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Need advice: Feed and caring for hamsters vs. guinea pigs. Pros/cons of each?

 
 
DrewDad
 
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 10:15 pm
So, we had to find the kitties new homes due to asthma and allergies. A five-year-old with asthma and a cat allergy just kinda drives that.

And with a three-year-old, we're not willing to have a dog. Too many stories of little kids running into trouble with dogs. (Dogs seem to see little kids as rivals, and do their little puppy-dominance games. Little kids don't react like puppies would/should; puppy ends up following genetic imperative and biting the little kid.)

Rabbits chew things. And poop indiscriminately. (Yes, dlowan, I'm looking at you.)

So, we're down to hamsters or guinea pigs. Nice, safe, and fluffy, but I have no idea what's involved, or how big the habitats need to be. (Obviously, I'll be doing some Internet research, but I'd like to get any first-hand knowledge that the community may have.)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 5,699 • Replies: 13
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sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 06:50 am
@DrewDad,
Bumping, since I have little first-hand knowledge (though I'm interested).

I played with a friend's guinea pig and was surprised by how much personality it had. And it purred! I had no idea guinea pigs purred. It sat on my lap for a while and it was a cat-ish experience.
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McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 07:05 am
Get a rat instead. They are far smarter then either you have suggested and are between both size wise.

Go to Pet Smart, or other pet retail outlet and take a look at the fancy rats. Once you get past the fact that they are rats, they actually make very good pets.
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Izzie
 
  2  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 07:11 am
@DrewDad,
Hey DD

Hamsters can be a bit skittish <sorry Jes.... Razz > and especially with wee kids - can jump out of hands quickly and easily break their legs. We used to keep them at boarding school and we were 11 years old... they are cuddly when asleep but can run around pretty fast and disappear quickly if they are out of the cage.

I'm sure lots of little kiddies have them - but personally, I think 3 years old may be a little young for hamsters, wee hamsters are a little delicate - they can also have a nasty nibble - you know when you've been nipped! Obviously only my opinion. Fluffy hamsters may cause allergies too (like cat fluff). They don't live very long either, or so I believe (may be wrong on that completely). Gosh, I sound like I am against them, really, I'm not, just ..... well... that's my experience.

Maybe Pdawg will be along and can advise about the age appropriateness for hammies.

Guinea Pigs are a lot more resilient with kiddies - and not so furry as opposed to wiry hair - and can be awfully cute too - easier to handle and slower if running around outside in an enclosed garden. Our friends had them for their kids and the kids were great with them when they were little.


Good luck hun - kids having pets is wonderful. Very Happy


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BarbieQPickle
 
  2  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 07:30 am
Hamsters only live for 2 years but I had pet hamsters when I was younger and I loved them. I also had a guinea pig, they obviously live longer. I have a rabbit now as well as a rat. Guniea pigs and rabbits are basically the same, guniea pigs poop just as much and stink just as much they also need a big home just like rabbits. Guniea pigs are much cuter in the store than they are when you get them home and they permenantly make that squealing sound. Trust me if you wouldn't be interested in a rabbit you would not be interested in a guniea pig. Hampsters don't have to have huge cages you can play with them and etc., they stink to but not as much because they are way smaller. They smaller then room you have the cage(s) in the more overwhelming the smell gets. My rabbit was living in my bedroom (in his cage) when I first got him and the smell got to be way to much for me. Guniea pigs can live up to 8 years so just make sure it's not the type of pet that will be "fun for awhile" then just end up sitting in it's cage doing nothing.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 08:57 am
I've had many hamsters so I can give you the low down on them.

They are actually very clean. They put their poop in one corner of the cage and pee in one corner. They wash themselves like a cat. You will need to keep their cage clean regularly though, but it is easy. All you do is put the cedar chips (I like them because they smell nice and keep the cage smelling nice). When you clean you can just take all the crap out (running wheel, food dish, water thingy) and dump the chips in the trash. Depending if you have a cage or plastic habitrail thing - you may have to wash it out with soap and water.

Pros - they are clean, easy to care for and fun to watch. It is cool when you give them a treat or food - they stuff it in their cheeks and run around the cage looking for places to hide it. You can buy one of those round plastic balls - you put them in it and they run around the house freely, but safe. They are cheap and don't cost much to maintain (food/housing)

Some cons - they are nonturnal so they sleep through much of the day and if you have a wheel in the cage, make sure it doesn't squeak as the damn things love to run in it all night long. They do not live long (could be a pro if the kids get bored with him).
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BarbieQPickle
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 02:01 pm
Actually cedar chips are very bad for small animals such as hamsters,rats, etc. pine is as well. Make sure you look up all the information on safe types of bedding for the animal before you buy any! The pet store has all kinds, but it doens't mean they are safe. There are tons of websites with helpful information about getting a hamster or any other animal for that matter. I just went through all of this with a rat I got.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 02:15 pm
@BarbieQPickle,
Well this could have changed in the past 10 years (since I owned a hamster) - but Barbie is right - it is always best to get additional advice from a pet store (just make sure you talk with some one who is familiar with the animal - not a teenager).
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 02:30 pm
Hamsters don't make very good pets. They are nocturnal, so they'll be asleep all day, and become active at night, right around the time that children go to sleep. They become irritable when you wake them in the middle of the day, and the interrupted sleep patterns are not good for their health. Among other things it shortens their life spans. When the animal is active all you'll hear throughout the night is the animal spinning around on its wheel, or incessantly gnawing on its cage--especially if it's plastic--trying to escape.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 02:42 pm
@InfraBlue,
My hamster was never upset when I woke him - he loved running in the plastic ball around the house. All I had to do was open the cage, put my hand out and he would jump right in my palm. I would then lift him to the open ball and he would jump right on in and then proceed to run around the house.

You should make sure at the pet store though that they regularly handle the hamsters - believe it or not if you do not domesticate them by handling them since they are small, they can be mean little things that will BITE. I've seen them. Like any animal, proper handling is important. A hamster can make a could pet - depending on the owner and how you care for them.
0 Replies
 
animalsrawsome
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 11:10 am
@DrewDad,
Hamsters are not very smart (at least I don't think so). So if you really want one of those two pets I would get a quinea pig. Some guinea pigs are very scard though. But if you play with them a lot they will become comfertable around people.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 12:17 pm
@DrewDad,
Hmmm, I'm allergic to cats.. and rabbits... and guinea pigs. Don't know if I am to hamsters. Anyway, a guinea pig might be a problem for your allergic child (or, might not.)
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 04:13 pm
We decided not to risk it. When we went to the pet store to handle a guinea pig, Yaya rubbed her cheek on it, then got a welt on her cheek in the same place.

Currently, we're considering a fish.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 05:02 pm
@DrewDad,
Aha, fish could be good. There's lots of a2k info on fish, as it happens.
0 Replies
 
 

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