Hamsters are a joy to watch and great for first-time owners. They are like active kids who love to play in their exercise wheel and run through mazes and tunnels. They are also good starter pets for children learning responsibility. They don’t take up much space and can fit in any living arrangement. They are mostly asleep in the morning and actively awake at night. They can play by themselves and don’t get too attached to their special human, so you won’t have to worry about living them alone. These are only a few of the reasons why it is tempting to acquire a hamster on impulse.
However, caring for a hamster is not a onetime $20-$25 cost. Many first-time owners get shell-shocked after learning what it cost to have a hamster. While they are relatively low maintenance and inexpensive to care compared to other animals, you’ll have to provide the best possible care they need to replicate the life they have in the wild.
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Where to buy a hamster?
The first thing that you need to know after deciding to adopt a hamster is where to buy one. There are a few options on where to buy a hamster. Sometimes, the price of the pet you are going to adopt depends on where you’ve purchased them.
- Reputable Pet store: Buying from a pet store is by far the cheapest option to buy a hamster. Normally, pet stores have the common domesticated hamsters available like Russian dwarves. Syrian hamsters and Roborovsky dwarves. In a pet store, the cost of each hamster ranges from $20-25.
- Private Breeders: If you are looking for a rare breed of hamster, private breeders are also a good choice. They breed pedigreed domesticated pets like hamsters to meet breed standards. However, they often charge higher compared to regular pet stores.
- Ethical Breeders: Ethical breeders carefully manage “hamsteries” which is a much better environment for a hamster to breed compared with a pet store. They are professional breeders who care not only for the business but also with the behavior of there animals. It is observed that since hamsters from ethical breeders live in an environment that were design to replicate their natural habitat, they are much healthier, happier and tamer compared to pet store-bought rodents. Ethical breeders do not charge much and are usually the same as store prices. The only downside of ethical breeders is that they are very hard to find.
- Backyard Breeders: These breeders are irresponsible breeders who are not fit to breed hamsters or any animal for that matter. Their only concern is to earn money and let female hamsters breed until the day they die. NEVER BUY FROM THIS BREEDERS!
- Online: When an old caretaker is no longer capable of caring for their pet, they try to sell them online for a much cheaper price. While this is becoming a great option nowadays, be sure to check that the hamster is in a healthy condition before adoption.
In general, a hamster cost ranges from $5-$50 and it is safe to say that you can have a good one with one $25.00.
How much is a hamster’s cage?
The price of the place where you intend to keep your pet depends on the type of enclosure you’ll choose. Of course, the cheapest one sounds the best but bear in mind that hamsters are active rodents, so a bigger and comfortable cage is highly encouraged.
- Wired Cage: The most common type of enclosures for hamsters are wire cages. The base of this enclosure is made of plastic material walls and ceiling consist of thick wire that is often covered with a protective topcoat.They usually come with a water bottle, ladder, wooden swing, and a cozy house on a wooden platform. Depending on the size and the quality of the cage, a nice decent cage ranges from $30-$100.
- Glass Tanks: Glass tanks are safer compared to wired cages. Aside from having not to worry about them being able to escape, there are no bars for your hamster to injure themselves from climbing or chewing on a glass tank. Since hamsters are desert animals, they don’t need big ventilation and as long as the aquarium is covered with wire net, they’ll be able to breathe comfortably inside. A glass tank cost ranges from $70-$200.
- Homemade plastic bins: If you are up for some DIY and hands-on task, then creating a plastic enclosure yourself using materials that are readily available at home is another option too. You just have to make sure that there are no sharp or pointy plastic edges hanging around as your hamsters may chew them. If you are lucky and have all the materials at home, there won’t be any monetary cost involve.
All in all, a cage of hamsters will be their lifelong habitat while they stay with you and it should be something to invest in whether through money or effort. The largest available one should always be the best option. The cost of a cage ranges from $0-$200.
How much will the bedding cost?
Bedding is very important for hamsters. It’s a place for them to exercise their natural needs to burrow and nest. Beddings help keep your hamsters warm during cold months. More importantly, it serves as their toilet.
It is highly recommended to change the bedding of your hamster every week. A 60 liter bag of hamster bedding can last for two to three months. This said, the annual cost of bedding ranges from $130 to $240.
How much will the toys cost?
Hamsters are prone to obesity and thus making toys like exercise wheels, slides tube maze is important to help keep them healthy. They are nocturnal active pets that need to be able to play during the night. While quality toys may not look as great choice, bear in mind that hamsters use their toys every day and it is better to invest in an expensive toy than ending up with a dead or paralyze pet that accidentally chews up their destroyed toy.
A good quality exercise toy like exercise wheel ranges between $30-$70. You’ll have to check on these toys now and then to make sure that they are not yet destroyed. A good quality toy can last for 6 months to 1 year. After that, you can renew the toy or buy a new one based on the damaged done.
How much will food dishes and water bottle cost?
It is worth investing to have a good quality food dish. Compared to bowls made of plastic, ceramic options are favored as they are easier to clean and can’t be chewed by your pet. A good food bowl will cost $6-$15.
As for water tanks, using a durable, BPA free containers are recommended. For small animals, a variety of water bottles are available ranging from $10-$20.
With only $20-$40, you’ll get to have good safe utensils for your hamster to feed on.
How much will hamster food cost?
80% of your hamster food should be consists of healthy pellets available in pet stores. These pellets contain all the nutrients a hamster need to have a balanced diet. Hamsters don’t eat much to stay healthy and is one of the reasons why they are considered as low maintenance pet. A month supply of food pellet only cost $5-$10.
Another food option for hamsters is fresh vegetables and foods. These foods can be given as treats from time to time to keep your hamsters happy. It does not cost much to give fresh treats to your pet. Since they are small animals, you can chop a small piece from your food to share with your furry friend.
How much does a veterinary visit cost?
Unlike dogs, cats and other mammals, hamsters don’t need vaccinations. However, veterinarians that know how to check hamsters are not easy to come across with. Before adopting a hamster, make sure to check if an exotic veterinarian is available in your area. No worries, if you take really good care of your pet, veterinary visit should only be done once a year and cost between $70-$100 per visit.
While they don’t need to be checked a lot, hamsters that are not properly taken care of can easily get sick. Depending on their condition, treating a hamster cost between $100-$200. In some clinic, pet health insurance are provided. Although hamsters are not usually included, it won’t hurt to check with the local vet in your area.
It is a must to bring your hamster to a vet under the following condition:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Unwilling to play, run, or interact
- May eat less if at all
- Dull and/or sunken eyes
- A runny nose
- Loss of fur and/or dandruff
- Skin irritation
Total Costs of Caring for a Hamster
The initial cost of adopting a hamster would cost $85 to $335. These include buying the hamster itself and setting up their place to live. While the maintenance annual cost (vet visit, food supply, toy maintenance, bedding) ranges from $380 to $490 provided that your hamster doesn’t get sick. To sum it up, on your first year, you’ll be spending at least $465-$825 in total and only $380 to $490 annually after.