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Hamsters are adorable, entertaining, and easy to care for, and they’re a popular choice for beginner exotic pet owners. As one of the most common “pocket pets,” hamsters are generally easy to obtain. Whether you’re interested in adopting or buying your new hamster, you’ll find plenty of choices no matter where you live.
In this article, we’ll cover where to buy a hamster, including online, retail, and adoption options. We’ll also tell you what you need to know about keeping hamsters as pets first, tips on finding a breeder if necessary, and how to get the healthiest rodent possible.
Hamsters as Pets: What to Know Before Welcoming One into Your Home
Hamsters should be kept in a well-ventilated, escape-proof cage with a solid floor. Use paper products or hay for substrate and provide the hamster with toys, hiding space, food and water bowls, and an exercise wheel.
Feeding a hamster is easy, as most thrive on commercial pellet diets supplemented with seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Clean their cages once or twice a week and make sure they have fresh water daily.
If you have trouble sleeping, think twice before keeping a hamster in your bedroom. They are nocturnal and tend to spend much of the night active in their cages, including running on their exercise wheels.
Hamsters can be taught to accept handling if properly socialized from a young age. However, they get scared easily and will bite when frightened. They are not the best choice for small kids, and even older kids should be supervised when handling a hamster.
Where to Adopt a Hamster
If possible, try to adopt a hamster rather than buy one. Many hamsters are purchased for kids who quickly get bored and don’t want them anymore. Through no fault of their own, the animals end up in need of new homes.
Pocket pet-specific rescues throughout the country are a good place to start if you want to adopt a hamster. You can also check with your local animal shelter or humane society.
If you adopt an adult hamster, you likely won’t know much about their previous history, including socialization. Take your time getting to know your new pet before attempting to handle them.
Where to Buy a Hamster Online
- Average cost: $15 to $60 plus shipping costs of $250 to $300
Buyer beware applies to buying any animal online, and that includes hamsters. The problem with buying online is that you cannot confirm the hamster’s health before purchasing. You also can’t check out the living situation your new pet is coming from, either.
Unless you live near the online retailer, you’ll need your new pet shipped to you, which adds to the cost and risk. Some retailers will ship to your house, while others will only deliver your pet to the closest airport. Look for an online retailer that offers a health guarantee for their pets and clearly outlined shipping policies.
S&S Exotic Animals
Based in Texas, this online retailer ships pets via commercial airline only. You’ll need to pick up your new hamster from the closest airport that accepts pets.
Pet Stores That Sell Hamsters
- Average cost: $18 to $25; can be more for rare breeds or colors
Local pet stores or large pet supply chains are often the first places people think of to look for a hamster to purchase. However, pet stores often have limited availability of hamster breeds, colors, or sexes. Some pet stores obtain their hamsters from questionable breeders who don’t prioritize the health and socialization of their animals.
Independent, local pet stores are sometimes more likely to be able to give accurate information about where they get their animals. The benefit of buying from a pet store is you can meet the hamster before you bring them home. It’s also easy to find all the supplies you need for your new pet.
As one of two major pet store chains in the United States, PetSmart stores can be found in most major and mid-size cities. Most locations sell small pets, including hamsters. Contact your local store to find out which hamsters are available for sale.
Like PetSmart, Petco is a major retailer found primarily in cities. Most locations offer hamsters and other small exotic pets for sale. Contact your nearest Petco store when you’re ready to buy a hamster.
Pet Supermarket (Central Florida)
Pet Supermarket is a small local chain of pet stores located in Central Florida. They offer hamsters for sale along with other small pets. Breeds and colors vary by location so you may need to shop around if you have a specific hamster in mind.
Hamster Breeder Information
Hamster breeders can be found throughout the country. If you’re looking for a rarer hamster breed, you may not have an option other than to search for a breeder. Ethical hamster breeders will prioritize the health and proper care of their animals.
They’re also more likely to take the time to socialize their baby hamsters as soon as they can be touched. Like with dogs and cats, unethical hamster breeders exist. These operations are focused on producing as many pets as possible for sale.
Health, socialization, and care may be less of a priority. Look for local hamster clubs or state associations if you’re searching for an ethical breeder. Exotic pet veterinarians are another resource to consider.
Tips for Adopting or Buying a Hamster
Whether you’re adopting or buying a hamster, try to get a look at the animal before you agree to bring it home. Healthy hamsters will be a good weight, with no patchy hair or flaking skin. They should not have signs of diarrhea, eye, or nasal discharge.
Have your hamster’s enclosure set up before you bring them home. Just like dogs and cats, hamsters need regular veterinary care. Find a local exotic or pocket pet veterinarian before you adopt or buy your hamster. Even if your hamster looks healthy, have them examined by the vet within 48 hours of adoption or purchase to make sure.
Hamsters may be easy to care for, but that doesn’t mean you should buy or adopt one without researching exactly what they need to stay healthy. Prioritize bringing home a healthy hamster, no matter where you choose to adopt or buy them. Hamsters tend to have a short lifespan, but they deserve to spend it in comfort and safety.