Tell me about hamsters

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  • Tell me about hamsters
  • Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider
    Subscriber

    My son has been exposed to a hamster (Alvin) at nursery. I should imagine that we will soon be asked by him to have one installed at home.

    Some questions for the hive mind.

    1) What are the start up costs (hamster, hamster house, wheel etc)?
    2) How much does it cost to run a mk1 hamster?
    3) Do they need servicing?
    4) Environmental impact – do they smell?
    5) How long before it breaks and we have to by another?
    6) Do they run better on their own or as a pair?

    organic355
    Member

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VObQfWMgmIM[/video]

    Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider
    Subscriber

    We’re veggies. No need for the hamster to worry about becomming a late night snack.

    yossarian
    Member

    just remember to get a plain coloured one – easier to replace without getting rumbled.

    the license is cheaper for black & white ones

    druidh
    Member

    Avoid Hamsters. They wear out very quickly and there is no warranty.

    The Guinea Pig has a longer shelf-life and isn’t much more expensive to run. They work better as a matched pair

    cynic-al
    Member

    They are great pets IMO. Need to be on their own or else they will fight.

    Set-up maybe £40 inc the Hamster, you may want to get tubes/mazes for them to run around in.

    Clean cage out once a week, food and bedding costs buttons. Nice to have a room you can let them run around in – i.e. no gaps for them to escape to voids etc (though you can usually tempt/trap them out with food)

    GO FOR IT!

    s
    Member

    Need to be on their own or else they will fight.

    Or reproduce at an alarming rate! 😉

    Make sure you get one with a quiet wheel too.

    Olly
    Member

    need to be on thier own.

    they kill each other apprently!

    if your in S devon, there is one going free on the noticeboard in the coffee room.

    (dont think being pinned through the head has affected it too badly)

    AHAHAHA!!! stupid hamster face!

    Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider
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    if your in S devon, there is one going free on the noticeboard in the coffee room.

    In Manchester. Could it be posted?

    Premier Icon piedi di formaggio
    Subscriber

    *Remembers squeaking wheel that nearly made me bonkers!

    Their wee can be pretty pungent, so clean, clean, clean.

    Aside from that, you’ll need a suitable spot in the garden to dig a hole when the inevitable happens

    dan1980
    Member

    I don’t think hamsters are good pets at all.

    Syrian hamsters (the big ones) are, in my experience, very bitey to start with, and need a lot of patient handling to get them safe to pet. Even then, they’ll still nibble your fingers as they’re thick and poorly sighted, so think your digits are food. The males drag their balls behind them, and it’s pretty grim.

    They wee everywhere, and it stinks really badly. The only really suitable enclosures for them are ones without bars (if you get one that gnaws constantly they can hurt themselves on the metalwork) they are a pain to keep clean.

    The smaller ones (russian dwarf/chinese) aren’t really handleable as they are small and skittish.

    If you are thinking of getting a small furry, I’d recommend a pair of gerbils. I’ve only been bitten my mine once in 3.5 years, and that’s because she is now blind, deaf and partially paralysed, (I think I just freaked her out badly). She didn’t draw blood though.

    They don’t really wee, so there’s very little smell. The gerbilarium and general setup costs are about the same as for a hamster. They’re easy to handle, and are generally not that skittish once they get used to you. Lifespan is about 3-4 years with good care.

    Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider
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    Aside from that, you’ll need a suitable spot in the garden to dig a hole when the inevitable happens

    House backs onto woodland and I have a good throwing arm. No need for a the shovel.

    Premier Icon Onzadog
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    Private hamster ownership is very selfish. All hamsters should be donated to STW to ensure the functionality of the forum.

    (sorry, someone had to).

    Android
    Member

    Cut pic!

    Start up costs are pretty low, look in your local paper or freecycle for cages and bits. I think I have a cage and some bits in the loft if you are anywhere near Winchester.
    Our Mk 1 hammy went AWOL either under the floor or the cat! (not the best combination these two!)
    Second one died of natural causes after about 12 mths, which didn’t get replaced.
    Be prepared to clean it out yourself. We drew up a contract which all three of ours signed, but only our little one (the one that wasn’t bohered in the first place) ever did it after the first few weeks.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    Or reproduce at an alarming rate! 😉

    Haha! we bought 3 female guinea pigs once. Except one clearly wasn’t. Ended up with about 30 guinea pigs.

    Nice to have a room you can let them run around in

    If they’re anything like pigs, then make sure they don’t have access to TV cables, powerleads, etc. Ours gnawed right thru to bare copper, even if it did turn out to be the Earth wire.

