Learn about the process of buying a hamster. Find out how much keeping a pet hamster costs, the best places to buy, how to make sure you choose a healthy hamster, and advice for when you bring your pet back to its new home and settle it in.
Keeping a hamster is generally relatively inexpensive compared to other pets. However, it is still likely to cost too much for a child to pay for by themselves, especially if the hamster needs veterinary treatment at any point. Therefore it is important that a child is able to share the cost with an adult.
The main costs of keeping a hamster include the initial one-off costs of buying the hamster itself and the necessary equipment, which comprises a cage, food dish, water bottle and toys, followed by the recurring costs of bedding, food and chew toys. You may also want to buy treats for your hamster to eat, while vitamin supplements will be necessary if your hamster is a fussy eater in order to give it a balanced diet.
Where to Buy
The best place to buy a pet hamster is typically direct from a breeder, as this way you are more likely to find a healthy hamster that has been well treated and therefore has a good temperament. This is less likely if you choose to buy from a pet store. However, most pet stores will offer a guarantee which will allow you to return your hamster should it be unsatisfactory as a pet or if it becomes sick, in exchange for a refund or a new hamster. They are therefore still a good option if you cannot find a local breeder.
Alternatively, you may want to buy your hamster from a rescue center, which allows you to buy at a cheaper price and support a good cause.
Preparing a Hamster Cage
Before you buy your hamster and take it home you will need to buy the necessary supplies and prepare the hamster cage ready for its arrival. Your hamster will need time to adapt to its new home, and inadequate housing can lead to stress, and potentially health and behavioral problems.
The cage should then be placed in a suitable room of constant temperature, and away from any heaters, direct sunlight, and other pets that may harm your hamster. If you have a wire cage, it will also need to be kept clear of drafts. The cage should be positioned out of reach of small children and can be brought down for supervised play with your hamster.
Choosing a Healthy Hamster
Not every hamster available to buy will be in optimal health, and buying an unhealthy hamster can lead to many problems and heartache later on. Therefore it is essential to know what to look for before you choose one to take home.
In addition, the trip home can cause your hamster to become unwell, so you will also need to be aware of what to look out for when it is settling in.
Bringing a Hamster Home
The journey home will be a stressful experience for your hamster, and stress can potentially cause an illness such as a wet tail, as well as behavioral problems. You should therefore do everything you can to make your hamster as comfortable as possible on this trip and when settling into its new home.
You will usually be given a container by the pet store or breeder to bring your hamster home in. However, this is likely to be small and uncomfortable, and may even be made out of cardboard which your hamster could potentially chew through. Therefore it is best to prepare your own container.