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Hamster or Gerbils?

(35 Posts)
MrsBlobby43 Tue 27-Oct-20 16:57:02

My children are desperate for a pet and I said we'd get hamsters or gerbils. What's best in your opinion. Ideally I'd want them in the same cage but understand hamsters don't like to be together. Can anyone give me a better insight! Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
dementedpixie Tue 27-Oct-20 17:05:29

Dwarf hamsters can be housed together. Just don't get a male and female!

Sunnydaysstillhere Tue 27-Oct-20 17:08:45

Much more dc friendly.
Easier to train and handle.

MrsBlobby43 Tue 27-Oct-20 17:15:40

Rats shock

OP’s posts: |
Lowprofilename Tue 27-Oct-20 17:16:51

Gerbils are just tiny rats with less personality. Rats are lovely!

SummerHeatwave Tue 27-Oct-20 17:18:47

Definitely rats. Lovely pets. Need a larger cage though.

Caesious Tue 27-Oct-20 17:18:48

Hamsters really don’t come out much during the day. We have one and all the care and handling is left to me in the evenings. My four year old loves him but very rarely sees him. If you do decide to go for one, please do have a look at the RSPCA minimum cage recommendations. Most of the cages sold in pet shops are far too small and you’ll have a much happier animal if they’ve got more space.
No experience with gerbils but I’ve also heard that rats are fantastic pets for children.

PhonyPony Tue 27-Oct-20 17:21:25

We have a hamster...he's now 2.5 years old and still fit and healthy and pretty cute.
I wouldn't however get another one. It took a lot of work (by me) to tame him at the start. They are very quick at first and it took a long time for my then 7 year old to be able to hold him herself.
I did feel bad about the cage size, so he now has 3 in a row, connected by tunnels 🙈😆. If I did it again I'd have looked at the Pinterest hamster homes that are so much better.
He also wakes up really late, so it's usually bedtime when we get a quick cuddle in!

SnapeSnapeSeverusSnape Tue 27-Oct-20 17:26:54

We went for gerbils, they're crepuscular, which means they're more active in the morning and evening, sleeping more at night and during the day. This means they're not making a racket when you're trying to sleep, and are resting whilst everyone's at school/work. If you handle them from young they're also very friendly, but fast, so you have to be careful! We found they were great in pairs, lonely on their own and bullied each other if in a larger group, so two is best. Ours lived for about 5 years.

GaraMedouar Tue 27-Oct-20 17:28:04

We got a Syrian hamster during lockdown. Trouble is they’re nocturnal so we only see him every few nights. He is very tame, has never bitten, and is quite happy to be picked up, plonked on a lap for a sit and stroke. But not very exciting. The Syrians have to be kept alone or they fight. He’s very lazy, and is quite happy just to stay in his (humungous) cage . He has lots of bedding to burrow in, toys, a wheel etc - but can be tempted with a tasty titbit or two.

I’d say rats are a better bet. They need to be kept in social groups of at least two. And they are more intelligent and friendly like mini dogs.

Gin4thewin Tue 27-Oct-20 17:28:46

Kids get bored of hamsters, they dont do enough, or they get bit trying to tame it or waking them up. 1st choice is definitely rats, gerbils as a 2nd. Gerbils HAVE to have a tank, they dig and WILL chew their way out of anything else

WildfirePonie Tue 27-Oct-20 17:43:22

Rats would be the best choice. I have 3 girls and they are the sweetest.

PixellatedPixie Tue 27-Oct-20 17:46:04

Is there any way you can get guinea pigs instead? I’ve had rats, hamsters and guinea pigs and the piggies are definitely the best suited to small children. They make a whole range of different noises with different meanings and they are amazingly tame!

Floralnomad Tue 27-Oct-20 17:48:13

Rats are by far the best ‘Caged’ pet for children , they love human company , rarely bite and actually want to interact .

MJMG2015 Tue 27-Oct-20 17:51:00

Just to add to the mix, personally out of all the small 'cage' pets, I think Guinea Pigs make the best pets.

