HAMSTER COSTS

Exactly how much does it cost to take care of a hamster?I know… You are anxious about buying a hamster. But don’t rush into it! The initial cost for buying a hamster it’s not quite low and you will have to spend some money every month to take care of your hamster.Here is a list that will help you to make your own budget:

Cage: $10-$40
The price generally varies depending on the type of cage: wired, aquarium or bin and on the size and age of the hamster. Syrians might sometimes get stuck in Sam/Penplax tubes or in the Critter Trail.
hammyWatch out! You might like the cage that is bright colored, with lots of tubes and fully plastic, but look at the price tag. It’s very possible to cost quite a lot.

Bedding: $2-$10

It has various purposes: absorbs the odor, your hamster uses it as a toilet, lines the floor, and allows your hamster to hide in it. Bedding supplies are found in a wide variety, from wood pulp fiber, aspen shavings and various other shavings, recycled newspaper, Kaytee Soft Sorbent, Eco-Straw Pellets and many others.
hammyAt pet shops you can find even bedding smelling like apples or strawberries. Be careful when using those because they can cause your hamster an undesirable allergy.
hammyAvoid fluffy bedding material as it can severely affect your hamster. Even if the package says it’s safe for your hamster, this kind of bedding, usually made out of some mix of cotton, polyfibers, and polyester, it’s responsible for the horrible deaths of hundreds of hamsters and other rodents every year.
hammyNEVER use cedar or pine shavings. The chemicals in these two types of wood cause respiratory problems. Even if some hamster owners do not complain about these types of bedding, why take the chance when there are so many other healthy alternatives?

Paper bedding: as low as 1$
hamster bedding
This is optional and the price is very low. You need some 2-8 squares of toilet paper. Put them in your hamster’s cage and he will do the rest. My hamsters just love it. They use is as a blanket or they chew it all in tiny bits and decorate the cage with it or even make their nest cozier, by stuffing toilet paper in they houses.

Water bottle: $2-$15
It’s a must for your hamster. The bottle is the best choice because your hamster can not spill it and make a real mess in the cage.
hammyYou have to be careful when you put this in the hamster’s cage: it has to be high enough so he can not chew the plastic part, still allowing him to drink the water easily.

Food dish: $2-$9
Avoid materials such as plastic or wood. These things do not last long in the presence of a big chewer. A ceramic bowl is the best choice and you can find them in various sizes, shapes and colors. Choose a bowl that is quite high, allowing your hamster to eat properly and, at the same time, not allowing them to throw the food out of the bowl when searching for favorite food.
hammyYou can easily use a ceramic bowl from your kitchen.

Hamster mix: $2.5-$25
This should be the main food in your hamster’s diet. Usually, the hamster mix consists of rodent pellets, peanuts, sunflower seeds, maize, dog biscuit, crushed oats and barley. If you buy a more expensive hamster food you might find in the bag ingredients such as dried vegetables and fruits.
hammyYou can use some bird seed mix to supplement your hamster diet.
hammyBe very careful to buy hamster/gerbil mix and not rabbit mix because it’s toxic for your little hamster.
hammyThe additional proteins and calories that the hamster needs should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables according to your hamster needs.

Hamster toys: $1.2-$30
These are great, for your hamster and for you as well. Your hamster basically needs a wheel so he can exercise freely ($3-$25) and some chewing toys to shorten his teeth. A hamster ball, lots of tunnels and various other toys for chewing or playing can be put on a shopping list for later on to allow you to save some money into the piggy bank.
hammyThink of homemade toys. They are a great way of cutting of some costs! Instead of buying tunnels or other stuff that you may not afford at the beginning you can use a trick: don’t throw away your toilet paper rolls. Use them to entertain your hamster! You can even make some holes in the tubes and glue 3-4 rolls together and make a huge tunnel for your hamster.
hammyWhen buying the toys check to see if they can harm your hamster. This applies with homemade toys, too. Make sure that the glue or any other product you use won’t affect the health of your hamster.

Potty: $1.99-$16
hamster potty Yes! Your hamster can be potty trained. Sometimes is piece of cake and sometimes the hamster just takes a detour and has his potty place near the potty. You can choose between various potties that are sold in pet shops and look quite neat.
hammyIf you like, you could easily turn a ceramic bowl into a potty.

