Three new furry friends have taken up residence at The Old Station Nursery in Faringdon, delighting children at the setting.
Youngsters at the nursery are now caring for a trio of hamsters, named Splodge, Nee Knaw and Ga Ga, after The Pet Shop and Reptile Ranch based in the town donated the animals along with cages, bedding and hamster toys.
The owners of the shop, Gordon and Eva Bloomfield, send their two-year-old son Alex to the Faringdon nursery and thought the Syrian hamsters would make a happy addition to the setting.
The children will be closely involved in caring for them, including feeding them and cleaning them, to help them learn about taking responsibility. The idea is to also show the children what care and food animals need to stay fit and healthy, which will then lead into planned activities about keeping their own hearts healthy.
Manager Maggie Barrett said: “The children are so excited to welcome their new hamsters and spent a great deal of thought choosing names for them. The three new additions will live in the nursery and will be cared for by the children and the staff.
“They now want to get a hamster ball so they can have their new pets out during supervised periods and enjoy seeing them run around. We’re always looking for new ways to engage the children in activities which are not only fun but can help them learn something new – this has been perfect.
“There is great excitement over the hamsters and I think that they’ll be a real asset. We’re very grateful to the pet store for making the donation.”
The hamsters will remain at nursery throughout the year but will spend the Christmas holidays with a volunteer family. The pre-school children had a ballot and agreed on Nee Knaw as a name for their hamster, while the toddlers look after Splodge and the third, Ga Ga, is in the babies’ room.
Each hamster has its own glass tank, complete with bedding and obstacles to climb over and hide in, also donated by the pet shop.
Gordon Bloomfield, who runs the shop in London Street, said: “We had three hamsters which were a little bit older at eight months which were unlikely to be sold. We thought they would make good pets for the nursery and knew they needed to go to a good home, so we decided to donate them to the nursery where Alex goes.
“Children always enjoy looking after animals and we’ve given them a book on caring for hamsters which staff can read with the children to help them learn more.”