My Dad Said “I don’t want a pet”: Now He’s in Love
Hamsters offer unrelenting delight to owners
My dad was adamant we weren’t getting a new pet. We live in a city; how could we walk it? We already have fish, isn’t that enough? Then, after years of pushing, he caved in when I suggested a smaller pet to care for: a hamster. This was in 2019, and since then we have homed a beautiful white and beige hamster called Franklin (a girl- but we knew that after naming her) and a sweet golden hamster called Sue, short for Sue-Perb. My Dad went from fish being the only pet he would consider, to spending afternoons 3D printing Sue a terrarium.
So how did we convince him? Well, hamsters offer three unrelenting joys he couldn’t resist: they are low maintenance and beneficial to wellbeing, offer a creative outlet, and bring the family together. Here’s how…
On stage or hidden away: the two moods at play
Franklin was with us from 2019 to 2021 and was a baptism of fire in hamster care. By the time we drove home from the pet store (a five-minute trip), she’d eaten her way out the box and made her grand appearance. She was a Syrian hamster, and “these hamsters come from arid regions of northern Syria and southern Turkey” (Mcleod), so our living room was probably a shock compared to the usual habitat of her kind. Despite “the natural colour of most Syrian hamsters” being a “golden brown with a lighter belly” (Mcleod), she was a brilliant white with beige patches framing her face. How could you not fall in love?
The best thing was, Franklin quickly made it clear to my dad that she was extremely independent and didn’t need anyone, unless they had snacks. As Pets at Home argues, a hamster is “relatively low maintenance” (Pets at Home), so if you follow all the guidance needed for cleaning and feeding your new pet properly, they will be happy. Luckily, they prefer not to be walked twice a day, and you might look a bit strange trying, so that leaves more time for bonding with your hamster in different ways.
A hamster is in one of two moods: hidden for hours or demanding you cuddle them. Pets at Home suggest that with “plenty of handling to help them get used to you” (Pets at Home), they will be happier in your company. Hamsters will make it very clear when they want to play, acting like they are on stage and making a fuss until they receive your undivided. So, this pet is relatively independent but frequently demands hugs: I can see why my dad changed his mind.
“The Owner makes the House, the Hamster makes the Home” -My Dad
Hamsters seem to spark a unique form of imagination in their owners. There are so many types of new toys and cages to try, buy and make for them. Sue, our most recent addition to the family, is a fun-loving ball of energy, but she adores making grand escapes. Whether its scaling the curtains or running around the sofa a million and one times in the evening, my dad had to get creative to find her a home suitable for all her chaotic energy to be channelled. Even a large hamster cage with two floors wouldn’t calm Sue.
Pets at home warns “they are active little characters, so one thing they definitely need is a wheel to run in as well as tubes to squeeze through and room to explore” (Pets at Home), and this can make for a very fun activity for owners to explore. My dad loves building new things and seeing how they work, so a terrarium was a natural choice for him to make. After a trip out to buy the supplies, and hours of enjoyment researching all the options he could choose from online, he began building. This wasn’t a small feat, it involved 3D printing components and hand sawing wood to create the perfect home for Sue. True love if you ask me.
Most importantly hamsters need a safe environment to play, so always make sure to research how to create a hamster friendly toy or home for them before doing so. There are so many ideas out there, and you can use this time to get to know your new pet and bond even more. Sue can’t get enough of her new wheel and loves to play in kitchen roll tubes every evening, but each hamster has its own personality to learn and love so you’ll have to start discovering what your new pal prefers.
Bring people together
Hamsters bring people closer together. When guests visit a house and you tell them there’s a dog, they might react by smiling, petting the dog and asking its name. With a hamster, don’t tell the person visiting you have one, but put the hamster in its ball and unleash it in the living room. Soon they’ll be greeted by being smashed in the ankles as the ball hurtles towards them. That’s a far better way to introduce a pet. Hamsters might be independent little things, but they always want to say hello. It’s strange how you can put them in a ball down one end of the house and they’ll still find a way to get back to you.
Hamsters are thought to be prone to biting and moving too fast to show affection, however if you spent time with Sue, you’d soon realise that “as long as you don’t squeeze or jostle your hamster as you hold it, it should learn to be content with people handling it” (Mcleod). This means that when they meet a new person, if treated them with care and respect, they will behave the same in return.
Although “Syrian hamsters live alone in the Wild” (Pets at Home), they can be very social with humans, prancing around their homes demanding all eyes on them. They bring together everyone, offering a new and exciting interaction with guests, and recognition and unconditional love to their owners. My Dad tends to count down the hours until Sue will wake up in the evening, and he regularly introduces her to new people, because she’ll normally puts on a show for them. She has probably appeared on more Zoom calls than I have.
My dad fell in love, and so did I
If it wasn’t clear enough already, my dad is converted. At Christmas last year he put a photo of our lovely hamster up in the corridor in the centre of the family photos, cementing her in the household. With so many lovable benefits, and far less daily maintenance required than dogs and cats, we were convinced this was the right pet for our family. So, if you want a hamster and your family doesn’t, hopefully here’s enough proof that you’re fighting for a very strong cause. Now, go and change their minds…
Anonymous. “A beginner’s guide to owning a hamster” Pets at Home https://www.petsathome.com/pet-talk/choosing-a-pet-small-animal-hamster Accessed 29th November 2021.
Mcleod, Lianne. “Syrian Hamster (Golden Hamster): Species Profile” The Spruce Pets. 10/05/21 https://www.thesprucepets.com/syrian-hamsters-1238953 Accessed 29th November 2021.
All images are my own.