DD wants a sodding hamster, pros and cons please

(96 Posts)
sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:16:44

I hate the thought of a stinking rodent in the house.

Cons:
- nocturnal, what's the point if they can't play in the day
- smelly
- bitey and scratchy
- money - vet bills, sawdust, food and other stuff they need
- I will end up caring for it by NY day despite DDs claims.

Pros:
- only one I can think of and that is DD has longed for one for years and I have just found a long letter in her bedroom begging for one for xmas and that is all she wants.

- another - a cheap present despite being one of the 'cons' above!

Can't believe I'm even thinking of it, please talk me out of it, say they are dirty and smelly and it will die young and leave DD distraught.

seventyeight Tue 13-Nov-12 19:54:25

Can you get her a furby instead?

LadyLetch Tue 13-Nov-12 20:04:37

My DD got a hamster when she was 8. It is a good pet because she can look after it all by herself.

Our hamster is very bold, she tamed quickly and loves coming out of her cage. She has a run every morning and every evening, and loves to come out. She runs to the door and happily climbs into your hands. She never bites.

If you can tame the hamster, they make great pets - my DD is always playing with hers (she's awake every morning and evening) and are very easy to look after, and they don't live too long!

Loulousmummy Tue 13-Nov-12 20:21:45

I want a hamster now. Maybe I'll suggest it to dd, then she can pester OH.
I've been remembering my first hamster, Twinkle. She was so friendly, would wake up at 3.30 when I came home from school.
Re the pooing and peeing in the exercise ball - get the little black things out the ball before they stick to the hamsters back. The hamster cannot manage it itself.

And make sure the barrier you make at the top of the stairs is strong enough to stop the hamster ramming it then rolling down the stairs in their exercise ball, on more than one occasion, she survived though, all 3 times

Don't feed them a mini jafa cake either, they will put the whole thing in their mouth and it will get stuck. (Thanks mum for that one)

HermioneE Tue 13-Nov-12 20:24:20

I'm amused by the number of posts suggesting a guinea pig etc instead. smile Not that guinea pigs aren't cute, but isn't that setting you up for years of her telling the story of that time she wanted a hamster but got a guinea pig and was stuck with it for years despite not wanting it?

A pro that hasn't been said yet- hamsters are fine left by themselves for 2-3 days, if you make sure they have plenty of water and haven't turned the heating off on your way out. So they're great if you're a family who likes lots of weekend breaks.

mignonette Tue 13-Nov-12 20:29:03

Do not get a female. They are much harder to tame and bite much more. They also lose familiarity with being handled very quickly if you do not do it every day.

Males are much friendlier and can be very outgoing little creatures. We've had three really lovely male hamsters with bags of personality for something so small. I still miss Rocky who is buried in the garden with a proper little grave!

TheKindnessOfStrangers Tue 13-Nov-12 20:29:20

One of the hamsters I had as a kid lived for 3 and a half years.

I only ever had one hamster that bit and that had belonged to another girl before we got him, I think she didn't treat him very well.

None of my hamsters smelt as long as I cleaned them out regularly.

I had a few pairs of gerbils too (gerbils have to be kept in pairs otherwise they get depressed), they are also nocturnal in theory but were awake more in the day than the hamsters. And they don't smell at all. One of my gerbils lived for four years! I kept my gerbils in a big glass tank (therefore no problems with sawdust being kicked out) so they had plenty of space and and I think they were pretty happy (in spite of the cat sometimes sitting on the wire mesh I used to cover it!).

mignonette Tue 13-Nov-12 20:29:51

Clam

Please take the hamster to the Vet. It is probably suffering.

We have a hamster, only pet I would consider- not an animal person.

She is about 1.5, a winter white, which is adorable to be honest- most of the year she's pale grey, in the winter months she turns white with a pale grey stripe on her back.

She doesn't like being handled, at all. As I'm a bit jumpy handling small animals anyway (I always think they're going to escape) we have never pushed it. We have her trained so that if we bring her ball to the entrance of the cage, she comes over, decides if she wants a play, and climbs in if she does smile. Very cute to see.

Even though she doesn't like being handled, she is very friendly- she comes running out of her house when she hears you come in, and if you're nearbe she will come to the edge of the cage to see what you're up to, and looks as if she is listening while you're talking.

clam Tue 13-Nov-12 20:59:06

mignonette We have been to the vet. He thought he was not suffering as eating and acting normally and not appearing distressed in any way. We are on the lookout (flippancy aside) for any deterioration in him, but he's the same as he's always been.

We will go staright back if there is any change, I guarantee.

chicaguapa Tue 13-Nov-12 21:05:08

Gerbils are a good alternative to hamsters. They are awake during the day and handle more easily. They also don't need cleaning out as much. They are good to observe too as they tunnel and busy themselves making their bed.

Cons are they need a bigger 'cage' and you need a minimum of 2.

