While having a rat or hamster as a pet can be a rewarding experience, there are things you should know before buying one for your family. If you are squeamish about certain things like flinging poop and incontinence, you might want to skip getting a small animal as a pet.
Let's say your small child wants a rat or hamster and after getting one and having it in your home for a week, you suddenly find you are the one taking care of the little critter. You may see your little hairball doing things that turn your stomach but they are perfectly normal in the rodent world.
If you have a rat, the first thing you will notice when you bring whiskers out to play is that they are incontinent. That is to say...they pee all over everything including you, your clothes, your furniture, the floor as well as anybody else that may hold them. They are not potty trainable and you will end up pulling all your hair out trying before it happens.
If you have two young male rats, you may notice they hump each other like they are having sex. Don't worry, they can't get pregnant if they are male, but you might not want to let them get to close to the dog, or your leg. Your dog may not like it and well your leg will just end up getting urinated on.
Hamsters on the other hand are quite cute but not as affectionate as rats. They also have some bad habits. Most hamsters are nocturnal, this means they will sleep all day and only get up at night to play. Not the best pet for a child that is up all day and sleeps all night. You may also notice you hamster has a long cleaning routine after he wakes up and bothering him will only upset him. As you watch your little hamster cleaning you might notice him picking up the poo pellets in his mouth and flinging them out of his bed as he goes looking for more bedding to stuff in his nesting area. This is all quite natural.
Hamster will on occasion also eat their own poop. This is also very natural and will aid in the natural digestive process, it's called Coprophagia and if you have a dog, rabbit or cat you may have seen them doing it as well. Some animals like rabbits, do this in order to digest all the nutrients found in their foods.
Both hamsters and rats like a variety of foods but giving them a store bought mix may not be enough as they will only pick out the foods they like and leave the rest for you to throw away during the weekly cleaning.