"Awww, mommy can I hold her? Please?" Hamsters are small and fragile. But they are also extremely cute and cuddly -- if you know how to hold them correctly. Helping kids learn how to hold a hamster for the first time is both fun and a chore. As a mom to kids who have adopted several hamsters in need, I've had plenty of experience in this area.
Hold the hamster yourself. Before you let the kids hold a hamster, you need to display the proper way to hold her by doing so yourself. The visual cue will make it easier for your child to see what the proper holding method is. Point out what you are doing with each step. For instance, you might say "I'm letting her crawl in my hand, not grabbing her" or "When I hold her, I don't squeeze too hard because she might get hurt."
Have your child wear gardening gloves at first. This will protect his hands in case the hamster decides to nip a little. While hamster bites are not always painful, the action of the bite can startle a child into letting go of the hamster. Therefore the gloves are safer for both the hamster and the child. The reason gardening gloves are a good choice is because of the canvas fabric. Hamsters may get their little claws stuck in wool and other more porous materials. Their nails can be clipped but it's not ideal since they are so small. If you must have them clipped, leave the job to a licensed veterinary expert. Even with clipped nails, they can still get stuck because they shouldn't be trimmed down too far. For this reason, we choose to just let our hamsters keep their nails as they are. We won't clip them unless they become a danger to the animals.
Hamsters like to crawl down, not up. When the kids are handling the hamsters, remember this rule as far as getting them out of the cage. For the purposes of picking them up, hamsters actually feel safer crawling down onto someone's hand, rather than hopping up into it. What I do is have the kids open the cage door and place their hand slightly underneath the opening. All of our hamsters are satisfied with this method. They'll come right out the door and down onto the hand. When placing the hand inside the cage, they are less sure if they want to get out. This is likely because hamsters are very territorial and anything invading their space may be seen as a threat. It's also because when you place your hand in the cage this way, they have to climb up into your hand. We've had several hamsters and they've all preferred climbing down instead.
Allow the hamster to go to your child. In addition to the way in which the child allows the hamster to crawl, she needs to know that hamsters do not like being grabbed. It can be tempting for a child to grab a hamster who doesn't willingly come into his hand. However, this is not the proper way to do things. Instead, the child needs to place a gloved hand a short distance from the hamster and be quiet, still, and patient. Wait, can a child actually do those three things? Of course they can. Part of being a pet parent is learning responsibility and this will help a great deal. The child should leave the gloved hand right outside the door for about 30 second at a time. If the hamster does not come, the child can try again in a little while. Eventually, the hamster will become curious and go for it. After practice, the hamster will soon learn that this is an invitation to come out of the cage and have some fun.
Show your child what to do when the hamster moves. Hamsters don't always sit still. It's important that kids know about this from the beginning. Our hamsters like to run up and down our arms. They also like to perch on our shoulders. Kids need oi be prepared for this and need to know how to keep the hamster safe during this activity. We always keep at least one hand near the hamster. That way, if they slip a little (which can and does happen), they are not going to fall. Teach your child to have his hand follow the hamster's movements to ensure safety for the small animal.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Your child's furry friend is so cute and cuddly. But there is so much more to caring for a hamster than enjoying the cuteness. Based on our family's experiences, there are many important life lessons kids can learn from hamster care. While this wasn't our intention when the kids began rescuing hamsters, we quickly learned that hamsters can teach kids a thing or two. This contributed to the decision to continue hamster rescues whenever we have room.
Firmly drive home the 'be gentle' lesson. This is a lesson parents try to instill in their kids from the start. Being gentle with people, objects, and animals is such an important life lesson. Caring for a hamster really shows the kids firsthand that it's important to be gentle. Because hamsters are so small, it is easier for a child to understand exactly why being gentle is important. You would think that the gentle lesson would end with the hamsters. But that's not the case at all in our house. Once the kids started caring for hamsters, they became more gentle in other situations as well.
Animals have feelings, too. Before caring for a pet, many kids don't automatically assume or realize just how much a pet can feel. The first hamster my kids adopted taught this lesson very well. He came from a home where he was abused and neglected. Because of this, he was very sad and aggressive. My kids learned that with lots of love and attention, even the most vulnerable animals (and people) can change. Animals have feelings just like we do and when you don't acknowledge that, things can go very wrong very quickly.
Cleanliness matters. Because hamster cages must be cleaned at least once or twice per week, kids will quickly learn that cleanliness is key. Not only will the cage look and smell bad, but hamsters are not very happy when they have dirty cages. Cleaning the hamster cage consistently made my kids think deeper about cleaning their own spaces. I noticed them cleaning more often than usual without me asking once they started cleaning up after the hamsters.
Timing is everything. If you don't feed a hamster, clean the cage, and give fresh water on schedule, you're going to have a very tired, hungry, dirty (and possibly worse) hamster on your hands. My kids knew from the very beginning that these things and other routine care were a must. Staying on track with the hamster care has taught my kids to stay on track with other things as well.
Budgeting makes a difference. When the kids are made to track just how much a pet hamster eats, as well as what resources are used, it gets them thinking. I let my kids add up exactly how much food, bedding, treats, toys, and other necessities cost each month. Each child knows how much it costs to take care of their pet. We have a limit as to how many animals are allowed. The kids also know that the amount needed for pet care is a must in each month's budget. Once they reach a certain age, this amount (and any other hamster care fees necessary) will be their responsibility and they are aware of this. Not only does this help teach kids responsibility, but budgeting is a lesson they will need for survival.
