We have all heard the saying, “good things come in small packages” and when we are talking about small pets we couldn’t agree more!
There are quite a few different small animals as pets. Today we are talking about hamsters and gerbils, two of the most popular, recognizable, and tiniest of all the small pets we love to love!
How did we end up with such adorable pets?
Hamsters and gerbils were both found in the wild originally and came to be pets due to their cute looks and adorable personalities. Hamsters were originally discovered in 1797 but an expedition founded in 1930 specifically to look for “golden hamsters” is how we ended up with the hamster pets of today. In parts of Europe and North Africa a small number of hamsters can still be found in the wild, although they are becoming rarer as a wild animal and some like the Black-Bellied Hamster are even in danger of becoming extinct.
Hamsters, Gerbils and Kids
One of the first pets many of us had as kids was either a hamster or a gerbil. This is still true now for kids today. Deciding on a hamster or a gerbil can depend a lot on the lifestyle of the child who will be their pet parent. Hamsters are a solitary animal who prefer to live alone, this helps with the care of the hamster as cleaning up after one pet is easier than cleaning up after 2 or more pets!
Gerbils will be happiest in pairs, preferably brothers or sisters if this is possible, don’t mix boys with girls though! Hamsters are a completely nocturnal animal, so they enjoy rummaging around the cage at night, something to keep in mind if they live in the kids room. Gerbils are diurnal, so they will spend some time during the day awake.
Handling Hamsters & Gerbils
When you first bring home your new pet, either hamster or gerbil. They will need to take time to get to know you. Hamsters are jumpier and more skittish and will bite from fear when first being handled. They take longer to love you than gerbils will but once hamsters know you they will bond with you stronger and deeper than a gerbils do. Gerbils are kept in pairs, so they have a “safety in numbers” feeling and show little to no fear right away, often jumping up into your hand to curiously see if you have any treats for them.
Always handle your hamsters and gerbils inside a cage in the beginning and only bring them outside of the cage when you feel sure they will not jump out of your hands.
Homes for your Pet
Hamsters and gerbils do well in many different styles, shapes, and sizes of cages. A starter kit is a perfect cage for anyone who has never had a small pet before. Starter kits come with almost everything you need, such as the cage, dishes, some food and hay, bedding and some even have treats! You can add some toys and other tasty treats for your pet when you decide on your starter kit, or you can pick out your own style cage and personalize it with everything you need.
One of the most important things to add to your small pet home is chew toys. Hamsters and gerbils must have plenty of chew treats and toys. Their teeth continuously grow and the only way they can keep their teeth in good health is to chew.
Your small pets and your large pets together.
If your home is like so many others, you may have more than just a hamster or a gerbil. Many homes have dogs, cats, birds, or reptiles as pets as well. It is important to know that while some of your other pets may be trustworthy with each other, small pets will always look like great fun to chase. Never leave your small pet unattended with your larger pets.
Introduce small and large pets slowly to each other and only once you feel you have fully bonded with your hamster or gerbil. This ensures that they will feel safe with you and be curious about the other pets in the home rather than afraid.
Pocket Pet Benefits
When you have a small pocket pet such as a hamster or a gerbil, you will find that you create a special bond with them. Many people like to carry their tiny pets around with them in their pockets and this helps create an even closer relationship.
Plus hamsters & gerbils are just so darn cute that everyone should keep one in their pocket!