Electronic Hamsters are the Best Pets for Toddlers

Living hamsters are really cute and very small — the right size for tiny hands. So you’d think they are the ideal pet for toddlers. WRONG!

Lil’ Fluffy is cuddly until he sinks his dagger-like fangs into your child’s finger. Congratulations. You just awarded your child a lifelong fear of animals. The next thing you know, he’s wetting his bed, starting fires and taking delight in cruelty to animals. It’s called the Macdonald triad of sociopathy. By age 15, your kid is diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder and by his 21st birthday he’s a serial killer.

Electronic pets are the safe way to go. Say hello to two fantastic products that condense the home hamster experience to its basic elements of joy.

Photo of a plush toy hamster running in a plastic hamster wheel. Also shown is the toy's product box labeled Wheel Runner.

Joy #1: Watching a hamster run in its wheel.

Product: Hamster Wheel Runner. This 4-inch furry hamster runs on a plastic wheel until the two AAA batteries run out. He comes in assorted colors and retails for less than $10.

No feeding. No cage cleaning. No subscribing to a newspaper just to have a cage liner. Hours of observational fun. Perhaps the only thing that could top this idea would be a hamster DVD. Then he’d take up less storage space and travel well for use in your SUV’s backseat DVD player.

Photo of a plush toy hamster in a plastic hamster wheel. Also shown is the toy's product box labeled Hamusuta the Happy Hamster.

Joy #2: Watching a hamster run in his hamster ball.

Product: Hamusuta the Happy Hamster.

This 1 AAA battery powered cutie runs inside his clear plastic ball or outside the ball. Your choice! Why did the hamster cross the road? Find out! How many times can he cross the road before his luck runs out? I smell science experiment!

Hamusuta features "realistic running action" and is touted as "the carefree & playful pet." But is it really?

Believe the Amazon.com customer who posted this review: "My 5-year-old son wanted a hamster for his birthday and we didn’t want a live one! This one is very cute and fuzzy and runs all over the house. The kids love it."

That’s sage advice. A living hamster is really the parents’ responsibility. Don’t expect a toddler to do a competent job cleaning the cage or remembering to feed Lil’ Fluffy. And then you’re the one who has to dig the backyard grave.

Oh, but not if you bought an electronic hamster! He never dies! Pass him down from child to child. Let your great grandchildren come to know the same love for e-pets as you provided for your own children.

I jest about all of this, except the added parental responsibility. I’ll never purchase an electronic plush animal and certainly not one intended as a pet substitute (not to mention, these might not be safe for kids under 3-years-old).

But as long as I’m talking hamsters, I do know a preschool that let a different child take home the school’s live hamster each weekend to care for it. Everything was peachy until one kid let the hamster run around on his floor and the family dog ate him. I mean, ate the hamster, not the kid.

Please feel free to post your own excellent reasons why electronic pets are great for children, or reminisce about unfortunate animal accidents. It’s Sarcasm and Therapy Day here at Thingamababy.


15 Responses to “Electronic Hamsters are the Best Pets for Toddlers”

  1. My Boaz's RUth says:

    These look like great gifts for the desk at the office — rather than for children.

    July 31st, 2008 at 7:34 am

  2. summer says:

    Gosh I wish I had seen this before we got her the rabbit at easter time. UGH! I’ve decided no more pets until she is old enough to take care of them herself! Its a much cleaner, cheaper and easier alternative!

    July 31st, 2008 at 7:42 am

  3. Jen says:

    When I was a kid we had something way better than a battery operated hamster, we had a taxidermy rat that I had to make in Biology. After some fun with the rat showing up in the bottom of random sleeping bags during sleepovers, we decided to make the rat a cozy home in a cage when my little brother’s real hamster died. That winter our heater went out. Poor guy that fixed the heater probably thought my mom was insane. He said, “I’m really sorry to tell you, but I think the cold got to your pet.” My mom just laughed in his face.

