Are you researching where to buy a hamster?
Most local pet stores sell hamsters. But, you can also get hamsters from small scale breeders, and at hamster shows. You can also even adopt hamsters from local animal shelters.
The most reputable source for a new pet hamster is a local breeder. They are usually part of local and regional groups, so can be found with a quick search online.
Let’s take a closer look at where to buy a hamster for a healthy, happy pet.
What Is The Best Place To Buy A Hamster?
The adorable hamster makes a great pet for a family. In fact, many people get hamsters as a child’s first pet.
They are cute, relatively easy to care for, and generally are not too expensive. In addition to that, they don’t take up much space, though they still need certain equipment, such as a cage, toys, and the proper food.
Everyone has seen hamsters for sale at the local pet store, alongside other small animals like mice, guinea pigs, and birds.
Are pet stores the only places to get a hamster? Are they the best place, or is somewhere else better? And are there hamster pet stores specifically for these furry little creatures?
Let’s look at all the different places where you can get your new pet hamster!
Where Can I Buy A Hamster?
Of course, most pet stores sell hamsters. But when it comes to where to get a hamster, they’re not the only game in town.
You can also buy hamsters directly from hamster breeders and at hamster shows.
There are some hamster stores that focus on small creatures like these.
And did you know that you can also adopt homeless hamsters from your local animal shelter? Many shelters and rescue groups have a wide variety of animals besides dogs and cats, including small pets like hamsters.
Let’s look at each option in more detail.
Where To Buy A Hamster: Hamster Breeders
The most reliable way to ensure that your hamster is from a reputable source and has been raised in a humane way is to buy them from a local small-scale breeder.
Hamster breeders are also a good resource if you are interested in a specific color or type of hamster not commonly found in hamster pet stores.
They are also the best place to buy hamsters if you are interested in trying hamster breeding yourself!
Getting A Hamster From A Breeder
Now you’re probably asking, “How can I find hamster breeders near me?”
They may be easier to find than you might think. Many hamster breeders belong to local or regional clubs (or to less formal groups) with members that breed and show hamsters in a particular geographic area.
These groups almost always have a website, which you can find with a quick internet search.
Hamster Communities Online
There isn’t a nationwide association for hamster breeders in the US, but most states have at least one hamster fan club which also maintains an online directory of breeders for their area.
For example, the California Hamster Organization is a well-known hamster club based in Southern California.
You can also join online forums like the Hamster Hideout Forum and connect with hamster breeders and hobbyists in your area.
In the UK, the National Hamster Council (NHC) is the main organization for hamster breeders, and it has three regional clubs which maintain lists of breeder members and organize hamster shows.
The NHC is the oldest and most famous hamster fancier organization in the world.
Finding A Good Hamster Breeder
How do you know if your hamster breeder is reputable?
Hamster experts recommend that good breeders keep detailed records of their breeding stock. Each hamster should be clearly identified. Individual records should include:
- Birth date
- Show wins
- Medical records
- Mating and breeding log.
The breeding log should record all their matings and details such as number of offspring and any postnatal deaths.
Medical records should be kept on each hamster, noting any illnesses and treatments.
Where To Get A Hamster: Hamster Shows
Hamster breeders often bring their hamsters to shows, both to exhibit and sell.
These are usually run by volunteers who love hamsters and are dedicated and passionate about promoting them as pets and campaigning for their welfare.
Finding a hamster show near you depends on whether any of these extraordinary people are operating in your area.
The UK has a well-established schedule of hamster shows that are run by the local NHC clubs.
If you can’t find a hamster show near you in the US, you can still buy hamsters from breeders at local pet expos.
Where To Buy A Hamster: Pet Expos
Visiting a pet expo in your area is a great way to meet local breeders. It’s also a good opportunity to buy a hamster and pet supplies.
Most major metropolitan areas have at least one pet expo a year, usually held at convention centers.
County fairs and 4-H shows are also good places to find hamsters from local breeders, especially if you live in a rural area.
The 4-H organization has a companion animal division that includes small pets like hamsters. Most 4-H events are run by state university extension services.
The website for your local university extension service should have a link to upcoming 4-H companion animal shows and events.
