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.

- 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.

- 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.

they smell
they are utterly pointless
they bite
you will look after it
they make so much noise on those bloody wheels

quite cute
nice cages
not really much effort to look after

JackThePumpkinKing Tue 13-Nov-12 16:20:42

Hamsters are crap, they make loads of noise at night, chuck sawdust out the cage, have squeaky bastard wheels and chew the bars.

They're not really very expensive to keep though, and usually die before any need for vet bills, so there's a plus.

As you hate the thought of stinking rodents in the house then I won't suggest rats wink, but what about gerbils? Not smelly, you can keep them in a gerbilarium so less cleaning out and they don't make as much noise. Much more interesting animals. Just as bitey though. confused

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:21:59

grin at 'die before any need for vet bills'

NatashaBee Tue 13-Nov-12 16:22:57

Make sure you pick a common colour so that you can do a switch if it dies suddenly.

I always kept my hamsters in this type of set up rotastak so no mess.

JackThePumpkinKing Tue 13-Nov-12 16:23:28

One of mine stuffed his stupid little face so full of seeds that he got wedged in a toilet roll tube. Stupid furry git. We had to cut him out and then he bit me.

cornycatona Tue 13-Nov-12 16:24:42

they don't always die before vet bills
we've spent ££££
they died after the vet bill

Get her a guinea pig

they still smell but at least you can cuddle them and they make the sweetest squeaking noises for food.

Gerbils are better, I had lots of prolifically breeding lovely gerbils when I was a teenager. They don't usually bite.

I meant gerbils are better than a hamster, not better than a guinea pig

I have had all 3 and Guinea pigs are the cuddliest, gerbils the most interesting to watch and hamsters the most spiteful, stupid, boring, noisy grin

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:28:43

Do they always bite and nip then? Can you train them not to? What is the point of them? Truly, I'm not being funny, I don't get it. A dog yes, or even a cat at a stretch but I'm allergic. But a hamster! How often do you have to clean them out?

Thanks for replies. It's been a massive no in this house for a couple of years but this is all there is on her christmas list, crafty little madam.

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:29:29

How could I hide it until xmas day? Can't exactly wrap it and put it under the tree the week before.

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:29:48

Would it die in the garage? Too cold?

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 13-Nov-12 16:30:33

hamsters dont live very long. DD had one - just one - it lived for about 18 months.
it was actually very cute and never bit, but was handled alot from being bought.

they do smell though - never get those stupid cages with tubey bits - hers made its bed in the tube and we could never bloody clean it properly.

they are noisy at night.

sandyballs Tue 13-Nov-12 16:30:59

Oh I'll have a look at gerbils and guinea pigs then, aren't guinea pigs kept outside though like rabbits? All year? Or only summer? Excuse my ignorance.

once a week, I wouldnt keep it in garage, I always had dwarfs and they never bit me, only bastard full size one I had was ppure evil.

Aw but they're so cute and entertaining! And they don't have to be bitey!

We've only had ours a month but she is lovely and tame already, I can't imagine she would ever bite anybody; she comes and sits by her cage door waiting to be scooped out then just sits really still in your hand smile. And she is really fun to watch - the DC spend ages watching her playing with her toys and rearranging her house.

Yes they're nocturnal, but for our hamster that seems to mean she is asleep in the morning when the DC get up & during the day when they're at school - but she wakes up when they get home in the afternoon (because they're so fecking noisy probably) and she is awake all evening from then on.

I think it must make a difference where you buy one from - if you go to a big Pet store they probably haven't been handled much, but we bought ours from a small local pet shop where they handle all the animals every day to tame them - so when we brought her home they had done all the hard work for us smile

Can you tell I'm a little bit luved up with my new baby? smile

And PS she doesn't smell - and I'm lazy and only change her bedding once a week.

skewputt Tue 13-Nov-12 16:32:49

Aw they're so cute though! They're as cheap'n'easy as they come for pets. Dd's was also very useful to teach her about, erm, death. To cheer her up after her beloved hamster died I got two guinea pigs. She's never loved them half as much, and they're triple the hassle!

skewputt Tue 13-Nov-12 16:34:03

X post re cuteness. It's true, they are! Ours wasn't bitey either.

