All About Hamsters

My daughter is dying for a hamster. She looks at pictures of them online, she writes down possible names for the hamsters, she draws pictures. Meanwhile, we will never get a hamster (knock on wood). We have a dog, a cat and a fish, which is the maximum number of pets our family can handle. However, a girl can dream.

Small pet store pets like hamsters are great pets if your family isn’t home all day and wants a self-sufficient pet who can safely and happily fend for themselves in a cage for a large portion of the day. My friend and her two daughters are hamster die-hards, and she kindly provided me with the inside scoop on hamsters – here are some of her best tips:

There are different varieties of hamsters (who knew?). My hamster friend loves Dwarf Hamsters. They live about two-three years and are calmer (in her opinion) than Golden Hamsters. Robo Hamsters are even smaller than Dwarf Hamsters and adorable, in her opinion; however, they are super fast and not recommended for families with little kids.

Shop during the week for the best service. The best time to buy a hamster from a pet store is during the week, as that is when she has found the more senior-level employees are on duty. She always asks for the person in charge of small pets at the pet store to help her pick out a new hamster.

How to avoid an aggressive hamster. When you ask to hold the hamster, look for one that comes right to you and is not aggressive. This way you can tell the temperament of the hamster, as well as if the pet shop is taking good care of it and playing with it on a regular basis.

Single sex stores. Most Petsmarts are either “girl” stores or “boy” stores so they only have one sex of the rodents.  This is to ensure that they aren’t breeding in the store or you end up with a pregnant hamster in your house. And you don’t want that!

Boys vs. girls. My friend and her girls like male hamsters because they tend to be mellow and sleep a lot. You can’t have two boy dwarf hamsters – they are too territorial and the “alpha” will attack the other one. You seem to be able to have two girl hamsters as long as they are from the same litter.

Play, play, play. You have to play with your hamsters regularly (a few times each day) or they will lose their “tameness.” Play time entails taking the hamsters out of the cage (she has hers trained to climb into a tube that she lifts out) and the hamster then walks around on her lap or on the ground between her legs for about 5 minutes. Done.

Night time is party time. Hamsters are most active at night so you need to keep them in the farthest corner of your house or the hamster on its wheel will drive you crazy all night!

Independent pet. A hamster’s change shoul be changed once each week. She has left them safely up to 5 days with big bowls of food and they were fine.

What's Fresh from @RachaelRay

Rachael Ray