When you first bring your hamster home, he may be a little nervous, perhaps even distressed. The way you handle him from the start can make a big difference in the way he reacts to his new home. Also pay attention to his reaction to certain surroundings and actions. My children have cared for numerous hamsters, some that came from delicate situations. Help soothe your hamster's transition into a new home by using some of the methods we had success with in multiple cases.
Give the hamster time to get used to you. When you first bring your hamster home, you may immediately want to interact. But keep in mind that may be the exact opposite of what your hamster has in mind. It doesn't mean he hates you. He just needs time to adjust. Soothe him by granting that adjustment. Wait a few days before handling the hamster.
Approach your hamster slowly to ease his fears. Start out with a gloved hand at first. Place your hand into the cage and leave it there a few minutes at a time each day. Eventually the hamster will come up to you and may even start sitting in your hand on purpose. Never feed your hamster food from your hand, unless your goal is to create a biting habit. After a while, once your hamster used to you, the glove probably won't be needed.
Provide a hideaway. Your hamster needs to have one or more places to hide inside his cage. Being hidden can be soothing, especially during a transition. One of our hamsters enjoys his edible log for this purpose. The other likes a small wooden house, as well as his enclosed hamster wheel. No matter what you choose, be sure it is safe for hamsters. It also should be something the hamster can fully fit inside when he needs to retreat. This helps calm the hamster down when he is nervous or scared.
Keep familiar items in your hamster's cage. If you are just switching your hamster to a new cage within the same home, transfer some of his favorite items into the new cage. We recently switched cages for one of our hamsters and he felt soothed by his favorite log and food dish. Though we switched out some items, we kept those two things to ease his transition. He was very happy in the new cage and is adjusting well. At first he would sniff the new items and test them out. Then, he would retreat to his log for a little while. That helped him feel secure. If you are just bringing your hamster home for the first time, you may not be able to use items from the previous habitat. Purchasing similar items is the second best option.
*The author is not a licensed veterinarian. Always ask your veterinarian for the best advice specific to your hamster.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
"Aww, mommy, they're so cute! Can I have one?" Hamsters may be small and cute. But they require more responsibility than one may think at first glance. Parents will need to help initially and possibly throughout the life of a pet to ensure proper care. My kids are experts at caring for hamsters and rescue those in need whenever we have room. But it took guidance from me to get them there.
Pets are not toys. This is the number one thing kids need to know when adopting a hamster. Because hamsters are so small, it is easy for kids to forget they are living things. Don't take the joy out of watching the hamster play. But be sure your child realizes this aspect before ever being allowed to hold the hamster. Someone told me a horror story about rolling a hamster in the ball too hard when they were a child. It didn't turn out well for the poor little guy. Only the hamster should be spinning the ball or wheel.
Can kids handle full care for a hamster? Even the most responsible kids should be taught how to properly care for a hamster. It is safest for your child and the pet if you assist. Depending on the age and responsibility of your child, more responsibilities can be given as your child shows signs of proper hamster care. My tween and teen have proven capable of taking full responsibility for the hamsters after practice and teamwork with me. At first, they were allowed to feed the hamster, as well as clean the cage and place new bedding. Next came the ability to hold the hamster with supervision. When they mastered holding, they were allowed to also place the hamster in his ball and watch him run around the room, as well as do other tasks.
What should adults do to help? Hamsters need lots of attention and love. But they like to run, so it is important adults show kids know how to hold them properly. They can easily escape, which is not good for their health and well-being. My tween and teen can hold all of the hamsters, except one who is an escape artist. Thus far, I am the only one who can hold Butterscotch. The younger kids are only allowed to hold our female hamster, Kiki, and must have supervision from me. Besides escaping, another problem is biting or the kids holding hamsters the wrong way. Hamsters sleep a great deal during the day and be most active at night. Parents need to remind the kids of this and not allow them to wake the animals when they need to rest.
What if my child isn't caring for the hamster properly? If your child is not caring for the hamster properly, you will need to take over. While it is important to teach kids about responsible pet care, you cannot let the hamster suffer. Our first hamster came to us with a sad story. The kids were not caring for him properly. The parents did not step up to help and ended up surrendering him back over to the pet store. The best way to teach kids about being responsible for the care of a pet is by doing it, not by abandoning that responsibility.
Extra handy hints on hamster care for kids
- Check with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to see if any hamsters are in need there. This helps an animal in need and helps control pet overpopulation.