I am genuinely really surprised how much I've warmed to ours! I am a bit grumpy and anti-pet and only gave in after years of nagging. I wish I'd got one before now though!

maxybrown Tue 13-Nov-12 16:37:28

ok haven't read every post but we had a hamster and he was lovely - we had a winter white, not smelly, doesn't bite, easy to play with not noisy and we will get another one

for god sake now I am hanster broody, madness, I have 2 dogs and 2 cats and 6 chickens and a goldfish but looking at the cages has ,ade me want a rodent.

derekthehamster Tue 13-Nov-12 16:37:58

another con

You need quite a large cage, a lot of the ones in the petshop will be too small. expect to spend £65 - £100 on a decent sized cage.

your dd will get bored (whatever she says) unless you are prepared to clean it out don't get one.

Our eldest hamster is now 2.8 yrs old, so it can be quite a commitment. Think about who will look after it whilst you are on holiday.

LadyCatherinedeBourgh Tue 13-Nov-12 16:44:33

Don't get a Russian Hamster, vicious little things. I had to wear leather gloves to handle mine every time I cleaned out its cage.

Lauzifer Tue 13-Nov-12 16:44:48

We have a dwarf hamster and she's lovely, easy to clean out, doesn't smell and very very cheap to keep. The cage for a dwarf hamster doesn't have to be massive and she is very tame and sweet.
I used to keep degu's and dwarf hamsters are a 100 times easier to look after.

SrirachaGirl Tue 13-Nov-12 16:46:37

We got one for DD last Christmas and he's been a great success so far. He's called Kevin (picture on profile) and he's very sweet and likes to be cuddled. He usually wakes up in the early evening and the DCs like to try and lure him through his tube with bits of fruit and veg. They are noisy at night so don't keep them upstairs (although you can get wheels that are 'silent'). DD changes his cage about once a week which takes about 5 minutes so no big deal. We also have one of those clear balls for him to roll around the floor in, which can be very entertaining to watch...our dogs are baffled and frightened by this and keep their distance, surprisingly grin.

Floralnomad Tue 13-Nov-12 16:50:20

Guinea pigs can be kept indoors all year and are great for kids . Rats are also brilliant , get a pair they're friendly ,trainable and incredibly cute. Hamsters are also lovely but IMO not so child friendly.

My dd aged 11 yrs has a Syrian hamster, he's almost 2 yrs old now. Tbh I wouldn't get her another, the novelty wore off pretty quickly, especially after he bit her (not badly but stopped her handling him!).

She can't clean the cage properly on her own, she doesn't get him out enough for exercise, so all this is left to us now. I think he's quite cute and I don't think he smells unless the cage isn't cleaned often enough.

They are nocturnal which means my dd can only handle him just before bedtime and also can only get him out of his bed to clean his cage in the evening too.

It's very difficult to find a silent wheel and they do need a wheel for exercise. Most of them squeak or make some kind of noise when the hamster is running.

What no one told me, when they are running around in those exercise balls on the carpet, they pee and poo! Then because I don't want to clog up my hoover with hamster poo I have to pick them all up by hand otherwise they get trodden into the carpet.

Mousefunk Tue 13-Nov-12 16:57:51

I wouldn't. They stink, cleaning the cage is just a pain, they don't live very long at all, bite, are a bit pointless because they don't really do anything and as you said are nocturnal so most of their shenanigans happen when you're sleeping and even then its nothing interesting....They make tons of noise, kick sawdust out of the cage.. They're a pissing nightmare.

If you really want a pet the only logical ones are cats and dogs because they actually do stuff and live for ages (mostly).

Mousefunk Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:31

* yes and they are incontinent, all rodents are so when handling they are likely to pee on you, same for when they're running around.

madhairday Tue 13-Nov-12 17:00:43

We just bought a Syrian hamster last week, so jury still out a bit, but he is cute and the dc are loving watching him, but he doesn't come out til about 7pm. He's not used to being handled so we're at the stage of putting a hand in the cage etc, he bit dh the first time but since has been getting a bit bolder, the dcs are desperate to hold him but it will take some time.

We have a rotastak cage and I can see it's going to be a bit of a PITA to clean out, esp the tubes, he has made his bed in one of the sphere things so that will be a pain. But all in all he's cute and not smelly <yet> or too noisy.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 13-Nov-12 17:00:58


They are very nocturnal - ours ended up sleeping in the kids bathroom as it was too noisy for dds bedroom.

