Many think that a hamster is a nocturnal mammal but no, it is not. It is classified as crepuscular which means that it is awake during nightfall.
This will be a welcome pet for insomniacs and they are one of the most popular exotic pets found in apartments.
But if you have a problem with it making a sound while it plays during odd hours of the night, then you should look for another pet.
Owning a rodent for a pet may appear as straightforward as having a dog and a cat around the house. This may be partly true.
Breaking Down the Cost of Hamster
While things may seem a little simpler for hamster because of their small size, there are a lot of little things to consider, be it in buying, in choosing the right ones, or the maintenance it entails.
Like other pets, prices might vary according to the type, color, age, breed, color, source, etc. Another factor might be the supply and demand.
If you want to own one, here is a list of the things you need to care for these lovable pets.
Basic Expenses for Having a Hamster
The price of hamster mainly depends on its source. Its listed price range is at $5 to $30 when bought from independent online sellers.
On the other hand, the cost to buy a hamster ranges from $14.99 to $22.99 at PetSmart Stores while Petco sells it at $12.99 to $19.99.
Not all breeders publish their rates online. Inquiries about prices may be done either by visiting the breeding farm or by phone. Therefore, if you want to buy from breeders, you can look for a hamster farm near your area.
Apart from the cost of the pet, there are other one-time expenses to consider. These are the following:
- Cage – a 24” X 12” cage sells for an average of $49.29
In buying a cage for your hammie, the bigger the cage, the better it will be for your pet.
If you are caring for a dwarf hamster, do not use a wire cage. Your hammie can squeeze pass those bars. Aquarium or any solid, transparent sided cage will be advisable.
- Wheels – cost about $10.89 to $21.95
- Toys and Habitat Accessories – prices start at $1.99 to $39.99
Shredded paper products are the best material for their beddings. Avoid the use of pine or cedar wood as beddings for your hamster.
What is Included in the Hamster Prices
When buying from Petco and PetSmart stores, they guarantee that the hamster you bought at their store is healthy and free of disease.
Often they provide for an after sales guarantee. The numbers of days depend from store to store so you had better inquire from them.
Veterinary certification for vaccines and other pertinent paperwork will also be provided. Petco provides for a monitoring chart for the use of caretakers as part of their sale.
Hamsters bought from breeders will include a month’s supply of specially formulated food, technical support for the care of your pet, complete paper works, a guarantee from sickness, and a monitoring chart.
Maintenance Costs of a Hamster
- Food – about $3.99 to $9.80 depending on the size and brand
Feed them a variety of proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Remember they are omnivores.
Hamsters need to chew on something to keep their front teeth healthy and prevent them from growing further.
Fresh and clean water should always be available for your fur ball.
- Treats – these are sold at about $2.99 to $6.49
These are generally given as a reward but can also be used if you want your new pet’s attention and trust. In taming your hamster, giving of treats whenever you handle them is recommended. Treats like nuts, cereals, and crackers will do.
- Feeding Supplies – costs around $3.49 to $11.49
Small as they are, hamsters are omnivores. They will eat anything that they lay their teeth on. So be careful when you put anything in their pen. They will definitely gnaw into it. So be sure their feeding paraphernalia are durable enough.
- Veterinary Visits – ranges from $30 to $70
Keeping your hamster in the pink of health ensures its long lifespan resulting in a long and enjoyable life together for both the owner and the pet. So it’s very important to have a regular visit to the vet and ensure that there’s a clinic nearby especially in cases of emergencies.
A trip to an animal clinic has an average of $65 for a regular checkup at Hancock Park Veterinary Clinic and the cost may increase depending on the needs of your pet like additional procedures and tests.
- Grooming Kits – these cost about $6.99 to $9.99 each
Although they self-groom, it helps to keep them more clean and healthy if you use some supplies to do this. Use can use a soft brush to keep their fur healthy. You can also use specialized nail clippers in trimming their nails.
What Dictates the Hamster Price?
There are five breeds of hamsters that are sold in the market. These are Syrian, Campbell’s Dwarf, Roborovski, Chinese, and Winter White Russian. The most popular are the Syrian and Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters.
Dwarf hamster price will also vary according to the dwarf breed.