We love DD's and she's on her second pair. DD's current ones have lived for 4 years so far.

Arcticwaffle Tue 13-Nov-12 21:58:54

We are on hamsters 7 and 8 in 7 years. I've also had gerbils (good), rats (very smelly, need big cage), rabbbit (utter drama queen, very hard work, sulked when not permitted to roam loose around the house. had to rehome him in the end, I don't recommend. Now he lives free near the friend we rehomed him to, he's happier in the wild), and a whole posse of guinea pigs (2 still alive). I find the hamsters easiest with young children. Not as smelly as some of the alternatives. They live fast die young so they don't linger years after the dcs have lost interest (ageing guinea pigs, I'm looking at you...). Of all the rodent pet options, I'd say they are cheapest and easiest.

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 22:31:42

Thanks so much for all your replies. I'm sill thinking no but swaying slightly! DD would love it.

2kidsintow Tue 13-Nov-12 22:44:16

We are on our 3rd dwarf hamster. (Not in quick succession!)

The first 2 my DD's had were Winter Whites. V small and cute. THey turn white in the winter. They are supposed to live for 18 months on average, but were definitely on their 3rd time of turning white before they died. One had a stroke and spent a few weeks staggering around happily until he died.
Our current one is v happy and must be on his 2nd year too. He's called chip because he looks like a chipmunk.

My DDs did the talking to and taming stage. They look after them and clean them out.

It has a silent spinner wheel (best thing ever) and lives in an aquarium type tank with a mesh top and some corner shelves in. No sawdust being sprayed, smell pretty much contained (and they don't make much mess).

We got gerbils instead. They don't smell, they don't need as much cleaning out. They aren't noisy at night, and they don't bite!

EugenesAxe Tue 13-Nov-12 22:52:36

With due respect, forget any vet bill unless it's the cost of euthanasia.

I had one begrudgingly, because everyone else had one. It was cute, didn't bite particularly and lived for bloody years. Well, about 3.5, which is quite a lot for a hamster. In that time my sister got through 5 (mainly cat related deaths - we had one confused; one got too cold in the room she was in sad).

I prefer mice and rats TBH.

MsElleTow Tue 13-Nov-12 22:58:42

I have got a beautiful, friendly tame Syrian hamster called Rupert, he is grey and white. We have had quite a few Syrians, one lived until he was almost 3.

We train ours to use a hamster toilet, so you can empty the sawdust out of that and disinfect that daily. He doesn't smell at all. He poos in one corner of his cage so they are easy to sweep out too.

He was 4-5 weeks old when we got him, and we handled him straight away, so now he is really tame. He doesn't mind being woken up to be cleaned out, and he comes out for a very long run every night. He has a massive cage and I bought him a silent wheel that he loves to run in.

When he goes back into his cage after a run and a cuddle, he gets a treat. If he doesn't want it at that particular time, he puts it in his food bowl and saves it for later! He is very partial to a custard cream!

He is never bitten any of us, Infact none of ours have been bitey hamsters. There are no cons to having a hamster, they all have their own personality and little quirks. I absolutely adore mine!

I have had in my lifetime about 20 different hamsters, and about 5 different gerbils. I had them as a young child of 4-5 (not so great a pet then), then started having small pets at about 8 and carried on through my teens (wonderful pet for an 8+ year old as they are up from about 6pm onwards), then I begged DP and got him hooked too.
If you are wanting a pet you can get out and let them walk o your hands etc, a hamster is better than gerbils, which IMO are always very nervous and don't enjoy handling. You just need to handle your hamster lots (get a young one - young enough to be smaller than full size). A syrian hamster is the tamest. I had a russian hamster which came to me young but already pregnant and after the babies went to new and loving homes she was mad and quite aggressive therafter (not been handled enough because she'd had to be left undisturbed with her babies). All of my other hamsters have been of the syrian (golden) variety and have al made wonderful tame pets with plenty of gentle handling at the start. They are brilliant pets for older children but not great for little ones as they are hard for tiny hands to handle. They are very bold and interested in people, don't tend to bite (don't poke one in the face while asleep or you will regret it though!) and love being out and handled. very entertaining creatures, often love climbing on the bars of their cage and swinging on the top like acrobats. If they wee in the same corner all the time, you stick a jamjar filled with a little sawdust in in the corner and they will learn to use it as a little toilet (even waking up from their bed and scurrying out to use the loo in the day). That makes it easier to clean. In general, females are tidier I have found, but the males I have had have been a little less houseproud but been utterly docile and friendly and not bitten.
Remember hamsters have terrible eyesight so a finger can look like a tasty treat coming through the bars and this is usually why they bite. Another reason is when you do something to hack them off, like pick them up from their bed while asleep (understandable I think?) or if they are scared witless (as a baby they won't bite when scared so much, often they will squeak and cry when terrified - adults do not tend to squeak unless in pain).

