An emotional support animal (ESA) is much more than a pet. An ESA fulfills a specific role as a therapeutic source to someone with an emotional or mental disability. By providing company, affection, and attention, an emotional support animal can make the difference for someone trying to overcome a diagnosed disability. 

Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal is not individually trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. Their therapeutic presence in the lives of someone with an emotional or mental disability can significantly improve their quality of life and reduce their symptoms. Therefore, any domesticated pet can become an ESA—including hamsters.

Qualifying for an emotional support hamster from infographic.
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Emotional Support Animal Options

Any animal that is domesticated and not disruptive in private locations or public areas can serve as an emotional support animal. The most common ESAs are:

Other examples of ESA’s are bearded dragons, mini-pigs, and mice. There are a few logistical issues to respect. An elephant, for instance, maybe domesticated but would be a disruption in public because of its size! 

Size and convenience are things to consider when deciding on an emotional support animal.

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Although often overlooked but function wonderfully as an emotional support animal are hamsters. 

Hamsters are cute and portable and make great emotional support animals.
Hamsters are cute and portable and make great emotional support animals.

ESA Hamsters: Adorable, Portable, and Convenient

The thought of hamsters as an ESA may seem unconventional, but hamsters have long been loved as pets by both children and adults. As small as they are, hamsters have personalities and have been known to display signs of attachment. Besides, they look just plain adorable! 

1. Hamsters are Reasonably Easy to Care For

Very often, the work and cost of maintaining a dog or a cat can deter someone who would benefit from an ESA from obtaining one. With a hamster however the costs of care are minimal. Hamsters do not require large amounts of food, water, and only need relatively small living space. They groom themselves and eliminate tiny, easy to clean pellets as waste. Hamsters may also have lower veterinary fees and overall require fewer resources. 

2. Hamsters Make Great Travel Companions

Hamsters are also very easy to travel with. Unlike some ESAs that may stand out in public—like large breed dogs, chickens, and miniature horses—, hamsters can be easily placed in a small container, cage, or bag to carry and are very unobtrusive. This makes hamsters ideal for people who like to take their ESAs into public places or who travel often.

3. Hamsters are Ideal for Children

Hamsters make great ESAs for children. The child can easily learn how to manage their hamster. And when out and about children can help to transport their emotional support hamster in a small cage.

Emotional support hamsters eating.
Emotional support hamsters are fairly easy to take care of.

Having a Hamster as an Emotional Support Animal

A hamster’s round furry cuteness and low-key demeanor can help to quell feelings of anxiety and provide comfort to someone struggling with an emotional or mental disability. They can be held close, and their fur has a tactile softness that can be stroked to calm a nervous mind. As an ESA, hamsters are convenient and effective at helping people with emotional disabilities.

To designate a hamster as an ESA, an ESA Letter needs to be obtained from a licensed healthcare professional. 

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Because they can perform the vital service of assisting people with emotions or mental disabilities, hamsters qualify as ESA under the Fair Housing Act. Therefore, a landlord cannot charge a deposit fee for an ESA hamster, and existing pet rules do not apply. 

Steps to getting an emotional support animal.
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Being a Responsible Emotional Support Hamster Owner

Hamsters are living, breathing animals, and require adequate care. Regular veterinary visits, medications, and routine feedings and cage cleanings are part of being a responsible ESA owner. Hamsters also need space to run, toys to be stimulated with, and chews to upkeep their dental needs. Hamsters are very low-maintenance animals, but their basic needs still have to be met. 

Hamsters make ideal emotional support animals, not just for their size, but because they are gentle and warm. If you provide them with love and affection, they will return the favor and be a great therapeutic source on the path to emotional and mental healing.

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