Hamsters Versus Rats.

Yesterday, on a local pets group that I follow on Facebook, someone asked: “Rats or Hamsters?” She acknowledged they were completely different pets but that she would like to hear opinions on which makes a better pet.

Now, I think we hamster people (And I’m sure Rat people) will know what was unanimously the answer.

Rat was voted over 10 times. The only person who stuck up for Hamsters was yours truly. And the only person who “liked” my answer was the OP herself.

In my comment I took it as an opportunity to express why I felt hamsters were viewed less favorably to their larger “cousins”. For starters the tiny cages they are “supposed” to be put in limit the appeal that is the hamster. It limits their happiness therefore their personality. People are under the misguided notion that hamsters only need a wheel for enrichment. That they do not deserve or are intelligent enough to enjoy other toys. In fact hamsters do enjoy the same toys Rats do. Maybe with some not with the same gusto but definitely they appreciate climbing. Hammocks, tubes, and platforms.

I stated that given a decent sized cage one would be surprised by how entertaining and sweet these creatures can become. Comments against hamsters stated they were not affectionate. Not social. And pretty  much it was implied they are stupid.

Seriously, what the heck? I felt offended.

I think Rats are awesome! I completely understand that they are known to be highly intelligent and sociable and affectionate. But to favor Rats because of the belief that hamsters have none of those attributes is upsetting to me. What do they know? And what gave them that idea? Hamster ownership was so dismal to them? How come? What is it they did not do for their hamster’s health and happiness for it to hate them so much they formed a horrible opinion of them.

Because when I was a little girl my memory of my hamsters is quite fond. And this was in the 80s when we thought that a 10 gallon tank, a metal spoke wheel, pine shavings, a toilet paper tube and food and water was all they really needed for a good life. And even then I remember fondly playing for hours in the evening with my hamsters. On my bed usually where I could sit with them (I only had one hamster at a time) and cuddle when they tired. I had hamsters fall asleep on me they were so comfortable with me.

So even with the idea I have that they have negative views because they didn’t see hamsters at their fullest potential – due to tiny cramped cages with little enrichment – that doesn’t excuse their false idea they are not affectionate. Not cuddly.

Then it bothers me – the OP herself. Asking between rats and hamsters. Despite both being rodents and hamsters having admirable qualities like a rat as well – they are still distinctly different species. Pets. It’s not really fair to compare them. And if you are at a loss of which to pick I think it’s time to really do more research before choosing.

I feel like I should have not just made my answer in defense and education about hamsters to the masses but I also should have said “What are you looking for in a pet?”  I think Rats are going to need a lot more attention. Do you have the time for that? Hamsters need a good deal more attention than most people think (but probably not nearly as much as rats) and at later hours. Are you a night owl? Do you want a pet more laid back?

I just don’t appreciate it being some sort of contest of Rats versus hamsters. I think it’s unfair. Perhaps had the answers been more fair – that would be one thing.

Only a few of the answers people left were actually helpful. Such as mentioned that Rats need to be in at least pairs. And for the most parts hamsters were solitary. And needed to be alone. Though why that would be why one chose one or the other boggles me. I don’t know why I’d be less inclined to get a Syrian Hamster over a rat because one likes to have friends with them and the other likes to be a hermit. I wonder what that says about us when we are motivated by simply something like that. (Not being judgmental or critical there – I truly wonder what it says (positive or negative or neutral).

At this point I’m just babbling. We have our favorites. At this point I’d probably never get dwarf hamsters again. Only Syrians. I truly am more inclined to have Syrians and many of them. I also am very drawn to Gerbils. Which was much to my surprise as before I suddenly wanted a pair I hadn’t had much interest in them ever before.

Some people definitely prefer their Rats to any other rodents or pets in general. And I can understand why. I do understand Rats are much more intelligent. And if they are ANYTHING at all like mice (don’t hate me for comparing – please bear with me) then I can see how they are super affectionate. Mice are incredibly affectionate when they are fully trained. I should know. I had many of them in my teenage years and I loved everything about them but all the peeing haha) .

