Bottom line is, as a parent, you should know and should educate yourself about hamsters before handing one to your young child. You need to explain to your children that hamster will bite them because they feel like they’re being preyed upon, scared, worried, or unsafe. Approaching a hamster with such care and gentle is very important. Taming a hamster is highly vital to building a great trust between your kids and the hamster.
ARE HAMSTERS GOOD PET FOR CHILDREN
Are hamsters good pets? Yes! But personally, I believe hamsters are more suitable pets to an adult than a young child. Hamsters are aggressive, gets irritated fast, don’t have patience, don’t like to cuddle too often, and are prone to sickness.
Hamsters being territorial and defensive animals makes them aggressive (hence the biting). They like being alone, burying, and just keeping their cage the way they want them to be. They also sleep during the day and are active at night.
But this doesn’t mean young children should not have hamster pets, the important thing is the parent understands that pet is a big commitment and if, as a parent, you will abandon the hamster once your child is no longer interested, it’s best for everyone not to let your child have a hamster.
PROS AND CONS OF HAVING A HAMSTER PET FOR YOUR CHILDREN
Here are the pros and cons of having a pet hamster for your children or your family. Before making a decision, I encourage you to go through the entire article.
- Helps to teach your kids about responsibility and commitment
- A great company for the family
- Helps to teach your kids about compassion
- It’s a full-time and long-term commitment
- It costs money
- As a parent, there’s a high chance you will be in charge of the hamster in the end when your kid loses interest
- Facts about hamsters
- Why hamster bites and how to stop it
- How to tame a hamster
- Can hamster swim
- Compilation of bad hamster cages to avoid
TEACHING CHILDREN TO CARE FOR PETS: HAMSTERS
In this article, we will discuss steps you can go through with your kid before you make a decision if the family is ready to welcome a new member.
ALSO READ: Best storybooks about hamsters
A Pet is Not a Toy, it’s a Member of the Family
It’s very important, and I can’t stress this enough, that you and your children understand that a hamster is not a toy regardless of its size, type, or needs. It’s not something you can just abandon if you lose interest or left behind at a rescue centre if you can’t afford it anymore. You will never do this to your kids, why do it to your pet that is part of your family?
If you agree on having a hamster pet because your kids wanted you to and you ended up leaving it behind, you’re teaching your kids about abandonment and setting yourself as a model that abandonment is normal and acceptable.
Parent is In-Charge of the Pet
Remember that even the pet is for your kid, you are still the one in charge and responsible. If you can’t take the responsibility yourself, perhaps getting a pet is not the way to teach responsibility to your kids. If you end up abandoning the hamster to a shelter or the hallway or dumpster, you’re showing your kid the opposite of owning up to their decision, taking commitment seriously, and responsibility.
Your kids are still growing, and are literally don’t have a concept of commitment yet, hence, it’s vital that you set up a good example that commitments should be taken seriously. If you don’t see yourself looking after the pet if your children lose interest, it’s best for everyone (yourself, your children, and the hamster) to simply dismiss the idea of having a pet.
Start with Something Easy
A hamster doesn’t mean an easy job just because they’re tiny. However, there’s a lot of aspects of it that makes it’s an easier pet to look after compared to dogs or cats.
When choosing the first pet for your kids, you should take into account issues like lifespan, work/attention required, space requirement, etc.
A hamster only lives for 3 years while a dog and cat live up to 20 years. Obviously, the demand for commitment is much lower with hamsters than dogs or cats. Because if your kids suddenly lose interest in it, you only have to look after it for another few years, there’s really no need to abandon the hamster.
Hamsters don’t need a massive space and attention compared to dogs who need a backyard and walking every day. However, this doesn’t mean you can shove your hamster in a tiny critter cage. We highly recommend you to read how to choose the right and safe hamster cage.
Do your Research
Both you and your kids and everyone involved must do research together. Read about what to expect from hamsters if it’s your first time to have one. Read beginner’s hamster guide, watch videos of first-time owners, read about mistakes a first-time hamster owner makes. But most importantly, read up and watch informative tips and ideas from experienced pet owners.
