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Hamsters are so cute you just want to give them a big kiss. Unfortunately, this can be unhealthy for both you and your pet. Hamsters are very susceptible to human germs, and there are diseases that humans can catch from hamsters. The good news is there are other ways to show affection to your furry pet. As a responsible pet owner, you need to understand how to love your pet, while still keeping you and your hamster germ-free.
Passing Germs to Your Pet
The common cold or an upper respiratory infection can be passed to hamsters from humans. Because these infections are usually spread through respiratory droplets, kissing your hamster is a big no-no. While a cold may not seem like a big deal to you, hamsters have a very hard time recovering from a cold and need veterinary attention in order to do so. In other words, the common cold is fatal to a hamster when left untreated.
Diseases Humans Can Get From Hamsters
Hamsters can also pass illness on to children. Two of the most common ailments passed to children from hamsters is salmonella and ringworm. Children under the age of 5 are most likely to be affected by these health issues. However, kissing your hamster can certainly put you at risk regardless of age.
How to Show Affection
Hamsters love the affection of the human that they have bonded with. In fact, they thrive on it. While you may not be able to smooch on your hamster, you can show him love. Pet your hamster's back gently with your fingers. Show him love by giving your hamster a healthy treat. Hamsters love to nibble on snacks, but don't overfeed him. Put simply, you can show your hamster affection by simply giving him attention.
Keeping Your Hamster and Yourself Germ-Free
Wash your hands thoroughly before playing with your hamster. This will help prevent the spread of germs. If you're suffering from a cold, do not handle your hamster at all. An accidental sneeze can cause your hamster to come down with the cold. Never bring the hamster up to your face. This will protect you both from getting sick. When you're done with playtime, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any germs. If you look in the cage, the hamster will be grooming himself to remove any of your germs and odor as well.
- Hamsters as Pets: Hamster Health Risks for Children
- Hamsterific.com: Hamster Illness Guide
- "The Hamster: An Owner's Guide to a Healthy Pet"; Betsy Sikora Siino; 1997
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images