Hope this helps.

PS I recommend a large barred cage as they enjoy the climbing, and often a bored hamster will eat its way out of a rotastak one or get overheated. Also choose a cage that has more than just an overhead door, or if not consider buying a ladder so the hamster can climb out the top when you open the cage and say hello. Handling wise, I recommend a large plastic tray with high sides and putting the hamster in it (or put the cage in it and take the lid off until the hamster climbs out into the box). Then spend 5-10 minutes each time playing with the hamster, offering it tasty hamster treats, letting it climb onto your hand and off again etc. Move onto gently letting the hamster walk along your hands (use a kitchen roll tube as a prop if necessary), and then picking it up. This is the way I have used fr most of my hamsters smile.

toomuch2young Tue 13-Nov-12 23:18:31

When I was a child I always had one hamster or another and at one time had 4 Syrians all at once all in large separate cages taking over my whole room as they were given away once other children had lost interest.

I was devoted to them, cleaned them daily, they were mainy easy as toileted in one corner usually. Loved their balls - having two out rolling around especially fun!! Only problem was when they kept me awake and the wracking grief of when they died!! Only one ever was a biter and she was old when I got her and grumpy and unhandled previously.

I think pet ownership teaches care, responsibility, compassion, gives friendship, enjoyment, money managing dd could pay some toward food/ treats out of pocket money etc, and of course introducing grief. sad

OP G'wann get her a hamster - thinking about rats or guinnea pigs is all very well but she doesn't want one of those, does she!

Just do your research first - ask around at school for whoever else has one and find out where they got it and how tame theirs was already. Have a look in some small independent pet shops and find one where they regularly handle the animals to tame them a bit for you. Ours was completely tame the day we brought her home because she'd been played with so much already in the shop - and the assistant knew all the little hamsters so well she was able to recommend which one was the boldest & tamest, to suit the DC smile. And get a big, big cage with a big wheel (at least 8 inches diameter for a syrian hamster) - the cages have to be expensive; have a look on freecycle or ebay for one!

I was adamant we weren't getting a small furry, until dd beggged and begged for her 8th birthday and I caved!

He is the cutest furriest funniest wee creaturesmile Dd does nearly all the care but likes us to play with him with her - I said I would never ever touch him but that lasted all of two days!

He wakes up when she gets home from school, loves treats and has only bitten twice (he did draw blood though) We have a silent wheel so never hear him at night, he wees and poos in a corner so easy to clean.

We luffs him and dread him dying - he's already 16months old.

Hamsters are lovely. We've had 2 siberians (no biting from either) and 2 dwarf Russians - but they are not as placid and one bites.

Assuming you're talking about siberians, the pros are:

- they are actually crepuscular, rather than nocturnal, so likely to be active in the evening when your DD wants to play

- cage nowhere near as big as e.g. guinea pigs, so easier to fit in the house and transport to friends for hamster holidays

- cute to watch and usually good to handle

- DD got her first one at about age 9 and has always cleaned it out weekly, can't comment on what your DD will do

- cheap. Main expenses are food and bedding (not dear). Vet needed only rarely

Cons:

- does seem to want to come out and play a bit most days (only a con if your DD loses interest)

The main pro in my mind though is that your DD is desperate for one. Does your family have any pets? I think pets are good for kids. Was never allowed to have one myself despite much begging!

Oh, and on the smell front, we put a jam jar in the cage. Hamster will potty-train itself, and you can just empty the jam jar, which contains most of the smell.

I think the phrase "DD wants a sodding hamster "is the main giveaway grin

You don't want the hamster and Hand On Heart you will be the one looking after it.

Can I put you off guinea-pigs at all?
I've had guineas since I was 9 yo to 22 yo.
Last year my daughter wanted a hammy (I don't like them) but we agreed to get guinea-pigs. (In plural. You need 2 + )

They are flipping hard work. I don't expect my DD to clean their Pighouse. She feeds and cuddles. She checks them over and helps me bath and cut their nails.

And they have a life expectancy of 5-9 years. So they are a commitment, not to mention quite expensive when you factor in food, hay, oil filled radiator in the Pighouse because they were fighting in their indoor cage hmm boys?

sandyballs Wed 14-Nov-12 13:02:00

Thanks all, I'm seriously coming round to the idea for some odd reason. DD is 11, will be nearly 12 by christmas. She's been on about a hamster for over a year and I know she would be so so happy to get one.

Another pro is the fact that it's not yet another electronic gadget she'll be glued to and I'll have to nag her to get off!

I've just sent DH a text and his reply was "I was going to talk to you about that, I'm sure it will be well looked after by DD and I'm more than happy for her to have one". That wasn't his response the other week when DD mentioned it grin.

Sooo if I do cave in, which is looking increasingly likely, do I buy one for her, to keep it a surprise or let her choose one?

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