Potty litter: $1.5-$6
The litter should be changed daily so you would need to buy more to make sure you do not run out.
hammyAlternatively, you can use chinchilla sand but NEVER use chinchilla dust because it will cause respiratory problems to your hamster.

First aid kit: $10-$25
You need to be prepared to help your hamster if he has some health problems. A basic first aid kit for your hamster should contain antibiotic, antiseptic and antihistamine lotions and powders, disinfectant, bandage and some gloves for your protection.

Hamster book: $1.99-$20

I’m not saying you should read the Encyclopedia to learn about hamsters. There are many useful and easy to read books related to hamster, hamster training, hamster breeds, hamster breeding and much much more.

These are the most important products you have to acquire before buying your hamster. This starter kit will assure a healthy and happy living for your hamster.

As you can see, the initial costs are quite high, the average being 150, without considering the hamster.
The monthly shopping list consists of bedding, food, litter:
bedding: usually, one big pack of bedding is enough for one month considering that you change the bedding at least once a week. We will average it $10 (per pack)
food: one or two pack, averaging at $12 (for 2 packs)
litter : two medium packs for $7

The chew toys and other supplies will be replaced as soon as you notice something is wrong in order to prevent any accidents or whenever you want to give them a little surprise

Photo credits: 1, 2

WHERE TO BUY A HAMSTER

You know how to buy a healthy hamster? Then the next step is to find the most appropriate place to shop for a hamster. Check all the options available and always think twice. This can be the difference between buying a sick hamster or a happy and healthy one.

Pet shop
This is one of the most common and advertised place to buy a hamster. Here you can find almost all the breeds and colors.

Cons:
hammyThere are many articles and videos on the web on how bad some pet shops are.
The problem is not with the main chain, but with individual stores because of the manager’s lack of involvement or the staff’s lack of knowledge. And so we deal with neglected pets, Syrian hamsters sold as dwarf breeds and many other. The best way to decide if a pet shop really cares for his pets or not, is to visit it often and carefully look at the pets. They look healthy? They have fresh water and food? The pets look happy or are they afraid of people?
hammySometimes, when you buy an older hamster you could deal with numerous problems including bad health and taming issues.
hammyCheck online to see what other hamster owners say. Did they have problems with some pet shops? The animals are treated badly in a certain pet shop? If so, be very careful and try not to buy from that place because you don’t get smoke without fire!

Breeders
Many hamster owners consider buying hamsters from a professional breeder a more reliable option than pet shops. You have the guarantee that you are buying a happy and healthy hamster. i love that you can keep in touch with the breeder and tell him exactly what hamster you need and when a female haves babies he can keep that certain baby for you. Hamster breeders don’t made hybrid species in order to have only healthy, original color and easy to tame hamsters which is a super bid advantage and you are positively sure that the hamster lived in a stress free environment

Cons:
hammyIt might be quite difficult to find a hamster breeder in certain areas.
hammyMake sure you are dealing with an experimented breeder and not someone who accidentally ended up with hamster babies.

Rescue centers

“Make adoption your first option”

There are many hamster in rescue centers that just wait for you to take them home. Try to make difference by giving a home to a hamster that has been through a lot. Animal shelters are the best place to start searching for a hamster. They have a small adoption fee of $7-$10.

Cons:
hammySometimes they are unable to tell the age of the hamster so you might end up with an old hamster.

Where:
* PetWebsite.com
* PetFinder.com
* PetClassifieds.us
* MetroPets.org
* TheJessicaWells.com
* HamsterRescue.org.uk
* PreLoved.co.uk
* many other associations, websites, depending on your location .

HOW TO BUY A HEALTHY HAMSTER

Don’t rush into the first pet store you see and buy the cutest hamster they have! You might end with a sick hamster or with a pregnant female. The hamster’s health should be very important to you. Remember: if you take good care of your hamster, he can be your pet for 1.5-2 years and even more, so why not pay more attention to this detail?

healthy hamster
© Jannes Pockele

Here is a list that will guide you in your acquiring of a healthy and tamed hamster. 

