Will the royal family start a rodent trend with their new pet?
A new member of the royal family has been announced, but it's not another baby for William and Kate. The most recent addition is strictly of the furry variety.
We'd like to introduce the royal hamster, Marvin. He hasn't yet been photographed in public, but we have it on good authority that he is alive and well and settling in well in his new home. The Duchess of Cambridge revealed the news on an outing with schoolchildren in London this week.
The exclusive came from 9-year-old Darcey, who reported that the royal mom "said she had a hamster, and [Princess] Charlotte really likes it because the whiskers always tickle her face."
Hamsters are small, low-maintenance rodents that can be an ideal option for an animal-mad child who's not quite ready for the responsibility of a larger pet.
We're sure HRH Marvin the Hamster will receive only the best level of care in the royal household. If you're inspired by Prince George's and Princess Charlotte's new pet, bear in mind these tips for a happy hamster.
Choose your breed, and keep your sexes separate
The most common and largest species of hamster is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster. This breed is naturally solitary and may fight if kept in pairs or groups. Dwarf hamsters are smaller and more sociable, but stick to female pairs, as males tend to fight.
Hamsters become sexually active as young as 4 weeks, the gestation period is only 18 to 22 days, and they can have up to 12 babies in one litter, with multiple litters in a year. So unless you're up for a harem of hamsters taking over your home, stick to just one. To be sure you haven't brought home a pregnant hamster, ask the breeder or pet store to show you the difference between the sexes, and confirm that their male and female hamsters have been correctly sexed and kept separate.
Monitor food intake
A favorite hamster activity is burying food, so dole it out in tiny portions to minimize the amount left to decompose. Remove uneaten food on a daily basis to keep your hamster's environment fresh and clean (and give their house a thorough cleaning once a week).
Know their habits
Hamsters are naturally nocturnal, and if they are disturbed during the day, they may bite. Kids should be supervised when handling hamsters. Because they're most active (and noisy) at night, it's not a good idea to keep them in a child's bedroom. Make sure their house has plenty to entertain them during their waking hours. Experts recommend cardboard tubes for chewing and running through, a wooden ledge for climbing and hamster wheels with solid, wide wheels. Avoid hamster exercise balls, which can make them tired very quickly with no way to escape, and hamster wheels with spokes, which can cause injury.
Don't expect them to stick around for long
Hamsters don't live as long as some other pets: two or three years, on average. This makes them less of a commitment — but be prepared for the hamster funeral and inevitable death talk with your kids.