4 Year Old (Ok and Me Too!) Wants a Hampster

Updated on February 20, 2012
B.C. asks from Arlington, TX
18 answers

Our cat died a few months ago and we are left with our dog (outside) and our fish. We went to the pet store today to get some "xray" fish for our daughter and we ran across hampters. She saw them, ran to daddy and said, " I changed my mind Daddy. I don't want x-ray fish, I want a hampster!" We told her no for now, but I really think that it would be fun for her and her 11 year old sister to have one. Hubby says that he doesn't miss the stink of the cat and is currently refusing a hamster, but I'm smitten with the cuteness. Is is really a big issue to take care of them? Do they stink a lot? I'd love to hear both sides so that I can make or break his arguement. Thanks ladies!
(BTW, she LOVES her new "x-ray" fish. :)

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So What Happened?

Well we decided to leave it alone for now. I have enough on my plate with work, the kids, activities and the housework to have to worry about cleaning a cage out all the time. Maybe in a couple of years...

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answers from Dallas on

Have you considered a guinea pig? I went reluctantly went to by my 6 year old a hampster and ended up getting a guinea. They are so much better than hampsters for little kids. They don't bite and aren't as fragile. The cage needs to be cleaned once a week like a hampster. They need fresh fruits and veggies daily in addition to pellets and hay but it's no big deal. Its kinda fun giving them new foods to try. And they're very vocal. They chirp at you and get excited when you come in the room. My husband wanted nothing to do with her when we got her but now he loves her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I had 3 in my early 20s, and they all lived in the same cage. They fought occasionally, but mostly, it was a peaceful coexistence.

If you change the cage weekly, the stink won't be bad. But you will have the smell of cedar chips (or pine) in the house all the time.
Apart from that, they were pretty cool little animals. I had balls for each of them, and they would run around the house. I had the Angora style - long haired - so they looked like little carpets running around.
Very cute.

They all died around the same time. I'm told they're prone to tumors. They lived for about 3 yrs, and eventually, they didn't wake up one morning.

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answers from Kansas City on

They do stink., you have to keep the cage very clean. Also cage has to be sturdy ours ate through the plastic cage and got out and then hid in DD closet for a week till we found it, ut had eaten the carpet and made a little home for its self. The lady said oh let your daughter play with it in an empty bath tub and she will have so much fun with it because it cant get away, the stupid thing bit the her and made her bleed the same day we got it. They can be cute but they will bite and are kinda hands off, plus they only live 2-3 years .

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answers from Seattle on

I'd get mice instead! Or maybe a guinea pig.

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answers from Chicago on

They STINK A LOT! Putrid - and they die VERY easily, expect to be replacing "Happy Hampster" often to avoid heartache. If you want another pet I suggest you get a cleaner one - stick with the fish.

Cats are a pet that I consider to be clean if the cat was smelly to your husband the hampster will be a COMPLETE ICK factor on the nose and everything else.

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answers from Seattle on

We went through the same process a little while ago. I had hamsters as a child and they do stink... AND you need to keep them single, otherwise they will fight.
As for the stink though, back then we used shaved wood stuff in the cage and I find that the modern paperbased cage stuff is a lot more absorbent and really keeps down the smell. Our mice do not smell at all, so maybe it will help with hamster smell as well.

So we decided to go with 3 female mice instead. They live in an old aquarium, and we clean the paperbased cage fluff one a week. They are active in the evenings when we come home and since it's a group they are perfectly content entertaining themselves (I call them our furry fish) and very cute to watch.
We've had them for 3 months now and though the novelty for my 4 year old has definitely worn off, I don't mind throwing in some pellets of food once a day and cleaning out the cage once a week... way less work than keeping the fishtank clean, when it still had fish in it.
I think as long as you will be happy with cleaning the cage and taking care of it yourself...small rodents are great.



answers from New York on

if you change out the cage enough it doesnt smell that bad.. its a huge pain in the butt tho.. when my neighbors go on vacation we watch their pets the have 2 hampsters and those little things bite so i duno if theyre a good idea for a 4 yr old plus your husband doesnt want it.. if your daughters happy with her fish and hasnt mentioned the hampster i wouldnt bring it up ... and am i the only one that finds it weird that wen u say u have a dog u say (outside)... so u dont let ur dog in the house???


answers from Los Angeles on

Have to say, they truly stink :(



answers from Oklahoma City on

The whole thing smells bad. The bedding has it's own smell even if it is dry and clean, then when they use it the smell wreaks havoc on the nose.

