If your kid wants a pet and you don’t want the hassle of a dog or a cat, why not get a hamster? This is the logic that has led roughly 11 million families to invite one or more of these creatures into their homes. In fact, many people have come to refer to hamsters as “starter pets.”
While hamsters can, indeed, make excellent pets, they are far from the entirely carefree animals that too many people assume them to be. Compared to most larger household pets, the hamster requires much less attention, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a significant amount of care.
In any event, you owe it to yourself and your future pet to educate yourself on the important details of the hamster before you buy one of these cuddly creatures. With this in mind, here are five things about hamsters and hamster care that may surprise you.
1. Hamsters Aren’t Ideal for Kids of All Ages
While people often think of hamsters as a pet for children, this animal isn’t always appropriate for extremely young kids. Hamsters must be handled with great care and don’t generally feel secure in smaller hands. They also come with care recommendations that small children simply cannot meet. Perhaps most importantly, parents should know that hamsters can bite.
2. You Must Keep Males and Females Separate
Although it is fine to house two hamsters in the same cage, they must be of the same gender. Opposite sex hamsters have to be separated, or else they may fight and sustain serious injuries. Of course, they may also have babies. Even if you want a tiny litter of baby hamsters, you should only bring males and females together to breed. When the babies are born, the father may choose to attack them.
3. Hamsters Are Nocturnal
While hamsters have a lot of energy, they are generally most active at night. This is because they are naturally nocturnal animals who are biologically programmed to sleep during the day. Many people simply don’t realize this. So if you don’t want your pet to come alive after your kids have gone to bed, a hamster may not be for you.
4. Hamsters Need Daily Exercise
As active pets, hamsters require plenty of exercise. In the wild, they run for miles and miles per day. Thanks to cage equipment such as running wheels, your pet hamster can get a workout at any time. They also love to get out of the cage to wander and explore. However, even if you place your hamster in a running ball, never leave it unattended while it is out of its cage.
5. Hamsters Require Specific Feeding Routines
You must feed hamsters approved kibble each day and always from a dish. If their food mixes with their bedding, they may eat both and become ill. Every other day, your hamster will benefit from eating some fresh fruit and vegetables