*Keep in mind: any person under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult to purchase a live animal!
Where Do I Find A Hamster? Well they don't grow on trees! Hamsters can be bought from numerous places, including pet stores, feed stores, breeders, and friends who's hamster has had a littler. When adopting a hamster from anywhere keep in mind that the more well known the store or breeder is, the better chance you have of getting a healthier hamster. Also look at the hamster's living conditions. You wouldn't want a hamster that was sick from being in a filthy habitat! Also, it is best to go in the evenings, as hamsters are more likely to be awake. Most stores have a return policy on their animals, so if you end up with a sick one that dies of needs vet care, they will either give you a new one or cover the bills.
What Makes For A Healthy Ham? When choosing your new friend, there are some key signs you should be looking for.
-Is it at least 4-8 weeks old?
-Are they alert?
-Is their fur clean?
-Is their rump free of droppings
-Are their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears clear of mucus?
If you answered no to any of these questions, the hamster your looking at may be too young, sick and/or unhealthy. And remember, if one hamster in the cage appears sick, there could be something wrong with all of it's cage mates. Healthy hamsters are alerts and will run around the cage and squirm when held. Their fur should be nicely groomed and they should not have any bald patches. Their eyes, and nose should be clear and not runny. Their mouth and ears should be clean as well. If it meets all of these standards then it should check out!
Do I Get A Male Or A Female? That, my friend, if up to you. Sex doesn't really matter when it comes right down to it. There are all kinds of rumors that males are more aggressive, and males smell worse, or females bite more, and females are easier to tame, but the are all just that. Rumors. Hamsters all have different personalities just like people, so before deciding which sex you'd prefer you should observe each.
So Many Colors! Yes, yes, hamsters come in all colors, but as I stated with the sex of the hamster, colors and patterns mean nothing! True beauty in on the inside so take your time choosing your ham ham! Don't just choose the cutest one. Besides, for all you know that cute one your looking at could be really mean! So please choose wisely when adopting and don't go by looks.
What Species Is Best For Me and how many do I get? This is a question only you can answer! There are five species of hamster widely kept as pets. Keep in mind, the below listed and their behaviors are common to the species, but are not exact! For example, while Robos are usually hard to tame due to their fast nature and tiny size, there are some cases in which Robos tame very easily. Another example would be that it's often said that Winter Whites get along well with other Winter Whites of the same sex, but there are some cases where two Winter White get in a fight and have to be separated. So like I've been saying the whole post, observe the hamsters before you adopt one.
*Keep in mind: If you DO decide to buy a pair of hamsters make sure they are a species that is likely to get along with one another and keep than in same sex pairs. Pairs of the opposite sex will breed and you can quickly become overrun with hamster pups. Also, for every hamster in the habitat you mush have a wheel, house, and possibly food bowl and water bottle for both to live peacefully. You should be prepared for the event in which the hamsters do not get along and keep a second cage on hand for separation purposes.
-Syrian: Great starter pets, due to their calm temperament and large size. Syrians must be housed separately as same sex pairs will fight to the death.
-Djungarian (Winter White): Winter Whites are said to be the most naturally tame hamsters. They are very small, but also make great starters. They can often be housed in same sex pairs.
-Roborovski: Robos are the smallest species of hamster and are very fast. This makes them harder to handle, but they are great to watch. Some Robos can be housed together but are often territorial so do so with caution.
-Cambell's: Cambell's are fairly easy to tame and closely resemble Winter Whites. They can sometimes be kept with other Cambell's but there is still a chance of fighting.
-Dwarf Chinese: Chinese Dwarfs can be quite nervous but grow into loving companions. It is ok to try and house same sex pairs, but there is still a chance of rivalry.
(For more information on each species, visit an earlier post) So now you're thinking: "But Tracy, what about Teddy Bear Hamsters and Fancy Hamsters and Black Bear Hamsters?" There is no such thing! Many pet stores give hamsters these silly names to make them more appealing. "Fancy Hamsters and Black Bear Hamsters are nothing more than regular hamsters that have unique or odd markings so pet stores think they cal sell them for more money. Keep this in mind when choosing.
Once you've chosen your new friend they will most likely be placed in a small cardboard box. You will need to take them straight home and place them in their new cage, which you should set up before you go to adopt your new ham. You should give them at least a day or so to adjust before interacting with them too much. I hope this helps you in your Hamster Hunt! Good luck!