How much do hamsters cost?
Hamsters cost as little as $5 from a shelter, to $30 for an unusual breed or color from a specialized breeder.
Hamsters usually require $100-200 in set up costs, and run up lifetime costs of up to $800.
Thinking about adding a cute little hamster to your family?
Hamsters are popular pets, especially for young children, but how much will it cost to buy and care for a hamster?
People assume that hamsters are cheap pets, but how much do they really cost once all expenses are considered?
Let’s find out!
The Cost of Owning a Hamster
The cost of buying a hamster is the smallest cost associated with owning a pet hamster.
Potential owners should take all other expenses into account, especially if a child promises to pay for everything herself!
You will need to make first-time and ongoing purchases of basic supplies like food, cages, toys, and bedding.
There are other costs associated with hamsters, like veterinary care when your little friend gets sick, and pet sitters when you go away on vacation.
We’ll look at each of these costs next, starting with the cost of buying a hamster.
The Cost of Buying a Hamster
The cost of a pet hamster can depend on whether you buy it from a pet store or breeder, and if you are seeking a more expensive hamster breed or rare color.
Remember, you can also adopt a hamster from a local animal shelter or small pet rescue group for a small adoption fee, which can be as low as $5 per animal.
Pet store hamsters can vary in price, depending on the store and which breed you choose.
A pet store hamster can cost anywhere between $10 and $25 dollars.
Hamster breeders who breed quality hamsters to compete in hamster shows can be a good option for potential buyers as well.
You can find hamster breeders and hamster shows through various hamster club websites and forums around the web.
A quality hamster from a reputable breeder can cost around $20 to $30, depending on the desirability and rarity of the hamster.
Certain breeds, sizes, and fur colors and lengths can cost more than others. Expect trendy hamsters to be at the high end of the price range.
How Much Does a Hamster Cage Cost?
You new hamster will need a nice place to call home, so buying a quality hamster cage is an important first-time expense.
There are many different types of hamster cages to choose from. Some owners prefer wire cages, others like glass tanks, and others like plastic habitat-type ones with built-in tunnels and tubes.
We’ll look at all three types, but keep in mind that the one you choose should be large, secure, and high quality.
Most good wire hamster cages cost in the $25 to $50 range, but can go as high as $100, depending on size and features.
Glass aquarium tanks fitted with a wire top are also used as hamster cages. There are also tanks designed specifically for small pets like hamsters and gerbils.
A good 20-gallon glass (or acrylic) tank can cost anywhere between $25 and $50. Be prepared to spend more for bigger ones.
What about those hamster habitats? Like cages and tanks, you can find many habitats in the $25 to $50 range at your local pet store or online.
Is a cage a one-time expense or will you have to buy new ones?
The hamster lifespan is around 2 to 3 years, so with proper care and cleaning, your cage may be a one-time purchase.
What about cage accessories like food and water containers and bedding materials?
Small bowls and water bottles usually cost under $10 each.
Cage surfacing materials like hay and sawdust are an ongoing expense, since they need to be changed regularly.
Many larger-sized packages of bedding cost between $10 and $20 at pet supply stores.
How Much Do Hamster Toys Cost?
Hamster toys and accessories are just as fun for you to shop for as they are for your hamster to use!
What types of toys and accessories can you buy? There are lots of play and exercise-oriented supplies like ramps, balls, wheels, and tubes.
Exercise wheels and saucers can range in cost from under $10 up to $20 each. Exercise balls also start at under $10 and can go up to $15-20.
Hamster hideouts, tunnels, and tubes can range from simple to fancy and cost anywhere from under $10 up to $20.
What about chew toys? Hamster chew toys and sticks are inexpensive, and generally cost less than $10 for one large toy or a pack of small ones.
How Much Does Hamster Food Cost?
How much will it cost to feed your hamster? Most pet hamsters eat a combination of commercial hamster food and people food treats like fruits and vegetables.
A typical bag of hamster food in the 2-4-pound size range costs under $10. You can save money by signing up for repeat deliveries with many pet stores.
Most people food that’s safe for hamsters (fresh fruits and veggies and treats like popcorn) are very economical.
Other Hamster Expenses!
Veterinary care can be an unexpected cost for many new hamster owners.
Be sure to choose a veterinarian who is experienced in small/exotic animal care.
You can take your new hamster in for a wellness check, and then follow up with your vet if your hamster becomes sick or injured.
Common Hamster Health Issues
What types of health issues are common to hamsters?
Your vet may need to trim your hamster’s teeth if they are not getting worn down enough through normal chewing.
Hamsters can be prone to problems like infections of the ears, eyes, and digestive system.
Bacterial infection of the digestive system with diarrhea can lead to a serious problem commonly known as wet tail.
Some hamsters will develop blocked cheek pouches or sores on their feet.
You might also have to get prescription medication to treat your hamster, such as liquid antibiotics fed through a dropper.
Veterinary care for hamsters tends to be less expensive than for dogs and cats. An average vet visit for a hamster can be in the $50 to $100 range. Nail and tooth trims shouldn’t cost more than $20.
A course of medication, such as antibiotics for wet tail, can range from $10 to $20.
If your hamster is severely sick or injured, specialized care (including surgery) can be hundreds of dollars.
You may also want to pay for euthanasia services when the time comes to say goodbye.
Another cost to consider…paying for pet care when you are away from home.
If you can’t find a friend or relative to care for your hamster, you may have to hire a pet sitter or board your hamster while you are gone.
The price of visits by a pet sitter can vary depending on what you ask them to do, anywhere from $10 to $40 per day.
Many pet sitters will also take in your hamster as a boarder, or you can contact other animal boarding facilities in your area to see if they take small pets.
Boarding rates can range from $5 to $10 per day for hamsters but be sure to check if food and any services are included.
How Much Do Hamsters Cost?
So, what’s the bottom line on how much hamsters cost?
Most hamster owners will tell you that the total set-up cost when you first get a hamster is between $100 and $200.
The monthly cost will be around $20 per hamster, mostly for food and bedding.
Depending on your hamster’s health and lifespan, the total lifetime cost for owning a hamster could run anywhere from $400 to $800.
Do you have any advice on cost for new hamster owners? Share your experiences in the comments!
References and Resources
- Hess, L., Axelson, R. Owning a Pet Hamster. VCA Hospitals, 2019.
- Quesenberry, K.E., Donnelly, T.M. Routine Health Care of Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Frisk, C.S., Wagner, J.E. Hamster Enteritis: A Review. Laboratory Animals, 1977.
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