Why hamsters have suddenly become a popular choice as pets

When Samantha Slaven-Bick went wanting for a hamster very last summer time as a gift for her animal-loving 11-yr-outdated son, she speedily discovered she was barely on your own in her quest.

“Everyone wanted just one for the duration of COVID,” recalls the Los Angeles resident. She frequented three pet suppliers that ended up sold out, right before lastly obtaining an establishment that had the pint-sized animals in inventory.

Hamsters have in truth surged in popularity in current several years, together with identical creatures — feel rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs — that belong to what the pet industry classifies as the “small animals” class. In a survey launched previous 12 months, the American Pet Products and solutions Association, a trade group, mentioned that 6.2 million American homes hold a smaller animal as a pet, a determine that grew by 800,000 homes considering the fact that a former survey in 2019.

The association observed that 27% of people 6.2 million households have a hamster. Do the math and that is approximately 1.5 million American households with the furry creatures.

The rodents have been in the information this 7 days for an totally distinct purpose. In Hong Kong, authorities are halting the sale of hamsters and culling some 2,000 little animals, like hamsters, immediately after a range of the rodents tested optimistic for coronavirus. There is worry the hamsters could go the virus on to people, particularly right after Hong Kong authorities also acquired that a pet-store staff tested beneficial.

“All pet entrepreneurs really should notice good personal cleanliness, and following you have been in speak to with animals and their foodstuff, you must wash your arms,” a Hong Kong official stated.

Still, Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Health-related Association, suggests hamster owners should not be also worried. He says the danger of a hamster contracting the virus and then spreading it to a human is “very small,” primarily based on scientific exploration, nevertheless he cautions that pet house owners should really normally be mindful.

“If we get the basic sanitary precautions, we can stay happily with hamsters,” he says.

Dr. Arce isn’t surprised that hamsters are becoming preferred. He states they make a excellent “starter pet” in that their needs are pretty minimum, but they can nonetheless kind a stable bond with their entrepreneurs. Hamsters can also offer a good schooling for little ones in what it suggests to care for a pet, he provides.

“If we acquire the essential sanitary safeguards, we can stay happily with hamsters.”

— Dr. José Arce, president of the American Veterinary Health-related Affiliation

Not that there aren’t older people who recognize hamsters. Robert Peterpaul, an actor, writer and podcast host who life in Connecticut, bought a hamster through the early days of the pandemic. He claims that he and his fiancé, Cassie Carroll, felt they didn’t have area in their small apartment for a canine or a cat, but preferred a pet to continue to keep them corporation throughout that primarily attempting time.

Their hamster, Butter, suit the invoice. “You could pick her up and keep her…She was really interactive,” Peterpaul claims. (Alas, Butter died final year — hamsters have a rather small lifespan.)

Of course, not every single hamster proprietor reviews obtaining this kind of a marriage with their pet. Some hamsters can bite. And the reality they are nocturnal creatures may not get the job done in each and every pet owner’s favor.

Slaven-Bick suggests her hamster’s nighttime habit of working with the physical exercise wheel does not just make for a quiet evening problem. She goes as much as to say she significantly prefers her family’s other animals, which include a reptile recognized as a bearded dragon, to the hamster she obtained for her son. But even then, the hamster, termed Moon, has her times.

“I will say she’s incredibly cute,” states Slaven-Bick.

As preferred as hamsters are getting to be, they are not almost as ubiquitous as puppies and cats, according to the American Pet Items Association’s most the latest survey. Canines are the most common pet in the U.S., with 69 million homes having a person. Cats come in next with 45.3 million homes proudly owning one.