Merck Manual

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Special Considerations for Hamsters


Katherine E. Quesenberry

, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian);

Thomas M. Donnelly

, BVSc, DVP, DACLAM, DABVP(ECM), The Kenneth S Warren Institute

Last full review/revision Jul 2011 | Content last modified Nov 2016

Hamsters are small animals with delicate bones that can be easily crushed if they are dropped or if they are handled roughly. In addition, they are nocturnal—meaning they are most active at night. Because of this, a hamster may not be the best pet to select for a young child.

While the popular Syrian or golden hamsters are normally classified as pets by regulatory agencies, some other types may be prohibited as foreign species. A check with your state’s animal regulatory agency is advised before buying a hamster that is not a Syrian or golden hamster.

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