- Always have the kids wear gloves when handling their hamster. Hamsters may bite, which can cause the kids to jump and possibly injure the hamster.
- Never put hamsters of different litters and breeds together. They may fight. Some breeds cannot be housed together at all, even from the same litter. All of our hamsters have their own cages and the kids know to keep them separate.
- Never put males and females together unless you are a professional breeder. While baby hammies may be cute, it is not wise to breed hamsters unless you know what you are doing. Also, so many pets die every day because of overpopulation. Teach your kids about proper procedures concerning hamster breeding.
- Major pet supply retailers often hold classes kids can take to learn about the care of their pets. This is a good idea before ever adopting a pet. It is also a good idea if your kids are not taking responsibility.
Note that the author is not a licensed animal specialist, but a long-time animal nurturer. This article is based on her personal experiences and should not take the place of your veterinarian's advice.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
You just brought home two adorable hamsters and you wonder if they'd get along. You have two cages but one would take up less room? Can hamsters be housed together? That depends on many factors. As a pet grandparent who's had experience with several hamsters, I can tell you with experience that it largely depends on each situation. However, in many cases, it isbest to house hamsters separately.
Hamsters from the same litter may do well together when young. If two hamsters of the same sex (male only) from the same litter are housed together from birth, they may do well continuing that way. However, that isn't always the case. Females cannot be paired with other females or with males. Hamsters are very territorial. Therefore, they may start fighting or worse. If you are uncertain whether your related hamsters were housed together, it's better to have them in separate cages. We go the safe route with our hamsters because we don't want them to get hurt. They each have their own cage.
Never put hamsters of the opposite sex together. Remember not to house a male and female together, as they will almost certainly breed. While baby hamsters may be cute, breeding is only recommended by the professionals. Also, female hamsters tend to get quite aggressive with males after the breeding process and it can be dangerous for both hamsters. Then, you also have the problem of creating unwanted pets. Are you really going to keep up to 15 baby hamsters once they are weaned? If so, do you have the means to do so? There is also the issue of the legal limits on the number of pets you can have without being a licensed facility. Never ever intentionally breed hamsters, unless you have the proper license and ample room to do so.
Hamsters like their space. Because hamsters are creatures of habit and very territorial, it can be difficult when they are housed together. Each hamster will have a certain space where they like to use the bathroom, a certain eating area, a certain area where food is stored, a sleeping area, and so on. If one hamster wants an area for one use and another wants it for something else, conflict will arise. When hamsters are housed together in the same cage, this puts them at greater risk of danger because of these issues and more.
Some breeds will do better together than others. Certain hamster breeds will do better in pairs,like dwarf hamsters. But our dwarf hamsters are not fond of each other. We can tell this even with them in separate cages. Syrian hamsters are especially territorial. The general rule with housing hamsters is that if they were not raised together or if they were separated at any point, do not even try to put them together. Even if they do well together, you will need to provide ample space for each hamster to create their own space. In other words, the cage should be considerably large and offer plenty of burrowing room, hiding places, separate feeding and watering stations, and more.
When in doubt, play it safe. If you can't figure out whether you should house your hamsters or not, your best bet is to refrain from doing so. The safety of your hamsters is more important than whether they are in the same cage or not. While your hamsters may enjoy playing together, hamsters are generally solitary creatures. Our Russian dwarf hamsters enjoy human interaction, but not interaction from other hamsters. Our Roborovski hamster does not enjoy interacting with people or other hamsters. All three of them have very distinct personalities. Therefore, when in doubt, play it safe and house your hamsters separately. Their lives may literally depend on it.
*Please note that the information contained herein is solely from the author's personal experience with hamsters. She is not a licensed professional. Always consult your hamster's licensed veterinarian for information pertaining specifically to your pet's well-being.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
On a family visit to the local pet shelter, your kids see a cute little fuzzy hamster. This hamster has special needs and requires some extra care. Can kids care for a hamster with special needs? My kids have rescued several hamsters who all had extra care needs as compared to many other hamsters. But just because some kids have had success with this does not mean that all kids will. It also depends on each unique situation.
Before adopting, consider the animal's needs. Not all special needs hamsters will be the same. Some needs will be minor, allowing a child to care for them. Yet others may be more complex. If your child can handle all of the extra responsibilities that will come with a special needs hamster, it's a great service to adopt an animal in need. My kids adopted a hamster named Buddy who was blind in one eye. They were able to provide the care he needed. However, his previous owners (who also happened to be kids)didn't treat him so well. If your kids are responsible and capable enough to provide for a special needs hamster, there is little reason not to adopt.
