Hamsters are small rodents that make great pets for those who can care for them. Whether you are looking to get a hamster for yourself or for your child, the financial aspect of hamster care should be considered. This article will provide you with a breakdown of the average costs of hamsters and their supplies, along with the initial and ongoing costs you should expect.
How Much Does a Hamster Cost?
|$5 to $40
|Russian dwarf hamster:
|$5 to $35
|Campbell’s dwarf hamster:
|$5 to $35
|$8 to $40
|$10 to $55
These cute pocket pets are relatively inexpensive. The price can vary depending on where you purchase the hamster from and which species they are. However, the average cost of a hamster is between $5 to $60.
Since the most widely available pet hamsters are Syrians and dwarf hamsters, they will be cheaper in price than uncommon species like the Roborovski and Chinese hamsters.
When purchasing a hamster, you will typically have around five places you can get them from. Each place will sell a hamster for a different price, although hamsters are normally lower in price than many other small pets.
From Pet Stores
Expected cost: $5 to $20
When most people want to purchase a hamster, their first thought is usually to get one from a pet store. As a common small pet, most small to large pet stores will sell hamsters. However, some pet stores might not sell the healthiest or highest-quality hamsters. There is also a question of ethics as to whether it’s good to support the mass breeding of hamsters supplied to pet stores. Regardless, pet stores are quite a common place to purchase hamsters from.
Big chain pets store generally don’t sell hamsters for more than a couple of dollars. Whereas a small and family-owned pet store might price their hamsters higher. This is usually due to the quality and breeding habits of the companies that supply the hamsters to the store. Big chain pet stores usually order hamsters in bulk from breeders where hamsters are mass-produced. Whereas a small family-owned pet store might get their hamsters from independent breeders.
Pet stores may also have sales or reduced prices on their hamsters, which can save you money.
Expected cost: $15 to $60
Although there aren’t many reputable hamster breeders, if you are lucky enough to come across one, you may end up with a healthier and overall better-quality hamster. This is because ethical hamster breeders take pride in producing healthy hamsters with good genetic history. However, this usually means that there is a waiting list, and it can take a few weeks to months before you get your hamster. Since the hamsters will be healthier and well-bred, you might pay more for the hamster.
If you do choose to get your hamster from a breeder, be wary of backyard breeders. Backyard hamster breeds are pretty common, and their hamsters are typically bred to quantity rather than quality. Be sure that the hamster breeder you choose follows the appropriate code of ethics when breeding and raising their hamsters.
Don’t be afraid to ask your hamster breeder of choice all the questions you have about their breeding practices and the health of their hamsters.
Adopting a Hamster
Expected cost: $5 to $50
If you love giving animals a second chance at finding a happy home, then adopting a hamster can be a good choice. While not many rescue centers have a lot of hamsters up for adoption, there are a couple that do. The smaller non-profit rescue organizations may also have hamsters for adoption.
When adopting a hamster, you are only expected to pay the adoption fee. This fee can vary depending on what your area’s rescue organizations charge for small pets. Fortunately, hamsters typically don’t have a pricey adoption fee in comparison to other pets like dogs, cats, or rabbits. The rescue organization may want to do a background check first to determine how well you will be caring for your hamsters.
Tip: Certain pet stores may have a backroom where hamsters that are either ill or have defects that don’t allow them to be sold on the floor could be up for adoption. Check with their staff if this is an option for you.
From Rehoming or Selling Sites
Expected cost: $15 to $50
There are many different secondhand or pet rehoming sites. If you don’t want to purchase your hamster from a pet store or breeder, and there are no hamsters up for adoption in your area, a rehoming site may have some. In many cases, you might be able to get some history of the hamster’s temperament and overall health from the previous owner. Unless the hamster is sold with a cage and accessories, the hamster itself usually isn’t more than a few dollars.
From Family or Friends
Expected cost: Free
Some friends and family may be willing to give you their hamster if they can no longer care for it. While it can be free, you might need to pay for any cage, food, or accessories that are included with the hamster.
The Cost Of Hamster Supplies and Cages
While the cost of the hamster itself might be inexpensive, their supplies usually aren’t. If you want to provide the appropriate care for your hamster, you might need to spend a bit more money than you first expected. A lot of places do not sell the proper cages and accessories for hamsters. So, you might need to order from online retailers that stock proper hamster supplies or DIY them yourself.
Below is an in-depth guide on the expected costs of hamster supplies and cages.
|$30 to $350
|$1 to $6
|$3 to $8
|$10 to $55
|$8 to $60
|$10 to $40
|Non-toxic cleaning supplies:
|$3 to $20
|$2 to $10
|$8 to $45
Expected cost: $30 to $350
A cage for your hamster is going to be the biggest initial cost. Hamster cages can either be inexpensive or expensive depending on what you are willing to spend. For larger hamsters like Syrians and Chinese, they will need a cage with a minimum of 900 square inches. Smaller hamsters like Roborovski and dwarf hamsters need a minimum of 700 square inches of floor space.
Unlike pets like rats and mice, hamsters do not need to or enjoy climbing. This makes it important to ensure that the cage you choose for your hamster has continuous floor space and not levels or tunnels. Due to these requirements, the majority of pet store cages are way too small for hamsters. Instead, you will need to either purchase a suitably sized cage online or DIY a cage yourself.
