Someone asked me the other day if I thought a hamster would be a good pet for her 5-year-old. I’ve been asked this question before and I always give the same answer. “No.” In my experience, hamsters are temperamental little shits and not very sociable. If I were to get a pet for a 5-year-old, it would be a rat. It’s my advice every single time.
“Ew,” you say? They are awesome pets! Seriously, domestic rats are wonderful pets for kids because they’re very social animals. They love humans and human interaction. They’re intelligent and can be trained to do tricks and puzzles. You probably think rats are dirty. You’re absolutely wrong. Rats clean themselves more often than cats!
If you’ve ever given a kid a hamster, maybe you noticed that they got bored with it pretty quick. That’s because hamsters are solitary little shits and they hate to be bothered. Who wants to play with, or clean up after a critter who’s likely to bite your hand? A rat will be more fun because they are sociable and love to play.
My pet rat, named Yogi, used to play like a cat! He’d run and hide behind a pillow on my couch and when I’d ‘find’ him he’d jump and run and laugh! Yes, laugh. They make this squeaky little noise when they’re happy and it’s adorable! Of course, I had to watch so that my cats wouldn’t try to eat him for lunch but when we finished with playtime, he went back to his cage.
Yogi loved bites of banana and Cheerios. When I cleaned his cage he would “clean house” which meant he moved things around in his cage the way he wanted them. He had a great personality. Most rats live around 2 years but my Yogi lived to the ripe old age of 4!
If you want your kid to have a good experience with a first pet, including the responsibility of taking care of that pet, then a rat might be a good fit. Just be sure to do your research. Rats do have some special needs, such as a good piece of wood to chew to keep their teeth from growing too long. They will also need a cage with a solid bottom rather than wire. Once you’re set up with the proper supplies, you and your kiddo will have a blast!