They need a VERY strong cage or can chew threw and get out -

They are ugly, smelly and utterly pointless


A child (of say around 8 upwards) can look after this on their own - my dd was allowed guineas and then a hamster on teh strict instruction she NEVER EVER EVER EVER asked us to help with the looking after of them. And all credit to her she did all the looking after and would arrange for friends to have the hamster when on holiday.

THey are small and don't take up too much room

ChestyNutsRoastingAnOpenFire Tue 13-Nov-12 17:01:40

Urgh no way for all the reasons you mention

I have never heard anything as noisy as my GDs hamster clanging around his wheel at 3am, the whole room shook....and he escaped loads...and he smelt....then died hmm

youwillobey Tue 13-Nov-12 17:02:06

I've got a lot of pros:
They're SEMI-nocturnal. My (well DD1's, but I love it so much, mad crazy hamster woman that I am) hamster is currently playing very happily on my lap. It's 4:49 at the mo, and she woke up as soon as I got home because she loves coming out.

Easy to play with while watching TV. Biggest play time for our hamster is watching either Merlin, or a TV film etc;


Everyone said DD1 would be bored of her. They told me before we got our hamster (called Molly). I'd do the cleaning out etc; Nope! DD1 cleans the cage out once a week, the bedding more than twice a week, water every day, sometimes every two days, food every day, and goes down to Pets At Home on the way back from school, where she might either buy food or spend her pocket money on treats for the hamster, or an exercise ball.

Have to sort out in the holidays who's looking after it!

They die quickly. Our one is currently a year old. That's the longest so far. The dwarf hamsters (Chinese, wouldn't reccommend one for anyone who hasn;t had Syrian hamsters) are also coming up to a year. When the hamsters have previously die, we had a DD1 struggling through tears, a midnight (they ALWAYS die just before I go to bed and check on the hamster to say goodnight and find it stiff in its wheel) burial etc; and strict mourning.

If you want a snippet of how much DD1 loves her hamsters, this is her christmas list-
New hamster cage, for my biggest present please, but if it's too big or expensive, some tubes would be good, thank you.

Hamster treats please, mainly milk or chocolate drops, but dried bananas or apple chews would be fine.

Hamster chew toy or a mineral biter for the hamster.

A toy like a seesaw or tubes for the hamster to go in its cage.

She's got 15 things, and the only one which doesn't involve hamsters is the 'a rat would be nice' at the bottom.

MaryZezItsOnlyJustNovember Tue 13-Nov-12 17:02:13

Why not offer to look after a friend's hamster while they are on holiday?

I did that with gerbils.

By the time I had them a week, and had made each of the kids clean out the cage one, and feed them for two days in a row, they were all fed up.

We got cats - much easier.

I can't think of any pros, but to add to the cons:

1) They die, leaving grieving children who demand another one
2) They don't die, leaving grieving adults having to look after them.

skewputt Tue 13-Nov-12 17:03:04

Try zooplus for cage and wheel- fab website for affordable pet-related bits & bobs. I got guinea pigs' indoor cage there after being shock at the price elsewhere. I would second needing a big cage for a Syrian hamster. Wheel too, as most of the cages you see in pets at home etc are way too small with wheels that are only suitable for dwarf hamsters.

QuestionTime Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:03

I had the misfortune of working at pets at home for three years as a student. I can genuinely say hamsters are the spawn of Satan. The vast majority bite - and not just a little bite... The blood outing out tears to an adults eyes bite. They also eat each other (Syrians) Stick to gerbils and guinea pigs every time - very few returns vs hundreds of hamsters!!

Floralnomad Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:30

youwillobey your DD sounds lovely and I hope you're getting her a pair of rat babies for Christmas!

KinkyDorito Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:38

My 14 year old wants a chinchilla.

The house cats would LOVE that.

QuestionTime Tue 13-Nov-12 17:07:56

*blood pouring out

manitz Tue 13-Nov-12 17:08:18

ours died after 18months then dh took ages to bury it, it came alive again 2 days later. it was on it's back with it's legs in the air. It was christmas and it was renamed jesus after that. it finally died aged about 2 and a half after a few more false starts. DD didn't touch it from about day 3 as it bit her on the knuckle. we looked after it, it's not too much bother but we'd think twice before another pet.

brighterfuture Tue 13-Nov-12 17:09:25

Ds had one of those miniature hamsters. I swear it ate its own poo, didn't smell at all. It lived a long (3 years) lonely life. Everytime I looked at it I was guilt tripped by its isolated misery. After it died I swore no more pets in cages.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Tue 13-Nov-12 17:14:32