But they all whiff a bit (no matter what you use or how often you clean them out) so really think about where you're going to put a large cage (definitely not anything pets at home would sell to you - they all need more room than those!!)

Laiste Tue 27-Oct-20 17:53:24


If you get a big tank for them it's great fun watching them build their burrows. If you're lucky they'll build a tunnel against the glass and you can watch them when they think you can't see them. They're happy busy little creatures smile

user183684257424 Tue 27-Oct-20 17:56:19

Gerbils jump. To quite impressive heights for their size. It can make things... interesting.

Ownerofmultiplechimps Tue 27-Oct-20 21:50:49

Rats definitely, can't wait till my dc are old enough for one. Make really fantastic pets, interact really well, sociable & very clean in my experience

Lilimoon Tue 27-Oct-20 21:52:54

Rats 100%. We love our two boys.

bluebluezoo Tue 27-Oct-20 21:57:12

The big advantage to gerbils is they are desert animals.

Which means they produce very little urine.

Which means they don’t smell anywhere near as bad as rats and mice. You can also go quite a while without needing to clean the cage- in fact they don’t like their cage cleaning too often as it upsets their territories.

They also tend to toilet in the same area. Set a sandbath up or a coconut and it’s just cleaning that.

Makes them very low maintenance. Always keep
In pairs or small groups as they are very social. Very entertaining wee things, and pretty trainable.

For a cage get an Ikea detolf, and make a lid for it. £60 is far cheaper than any custom cage, much bigger, and glass to they can’t dig or chew their way out.

They’ll recycle all your old boxes, cardboard tubes and shred anything you need...

SummerSazz Tue 27-Oct-20 21:59:55

I had gerbils as a child, DD1 had 2 hamsters and DD2 has Guinea pigs. I'd go for a cat (much easier) or guinea pigs if you really want to go for small pets

MayYouLiveInInterestingTimes Tue 27-Oct-20 23:12:40

You can google for "hamsters or gerbils" for loads of comparative info. I like gerbils. You do need at least a pair, do not keep gerbils on their own. They need to be same-sex. Gerbils are lively creatures that like being handled and having lots of places to explore and burrow in.

BettyOBarley Tue 27-Oct-20 23:18:34

Hamsters aren't ideal for young kids, we got DD7 a hamster about 6 months ago and she never sees it. She's up at 6am and goes to bed at 7.30pm and it sleeps that entire time. Most boring pet ever. I feel bad for her, and the hamster, as it doesn't get much interaction really. Tried to tame it but its a real biter.

cheeseismydownfall Tue 27-Oct-20 23:36:09

When I saw this thread I knew the rat-pushers would out in force grin

I've owned hamsters, gerbils and rats. Rats are indeed the most interactive and are great fun. But, and it's a really big but, in my experience they require much, much more maintenance than gerbils. They are bigger animals and produce a lot more more urine and poo, and their cage will smell very quickly if you don't keep absolutely on top of it. And they need a huge cage (ours was as tall as I am).

Like PP said, gerbils are desert animals, and a completely different ball game. Ours had a big tank and to be honest it really only needed cleaning once a fortnight. They are super clean. The downside is that they aren't easy to handle and don't bond with you in the way rats do. They are super fun to watch though.

Hamsters are cute but kind of pointless as a pet.

user127819 Wed 28-Oct-20 08:53:42

I've had both and gerbils are probably better, but really neither are great as children's pets. Hamsters are quite nervous, get up late and a bit boring. Gerbils are sweet and fun to watch but very fast. Don't expect either to be cuddly or to enjoy being handled by a child.

Whatever you get, don't go by the pet shop's advice. Hamsters need a cage 80x50cm or bigger in size (better 100x50cm for Syrians). Gerbils need a tank about the same size but with plenty of height for deep bedding. Don't get two hamsters to live together. It very, very rarely works out. Gerbils, however, should be in pairs.

Rats are the most interactive of rodents but they do need much more cleaning than either hamsters or gerbils. There's also no guarantee they'll be friendly, especially if you get them from a pet shop, and that's the same for any animal.

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