If you’re considering getting a hamster as a pet, an important factor to research is how much it will cost. Hamsters may seem inexpensive at first, but their overall care and supplies can add up over time.
This article will break down the expected costs of owning a hamster so you can budget and prepare properly. Understanding the commitment is key before bringing one of these cute critters home.
How Much Does a Hamster Cost?
The first expense for a new hamster owner is purchasing the hamster itself. The cost can range quite a bit based on the specific breed, age, and where you get it from.
On average, a hamster purchased from a pet store will cost between $5-$20. The dwarf hamster breeds, like Roborovskis, tend to be on the lower end around $5-10. Larger breeds like Syrians are usually $10-20. Purchasing from a breeder can be more expensive, ranging from $30-$50 depending on the breed.
Adopting a hamster from an animal shelter or rescue is often the most cost-effective option, with adoption fees typically less than $20. This gives an abandoned hamster a second chance while saving you money. Just be sure to factor in potential medical costs if adopting an adult hamster.
Here are some prices reported by different websites:
At the time this article is written, PetSmart sells hamsters for:
- Short-Haired Hamster: $22.99
- Winter White Hamster: $22.99
- Roborovski Dwarf Hamster: Discounted Price $16.09, Old Price $22.99
- Chinese Dwarf Hamster: Discounted Price $16.09, Old Price $22.99
- Russian Dwarf Hamster: Discounted Price $16.09, Old Price $22.99
- Fancy Bear Hamster: Discounted Price $17.49, Old Price $24.99
Kiplinger notes that Syrian hamsters typically cost between $5 to $20, while rarer breeds like Roborovski hamsters may be slightly more expensive, ranging from $10 to $30.
According to Omlet, in general, a new pet hamster will cost between five to fifteen dollars in a shop, and a bit more if you’re buying an unusual variety.
Buying the Proper Hamster Habitat
An appropriate hamster cage or habitat is one of the major startup costs for hamster owners. Most experts recommend getting the largest enclosure possible for your hamster to give it adequate space to run and play.
For dwarf hamsters, aim for a habitat of at least 450 square inches of floor space. Syrian hamsters, being larger, need a minimum of 600 square inches. Multiple-level cages help maximize space and stimulation. Expect to spend $30-$150 on a suitable hamster habitat, depending on size and features.
You’ll also need to buy substrates like bedding and nesting material. Aspen wood shavings, paper bedding, or recycled paper materials are good options. A 2-3 inch layer of bedding across the cage floor provides burrowing and absorbing waste. This can cost $10-$30 to start.
Other initial purchases include a water bottle, food dish, hideaway or nest box, a hamster wheel, and chew toys for enrichment. So factor in another $20 or so to get all the habitat accessories your hamster will need.
The Ongoing Costs of Hamster Food and Bedding
Food and bedding for your hamster will be regular expenses. A typical hamster eats about 2 teaspoons of food per day, so a small bag of hamster food lasts 1-2 months usually. Expect to spend $3-$8 on average for a month’s supply.
Since soiled bedding needs to be completely replaced weekly, plan to spend $5-$15 per month on new bedding. Opt for bulk or bundle deals to help minimize these recurring costs.
You’ll also need to periodically replenish chew toys, hideaways, and other accessories over time. Budget a few dollars monthly for replacing worn items.
Routine Vet Care is Essential
One of the most important ongoing costs for a hamster is regular veterinary checkups and care. Annual exams allow the vet to screen for issues early before they become serious illnesses. Expect to spend $50-$100 per year for the basic exam.
Hamsters also need routine dental care like trims to keep their teeth healthy. Annual dental cleanings average $150-$250. Get pet insurance to help cover these standard veterinarian costs.
Finally, you need to be prepared for potential emergency vet visits for serious injuries or illnesses. These appointments can range from $100-$300 depending on the tests, treatment, or procedures needed. A pet emergency fund helps cover these unplanned costs.
Extra Enrichment: Toys, Treats, and More
While food, bedding, and vet care represent fixed costs, you can also splurge on discretionary items to enrich your hamster’s life.
Fun toys like tunnels, chews, and digging boxes provide important stimulation. Budget $5-$10 monthly for adding new toys to keep their environment exciting. You can also build DIY toys on the cheap using toilet paper tubes and other household items.
Tasty treats are another way to bond with and spoil your small pet. Seeds, dried veggies, or fruit offer variety from their regular diet. Stick to a $5 monthly treat budget for a healthy balance.
Consider accessories like exercise balls and play pens to give your hamster safe supervised playtime outside its main habitat. These extras typically range from $10-$30 each.
Tips for Affordable Hamster Care
Here are some tips for keeping your overall hamster costs low without compromising proper care:
- Adopt rather than buy a hamster to save on the purchase price
- Select a large, multi-level habitat to maximize space
- Use paper-based bedding rather than wood shavings
- Buy food and bedding in bulk quantities when possible
- Make DIY hamster toys from household items
- Invest in pet insurance to offset medical costs
- Build an emergency vet fund for unplanned expenses
- Stick to a monthly budget for treats and toy purchases
- Take advantage of store sales, coupons, and product deals
The Total Cost of Hamster Ownership
Given these different costs, expect to spend approximately $300-$800 in the first year for a hamster’s supplies and veterinary care. Then budget $150-$350 per year after that for ongoing costs. Actual expenses vary based on your particular hamster’s needs.
Hamsters require dedicated time, effort, and yes – money. But they can make for one of the most rewarding and lovable pocket pets with proper care and commitment! Do your homework on the costs involved before making this fun furry friend part of your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I have 1 or 2 hamsters?
Most experts recommend keeping hamsters singly housed, even if they are dwarf breeds that can be socialized. Two hamsters may fight or compete for resources, causing injury and stress.
The extra space, supplies, and vet care also double the costs for a second hamster. Stick to just one to better pamper your pet!
Which hamster breed is the cheapest?
Dwarf hamster breeds like Roborovskis tend to have lower upfront purchase prices around $5-10 at pet stores. Their small size also means they need less living space and lower amounts of food, so their ongoing costs may be a bit cheaper than larger Syrian hamsters.
Adoption fees for any breed are usually very affordable too.
Is it hard to take care of a hamster?
Hamsters are a bit more hands-off than other pets, making them a good option for first-time owners. Their care is relatively simple if you have the proper habitat setup, give them lots of toys, spot clean regularly, and feed them a balanced diet.
Make sure to budget for vet exams though, as health issues can pop up. Overall hamsters are an easy pet if you are prepared for the commitment.