I would say if it is going to be a family pet then the whole family need to be able to enjoy it. If dad can't stand the stench then it may be time for the cages to be out in the garage or something.



answers from Sacramento on

I had one growing up and it was mean. We had to take turns each week caring for her because it was such a scary experience putting a hand in her cage to lower the food in. No one wanted the job. When we'd lift her out to put her in her running ball outside her cage, she'd bite. We had named her Nibbles but Cujo was more like it.

I don't remember the stink, just being relieved when she finally died. How sad is that?



answers from Austin on

Looking at the differences between hamsters and gerbils, I prefer gerbils.

We have had both.... hamsters, in my experience, are much more likely to nip. Also, it is difficult to keep a small group together without fighting. We had, at one point, about 12 gerbils, all living together in a maze of aquariums (dry, of course), and tunnels connecting them all. Yes, we had several groups of families over several years. The kids were able to play with and handle the gerbils without biting, where the two hamsters we had were apt to nip very quickly.

The two hamsters we had had to be kept separated.... we did end up with an "oops" family, but they, too, had to be separated as they grew.

And yes, both gerbils and hamsters stink. I admit, my son wasn't the greatest at keeping the hamster cage clean, but I don't remember the gerbil cage really smelling that bad.



answers from Miami on

We have a hampster. Its very important to clean that cage every week. They do tend to smell a bit. Also all hampsters are not equal.. You cannot expect to get a hampster and the same day have your child playing with it like a cat or dog. They have to get use to you and the hcild. They do not like wild movements its slow and quiet they like.



answers from Dallas on

HMM> I have to say the smell was my biggest objection to my son getting a hamster, but we got this granule bedding that is biodegradable and just change it out once ever 10 days and it doesn't smell at all - seriously - not at all.
It did take (per the pet store guy) 4 days before my son was allowed to touch the hamster. and now (about two months later) it is very freindly, likes its little clear hamster ball and besides the fact he runs on that darned wheel every night (doesn't wake the boys, but does me) it has been a good pet.



answers from Louisville on

I had the same experience as everyone else with hamsters. Plus mine did not want to cuddle or be held and bit me every chance she got. But when my son won the classroom pet rat lottery, I found that rats make much better pets. They are social and love affection. They eat what we eat for the most part, and they are intelligent. No pine litter - I used carefresh or aspen, and as long as the cage is cleaned, no lingering odors. I would get two so they have each other for company as they are happier not being alone.



answers from Kansas City on

From our personal experience with 2, they are smelly, nasty, mean little rodents. Our first one we got from a neighbor who moved, so kind of a rescue. He was mean and thought it was living with little boys. When it died, we got a baby, and my daughter was probably 7 at the time, tried to love and care for it and it too was a biter.
And as someone said, they only live 2, maybe 3 years max. Too much of a heartbreak for little kids on top of everything else.


answers from Norfolk on

I had a hamster when I was 14 and we loved her.
You need to clean the cage every week (but that would be true of any animal).
They are not good pets for young children.
For the 11 yr old it would be fine, for the 4 yr old no.
They are too small and very fragile, are escape artists and they only live for about 2 years even with the best care.
Guinea pigs are larger, afraid of heights, more sturdy and live about 8 years.
They do better if you get more than one (of the same sex otherwise you'll be hip deep in guinea pigs).
Before you get any pet, research all you can about it so you know if the pet will be a good fit for your family.



answers from Santa Fe on

We have 2 hamsters and one bites and one never bites. The sweet one is very very sweet and my son is always taking her out of the cage and holding her. When we picked them out we originally were going to get just one but the sales person said if you get two siblings of the same sex they will not fight. This is a lie! After about 2 months one attacked the other and nearly killed it. It took 3 weeks till we knew it was going to live and was healing slowly. We had to get a 2nd cage to separate them. ugh. Now I have 2 cages I have to clean every week which completely sucks. Anyway, if you get a hamster look for one with a more timid personality. We were told they all bite but they get used to you handling them and will get nice with time. The one that is a biter lunged out and tried to bite the petstore person when she picked it up. It was a little aggressive/territorial and it has never changed. The other one shrank back and looked scared when she tried to pick it up - it did not try to bite. It also was slightly smaller than the other one. Who knows - maybe you can find one that does not nip like we did. You have to clean the cage every week and yes their pee and poo does stink. We use the cedar chips because it hides the smell. If I keep their cages clean it is not bad. You can always clean your cage 2x a week and it would probably not stink at all if you did that.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hamsters do stink, they are messy with all their bedding and they are kind of a pain in the butt. I'm with your husband. Give it a year from the death of your cat and reassess. If your husband is enjoying the lack of barnyard scent, let him enjoy it for awhile.

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