*Please note that the author is not a licensed veterinarian or pediatrician. The advice and information contained herein is based solely on the author's personal experiences. Always talk to an appropriately licensed professional when it comes to the care of your kids and pets.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Many animals are adopted without advance preparation. Helping your child adopt a hamster responsibly includes learning all about their care. It also includes following various procedures. The exact process will depend on the venue, as well as any special needs the hamster may have. Advance preparation can go a long way to ensure your child is interested in providing a healthy, happy life for the hamster.
What should my child know before adopting a hamster? Things like proper diet, what type of housing to use, and the best bedding are essential. But there's much more than that when it comes to the care of a hamster. If your child is going to adopt a hamster, knowing how to hold the hamster, exercise the hamster, and knowing warning signs is also key. It's also a good idea to teach your child random hamster facts, such as the fact that hamsters can hiss when upset. They also may box when threatened.
How can we prepare? Our first hamster was a rescue, leaving us wholly unprepared. All of his supplies had to be bought the same day and we learned how to care for him along the way. While that can be a good way to learn, it's better to be prepared. Study up on what a hamster will need and have plenty supplies beforehand. Doing this has helped us in future hamster adoptions. Now whenever we have room and come across a hamster that needs to be adopted immediately, we don't have much worry about supplies, as we already have them.
I don't recommend stocking up on food too far in advance, as food can expire. But things like toys, bedding, the cage, an exercise wheel, an exercise ball, obstacle course supplies, and other entertainment and care supplies can be purchased well in advance. The less time you are worrying about supplies, the more time you and your child can spend with your newly adopted hamster.
Where can my child learn about proper hamster care? A licensed professional can give you and your child the very best advice. You can also consult books and trusted websites for supplemental information. Some pet supply stores and shelters will offer classes and workshops about proper pet care. It's also a great idea to visit animal shelters and spend time with hamsters before adopting. Let your child hold a hamster to test reactions. A combination of all of the above and more ensures well-rounded hamster care experience.
Where should we go to adopt a hamster? The best specific place to go will depend on your area. Hamsters are found in pet stores, with breeders, and with shelters and rescue groups. Where you go will be up to you. Because pet store hamsters are often the result of mass breeding and other issues, we prefer to instead support shelters and rescues. All of our hamsters have come from unfortunate situations. Shelters and rescue groups often have hamsters of all ages who were abandoned, abused, or neglected. Adopting a hamster in need is a good deed and may also give your child a healthy dose of joy.
Is my child really ready to care for a hamster? After all of your preparation, are you still wondering if your child is ready? You should be able to tell during and after preparation for the hamster if your child is really ready to adopt. Look at the way your child reacts to the hamsters, as well as to care study. If your child becomes bored with all the preparation, you may be overdoing it or your child may not be ready. If you cannot easily and honestly answer whether your child is ready, you should wait. If your child is educationally prepared and visibly happy about adopting a hamster, that's a good indication of readiness.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
If your kids are like mine, their pets are an important part of the family. In fact, I think of the pets as my furry grandbabies. We like to take care of the pets in the most natural ways possible. So we are always coming up with new ways to make them feel like they are in their natural environment. Because of this, our rescued hamsters recently got houses made of coconut shells in their cages. This activity is best done with older kids who have experience using sharp tools. But kids of all ages can observe.
Why Use a Coconut Shell? Hamsters love crawling under and inside coconut shells. An added benefit is that the hard shell gives them something to sharpen their teeth on. Prior to using coconut shells,our hamsters were using the edible store-bought hideaways. We used the design that was shaped like a hut and even had hay on top. They enjoyed those as well. But you could tell they were excited when the coconut shells wee placed in their cages. Unlike with the edible hideaways, that excitement has not worn off. Store-bought hamster houses and hide-aways may look more appealing to a human's eye. But as we discovered with our hamsters, they prefer the natural coconut shells by a long-shot.
Gathering supplies is simple. All you need is a coconut, a large rock, and a small hand saw. You'll need to crack the coconut open in a paved area. If you cannot find a large rock, a hammer will work just as well. Depending on the age of your kids, the adults may need to handle the tools. This is a fun activity. But safety should always come first. If you have another preferred method of opening coconuts, your tool list may be slightly different. Even if the kids cannot physically help, be sure they are still involved in the entire process. Explain to them each thing you are doing and why.
Cracking open a coconut is easy..if you know what you are doing. There are other ways to open a coconut. But this one is more fun when kids are around to observe. If your kids are old enough and skilled enough, they should help. Place the coconut on the pavement. Now take the rock and throw it hard right into the middle of the coconut. If you are using the hammer, bang it directly in the middle. You may have to rotate the coconut a few times with both methods. The shell will not come out perfectly even. But that's what you want. The ridges are where the hamster can crawl under. Once the coconut is halved, take out all the meat. The kids will likely enjoy eating it with you.
Building the hamster house is a fun parent and child moment. Be sure there is absolutely no more coconut meat left in the shell. We also like to rinse and air dry ours thoroughly. Each hamster will only use half of a shell. If you only have one hamster, you can save the other half for a later date or give your hamster two places to hide. If your hamster is large in size, you can line the two shell halves up to create a bigger hideaway. If the shells have broken in a convenient way, you may not need to do anything. But otherwise, use a small handsaw to cut an opening in the side for the hamster to crawl under. Rinse and dry the shell again to clear any leftover cutting debris. Then, place in the hamster's cage and watch the excitement.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they also conquer the world, living the RV life with their awesomely crazy family and telling The Nova Skye Story. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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