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Monday, May 02, 2011

Where To Get A Hamster

You finally made the decision to get a hamster. Congratulations! Now here comes another tough decision. Where should you get your hamster? There is a big difference between most hamsters being sold in pet shops and the hamsters you can get from quality breeders. Pet shop hamsters are mass produced in breeding mills, and are often sold with illnesses or battle wounds. Russian Dwarf hamsters from the pet shop have a high chance of being a hybrid. Quality breeders know the genetic history of their hamsters, and they are often bred to have a better temperament. Plenty of hamsters find their way into rescue shelters every year. These hamsters still have lots of love left in them to give to someone who will appreciate them. Which do you want to choose?

It’s no secret that chain pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart get the majority, if not all, of their rodent stock from breeding farms and mills. The producers of such get-ups are in it for the money. This means that the animals are mass produced to make as much money as possible. The people behind it do not care about the quality of their animals. The hamsters are then shipped around to various stores, and shoved into small containers with a bunch of other hamsters. Quite a few hamsters often come home with battle wounds, or illnesses they had before reaching the pet shop, and pass shortly after creating a heartbreaking situation that pulls on every animal lover’s heartstrings.

Since the Winter White and Campbell Dwarf hamsters can interbreed, there is a high chance that most hamsters labeled as either are a hybrid. To the untrained eye, it could be hard to tell the difference between the two. Winter Whites are bullet shaped with a thick dorsal stripe, whereas Campbells are paler with a puffier shorter face. Hybridization became popular because people wanted to create new color patterns such as “Lilac”, “Pudding”, and “Mandarin”. Interbreeding the two together is doing nothing for either species. If interbreeding takes over, you will not only see a decline in pure dwarfs, but also the hybrids as  they are often infertile. In my own opinion, any quality breeder or hamster lover would not breed the two together.  

Reputable breeders breed hamsters to have certain attributes. They are usually experienced and knowledgeable in the species they are breeding. They will let you know if they feel you would be the perfect fit for owning the species you are trying to obtain. Breeders care about the species as a whole and the quality of the animals they produce. The pups are bred to have a good temperament and are healthier. They keep records of their lines. Some breeders will allow you to interact with the hamster to get to know its personality, and also see the parents since the pups will inherit personality traits from them. Beware, not all breeders will breed to the same standards, so pay close attention just like you would at a pet shop. Not everybody has access to a quality breeder, so rescue centers are another great place to check out.

Many hamsters are bought for children as pets and then discarded to the shelter. The reason being the kids lose interest in the responsibility of caring for the animal, they failed to do the research on the species beforehand, or the animal is aging and they don’t want to deal with it. These hamsters deserve your love and attention, too. Rescue hamsters can be some of the sweetest hamsters because they will appreciate all of the nice things you do for them. Be extra patient with them because you have no idea what their past is like. Adopting a hamster is a great way to not only brighten your day, but greatly impact a hamster’s life as well.

Check online, such as, or I personally see many hamsters up for adoptions online, some even with the cages. Be wary of the owners who claim to not have time for their hamster anymore, but keep the cage, and the ones who ask ridiculous adoption fees. They should be looking for a good home for the pet, not a way to make some quick cash.  

Pet shops are the easiest way to go, and have hamsters available at almost any time. These hamsters are often not up to par. Reputable breeders have hamsters bred for health and temperament. Rescue shelters aren’t just for cats and dogs, they have hamsters, too! These hamsters are just waiting to open their heart up to you. In conclusion, the choice is really up to you to decide where you want to get your hamster, but some sources will have better animals than others.


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