Where To Get A Hamster: Hamster Pet Store
Pet stores that sell hamsters are very common. Most probably, the majority of people will buy their hamsters from pet stores rather than from individual breeders.
What do you need to know before you buy a pet store hamster?
Let’s cover some of the most important details.
Almost every pet store in the land talks the right talk about animal welfare. Sadly, though, not all walk the walk.
And that means some pet store hamsters still come from commercial breeding mills with low welfare standards.
The US Department of Agriculture does inspect and license large-scale commercial animal breeders, but even a licensed facility can have problems. For example, the allowable minimum cage size is very small.
In 2016, an undercover investigation of one mill which sold to large pet supermarkets found small animals living in very inhumane conditions (WARNING: link contains very distressing content).
But the good news is, as consumers and pet owners, we can help stamp out bad breeding practices by asking the right questions and buying from stores who really do make sure their stock has been raised humanely.
Finding An Ethical Hamster Store
Start with small, independent pet stores in your area. They are more likely to buy their hamsters from local breeders that they know and trust. Some pet shop owners are also hobbyist breeders themselves.
Make sure the cages in the store are clean and well-kept, with sufficient food, water, and space.
Look for pet store hamsters with a smooth, shiny coat, bright eyes, and no discharge from the eyes, nose, or rear end. This goes for not just the hamster you like, but for all its cage mates.
Your new hamster should be healthy and lively. Visit pet stores in the late afternoon or evening to see your hamster in action, since they do sleep a lot during daylight hours!
Baby hamsters for sale at a pet store should be between 4 to 8 weeks of age. The staff working in the store should be able to tell you exactly when the hamsters they have were born.
Where To Get A Hamster: Hamsters For Adoption
You don’t need to go to a pet store or a breeder to get a hamster.
Hamsters are available for adoption at many animal shelters, and giving one a forever home has lots of advantages.
You can ask the staff at the shelter about their personality, and they will probably have been vet-checked before they were listed for adoption too.
I performed a petfinder.com search for adoptable hamsters. In a single US zip code, I came up with an impressive 59 results!
Most of the hamsters were located at small animal rescue organizations and traditional animal shelters. Adoption fees for small pets like hamsters tend to be very reasonable, usually no more than $5.
Where To Buy A Hamster: Can You Order A Hamster Online?
These days, there doesn’t seem to be much you can’t order online, and some people are even asking if they can get their next pet online.
To put it clearly, no responsible breeder will ever agree to mail a live hamster to you. Travel via the mail would be enormously stressful for a hamster pup, and quite probably kill it.
The US Postal Service and most postal shipping companies like UPS understand this, and as such won’t ship any live mammals.
Getting A Hamster
It’s worth noting that many consider hamsters to be “starter” pets. They don’t seem to take as much of an investment in time, attention, and money.
This perception may be reinforced by how relatively inexpensive hamsters are to buy, and how easy they are to find. After all, it’s true that hamsters are available in most pet stores, and don’t cost much overall.
But we recommend that every potential owner do their research. Hamsters may be small, inexpensive, and easy to find, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less deserving of attention and care.
There’s also the additional potential difficulty of finding a veterinarian that will be able to care for your hamster. Not all vets work with small animals.
It’s also very important to ensure that you have a hamster-safe home, and that you can provide the equipment, toys, food, and overall environment that will lead to a happy, healthy hamster pal.
Best Place To Buy A Hamster
Hobbyist hamster breeders are a good choice for people interested in knowing more about their hamster’s breeding and ancestry, especially if you’d like to show your hamster or breed from them in the future.
Breeders also tend to have some interesting colors and varieties of hamsters not commonly found in pet stores.
Another great option is hamster rehoming. There are likely to be many hamsters available for adoption at animal shelters and rescue organizations in your area.
If you do choose to buy from a pet store, go to small independent pet stores who can tell you exactly where their hamsters come from. And never, ever, order a pet hamster online!
Where Can I Buy A Hamster?
We’ve covered the different answers to this often-asked question. Now it’s time to let us know about your own experiences!
How did you find your hamster pal? What tips would you give someone looking for where to buy a hamster?
Please share them using the comments box below!
- Price, L. “Are Hamsters from a USDA Licensed Breeder Better?” California Hamster Association
- Nine Facts You Need To Know Before Considering A Pet Hamster, PETA