How serious is the animal's condition? Will the hamster need medicine or other frequent vital care? If so, can your child handle that? Is it better for the special needs hamster to go to a different home? If the kids cannot meet the hamster's needs effectively, as the parent you will need to do that. Sadly, Buddy's previous owners did not think of that. Once the kids couldn't care for Buddy, the solution the parents had was to bring Buddy back instead of caring for him themselves. While it might have taught them they couldn't have a pet if they couldn't provide care, it may have inadvertently taught them that pets are not as important as people. Animals have feelings too. If your kids are going to adopt a special needs hamster, be sure your home is the right one. Animals deserve to be part of a loving family just as much as people do.
What does the vet say? Talk to the shelter and/or animal hospital staff about the animal's condition. If possible, have a vet assess the situation beforehand and let you know if your kids are the right pet parents. The vet will be able to tell you everything your family will have to do in order to properly care for the hamster. In Buddy's case, he needed no medicines, as he was born blind. But since he had been abused and neglected, he was a bit feisty. He would bite any and everything that came within a few inches of him. The kids and I had to show him lots and lots of love and tender care for months before he stopped biting. He also was a little overweight because he had been deprived of food before. So he would hoard his food and overeat. In the beginning, he didn't even know how to use his hamster wheel and he would hide in a ball in the corner of the cage. If your kids adopt a hamster with special needs, such as depression, overeating, and aggressiveness, will they have the time and patience to help the hamster overcome it all?
What does your child's doctor think? Sometimes hamsters with special needs may also be sick. While it isn't common for kids to catch anything from their pet hamster,it is possible. Also, if your child has any conditions that weaken the immune system, a sick pet is more likely to infect your child. Talk to your child's doctor about the special needs hamster and any known conditions before adopting. Your child's doctor will be able to tell you what to watch out for and also give you some handy hints to help prevent illnesses spreading from pets to kids and vice versa. The vet should do the same. But your child's pediatrician is the best resource geared toward kids and the vet is the best resource geared toward your hamster.
Is the related care something a child can handle responsibly? While your child may be good hearted and have good intentions, remember that you are still dealing with a kid. Kids don't always stick to their responsibilities. Is your child responsible enough to complete every step in the animal's care plan every single time? Think about any other tasks your child has and whether they get done effectively. Also, consider your child's overall attitude toward animals. If you believe your child can adequately care for a special needs hamster (and you will take over if they don't), then what are you waiting for? Go welcome home your new family member.
* I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Parents, Please Educate Your Kids Before Adopting a Pet: Lessons From Buddy the Hamster, Rescued From Neglect
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Buddy the hamster is happily snoozing as I write this. He is nestled all cozy in his pile of natural bedding and other nesting materials. However, our cute little fuzzy family member wasn't always so happy. His situation is one of thousands involving pets of all kinds that constantly urge me to tell parents to please educate their kids before ever adopting a pet.
Buddy's previous owners were kids and the parents did not step up to help Buddy when the kids did not take care of him. Their solution was eventually to return Buddy to the pet store. That's when my mom and one of my daughters stepped in to save Buddy. We were not even looking for a pet yet. But who else was going to adopt an abused hamster who was blind in one eye?
Your pet is not a toy or a decoration. This an important lesson that all children need to learn. I know what you are thinking when I talk about a hamster. It's just a hamster. There's the problem. Buddy is not an 'it'. Any living creature is not 'just' anything, but is the same as you and me. Kids need to know this before ever getting a pet. No matter how big or small, animals have feelings just like us. When you don't feed them, they feel starvation, just like you would. When you don't play with them, they feel neglected, just like you would if no one paid attention to you.
Pets require love and attention. You cannot buy a pet and just let him sit there on the shelf in his cage. He needs your love and attention. If your kids get a pet, they need to give him lots of love and attention. In Buddy's previous home, he did not receive love and the attention was the worst kind. When we first brought him home, his gut reaction was to instantly bite anything that came anywhere near him. It took months of love and special attention to get him to the point of allowing anyone to hold him without him showing aggression. If you met Buddy the day he came to us and again now, you would think you were meeting two different hamsters. His personality has completely changed - all because of love. Of course, the opposite could also happen in an instant, if he fell into the wrong hands again.