My 3 year old has a Syrian Hamster, hes had her a year. Shes awesome. Never bitten (we handle her alot). Her cage rocks its a Habitrail OVO, shes litter trained so only uses one 'pod'. Went for a Syrian as shes just a bit more 'chunky' to handle.
Only downside, the stress on the three occasions shes escaped her ball!!

insanityscratching Tue 13-Nov-12 17:35:44

Dd has a hamster, Captain Cutie, and it is the sweetest little thing and dd loves her dearly. She doesn't smell, she messes in a rodent toilet and that's emptied every day. She wakes up when dd comes home from school because she gets treats then and comes out to play and stays awake until dd goes to bed. I'd get one for dd as IME dd has had a huge amount of fun from CC.

Prarieflower Tue 13-Nov-12 17:45:33

My dtwins 9 had one for their birthday and we are all utterly smitten.He has been worth every penny.

The first thing I would say is get the biggest cage you can find.We looked after 2 for friends in those awful cages with tubes and just felt awful for them.When they grow full size they can't go down the tubes anyway for fear of getting stuck.The cages they sell in Pets at Home are all cruel imvho,far too small.Hamsters need a lot of excercise.

We've got the Leon 3 story cage from ZooPlus and it's fab.You get discount on your first order. Comes with a great see saw and red roofed hut. Masses of space.Dtwin 1 spent all his bday money on loads of wooden things which he changes around.Doesn't smell at all.We clean it out once a week(chuck out the shavings) and hoover the 2 upper floors.You can get cage cleaner that cleans wood from Pets at Home.

We got the wooden wheel from ZooPlus again because it's kinder(no spoke that can damage their backs)and it's noise free.He has a burrow box in his cage that he dives into(you an hide treats in and it has a glass side).Ours has a lovely big wooden hut from Pets at Home he can push the lid off.One cold night he ripped up cardboard and blocked up the windows-clever or what!!!!!He loves his cuddly broccoli toy that goes in his hut.

He has loads of other wooden bits and pieces you can pick up quite cheaply.

We scatter sunflower seeds around which he loves to find.

If you buy from Pets at Home you get a free vet check up.Pets at Home vary.We have 3 in our area but only one with a vet on site-it was by far the best.All the animals looked far happier(no returned animals either).We got a free plastic carry box to take him home in and a free bag of sunflowers seeds.Vet was v rough on our free visit though.

We're just taming ours.We bought the play pen and set up toys in and he's just got to climbing on hands.He's never bitten but we've taken it slow.We've had him for 2 months.Dtwin 1 chose the runt of the litterhmm and he is white and ginger.Don't think it's best to pick the smallest but dtwin fell in love with him.When you buy check for wetness round the bottom as it could be the deadly wet tail.Our hamster has grown loads and is very lively.He comes out at various times.Some days he's up when the kids get up.He often comes out in the evening.They're actually crepacious sp? not nocturnal.Buy a couple of books first.

He costs very little.We got the biggest bag of sawdust and food and haven't even made a dent in either.They only eat a teaspoon full and a few carrot shavings.

You might want to go careful on treats.We bought a treat tree and his pouches nearly exploded(he stuffed)so we've not done that again.He just has a little ,natural treat now and again.

Dd is currently going to bed with piles of gerbil books which she is hoping for for Christmas.hmm

Prarieflower Tue 13-Nov-12 17:52:44

God I can't believe my longest ever MN post was about a hamster!!!!shockSo need to get out more!!!

Ours has taught our dc a lot re thinking of others and their little paws are super cute when holding food and nibbling.

He's part of our family now,but then he is the prince of hamsters.grin

Approximately Tue 13-Nov-12 18:01:09

Guinea pigs everytime! We have 2 and they live indoors all year round. They are cute, cuddly and 'chat' to you when they hear the fridge door open. Our kids adore them.

rainbowriver Tue 13-Nov-12 19:31:31

We had a dwarf russian hamster and she was the best pet we've had. She was very friendly and tame, slept in our hands, fun to watch, easy to keep and never ever did she smell! She lived for three years.

On the other hand our guinea pig smells terrible, hates being stroked or handled, bites and we've only had him 2 years! They can live up to eight!

