I am never fond of animals, big or small. Never have special feelings for dogs, cats, rabbits and have never shown much interest in insects too. But after having children, I know kids, by nature will love these living things. So, I try very hard to let them understand even though I am scared of animals, I am totally supportive of their love for them. My kids love little pets, like to pat dogs and cats, feed rabbits, show much curiosity in insects and even lizards which is my number 1 fear. Kel caught one recently and kept it in a container as a learning for the kids, but he had to let it go as I was almost screaming every time I need to walk near the container.
So when XX and YH bugged me for a pet hamster, I find myself seriously thinking if I should relent this time round. Having a dog or cat is definitely a NO since I am scared of them. Also, it takes lots of commitment and responsibilities to rear one. The kids have to know that they shouldn’t be having a pet on impulse. They have to know they are responsible for taking care of the pet if they ever have one, which includes feeding, bathing and cleaning up. Getting a pet hamster might be different and everything seems much scaled down for the following reasons:
1) Hamsters mainly stay in the cage.
2) They do not run around the house and create poos or puddles that Baby YT may pick up to put into his mouth.
3) They do not need to be out for walking.
4) They do not require too much emotional handling.
5) They do not shed furs which may be a big problem if it triggers the allergic reactions in my children who have sensitive noses.
6) Maintenance is low and no grooming is needed for hamster.
With the above reasons, I asked Kel how much he thought would be the total cost of getting a hamster with its complete cage and all. “Less than $50,” was his answer. Okay, I thought, in that case, let’s go to the pet shop and get one. My kids were overjoyed when I told them we would be getting a hamster.
When we reached the pet shop, XX and YH were both taken by a winter white breed. One look at the price tag showed $18. Well, luckily they did not choose the one that cost $50. Next, we went on to search for a cage. We chose a $20+ cage and were to be told by the sales person that cage was for travelling only. Does anyone actually TRAVEL around with a hamster?? He went on to explain our hamster needed a bigger one so as not to feel stressed. STRESSED!!!??? It never occured to Kel and I that hamsters will feel stress like humans. Alright then, we took a $48 bigger purple cage. The salesperson went on to recommend a house for the hamster. A HOUSE?? Isn’t the cage already the HOUSE? Next, he introduced a vitamin in powder form to be added to the hamster food for 7 weeks. This vitamin was to stabilize the hamster as it was moving to a new home. It was important for the hamster to be stabilized so that he would not bite for no reason or fall ill. And the vitamin pack cost $20, which was more expensive than the hamster. The salesperson went on for other must-haves: the food, a bowl for its food, a chewing block for the hamster to sharpen its teeth with, water bottle, a bath tub for its bath, bath salt, and a big pack of bedding to lay on the bottom of the cage. This is supposed to cushion its fall while exercising or climbing and to absorb its poo and urine. Then came the long bill, which totaled up to $123! And I have to repeat that the hamster only costs $18. Well, I have agreed to it and started it, I have to agree with the price. And I should have done a wikihow on setting up a hamster cage prior to this.
So, off we went home happily (for the kids) and set up the cage for our dear hamster. The kids decided to call it “Winter“. That’s a nice name.
Although the whole hamster set up cost was $123, we think that it is still worth the investment as we can see our kids learning lots from taking care of Winter.
So far, they have been feeding Winter by refilling its food and water every 1 or 2 days, change out the entire bedding of the cage once a week, transfer Winter to the bath tub with its bath salt, play with it for several minutes everyday, and sit down in front of Winter’s cage to observe its movement. They love Winter and love to see him run on the exercise station so fast that he falls off. They love to see Winter sleeping everywhere in the cage and in many many different positions you can’t imagine. However, Winter is usually active at night. XX and YH will take a peek at it if they do wake up in the night to go to the toilet. I must say Winter brought a lot of joy to the little ones.
Ever since we have Winter, I realize XX and YH readily took up the responsibility of caring for Winter. It has been more than a month, and they never push the responsibility of bathing it, feeding it and changing the cage bedding to Kel or me. For the first few days, Winter was not active and they were disappointed, and I was sad too. We were worried it might be sick or did not like us. I would peek at it every time I pass by it. But now, Winter is active and everyone is happy.
It’s wonderful to know that your kids are capable of caring for a pet. The kids, in turn, love the trust we give them by getting them a pet hamster. Kel and I are just too happy our kids are learning an enjoyable lesson in responsibility.
What’s your experience in having a pet? Was it a good learning for your kids?