    Don’t hamsters stink?

    user-removed
    Member

    When I were a lad…. I bred hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice for the local pet shop. Yes gerbils are less smelly than hamsters. Both are a wee bit ‘nibbly’ IME – I was bitten by both. Gerbils like company, hamsters will also live together happily if they’re given hamster holidays now and again (have a seperate cage and put one of them in it once or twice a week – also helps if they get a good run around now and again – I used to make mazes / enclosures out of books).

    Mice make the best pets IMHO – very interactive. But they are a bit smelly and are even better escapologists than gerbils.

    alaric
    Member

    Hamsters can be very unpredictable, Mum had one that was lovely, he could be allowed to run in the garden with no problems catching or handling him. When he died the replacement was a vicious little sod!

    Gerbils seem to be better mannered, my sister and I had several, all as pairs, her last ones were very tame as she handled them from an early age. They’re much livelier and active than Hamsters, and less nocturnal. The only thing is you’ve got to be fairly quick to handle them, or they’ll be over you shoulder, onto the floor and under the sofa before you can blink!

    We also had Guinea Pigs, experience much as above. They’re more of an outdoor pet, though.

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    we’re on our 3rd

    they last maybe 15 months (except Henry, who escaped and fell out with “something” in the garden) – good for introducing kids to “mortality” (and for you not getting another one when you’re sick of cleaning the cage on behalf of your kids !)

    my wife says the girls smell more than the boys (and she does the cleaning-out)

    none of ours has bitten after 1st once or twice of being handled, and none has ever drawn blood (the secret (wife says) is to handle frequently)

    bit boring for kids; ours haven’t done “fun” stuff til the kids are in bed but they are v acrobatic, climbing on the bars etc. Noisy – the wheel needs lubing (start a thread)

    I thought I wouldn’t be a fan, but our daughter (then 7) twisted our arm. Now we have one – single male. We love him. He never bites, snuffly nose incredibly friendly little kind of chap. Comes out to see us and doesn’t hide away in a corner. Also comes on holiday with us in the car. Costs nothing to run (eats the kind of stuff we do).

    DON’T buy one of those stupid plastic “tube” cages. We had a “Habitrail” for 3 months before it all fell to bits and we binned it. It was awful to clean,- very little ventilation and the plastic was brittle.

    He’s become very nocturnal though now it’s winter and our house has been extremely cold. He’s been getting up 11PM and we see him usually for 10 minutes at breakfast if we are early.

    GlitterGary
    Member

    They are my favourite band.

    roper
    Member

    Remember that hamsters are nocturnal so if you have a quiet house or it is going to be kept in a bedroom, you might have to get used to the noise. Gerbils are great and active more during the day. Rats are very smart but can be a little smelly.
    Spiders on the other hand. Quiet, don’t smell, clean then out maybe once every 6 months. They look after themselves, mostly, and they are great to watch. There are almost 1000 known tarantula sp too so lots to look at 🙂

    Failing that my son had some stick and leaf insects when he was three. Completely harmless, veggies and are still quite fascinating to watch. Give them some fresh brambles every couple of days and they will be fine. No noise or smell too if you look after them and they are easily replaced.

    Jase
    Member

    my 7 year old daughter has a hamster, 2 guinea’s and 2 rabbits.

    she likes the hamster most.

    Admiralable
    Member

    What about rats? Dumbo rats are rather cute. We had a pair called Basil (after Manuel’s Siberian Hamster of course) and Arthur.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    Guinea pigs are much better. They are awake when you are, like a bit of interaction, and can be very amusing when they get a bit hyper.

    poppa
    Member

    IME hamsters are OK, but a bit dull. They are nocturnal (IIRC), need to be kept on their own, and they smell.

    Gerbils, on the other hand, can be kept in a pair, are active during the daytime and cause little smell (desert dwellers, so dry poo). They dig tunnels too, and if you want you can fill an aquarium with straw and peat so they can dig a proper tunnel system. Much more interesting, particularly to older children.

    If your little one is very little a hamster might be more robust to indelicate handling however…

    bazookajoe
    Member

    We’re on our second. The first was bought for our eldest daughter to replace our cat that got run over. For his first year she didn’t play with him too much, so we reckoned he was a fair bit depressed, so he got moved to our youngest daughter’s room who was just over 1 year old at the time. She played with Big Bubbles almost every night. He lasted to 2.5 years with his new lease of life of getting duplo lego castles getting built for him. Daughter was devastated when he died, I had to tell her, we buried him in the garden. Very traumatic, so be prepared for that then the ensuing questions about death.