So I would definately recommend the hamster.

clam Tue 13-Nov-12 19:43:05

Oh God, we're on our third. It's 2 and a half and I'm pretty sure it's got skin cancer, but it just won't die. DD keeps getting upset over him, but short of getting rid of him whils she's out and lying about it, not sure what I can do.

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


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


- 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?

JackThePumpkinKing Wed 14-Nov-12 13:03:29

At that age I would let her choose one, definitely. grin

Ooh, exciting!

This thread has made me want a hamster, and I usually hate the little bastards.

Definitely let her choose one! It was so exciting - we just went looking and by that night he was fully ensconced in the spare roomgrin Dd knew exactly which one she wanted, I wouldn't necessarily have chosen a long haired one myself....

expatinscotland Wed 14-Nov-12 13:23:22

DD2 loves her female, piebald Syrian.

We do, too. She doesn't bite and is lovely.

We take her out to exercise her twice a day.

sandyballs Wed 14-Nov-12 13:31:31

I've just discovered there's a whole topic on this! 'super furry animals' this could open up a whole new world for me! grin

OP If it's a christmas present I would buy a nice big cage, wheel, bedding & food & put an IOU in it for the hamster - you can wrap it all up then and not worry about her discovering it before Christmas. She can get it all set up herself for when she brings her little baby home - it's nice for her to pick it herself too.

Ah, just think how excited she'll be when she opens it! grin

Are there any small pet shops near you? If you can find one that does most of the taming for you, the hard bit's done smile

And if you need any more persuading - my eldest DC (15) has hardly used his xbox since we got our hamster nearly a month ago - he gets her out to play with as soon as he gets home in the afternoons and spends ages with her smile

Ooh and another tip - if nobody's mentioned it yet - when you get your new baby grin if you or the DC are feeling a bit nervous of her, either shut yourself and it in a small safe room (the bathroom, with the loo seat down!), let it out of its cage and just sit there and keep calling its name gently. It will wander around and gradually come over to you for a sniff and can get used to you that way (easier for you also if you're a bit unsure). My son also started off by putting the plug in the bath and sitting in it with the hamster cage (with no water in, obviously!), then taking the cage top off & letting the hamster sniff around him that way.

Am excited for your DC! smile

Tuppence2 Wed 14-Nov-12 18:06:12

I've had 5 hamsters over the years and I really like them as pets. I got my first aged 8, and it was always my responsibility to look after her, cleaning her cage out, letting her for a run in the ball and feeding her before I went to bed.

I have one now (aged 26) and I think they are a very low maintenance pet.
I clean her cage cleaned out once a week
feed her half a bowl of dried food every night and add some fresh fruit/veg/meat every other night
clean water in bottle every night
Try to get her in her ball for at least 45 mins of an evening, but definitely every other evening
I usually take her out and she sits in my lap for half an hour if I'm watching tv
She has only tried to bite me once in the year I've had her and that was 2 days ago, after I had eaten and hadn't washed my hands! So technically my fault!

Oh, and not all hamsters only live for 2 years... I had 1 who lived for 4.5 years (I luffed her lotsly!)
Food/sawdust/bedding isn't expensive. I get mine from Wilkinsons. it's £1.50 for a kilo of the dried food, and that usually lasts just over a month. They also do little bags of treats, gnawing blocks and seeded bar things to keep the teeth from growing too much.
I also have this cage for her:
Attached to half of this cage:
So she has plenty of space, tubes to run round in and 2 wheels to run in

D0oinMeCleanin Wed 14-Nov-12 18:10:14


Hamsters are evil, creepy little buggers.

Rats otoh are marvelous.

Let her choose her own Hamster, it's only fair.

I still remember the excitement of going to the petshop ( blush it was 1975) to choose my first guinea-pig. It wouldn't have been the same if I'd been given the cage with the guinea in situ.

My DD didn't choose her GPs, they 'chose' her. We got 2 rescue boars and as soon as she saw their picture, she was in love. grin

Isla77 Wed 14-Nov-12 22:14:58

Personally I would rather have guinea pigs - more solid and cuddly and we found them quite easy to keep. They were much loved by all of us not just my DD's. The girls loved having them in the house and they ran around quite happily in the sitting room especially if we left food on a plate for them.We could feed them by hand and never got bitten. My DH is not a great lover of animals in the home but even he became quite fond of them. They had a run in the garden made by DH and loved running arond in there in the good weather. We were very sad when they died - they do not live to a very great age.