When choosing a cage for your hamster, you have several options:
- Having the cage custom-made.
- Creating a bin cage from large storage tubs.
- Repurposing a guinea pig or rabbit cage.
- Purchasing suitably sized hamster cages online.
Furthermore, pet store cages are often overpriced for what they have to offer. You are better off spending money on a spacious and suitable cage for your hamster from the start rather than having to upgrade its cage in the future. You shouldn’t expect to spend more than $350 on a proper hamster cage. DIYing a bin cage for a hamster is usually the most inexpensive option, allowing you to save money on this initial cost.
Tip: Check your local buy and sell sites for any suitably sized hamster cages for sale. You could potentially find a great cage for a fraction of the price it would cost new.
Food and Water Bowl
Expected cost: $4 to $14
Like the cage, a hamster’s food and water bowl are going to be a once-off cost. Most hamster food and water bowls are inexpensive, and if you buy quality ones from the start, you won’t need to spend money replacing them in the future.
A small glass water bottle for small pets will be suitable for hamsters. They are long-lasting, durable, and easy to clean in comparison to plastic bottles. The glass sides and metal spout can also withstand chewing, so you are unlikely to spend much money replacing them. When choosing a bowl for your hamster, ceramic ones are a good choice. They are usually heavy enough to not be tipped over and they are resistant to chewing and damage.
Expected cost: $10 to $55
A good quality hamster substrate is going to be an ongoing cost. You want to ensure that the substrate you are choosing for your hamster is not only safe but affordable in the long run.
Avoid substrates such as:
- Softwood shavings like cedar and pine (even kiln-dried).
- Cat litter
- Scented substrate
- Cotton fluff nesting material
- Wood chips
These are commonly sold and labeled as safe, but they can have toxic properties and be deadly to hamsters. Another reason many hamster owners choose to purchase them is that pet stores sell them for a cheap price. However, you can still find safe substrates for your hamster that can fit your budget.
You want a substrate that is not only absorbent and good at controlling odors but also one that is non-toxic. Safe hamster substrates include unscented paper beddings, coco peat, dust-extracted aspen shavings, hemp, and wood or paper-based pellets. These substrates are going to cost around $10 to $55.
Since hamsters are natural burrowers, you will need to create a deep layer of substrate in the cage for them to burrow in. This means you might need to buy substrate in bulk or find affordable options that allow you to do this.
Accessories and Enrichment
Expected cost: $10 to $60
Hamsters benefit from enrichment toys and activities while they are active at night. They are also excellent chewers and need to chew different materials to keep their teeth in good condition.
Instead of toys and accessories like small plastic tunnels, ladders, and hamster balls, your hamster will benefit from safe wooden chew toys, foraging material, deep substrates, and underground mazes or tunnels to explore. Most hamster chew toys and accessories aren’t over-priced and can either be an initial or ongoing cost.
Be sure that the toys you purchase for your hamster are safe and contain no toxic paints or sharp points. Depending on how large the cage is and the type of accessories and toys you purchase for your hamster, it shouldn’t cost more than $60 in total.
Of course, the larger and higher quality the hamster products are, the more money you will spend on them. Also, your hamster’s chew toys will also need to be replaced once they are no longer usable.
Expected cost: $8 to $45
Unless otherwise specified by your hamster’s veterinarian, all hamsters require a safe and suitably sized wheel. This article goes into detail on the best hamster wheels you can purchase, along with ones that are budget-friendly.
To sum it up for you, hamsters should have wheels that are suitable for their size and don’t allow their backs to bend. The wheel should also have a flat surface and not be meshed or barred. When provided with the right wheel, most hamsters will run for hours during the night. There are so many options on hamster wheels you can buy that vary in price from silent wheels to ones with running shiels and an assortment of colors.
A quality hamster wheel might cost a bit, but it is a great product to invest in for your hamster. If you buy a suitable and quality wheel from the start, you won’t have to spend unnecessary money on changing the wheel later.
Expected cost: $3 to $20
Most household cleaning products can be harsh and potentially dangerous for hamsters due to the ingredients. Instead, you should be cleaning your hamster’s cage with a non-toxic and pet-safe solution. You can either purchase one or create one yourself. A homemade and inexpensive cleaning solution of white spirit vinegar and water can be used to clean a hamster’s cage.
How Much Does Hamster Food Cost?
One of the most important ongoing costs you will spend on your hamster is their food. You can expect to pay around $10 to $30 for quality hamster food. Avoid the cheap and lower quality hamster foods, since they are often filled with fillers and dyes, and don’t offer hamsters much nutrition.
Many hamster owners prefer to make their hamster food themselves. This can be done by mixing two or more quality hamster foods together to add variety and boost the nutritional content. Plus, these hamster food mixes can be stored in tubs and last much longer. This saves you from constantly having to purchase hamster foods every month since you will have a mixture of hamster foods that can last you until the expiration date.
In Conclusion – Are Hamsters Expensive Pets?
Hamsters are relatively inexpensive pets to care for. Most of the initial costs will be high, but after that, the ongoing costs are low. Of course, you should always set money aside for your hamster in case they need to be taken to a veterinarian. Overall, you can expect to pay around $400 annually for a hamster.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © polya_olya/Shutterstock.com
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