Picking the Perfect Pet

Hamsters: For Curious Kids

Running on wheels and navigating mazes, hamsters are clever and entertaining. Since hamsters are nocturnal, they sleep while kids are in school -- and are ready to play after dinner. But they have a delicate body and need to be handheld carefully. If they are mishandled they might harmlessly nip kids (and adults!). Some experts even feel they're more appropriate for slightly older kids.

"Have your child spend the first few days talking to her hamster before she tries to touch it; a parent should always be around to supervise," says Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.

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