Hamsters as Pets: Pros and Cons to Consider Before Adopting
Choosing a pet should always be something that you go into with some planning and consideration even if the pet is as small as a hamster. While hamsters are popular pets and there’s no denying they are very cute, there are things you should know about when thinking about getting one.
To help you make an informed decision, let’s look at the pros and cons of a hamster as a pet.
Pros of Having a Pet Hamster
Let’s start with the positives of keeping a pet hamster.
Hamsters Stay Small
One of the things people forget about a lot of pets is that they start small and get a lot bigger, quicker! But with a hamster, that’s not an issue. While they may grow a little if you get them very young, there’s not the dramatic size change that there is with a lot of other animals.
Hamsters Are Quiet Animals
Hamsters are definitely on the quiet side of the pet scale as most of the noises they make are not loud.
If you do hear noises from them, this is often from what they are doing. Chewing their food, gnawing at their toys or their cage, running on the wheel, or moving things around in their home are the most common noises you will hear.
This is ideal if you aren’t a fan of lots of noise and there’s no chance your neighbor will complain about noise from your hamster!
Although, you should keep in mind that hamsters are crepuscular – most active around dawn and dusk, which means they might wake you up if you keep your hamster in a bedroom and have a light sleep.
Hamsters Don’t Require All Your Attention
We all love cats and dogs but they can be a bit demanding of your time and attention. One of the big pros of hamsters is that they are great at occupying themselves and don’t need all of your attention.
This also makes them a great pet if you don’t have lots of time to dedicate to them. You can spend some time with them around your schedule (and when the hamster is awake) and know they are keeping occupied the rest of the time.
Hamsters Are Clean and Don’t Smell
Another point in favor of hamsters is that they are very clean and don’t smell.
If you watch a hamster, grooming is a big part of their day and that means they rarely have any smell associated with them.
If there is a smell around their house, it is likely that they’ve been using a corner as a litter tray and it needs changing. Their feces don’t smell but their urine does.
But they will always go in the same place so it is easy to just clean that a little more often than other parts of the house.
They Are Entertaining to Watch
Hamsters are always up there on the list of cute pets but they are also really entertaining to watch. When they are active, they will make full use of their house and that’s why the bigger is always the best.
You’ll find yourself turning off the TV to watch your hamster instead!
They’re Easier to Care for Compared to Other Pets
Hamsters don’t have as many needs and requirements as cats and dogs do, and this makes them an easier pet to care for. Basic feeding and water duties, cleaning the enclosure, and interacting with them are the core duties of a hamster owner.
Cons of Having a Pet Hamster
What about the downsides of having a hamster? Let’s take a look at the main negatives to get a full picture.
Hamsters Aren’t Cheap Pets
While, yes, you can get a hamster cage and all “essentials” for under $100 in the nearest pet store, this setup would make your new pet miserable.
To make sure your new pet is going to be happy and content in his new home, you’ll need the following:
- a large cage (ideally no less than 775 square inches),
- toys such as a large running wheel, tunnels,
- furnishings such as a sand bath, deep bedding, a house,
- and quality food.
All of this costs more money than new pet owners usually expect. Another factor to consider is the potential vet bills which can add up over time, especially if your hamster came from a pet shop where hamsters are not bred for health.
Hamsters Are Not That Social With Their Owners
We mentioned that hamsters are quiet pets but that also means there’s not much two-way communication between you and your pet. Unlike dogs or cats who will almost have a conversation with you, hamsters can be pretty oblivious to their owners.
Hamsters Are Escape Masters
Escaping hamsters often feature in stories about ‘why I would never have a hamster again’ but the truth is, often they escape because owners forget to shut a door properly or secure their house.
Hamsters are curious and if you allow them to get out of their house, they will. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhappy, it is just a natural urge to find new food sources or other hamsters to mate with.
They Don’t Have the Longest Lifespan
Hamsters don’t have a long lifespan. On average, they live for 1.5-2 years. This can make it hard for younger kids when their beloved pet passes away after just a few years. So if you think that the short lifespan of the hamster may cause too much trauma, it may not be the best pet for you.
Hamsters Sleep a Lot During the Day
Hamsters are naturally crepuscular, so they sleep a lot during the day. Their most active periods are at dawn and dusk.
These are the best times to interact with them although as you get to know your hamster, you will know when your hamster is most likely to be awake and ready to spend time with you.
Hamsters and Other Pets Don’t Mix Well
If you have pets such as cats or dogs, there may be issues with the hamster. Hamsters are prey animals and predators such as cats or dogs are naturally drawn to try to catch them.
This can lead to stress for the hamster and you. Combining different types of animals like this does need some consideration, such as keeping the hamster in a closed room when no one is home. But it can be done with a little planning.
A Great All-round Pet for the Right People
Hamsters make a great pet for many people. There are solid reasons to have them as a pet that will make them appeal to many people. While there are some downsides to consider, they are mostly quite mild and don’t take away from the overall fun of having one of these little creatures as part of your family.
Make sure to give it a good thought while taking both the pros and cons into consideration. If you believe you’ll be able to provide your new hamster with the care they deserve, then a hamster might be the right pet for you. And, if you decide to get a hamster, consider adopting an abandoned pet instead of buying in a pet store!