Things you want:

* eyes: clean, lively and bright
* nose:
dry and clean
* ears
: clean, soft and straight ears
* teeth:
well chiseled, aligned, not overgrown incisors
* anal region:
clean and dry
* coat:
fluffy, shinny, smooth looking and clean
* breathing:
quiet
* body:
round (barrel) shaped
* feet:
clean
* condition:
neither skinny or fat
* behavior:
lively, alert, curious, active, friendly, tamed
* walk:
easily, effort free
* odor:
odor free

Things you want to avoid

* eyes: damp, swollen, sticky fur or bald patched near the eyes  
* nose: damp, with sticky fur around it or bald skin near it
* ears: dirty, with bold patches , wound/bite, the presence of bumps or lumps

* teeth: overgrown, incomplete, deformed, cavities or abnormal gums
* anal region:
wet and dirty ( a common sign of Wet tail disease)
* coat:
dirty, sticky, uneven, abnormal density with bald patches
* breathing:
fast, including clicking, wheezing, gurgling or any abnormal noises
* body:
presence of bumps/ lumps  (possible cause of a abscess)
* feet:
dirty, presence of bumps/ lumps
* condition:
overweight or undernourished
* behavior:
apathetic, lethargic, unfriendly, untamed, inactive
* walk:
hard, signs of pain, stiffness
* circling: the hamster is running in circles
* odor: unusual
* swollen abdomen
* continuously scratching
(possibly allergy)
* diarrhea

Tips:
*Go hamster shopping in the evening or even at night because hamsters are crepuscular and at that time they quite active. You want to be able to see what temperament the hamster really has, don’t you?
* Ask the pet shop owner or the assistant what age is the hamster you intend to buy. 5-6 weeks is the best age you can buy them because they will be tamed easily.
* Make sure the males and females are separated to avoid buying a pregnant female.
* Look at the other hamsters in the cage. They look healthy and active? If not, it’s possible that your hamster is not healthy and active, too.
* There are some cases of hamster owners that bought sick hamsters and didn’t want to get them back to the pet shop. Instead, they treated their hamsters and thanks to their dedication and love, the hamsters overcome their diseases. But not everyone can do this and not every hamster can be treated. Some illnesses unfortunately have no cure, so be extra careful.

HAMSTER HISTORY

I’m sure you think that they didn’t know too much about hamsters in 1700s but you are wrong.

Scientists discovered what they presume to be the first description of the Golden Hamster dating from the 1797. It was written by two brothers: Alexander and Patrick Russell and it’s title is: ”Natural History of Aleppo”. The one who contributed the most was Alexander, his younger brother having only small notes. But he is not the man you should thank for bringing the hamster to your house. He considered that the hamster was the same specie as the Common European Hamster and so he didn’t continued the studies on him. Only from now on the real hamster history begins so keep on reading.

The young Curator of the London Zoological Society, George Robert Waterhouse  was the one who introduced the hamster as a new species on the 9th April 1839 and named it Syrian Hamster.
Frederick_George_Waterhouse
And guess what? The specimen that he presented was a rather elder female from Aleppo, Syria. The description was published in the in the Society’s proceedings of 1840 : “… This species is less than the Common Hamster (Cricetus Vulgaris) (this named has been change since them to Cricetus Cricetus) and is remarkable for its deep golden yellow colouring. The fur is moderately long and very soft and has a silk-like gloss; the deep yellow colouring extends over the upper parts and sides of the head and body and also over the outer sides of the limbs; on the back the hairs are brownish at the tips hence in this part the fur assumes a deeper hue than on the sides of the body; the sides of the throat and upper pans of the body are white, but faintly tinted with yellow; on the back and sides of the body, all hairs are of a deep grey or lead color at the base. The feet and tail are white. The ears are of moderate size, furnished externally with whitish hairs. The mustaches consist of black and white hairs intermixed…”
hamster history
The female that George Robert Waterhouse  described is still at the Natural History Museum in London. It’s true that she isn’t to nice to look at but if you are interested you might make her a short visit. If I will tell you her name maybe you will find her easier: Item BM(NH) 1855.12.24.120(what a bad name for an old pioneer ladysmiley.
Some records show that James Skeene brought some hamsters from Syria to the UK. He was the British Consul to Syria and after he retired he went to Britain some hamsters as a rewardJ. Sadly, he didn’t registered any facts about the little rodents. It seems that they have breed in the UK until 1910, when we lost track of them.
The word gets a break from hamsters until the late 1920s. It seems that Saul Alder, a parasitologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem conducted a study on leishmaniasis disease, for which the Chinese hamster was an excellent animal model(I hope they weren’t to bad treated, I am totally against animal testing ). He had some troubled in breeding them and because he didn’t wanted to depend on the shipments he received from China he searched for a hamster specie that is native to the Middle west.

