Why Hamsters Are Not Beginner Pets

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Hamsters are adored worldwide for their small size, appealing looks, and the promise of being easy-care pets, making them especially popular among children and families with space constraints.

There’s a unique charm in their round bodies, beady eyes, and the way they stuff their cheeks with food. Their diverse breeds – from the larger Syrian hamsters to the petite Roborovskis – cater to different preferences.

However, their popularity often overshadows these little creatures’ unique and demanding needs, which are often overlooked due to the misconception that they are simple, low-maintenance pets.

In this article, we will cover:

  • Misconceptions about hamsters as pets
  • Hamster’s nature and behaviour
  • Impact of improper care
  • Which rodents are more beginner-friendly
  • Summary of why hamsters are not beginner pets

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HAMSTERS

Hamsters are often considered low-maintenance pets, but this perception stems from several common misconceptions. We have a list of common mistakes new hamster owners make to help you avoid these mistakes.

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Small size = small cage

One of the most prevalent of these is that, due to their small size, hamsters can live comfortably in a tiny cage. This is far from true. In the wild, hamsters travel great distances and are used to various environments, so a small, confined space can lead to stress, boredom, and subsequent health issues.

We have a vast collection of articles about hamster cages where we discussed the size requirement, types of hamster cages, pros and cons of each enclosure, and a list of what we recommend.

4 IMAGES - a robo hamster on a running wheel, a golden long-haired syrian hamster, a winter white dwarf hamster, and a black syrian hamster - Why Hamsters Are Not Beginner Pets

Suitable for young children

Another fallacy is that hamsters are an ideal pet for young children due to their supposed simplicity of care. But, the truth is, their dietary needs, cleaning schedule, and need for stimulation demand time, effort, and knowledge.

They are not just creatures you can feed and forget. Their diet needs to be balanced, their habitats require regular and thorough cleaning, and they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, which can involve interactive toys or a secure, supervised play area.

Nature and behaviour

Many believe that hamsters are easy pets to look after and that they’re well-behaved. This is almost the opposite.

Hamsters are generally docile creatures, but they can exhibit aggressive behaviour, mainly when their needs are unmet or misunderstood. Aggressiveness in hamsters may manifest as biting, scratching, or lunging.

This is often triggered by stressors such as improper handling, insufficient space, or inadequate socialization. For instance, Syrian hamsters are solitary by nature and can display extreme aggression if housed with another hamster.

Similarly, any hamster can react aggressively when disturbed during their sleep, as they are nocturnal animals. Another thing to remember is that, naturally, hamsters are prey animals. This makes them always suspicious and has their guard up.

When spooked or approached by someone and they felt threatened, their natural reaction would be to fight and defend themselves.

Understanding their nature and specific needs is vital to prevent aggressive behaviours, underlining the fact that hamsters require more intricate care than is often perceived.

TAMING

Although you can try your best to tame a hamster, not all of them can be tamed. Their natural aggressiveness is part of their instinct regardless of whether they know your scent. This means that a hamster might not be the pet for you if you’re looking for a cuddly pet.

MUST-READ: Tips on holding a Syrian hamster for the first time

Species of hamsters

CARE COST

Buying a hamster is not expensive. You’re looking at $20 to $80, depending on whether you’re getting one from a primary pet store, rescuing one, or from an ethical hamster breeder.

However, keeping and taking care of a hamster properly is expensive. A hamster cage alone can cost somewhere between $100 to $500 depending on the type and if you’re willing to do some customisation for better security and ventilation.

A bin cage will be the most affordable but requires more work. A glass tank is great for all kinds of hamsters. A wood enclosure is nice, but you must consider the chewing problem. A metal cage is suitable for warm places but can result in bar biting.

Not to mention toys, bedding and sandbath that needs constant change, food, chew toys, playpen, and vet budget. You’re considering spending $500 upfront plus an emergency vet budget of $500 to put aside, ready-to-use – that’s $1,000 in total.

Check out our basic things to prepare before you bring a hamster home and the breakdown of how much owning a hamster costs.

DAILY CARE AND PLAYTIME

Daily, the hamster’s water has to be replenished. You must perform spot cleaning, sandbath change, dry mix, cooked meals, and playtime every other day. You must let your hamster go on its playpen to roam, use up extra energy, and enjoy a change of scenery for up to 20 minutes a day.

This could be a lot of work for someone with a busy time or young children who have yet to understand the responsibility and the importance of routine.

HAMSTER HEALTH

Hamsters are also prone to health issues; finding a vet specialising in hamsters can be difficult and expensive. One main problem is when a hamster is inbred improperly. This could lead to neurological issues and very short life span.

We have a list of common hamster health issues to help you get familiarised with. This will help you prepare yourself for possible bad scenarios where a vet visit is highly needed.

IMPACT OF IMPROPER CARE

Housing a hamster in a small enclosure and providing inadequate care will lead to an unsatisfied pet and cause serious health issues. When a hamster is not fulfilled, it could be aggressive, unpleasant, and stressed.

This could result in a short lifespan for your pet and an unpleasant experience for you as a beginner pet owner.

WHICH RODENTS ARE MORE BEGINNER-FRIENDLY

If you really want a rodent, you could look at guinea pigs. They are larger than hamsters and mice, making them easier to handle and less prone to escape. Guinea pigs are known for their friendly, docile nature and rarely bite or scratch. They are also social animals and often do well when they have at least one companion of the same species.

Another good option for beginners might be gerbils. They are active, entertaining, and less likely to bite. Gerbils are also social creatures and thrive in pairs or small groups of the same gender.

Remember, though, that no pet is entirely “low maintenance.” All pets, including guinea pigs and gerbils, require a commitment to provide appropriate care, regular health checks, a balanced diet, and enrichment activities.

It’s always important to thoroughly research pet needs and habits before bringing them into your home.

TO WHOM IS A HAMSTER A SUITABLE PET

A hamster is suitable for someone who had a demanding pet before, perhaps someone with experience with rescuing abused dogs who have difficulty trusting anyone.

A hamster could also be an excellent pet for adults who wants a companion but one that doesn’t require too much attention, such as taking the pet for a walk or giving belly rubs. If you work or are mostly awake at night, a hamster could be an excellent fit for you since hamsters are primarily active at night.

SUMMARY OF WHY HAMSTERS ARE NOT BEGINNER PETS

Hamsters are cute animals, and the fact that they only live between 2-3 years means that you are not committing to a pet for decades. However, this doesn’t mean that a hamster as a pet will be a good idea if it’s your first time or if you’re looking for a cuddly pet.

Please do your research as much as possible. Join forums and social media groups about hamsters to understand your life with a hamster as a pet.

If, in the end, you still want one despite knowing what the work will look like, then go for it. That only means you already for a commitment, and a hamster will be very lucky to have someone who went the extra mile to provide such great care for their pet.

I hope this article of why hamsters are not beginner pets helped you answer your question and gave you insight of life with a pet hamster.

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