Oh no! You adopted a hamster and thought everything would be fine. But now your child is neglecting the hamster. What should you do? Is this an automatic reason to return the hamster or is there hope? Is there a deeper reason behind the neglect of the hamster or is this normal childhood boredom? These are questions you should be asking yourself.
Why is my child neglecting the hamster? There are many reasons that could be at the root of your child’s behavior. Perhaps your child just isn’t ready for a pet or perhaps never will be. Not all people should have pets. Your child also may be reflecting their own feelings of sadness, pain, and neglect onto the family pet. This behavior is one to watch for as many who commit crimes against other humans start off doing so with animals, often during childhood. Not every case of a child neglecting a hamster will mean a child is dangerous to others or the hamster. It’s always best to consult a professional for help.
Encouraging kids to pay attention to the hamster. If a qualified health professional has determined that your child does not pose a threat, interest in the hamster may be all that’s needed. To encourage the bond between hamster and child, I find that engaging the hamster in an activity can be helpful. Choose an activity the hamster enjoys, such as running through an obstacle course or using an exercise ball. Blend the hamster’s enjoyment with an element that is also interesting to kids. When they see you playing with the hamster and the fun to be had, they may be encouraged to join right in.
What if nothing is working? This is when you need to be honest with yourself. Should your child really be a pet parent? If the answer is no, the hamster is now your responsibility, as the parent. Perhaps another child in the family is willing to care for the animal. If no one can provide adequate care and keep the hamster safe, then you need to find a new, loving home for the hamster. Throughout the process of determining what to do, you should have the hamster’s best interest at heart.
Is our home the right place for the hamster? Is your child showing signs of caring for the hamster properly after working with a licensed professional? If the answer is no, then your home may not be right for the hamster unless there is someone else in the home who care for the animal. Is the neglect more than just neglect? If anyone may be a danger risk to the hamster, it’s best to place the hamster in another home. Rescue organizations and shelters can help you find a new home for the hamster. If your child does indeed show signs of improvement, all may not be lost. As the responsible party, you need to make sure things go correctly. However, your home may still be a good place for the hamster with more effort on everyone’s part.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author’s own personal experiences.
More on animal neglect and abuse:
Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence
When Children Abuse Animals
More from Lyn:
How to Soothe a Hamster’s Transition into a New Home
Helping Kids Care for Their First Hamster
Teaching Kids How to Respect Animals