Hamsters are very popular pets for children. There are five different species of hamsters available in the pet trade, the Syrian hamster and four species of dwarf hamsters. Each one has a slightly different personality and not all of them are great choices for children.
Many hamsters sold in pet stores are infected with the tapeworm (Rodentolepis nana). This parasite can be transmitted to people.
All hamsters need secure cages that are made from sturdy materials. A hamster can chew a hole through a plastic shoebox within about 30 minutes so make sure that the container you use to hold the hamster during cage cleaning is equally secure. There are many commercially available hamster cages that have plastic tunnels and attachments that allow you to build very extensive habitats. Always be sure to properly latch any doors or lids as hamsters are notorious for finding these openings and escaping into houses. It can be very difficult to locate escaped hamsters.
If you do want to introduce a new hamster to a group, it is a good idea to remove all the hamsters from the cage and temporarily hold them in individual cages while you prepare the old cage.
Hamsters, like other pets, need veterinary care for a variety of problems. We recommend that a newly purchased hamster have an examination by a qualified veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy.
Pets may be sent home with liquid medications. An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective. An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful. Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective. It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.
All exotic pets, even ones that appear to be outwardly healthy, have the potential to carry and spread contagious diseases that can impact the health of people. This sort of disease is called a "zoonosis", "zoonotic disease", or "zoonotic infection".