- Where Purchased
Hamster bought from breeders cost higher from that of pet stores. Breeding farms not only offer quality hamsters but also technical support in the care of your hamster.
Be aware though of legal requirements. There are states that do not allow hamsters as pets. It is illegal to own a hamster in California and Hawaii.
Availability of hamster species in a particular place or community greatly affects the price. It’s more of a law of supply and demand.
Since there are five species of hamster, it is better to classify them into sociable and not sociable.
Sociable hamster breeds like Campbell can live with another of its kind if they grew up together from infancy.
Campbell, Chinese, and Winter White are medium-sized breeds while the Roborovski Dwarf is the smallest among the four. The Roborovski hamster can be cared for in a group.
Ideally, the group should be of one gender only because hamsters multiply very fast.
An example of not sociable hamster breed is the Syrian hamster, sometimes called golden hamster. It is the most bought type of hamster. It is solitary and it cannot be placed alongside another hamster.
If you put two Syrian hamsters together, they will end up killing each other. You do not want to find a dead hammie in your cage in the morning, do you?
Syrians are also the largest breed of hamster sold in the market.
Tips for Buyers or Would-Be Owners
Aside from the popular Petco and Petsmart, you can find a pet hamster for sale at different online shops. There are also hamster-breeding farms spread across the US. You can search for one in your area at Hamster Central.
There are also available hamsters up for adoption in breeding farms. You may inquire from them too.
If you are buying from a breeder, know what the goal of the breeder is. Is the goal temperament, health, pedigree, etc.?
If buying from a store and the storekeeper does not allow you to hold the hammie, look for another store. Also, when you handle a hamster and it appears nervous, don’t buy that one.
Make sure that the shop you are buying your hamster from separates male from female hamsters.
PetSmart and Petco both have local services for your hamster. These services include the following:
- Veterinary Services – for PetSmart it will be Banfield Pet Hospital. Price at Banfield will depend on the area you are in. For Petco, veterinary services are available in any Petco stores near you.
- Grooming and adoption services – PetSmart provides for a learning center for taking care of your hamster and it has a pet hotel service. Petco, on the other hand, has downloadable pet guide and an online vet help.
A few points especially for first-time owners:
- Hamsters are stressed around bigger pets, so keep your pet dog or cat away from your pet rodents. If you have both, unfortunately, you have to choose which animal to maintain or you really need to have an allotted space for different types of animals.
- If you are bringing in your hamster home for the first time, let it acclimatize and feel at home first before petting it. Make it familiar with your voice and your smell.
- Unless you are a breeder, you wouldn’t want your hamster to get pregnant. They give birth to 6 to 12 babies and sometimes as many as 20 to a litter!
- Exercise is an important part of hamster life so please provide your pets enough room to roam around and move.
Choosing a Hamster
Before you take your hammie home, here are a few tips on how to choose a healthy hamster from a pet shop:
- There should be no swelling in any part of the body.
- Look at the rear end of your hamster, if it’s wet it’s not good because that is a sign of diarrhea. This is called a “wet-tail”.
- The area around the eyes and nose should not be wet. Watch out for staining and crusting.
- If one of the hamsters in the cage where you are supposed to get your hamster is sick, don’t get from that group. Chances are, the one you are getting may also be sick.
- Make sure that the hamster you are getting from the litter is not a relative of the rest. Breeding littermates will result in biter hamsters.
- The eyes should look bright and not cloudy.
- The hamster should be alert, curious, and not lethargic.
- The front teeth should be aligned.
- Make sure that the hamster is not over or underweight.
- Ideally, hamsters should be 5 to 6 weeks old before being sold.
- Breathing should be normal and no wheezing and gurgling noises.
- The cage where the hamster that you plan to buy is kept in clean, well ventilated, has ample supply of water and not overcrowded.
Additional Information About Hamsters
- Hamsters that are born in the wild would run up to 5 miles a night.
- They live up to approximately 2 to 3.5 years
- Large breeds can grow 7” long and the smallest breed can grow up to 2” long.
- A hamster’s 2 years is equivalent to 60 human years.
- They are colorblind. They can only see green and yellow.
- Hamsters have long and strong front teeth.