Chinese_Hamster

He knew about the Syrian Hamster from what Waterhouse’s studies, but someone proposed to him to use the Grey or Migratory Hamster (Cricetulus Migratorius) which was and still is quite widespread in Asia Minor. The funny thing is the fact that(and you will discover that soon) thanks to the fact that the Chinese Hamster wasn’t in the mood for sex we now have hamsters in our homes.

And so the hamster history continues.

Alder asked a colleague from the Zoology Department to help him get some endemic species. The colleague was Israel Aharoni, the first Jew zoologist. At that time Jerusalem was under the rule of the Turks. Aharoni, a Jew in the Moslem world had a trick though. He helped the sultan in increasing his butterflies collection and so he was able to travel freely under the protection of the local Turkish Sultan. He collected just about every animal he came across in his trips and sent them to Berlin.

In one of his trip he found, after hours of hard work and digging, they discovered from the depth of eight feet a complete nest, nicely populated by a female and her eleven young. He kept all them in a wooden box and left them alone for a short period of time. Later, when he looked in the box he was terrified of what happened: the female started to eat her puppies. A man that was with him quickly took her out and killed her(sadly, they didn’t know to much about hamster and the fact that they shall not be put together in the same box- especially Syrian Hamsters). Aharoni and his wife became foster parents for the little ones till one day they escaped. Aharoni found only nine of the ten pups and given them to Hein Ben-Menachem, the founder and head of the Hebrew University Animal Facilities on Mt. Scopus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ben-Menachem put the hamsters in a cage with a wooden floor. And…surprise. Five of them escaped by chewing their way out and sadly died.

Israel Aharoni, the Jew zoologist we talked about earlier was quite skeptical that the remaining hamster would breed. Luckily that Hein Ben-Menachem had other ideas. He filled a large wire mesh cage with tightly packed hay, leaving only 5 cm brightly illuminated space on the top. Into this space he placed his female. Seeking darkness, the female began to burrow into the hay. A day or so later the male was placed into the cage. It proceeded to chase the female and finally caught up with her.

By then both were tired and the male was presumably quite aroused. Their position in the burrow was more favorable to mating than to slaughter, and they mated. The first hamster colony was prolific and numbered 150 within the first year, although again various authorities have different figures: including strangely 365 for the first year.
Anyway, the first laboratory-bred hamsters were given to Alder who published a report on the first research using Syrian Hamsters a short time later. Realising the fragility of a single colony, Alder distributed stock to various other laboratories in order to breed them.

Prepare to laugh: the Syrian Hamsters arrived in England in 1931 and were literally smuggled into the country in Alder’s coat pockets. Why? I don’t have the smallest idea. He given the hamsters to E. Hindle of the Zoological Society of London.

There is general agreement that hamsters were first imported into the USA in the summer of 1938, although the exact nature of the importation is confused as is the importation of stock to mainland Europe.

Next, there are records of another wild Syrian Hamster capturing in Aleppo: in May and June 1971, American Michael R Murphy obtained thirteen animals at Aleppo. Twelve of them (four males and eight females) were taken back to the USA. According to Murphy, after only three days of handling, the wild hamsters were tamed. They mated successfully and had an average of 11 pups.

In 1978 another American, Bill Ducan of SW Medical School Dallas, Texas made a third capture in the same area and returned to the USA with two females. Unfortunately, there aren’t any records about them.

The final part of our hamster history takes us in 1980, when a Rodent Control Officer, while working at the Field Center for the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, captured two hamsters both of which had unfortunately died soon after. In November 1982 the same officer captured, at the same site, another pair of hamsters: sadly the male died within a short period, and although the female reached quarantine in England safely, no one tried to breed her. With the help of the Zoological Society of London, and Clinton Keeling, she arrived at Chris Henwood home in June 1983. In the BHA’s first magazine that appeared in the Spring of 1992, Chris Henwood wrote an article in which he reveals the hamster history and continues with the story of the hamster he had. He says:” She was an extremely tame individual who was up and about at all times of the day.Sadly, although every attempt was made to breed from her, all failed – I assume due to her age; she eventually died in January 1985 at a ripe old age. Since then, as far as I can ascertain, no further attempt has been made to capture individuals from the wild although it is rumored that the Tel Aviv Zoological Gardens has wild caught stock and that the species does occur in Israel proper”.

This was the very long hamster history and it’s ends like this: they lived happily ever after, having many many hamsters.