Are Hamsters Safe During Pregnancy

QUESTION

Dear Family Pet Expert,
I am 19 weeks pregnant right now and I have had a hamster for about a year. I have been reading on the Internet about lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and they say I should get rid of the hamster. However, I don't know what are the risks are if the hamster seems fine and I haven't had any symptoms and how rare it is to get this through a pet hamster.

My doctor didn't know anything about it and a vet wasn't sure. My pregnancy books mention cats but nothing about hamsters. I was wondering if you knew anything about it and if I should be worried. I don't want to give up our family pet if there is no risk or if there was a way to keep the hamster in another room while I am pregnant. Thanks!

ANSWER

Hello,
Congratulations and good for you for looking into this and being proactive. I can understand your concern about Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). The good news is your hamster has lived in the home with you and this lowers the risk of this virus. Wild mice or rodents that are not living in homes as pets have a higher risk and should be avoided. Keep in mind the usual hygiene practices of washing your hands following interaction with your furry friend.

You may want to hold him in a towel if you feel more comfortable with this type of barrier. Avoid having him close to your face and last but not least...now you have reason to ask someone else to clean the cage! If you do need to clean the cage use gloves and do it in a nice open space.
According to the March of Dimes:

"If you have a pet rodent, keep it in a part of the house where you spend little time. Ask another family member or friend to clean the cage and care for the pet. The risk of infection from pet rodents is low, but it's best to be cautious." Read more.

Enjoy and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

-- Jen

Jennifer Shryock

Jennifer Shryock, is the founder/Director of Family Paws Parent Education which offers two international programs, Dogs & Storks and The Dog & Baby Connection, in over 40 states and 8 countries. Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mother of four and a certified dog behavior consultant, specializing in safe dog and baby/toddler interaction. Believing the relationship between dogs and their family is precious, Jennifer created her business, Family Paws LLC to offer opportunities to families to enhance their relationship with their dog(s). Jennifer uses only positive dog and kid friendly techniques that anyone can perform in their own home. Jennifer's combination of passion and experience as a parent, special education teacher and certified dog behavior consultant allows her to connect and support families in a unique way.

Jennifer is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and maintains professional membership with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Jennifer is also the U.S. representative for Doggone Safe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dog safety. Jennifer has been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart LIVING and Dog Fancy, as well as has been a popular guest on various radio programs.

Jennifer and family share their home with their 3 dogs and 3 cats.