    July 31st, 2008 at 8:33 am

  4. anne K says:

    Reminds me of the hexbugs http://www.hexbug.com/

    I got for the grown (read: 30+) boys in our family this Christmas. Like the review says, “it turns left, and left, and left . . .” Scared the cats to death; but the 4 year old still loves them!

    July 31st, 2008 at 9:07 am

  5. Kathleen says:

    Oh yes… the take home hamster. My brother’s turn to take home the class hamster resulted in an expensive ER visit. What a way to find out that I was deathly allergic to hamsters (and rodents of the like) as my face blew up like a balloon and my eyes were swollen shut. Despite the severity of the situation….my brother still wanted to keep the rat in the house. Got to love brothers and their priorities :)

    July 31st, 2008 at 9:58 am

  6. Rebekah says:

    At least the Hamster DVD wouldn’t run out of batteries and cause toddler meltdowns!

    We used to chase our cat around the house with a remote controlled car. Until the cat got tired of the game and peed on the controller, ruining the whole thing. Serves us right.

    July 31st, 2008 at 3:39 pm

  7. Jennifer says:

    “he’s wetting his bed, starting fires and taking delight in cruelty to animals”

    If my son wasn’t so friendly with every animal he comes across, I’d be worried about my bed-wetting 10 yr old firebug. As it is, I think laziness and a dependence on disposable under pant diapers is the problem with the bed wetting, and if kids didn’t have a fascination with fire, there would be no firemen.

    As for electronic pets, I threatened many times to get my mom “Slithering Jakeâ„¢ the RC Snake” from Fisher Price. I guess she can rest easy now, as they seem to have discontinued it. Of course, there’s always ebay! http://tinyurl.com/62umvv

    August 1st, 2008 at 6:34 am

  8. Haylee Toddlers says:

    It may even be possible, using treats as rewards, to train the hamster to carry out some of its natural activities.

    August 1st, 2008 at 7:35 am

  9. JMo says:

    You have a real job?

    [AJ's note: JMo is replying to a note I temporarily added to the top of this article the day after this article was published. It apologized for not having a new review posted in the morning because "Real work ran extra long and now I'm headed to a picnic lunch with the family."]

    August 1st, 2008 at 11:51 am

  10. AJ says:

    Hey JMo, convince 100,000 of your closest friends to visit Thingamababy every day and I’d be glad to ramp things up and do this gig full-time.

    Due to the alternative nature of my parenting views, I think the community we have now is about right.

    August 1st, 2008 at 11:58 am

  11. My Boaz's RUth says:

    Jmo’s was my first comment too.

    I had gotten the impression you were a SAHD. Not a WAHD :)

    August 1st, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  12. AJ says:

    I work part-time mostly from home, but the “part-time” is a misnomer. I rarely have scheduled hours (I work around my wife’s set-in-stone schedule), and clients may call me on weekends or evenings. My “office” is in our living room, which adds to the fun of concentrating while distracted. Somehow it all works out. I’m behind on my Thinga-mail by a century or two though.

    August 1st, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  13. Marc says:

    Are you an idiot? Getting a hamster will make a kid a serial killer?

    February 20th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

  14. Lori says:

    I love this post … especially as I have the dog who would eat the class pet if we let it loose. However, I think my kid would enjoy watching the dog antics, as Fido chased the e-pet around the house. Could be an entertainment option in the future.

    Incidentally, I have a friend whose guinea pig was “lost” in the house for about a month. Yes, it turned up. Yes, it had lost weight. Yes, they put it back in its cage, and it lived for another three years.

    February 21st, 2009 at 11:27 am

  15. Kukutzy says:

    I dont like hamustua the happy hamster. I like zhu zhu pets better. they are soo much cuter. Hamustua is a cheapy hamster for people who cant afford zhu zhu pets. I have a zhu zhu pet called pipsqueak. she is soooo much cuter. get zhu zhu pets! they are so much better!!! Only $9.99 for a hamster. :)get them! (:

    April 23rd, 2010 at 4:59 pm

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