Guinea pigs wee too much for me! Need to clean them out lots, and the cages are quite big for kids to do by themselves.

LittleFriendSusan Thu 15-Nov-12 09:30:41

Can nip a lot in early days
You'll be the one feeding it & cleaning out its stinky cage...

Food and bedding fairly cheap
Short lifespan!!!

DS got one for his 7th birthday. DP talked me round ( I had sore memories of being bitten & kept awake by my sister's hamster). Ours doesn't really bite (she did nip in the early days, but is used to us now). She does, however, stink. Daily cage cleaning was not something I expected to have to add to my list of chores... She is also extremely irritating when she decides to run on her wheel / gnaw on the cage at 11.30pm...

If you do go for one, go for a Syrian. I loved the little dwarf hamsters (cute factor!!) but was advised they'd be too fast for DS. So we got a Syrian and she was def. fast enough!!

LittleFriendSusan Thu 15-Nov-12 09:44:16

Just read the other replies and am very envy of all these toilet trained hamsters who always use the same corner...

We have a Habitrail cage with lots of tunnels / pods etc (don't get one, they're a bastard to clean) and our hamster pees and craps everywhere. Including whichever pod she chooses to make her "nest" in. I do a "surface" clean once a day and full disinfect etc once or twice a week, but it still smells of hamster piss in my hallway sad.

duchesse Thu 15-Nov-12 09:58:59

Don't live very long
cheap to buy
no tail to fall off if mishandled, unlike gerbils
Easily handled by youngish children

smelly unless cleaned out often
can bite
not really that interesting

That said, very few children under 10-11 are mature enough to look after a pet properly so it would end being your pet. If you don't want to look after it, then don't give in! The longer you wait, and the more you remind her that it would be her responsibility, the more likely it is that she will look after it (rather than you) if you do eventually give in.

HermioneE Thu 15-Nov-12 23:03:32

I would say let her choose, but first, you choose the pet shop. As has been said you want one where they've done lots of hamster handling to help tame it early.

biglill Sun 18-Nov-12 13:25:53

Pros: Hamsters were a massive past of my childhood and I adored them, they taught me a lot about responsibility (and death). I could spend hours playing with them or watching them play, they can be so entertaining.

Cons: Many children I know (myself included) have intentionally or unintentionally (in my case) harmed their pets because they just don't have the sense needed to care for a little life. In my case I forgot to tend to one in particular and it ended up being neglected and was left in a sorry state, I know so many other kids who have done the same or worse have 'experimented' on them in some macabre way, or their hamster has escaped and been trodden on, eaten by the dog etc all surprisingly easily done! Then there is the rank smell of hamster urine, the need for a carer when you go away etc.

Personally I would steer clear unless you are prepared to play a major part or unless your DD is particularly loving and mature.

Every hamster that we have had will wee in a jam jar put in their cage. You just wash it out every day and no smell at all.

They are lovely little creatures but don't always get treated properly.

sandyballs Thu 22-Nov-12 07:53:35

Thanks for all your messages. I think I've finally caved in and I'm looking at cages to wrap up under the tree then she can choose her own hamster when shops open again. Thanks for that suggestion badtasteflump!

However! my other dd has caught onto her sisters hamster obsession and also wants one. Should they share a big cage to keep each other company? Or will they fight? Would DDs prefer their own cages? Not planning to keep in their bedrooms due to noise at night so that's not an issue.

sandyballs Thu 22-Nov-12 07:55:14

Just to add they are both nearly 12 so I'm hopeful they're mature enough to look after them properly.

2muchtimeonmyhands Thu 22-Nov-12 08:22:48

Get her a guinea pig, don't bite, so much cuter, easier to handle as don't make an attempt for freedom everytime yoi open the cage. (Weve had 5 hamsters over the years, all escaped or died within a year) our guinea pigs were great and they respond to you, we getting DS 1 for his birthday next yr.

Siberian hamsters can't share a cage, they might kill each other!

You're welcome sandy smile

If you're going with Siberian Hamsters (which I think are the best grin) they definitely can't live in pairs - but they are lovely and tame with humans...

BTW I've noticed theres an Amazon Black Friday deal coming up this afternoon at 2:14 pm for a Savic Hamster Heaven cage - which is a good one as its nice and big. Doesn't tell you what the price will be until the deal starts but definitely worth a look as that cage is usually pretty pricey smile

Really excited for your DDs! You are a very kind mummy smile

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now