Are you wondering what it is like to keep hamsters as pets? Well, hopefully, this article can answer most of your questions.
To begin with, as pets, hamsters take up little space – compared to say a dog or a cat. They take up the space of a large fish tank. For this reason, hamsters are exceptionally good pets for apartment living or for small homes.
Keeping hamsters as pets requires a significant time commitment. (Don’t expect that they need only the time and attention required by fish!) The amount of time required to care for them is approximately the same as it would be for a dog. Hamsters need to be fed and watered daily. Their toilets need to be cleaned on a regular basis. They need about an hour of daily human interaction. In addition, hamsters must have their cages cleaned out about once a week.
As far as the financial commitment, hamsters can cost as much as other pets to maintain. While the cost of the hamster itself is probably not much, there will have to be an initial investment in its home and in supplies. The hamster does not eat much food – only a teaspoon or so a day – but it does require a regular supply of fresh bedding material. Hamsters can also become ill – just the same as any other pet might. And so, you must have the resources available for trips to the veterinarian and the resulting bills.
Hamsters as pets may or may not be cuddly. The Syrian hamster – of all the hamster species – is most likely to be tame, and enjoy human cuddling. The dwarf hamster species have not been kept as pets for as long a time as the Syrian, and thus retain more of their wild nature. Rather than being handled by their caretakers, the dwarf hamsters prefer to play “on” their human owners. The dwarfs also run incredibly quickly, and, being smaller than their Syrian relatives, can fit into smaller spaces.
As far as being left alone, hamsters have needs that are more like dogs than cats. Hamsters are social creatures by nature and need regular interaction. So you cannot leave them unattended in your house for more than one or two days at a time – even though you would have supplied them with enough food and water for more days than that.
Hamsters are also sensitive the high temperatures in the summer. You must have air conditioning if you live in a climate where it will get warm. Whereas you may be able to suffer through days of 85° F (30°C), this temperature can kill your hamster.
The final thing to know about keeping hamsters as pets is that hamsters are nocturnal or crespuscular. This means that they are active at night or at dawn and twilight. Therefore you must plan your interactions with them either early in the morning or late in the evening.
Lastly, as long as you’re willing to make the commitment, hamsters do make rewarding pets.