And to be clear – I wasn’t offended by people favoring Rats over hamsters if only they gave better reasons. But to dis hamsters in general for such ridiculous reasons! Well, if I view it in a positive light perhaps what I wrote was truly taken into consideration by even just ONE or maybe 10 people or more. Maybe people who read my comment had hamsters and will rethink the tiny cages they keep them in. Maybe…just maybe I made a positive difference for hamsters out there. Not in promoting them over rats (which I was in no way doing) but that I took the opportunity where it arose to educate a local community on how to make a hamster a happier and more affectionate and enjoyable pet.


8 thoughts on “Hamsters Versus Rats.

  1. Never get a dwarf hamster again? How dare you! No, I’m totally kidding. 😉 But that, in itself, is funny to me. It goes to show how different we all are, as far as pets go. I have fallen in love so hard with dwarf hamsters. Though, admittedly, I’ve been lucky because both Roxy and GiGi were/are amazing. Ultimately, if I was told I could only have one species for the rest of my life, I would probably choose syrians. But I absolutely love having a dwarf in my life. Especially because they seem to be awake during the day more frequently, which is nice sometimes.

    But anyway, I hear you. I get offended by the way some people talk about hamsters too. I have heard amazing things about rats too but… Well, hamsters are cuter. :p (Yes, I am now being intentionally immature!)

    • I love Strawberry. Don’t get me wrong ( I know you don’t) but he has been a strange example of a dwarf for me. He’s moody and lazy. And has never really bonded with me. Which makes me sad. And a bit off on Dwarfies. I wish it had been different. They all have their own unique personalities. I’ve been happy to give him a good home with love and fun and a good diet. But he hasn’t really endeared me to the species. Though Roxy, Gigi, and Smudge have certainly made me a bit uncertain about my stance against never having dwarfies again. Perhaps, I just need to get a female dwarfie?

      I saw a Rat today at Petsmart and I don’t know how I contain myself. I usually think hamsters are cuter but this rat. OMG. This rat. How did I walk away from him? Will power. He was beautiful and shy but pleading for someone to give him a chance. OMG. They really are brilliant. You could see the intelligence.

      I will have a couple someday. I have a feeling about it.

  2. Can I just say that I agree with you 100%! I’m not exactly offended, but it always makes me really sad that people who think hamsters are boring are the same ones that kept them (or know people who kept them) in tiny cages with only a wheel for entertainment. My hamsters play, run, climb, dig tunnels like no tomorrow, and are just plain silly creatures with me and each other, definitely far from boring!

    I don’t mind when people say hamsters are dumb though…they sort of are (compared to rats). ;D I meant that in the fondest way possible though LOL, if anything, I consider part of their charm, IMHO.

    • It’s true. Some hamsters are. But Penny isn’t so dumb. I might be biased but something about Penny – she is really smarter than the average hamster. Definitely smarter than all my others. Maybe it’s because she’s female HAR HAR HAR 😉 LOL
      I had the Roborovskis in smaller cages. When I put them in their very long DIY Bookshelf cages it was a NEW relationship with them. They have tamed. They are happier. They are actually paying me attention. They used to ignore me. Now they come up and greet me. Patch won’t let me hold him but he doesn’t run away like he’s completely disgusted by me anymore. I know the change was from the size of their environment. I swear they need more space than Syrians! From what I’m observing!

  3. How can people say that T^T .hamster are so much more cuter (yep I’m immature^^).I probably grew up with hamsters ,my cousin have so many dwarfs.and I go to her house few times ayear and live there for a week .I spend my time there watching them play .I can agree their more dumb than rats but it’s cute ^^.but still,even though I grew up with dwarfs I like Syrians more (so cute ….)

    • I’m a total sucker for Syrians. I cannot help it. They are just *IT* for me as far as hamster species go. I grew up with them too. I didn’t have a dwarf species until a year and a half ago. A syrian was my FIRST pet ever as a child!

  4. Aw, we have a lovely little Chinese dwarf and my kids adore her! So does my hubby. We are hammy folks. And some day I hope to find a perfect Syrian. I love your blog. We are a military family also.

    • Yay for Military families!!! So, glad to hear it. And Chinese hamsters are SO CUTE. Gabriel isn’t as personable as my Syrians are but he is so dainty and gentle and sweet. He’s so CUTE I can hardly contain myself. He is a joy to have. I will always have at least one Chinese hamster too. Always!

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