    Replacement hamster is ‘Rhino’, who when she chose him at the pet shop was the one that was full of aggro – I’d never actually heard a hamster growl but they do. It doesn’t put her off though, she still plays with him most nights, and he’s mellowed out a bit now in the 10 months we’ve had him.

    Their pee does smell though so regular cleaning essential, and if you have the misfortune to be peed on, it’s totally honking.

    I had gerbils as a kid, they’re ace. Apart from the night time drumming of their feet at the slightest noise that freaked them, used to drive me nuts. Hamster squeaky wheel just as bad so ours goes in the bath at night (we give him a little life raft though).

    Oh, and the first hamster wasn’t one for gnawing so his teeth grew too long and out the side of his cheek which was a bit freaky. After the vet took care of that we had to trim them every so often with a tiny pair of wire cutters, he didn’t much like that. And don’t use synthetic cotton wool type bedding, he also got that wrapped round his teeth early on which took some struggling to get off. Use toilet roll in his bed now.

    Hamsters are great though. They’re not super fast like gerbils and a great way for young’uns to learn about caring for something. Daughter is 3.5 years now and really takes care of Rhino, likes cleaning him out, feeding him carrot and apple, etc.

    poppa
    Member

    Aye, IMO a hamster is more suited to a younger child (< 6 yrs or so?) whilst gerbils are more interesting to older children. (7+?)

    st
    Member

    My Wife kept hamsters a a kid and seems to know plenty about them which means we’ve recently ended up with one was unwanted by my daughters school and whilst it’s nice enough it is boring. Very much nocturnal but on this basis it’s fairly non intrusive apart from the once weekly clean and occasional (when it’s awake) spell running around on the sofa.

    My only other experience is with 2 consecutive pairs of rats, ours were fancy rats (now called Dumbo I think) and whilst I was sceptical to begin with they were great. We used to let them out into a very well rat proofed living room every night and they were really friendly, over time they even seemed to respond to their names and would quite happily sit on your lap or shoulder for extended periods.

    My Wife put a lot of time into handling them and getting them familiar with humans to start with and they responded really well to this. Work commitments meant that less time was spent taming the second pair, whilst still tame, were significantly less friendly and harder to handle.

    bigdaddy
    Member

    We have recently aquired a cute looking hamster. Good fun, the kids both love it, although can be noisy at night. I like the bath idea though… How much water 😯 ?

    Mrs Toast
    Member

    3) Do they need servicing?

    If you make sure they’ve got chews and things, it should keep their teeth and claws down. Otherwise they might need the odd visit to the vet to get these clipped.

    4) Environmental impact – do they smell?

    No, not if you clean them regularly (once a week)

    5) How long before it breaks and we have to by another?

    2-3 years, barring illness or accidents. Remember syrian hamsters (the most popular type) are horribly short sighted. Don’t let them run free on high surfaces, as they can barrel off the edge.

    6) Do they run better on their own or as a pair?

    Russian and Chinese dwarf hamsters can be kept in groups. Syrian hamsters are pathologically antisocial towards their own kind – in the wild, they only ever come together to mate, and even that can end in bloodshed.

    Premier Icon DaRC_L
    Subscriber

    3) Do they need servicing?
    No they are very 0ty creatures who can happily service themselves due to their flexibility – if you catch a male hamsters looking like he’s cleaning down there over-vigourously it’s likely he’ll be servicing himself.

    4) Environmental impact – do they smell?
    Yes – I hate to mention it but girl hamsters smell funny at certain times…

    5) How long before it breaks and we have to by another?
    A couple of years (unless you drop them from a great height or add alcohol to their water)

    6) Do they run better on their own or as a pair?
    Single although boy & girl hamsters do like to meet up for <ahem> servicing.

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Subscriber

    If you get one that’s been handled from birth it shouldn’t bite (too much).

    Ours used to have free run of the lounge. He managed to gnaw through the computer cable. Also when we had new carpet fitted, I was ashamed to find a pyramid of poo under the telly cabinet.

    Very cute though and an hours worth of fun each night when they are actually awake.

    KT1973
    Member

    I had a party in my house when I was 16 and half of the high school turned up. Someone filled up Tim’s water bottle with Vodka.
    Found him heels up the next morning. He was partial to an ale though. Used to give him an egg cupful of my Dad’s beer and he’d gulp it down quite happily of an evening.

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