Can my child get rabies from a hamster bite? What diseases can a person get from being bitten by a pet hamster? Can hamsters spread diseases to children? What to do if a child is bit by a hamster and is bleeding? Do hamster bites require stitches? Learn why hamsters bite and how to avoid being bitten by a pet rodent.
Hamsters are a popular pet for children and nearly every child that has owned a hamster has probably been bitten. In some cases the bites are minor but other times the long teeth of the hamster go through the skin to the point where the hamster may even be dangling from the finger and blood is sure to pour out afterwards.
Concerned parents worry that their children could catch a disease, or even rabies, as the result of a hamster bite. If you are a hamster owner, or parent of a child that owns a hamster there are some things you need to know, including how to prevent bites in the first place.
Preventing Bites From Hamsters
Selecting a friendly hamster is key to preventing bites. Males tend to be less likely to bite than females. Some of the smaller hamster breeds are more apt to bite. Most importantly a hamster that is regularly handled is less likely to bite, those from pet stores were rarely handled prior to their arrival in the store and are more likely to bite as a result. A hamster from a home, or animal shelter, where it has been handled regularly will be less likely to bite than a pet store hamster. Care must be taken not to alarm a sleeping hamster as when startled they could bite.
Can Hamster Bites Spread Rabies?
Hamsters are very unlikely to spread rabies; kept as indoor caged pets they would not have been exposed to the virus, which is spread by bites from other animals such as bats or skunks. As such the concerns in regards to getting rabies are almost zero.
What Diseases can you get from a Hamster Bite?
Tularemia is a bacterial infection often called rabbit plague. This condition is very rare and the risks of contracting it via a hamster bite should be considered very low.
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Fever is a viral infection that could be spread via the saliva of the hamster. This is more of a concern for people with compromised immunities, the elderly, pregnant women, and children under the age of three. Even then the concerns are quite low.
Hantavirus is a viral infection that can be spread as the result of a bite. Sweating is the first symptom, and it can be fatal. Chances of a hamster being infected are greater if it has been caged on the floor in the basement of a home infested with mice or rats, even still the concerns about this disease being spread from a hamster should be considered very low.
Overall the chances of getting any disease as the result of a hamster bite are extremely low.
What to do if Bitten by a Hamster?
The affected area should be washed with warm water and by using an antibacterial solution. When dry you should put a bandage on it. Chances are that it will not require stitches, but you should check it the following day to make sure there is no swelling or excessive redness.
And the Hamster?
Your child should understand that “punishing” the hamster should not be done. In fact any rough treatment to the animal will make the hamster more nervous about being handled. Make sure children know how to hold their pet correctly.
How to Adopt a Hamster
There are many organizations that can help with the adoption of a hamster. According to the Small Animal Rescue Organization, there are over 20 different types of hamsters, but only a few have been domesticated, such as the Classic Gold or Syrian Hamster.
You can also check with your local animal shelter to find out about adopting a hamster.
Another great organization to help you find a local small animal rescue center is Adopt-A-Pet.com. You can enter in your zip code and what you are looking for and this web site will show you where all the local adoption centers are in your area.