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O2010-01

Dear Harry Hamster

How do I go about finding a nice hamster for my daughter? The last one we had was nippy.

Harry Responds

Most hamsters living in the United States are Syrian hamsters, known by veterinarians as the pitbulls of the “pocket pet” world. According to Daisy Dog, this moniker is unfair to real pitbulls, most of whom are gregarious, affectionate and eager to please.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the majority of Syrian hamsters. Given the typical hamster personality coupled with our nocturnal behavior -– we sleep during the day and become active only at night –- most parents prefer that their children enjoy the companionship of other pocket pets, such as gerbils, rats, mice or guinea pigs.

If you’re committed to a hamster, though, I can offer a few suggestions.

Look for your new friend at an animal shelter, where the adoption counselors can tell you about each pet’s temperament. An adult hamster with a gentle demeanor most likely will remain sweet.

If you adopt or buy a young Syrian hamster, handle it frequently so it learns to play nicely.

Alternatively, you might look for a Chinese hamster. Although rare in the U.S., they’re common in Japan, where children love their gentle dispositions. Check with your state authorities first, though, as some states restrict them or require special permits.

 

 

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