Why it’s important that you do this together? Doing the research together gives you time to discuss, answer questions, address concerns, etc together. It also shows that you as a parent, take this seriously. If your kid can’t even provide a time or show interest in this team meeting, it’s already a red flag that this is a bad idea.
Make a Financial Agreement
Look, we understand that kids don’t have their own money and can’t make their own money, this is why they’re not the best pet owners. However, this doesn’t mean this is a bad idea. How about deal with two things with one job (or as they say, kill two birds with one stone but we don’t promote animal cruelty here!).
What we’re trying to say is, if your main goal is to teach your kids about responsibility, compassion, and the value of commitment, why not go for the value of money and why it’s important to teach them that money doesn’t come easy?
As a parent, you should be open to a financial agreement to help your children manage the cost of having a hamster pet. We’re not saying that you pay for all of it while your kid just sits on the couch watching on their iPad.
A financial agreement is something where your children must do something in return for money or cash. For example, every time they clean the driveway or garage or when they tiny the garden and cut the grass, they get paid a certain amount which must go to the hamster fund and not to some candies, video games, or whatever kids spend their money nowadays.
Owning a hamster is not cheap, they have supplies that need to be bought. A suitable hamster cage costs from $30-$120, bedding is about $30 per pack (which needs changing every month or so), toys and accessories can run you up to $200 alone! Check our guide and find out how much does owning a hamster costs.
Use an Egg
This sounds funny but stay with me. Once you are convinced that your kids understand the weight of responsibility and commitment, doing a trial run is a good idea.
Give your kids something to look after, it should be a little vulnerable but not too much. An egg is a good option compared to a toy because there’s still a sense of sensitivity that it can break.
The way to go about it is for the kids to treat the egg as a hamster, you can use a medium-sized cardboard box as a cage. You can set a planner where it shows when to refill the food, change the drinking water, replenish sand bath, spot clean the cage, and deep clean the cage. The planner should run for four (4) weeks.
During this time, you can also start implementing the financial agreement. After the four week trial, you can then make a decision if getting a hamster pet for your kids is a go or no-go.
ADOPT DON’T SHOP
Every day, there are too many hamsters that are being abandoned in the hallway of an apartment building, dumpster bins, and rescue centres. We highly and hope that you would adopt a hamster instead of buying one from the shops.
Hamsters have such a short lifespan compared to human’s and they still deserve a loving home and a happy and healthy life. You can adopt hamsters from rescue centres or even from pet shops (pet shops give away hamsters that are too old, at least 6 months old).
Read more about why you should rescue a hamster.
WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU HAVE THE PET AT HOME
Congratulations! Perhaps you already decided that a new member of the family is coming soon. Well, if that’s the case, here are our best tips before you bring a hamster home (or after!).
Supplies that a Hamster Needs
Here is a quick list of basic supplies that a hamster needs, it’s best to prepare these before the hamster gets home:
- Suitable cage
- Dry mix food
- Healthy treats
- Food bowl
- Water bowl/water bottle
- Running wheel
- Sand bath
- Chew toys
- Stones/rocks – for hamster nail care
- Vet cage/Travel carrier
- Solid stairs/tunnels/slides/bridges
Using a planner will help both you and your children track chores, tasks, and to-dos about looking after the pet. Make sure that the planner, it shows which day of the week a task must be done and who’s in charge of that.
Planners also help you as a parent to see if your kids are actually learning about responsibility and if they are honouring the commitment they made. We have a planner that is ready to use and which you can reprint as many times as you need them. You can find it here.
There’s so much to discuss the topic of teaching children to care for pets and I hope we can keep going but there’s is just too much to unravel, we’ll be here until the end of time if we keep going. Not to mention, we are a pet bog and not a parenting site.
Despite this, we hope that we were able to cover the basics of this issue and helped you prepare or make a draft decision about your kid’s request about having a pet especially a hamster.