Pets require proper care. Just like a baby, your pet relies on you to thrive. Your kids need to know this. In Buddy's situation, he was not properly fed, not given water often enough, not paid attention to, nor was his cage cleaned often enough, if at all. He already had a hard life (being blind in one eye) and neglectful pet owners made it that much harder on poor Buddy. When Buddy came into our home, he did not even know how to use the hamster wheel or the hamster ball. All he did at first was sleep in the corner of the cage and every now and then he'd get up to eat or drink. Now that he is being cared for properly, he runs in his ball and wheel daily and stands up begging for attention whenever anyone is near his cage. He is much more active than he was when he came to us. Not feeding or caring for an animal can cause them to have depression, be ill, or even die from neglect or starvation - just like if that happened to a human.
Educate your kids before getting a pet. Talk to your kids about proper pet care. Buy books and do research together on the animal your children will adopt. Many pet stores and shelters have special classes that kids can take on how to properly care for their furry family member. If your kids are not responding well to pet lessons, by all means let someone else adopt the pet. You may think you are doing a good deed when adopting a pet in need, but if your children will neglect the pet, it's a much better deed to let another family take on that responsibility. It is very true that having a pet can teach responsibility. But at the same time, kids should be knowledgeable of their care and be willing to provide it before ever adopting an animal.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As I write this, my 8-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter are cleaning a hamster cage and a gerbil cage. I'm such a mean mom, right? Not exactly. They're willing participants and there are several reasons kids with pets should be doing things like this. Our first hamster was neglected by children in another family before we adopted him. It happens more often than some realize. But it can be prevented.
Respect and love for animals starts early
It's more difficult, though still possible, to teach an adult to do things differently than it is to teach kids about something right from the start. The earlier a child starts learning how to have compassion for animals, the better. Part of that includes providing them with the things they cannot provide for themselves, like clean water, a clean cage, and food. If your child is neglecting the hamster, please address it immediately.
If your child is going to “own” a pet, they also own the responsibility
Owning an animal means caring for that animal. Helping kids care for their first hamster is all about responsibility from the start. If your child adopts a hamster but you end up being the one to clean the cage, provide food and water, provide stimulation, and handle other care, this defeats the purpose. If your child is not ready for all that, your child is not ready for a pet. All parents should properly help their child adopt a hamster with preparation.
Having pets teaches further responsibility and life lessons
By learning how to provide for a hamster, your child will learn important life skills that all humans can learn from a hamster. They will also learn many other life lessons from hamster care that can be applied elsewhere.This might be practice for babysitting, working elsewhere, or even as preparation for caring for oneself. Kids with pets should be learning how to budget for their care, what types of food they need and how often, what stimulation is appropriate, how to be gentle, and much more.
Does your child have a hamster or other pet? Are they caring for them as they should? Please leave your thoughts and concerns in the comments section below.
"Needs loving home with her own space. Can be aggressive." This is the type of 'warning' label placed on more than one of the hamsters we have adopted. Some people would be turned off when reading that. Not us. That's exactly what we are looking for. We take on the small animals that others may not and they've all turned out to be great pets.
Hamsters are Small
An aggressive hamster is not going to do much harm to a human. A little nip may hurt a tiny bit. But hamsters are so small that it should be quite insignificant. If it's that bothersome, it's nothing a pair of gloves can't solve.
Aggressiveness is Not Always Permanent
We've successfully tamed three hamsters labeled as aggressive. All it took was a little time and lots of love. Another of our hamsters was labeled as aggressive. But once we got her home, she was completely different. She's actually the tamest and friendliest of all of the hamsters we've rescued.
Hamsters Live in Cages
Because hamsters are not going to be free roaming the house, it is not likely that aggressiveness will be a huge problem. Some hamsters do like to come out and play in a designated, properly secured area. But even during these times, it is not likely that an aggressive hamster is going to be a threat. Wear gloves during feeding and handling times, as well as during cage cleanings if you're worried about the boxing and nipping.
Aggressive Animals Still Have Feelings and Needs
Usually aggressive animals are that way due to mistreatment or health conditions. That doesn't mean they don't deserve a loving home too. They still need to eat, have access to fresh water, and live in a comfortable and safe environment. Sometimes providing those simple things is all it takes to tame a hamster. Sometimes it takes more. Sometimes they remain aggressive. Either way, they are still living, breathing creatures with feelings and needs.
Talk to your local animal rescues and shelters (and do the proper research on care) if you are interested in learning more about adopting aggressive hamsters.
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