Most pets, including hamsters, are seen as full-fledged members of the family, and it makes total sense that they are treated with a lot of love.
Some pet owners even go as far as kissing their animal friends daily to show them affection and love.
So, Should You Kiss Your Pet Hamster?
While most hamster owners claim to give their pet kisses as a sign of affection, it can be unhealthy for you and your pet. Hamsters are susceptible to getting infections from humans, such as the common cold. While it might seem like a light matter to humans, hamsters find it hard to heal from a cold and often need veterinary treatment services. On the other hand, they can give humans several diseases or infections. Fortunately, there are other ways in which you can still give affection to your hamster.
How Else Can You Show Affection to a Hamster?
Hamsters are friendly creatures that love human company, especially if they have bonded with the owner.
1. Your Fingers
They thrive on interactions and might even become depressed if you don’t give them enough affection and company.
As stated above, it’s not healthy to kiss your hamster, but there are other healthier ways of showing love to your pet. One of the best ways is petting the back of your little rodent with your fingers.
First, place the hamster on your hand while putting the other hand on its back.
Give your pet a gentle and delicate stroke using the middle and index fingers by going up and down on its back.
Take care not to exert too much pressure or make sudden and jerky strokes that might irritate your hamster.
If he is enjoying the stroking, you will know by his reaction.
If not enjoying, he is likely to lay deep into your hand or even start falling asleep.
On the other hand, if the hamster starts biting, running, heckling, or squirming, you might be doing it wrong.
Another way of offering love to your hamster is by providing regular delicious treats and different hamster toys.
These little rodents like to nibble on sweet snacks, although you should ensure you offer them the light amount to avoid overfeeding them.
In general, spending time and being attentive to your pet is enough to keep him happy.
Can Your Hamster Make You Sick?
Yes, although uncommon, the hamster can make you sick, particularly when kissing.
Some of the common diseases that can be passed from your hamster to yourself include;
1. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis
This is a viral infection that normally causes mild flu to people.
The virus is normally found in mice, but the mice can transmit to hamsters which in turn can transmit the virus to humans.
While the infection often has no clinical signs, it can be severe or fatal for immune-compromised individuals.
2. Ringworm (Dermatophytosis)
This is a fungal skin infection caused by a single or several species of Trichophyton or Microsporum.
When contracted with the infection, you might develop an itchy, red, and raised skin that appears as a ring.
The infection is through contact with the fur, skin, and dander of the infected animal or person.
In hamsters, dermatophytosis signs can range from circular, scary, dry, and circular lesions on the limbs, head, body, and ears and can also have no signs.
This is a viral infection of the nervous system, which can be fatal when clinical signs start appearing.
The infection is transmitted when the saliva of the infected hamster contacts any of your wounds or any mucous membrane like the mouth, eye, or nose.
Hamsters with rabies can survive the infection, with only a few cases of start hamsters biting humans.
This is an infection caused by any of the Salmonella serotype bacteria.
The infection causes diarrhea, while in some cases, it can cause more serious diseases.
The salmonella bacteria are passed through the stool of an infected hamster which might or might not display the signs of diarrhea.
The transmission is through contamination of food or water with the stool or contaminated hands to the mouth.
This is a bacterial infection commonly found in wild animals like hares, rabbits, and rodents.
Transmitting the infection from your hamster can give you flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, or severe diarrhea.
These bacteria are highly infectious and only require about ten to fifty bacteria to infect an individual.
6. Hymenolepiasis(tapeworms) and rodentolepiasis
Refers to mice and rat tapeworms that can infect hamsters and people as well.
You can get infected with these tapeworms by accidentally consuming a beetle or flea that ate the tapeworm eggs from the hamster’s stool or consuming the eggs directly.
How To Avoid Transmitting Infections to Or from Your Hamster
Although hamsters are low-risks in terms of transmitting diseases to humans, there is always a risk involved.
Therefore, too much close contact, such as kissing your hamster or allowing him to sleep on the same bed with you, should be avoided.
When handling your hamster, you should know how to do it safely and correctly.
1. Always Wash Your Hands
To avoid contracting any infection, it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running clean water before and after handling your hamster.
Washing your hands before handling your hamster will help prevent you from transmitting the germs on your hands to the pet.
This should be before and after cleaning the cage of your hamster, petting the hamster, or coming into contact with hamster bedding, urine, or stool.
If you have children, you should supervise them to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly while avoiding bringing your hamster too close to the face.
This will help prevent the transmission of respiratory diseases such as the cold.
2. Choose An Ideal Location
The location you place your hamster is very vital in ensuring you and your hamster stay healthy.
You should keep a hamster cage in the kitchen or a close place where the food is being prepared or eaten.
More so, you should not keep your hamster’s cage in the bedroom of an immunocompromised person, children, or pregnant woman.
3. Keep The Cage Clean
Cleaning your hamster’s cage regularly helps ward off the spread of pathogens such as Salmonella or choriomeningitis.
You should clean the cage thoroughly at least once every week including eliminating all the beddings and disinfecting the whole cage.
You can use a stiff-bristled brush and soap water to scrub any stool or debris stuck on the cage.
Hamsters normally poop in the corners, so you should pay extra attention to those areas.
Once the cage is completely clean, use concentrated household bleach to disinfect for about ten minutes to kill any pathogens available.
But remember to rinse the cage with clean water before you feel it with clean beddings.
To avoid any contamination, you can also consider wearing rubber gloves when cleaning and washing your hands after you are done, particularly for immunocompromised individuals.
At the end of the day, there are lower chances that you will get sick from kissing or smooching your hamster.
However, if you want to avoid any chance of harming your pet or yourself, it is more recommendable to show the hamster your affection in other ways, such as gentle backstroking with fingers instead of kissing.
We all love our pets, but we require to have some limits for the best interest of our pets.