Many people pick a hamster as the first pet for their children, to teach them about the responsibilities that come with taking care of life. Hamsters are also great for people that aren’t ready for bigger companions or lack the time needed to own a more demanding pet.
So how much should you be willing to spend for your pet hamster to make sure it has a wonderful life around you? When you plan to bring home a hamster, this is how much you will pay, as an initial cost for the pet itself and throughout its life.
If you want to buy an adult Syrian hamster of around 6-inches long that comes in multiple colors, be prepared to pay $5-$20. If you buy multiple hamsters of this type, you should know that they are very territorial and they should either have each their own cage, or each their individual space in a partitioned cage. They have a life expectancy of 2 to 3 years.
Adult Dwarf hamsters are smaller, will only reach 2-3 inches long, and cost just $4 to $13. They like living in pairs and are usually sold in pairs. They only live 1 to 2 years.
You can also get a Robvorski Hamster, that is smaller even than dwarfs at 1-2 inches and will cost $13-$30. If you get this type of hamster, don’t let it out of its cage, because these hamsters are very fast and difficult to catch. Inside a cage their temperament is easygoing.
The initial price of the hamster is only a small part of the full costs of owning it, so let’s break the other expenses into categories:
Upfront Costs For Your Hamster’s Environment
To have a happy life, hamsters need to be in an environment that offers them safety but also challenges their bodies and minds. You should get a hamster cage, toys, an exercise wheel, bedding, food, and a food bowl before you buy the actual hamster.
Any pet shop worker or veterinarian will tell you that you should budget at least $200-$250 as an initial investment, to get everything your hamster needs. This will cover the costs of chew sticks and toys, nesting material, a chew-proof hamster cage, a food bowl with food, a water bottle, and bedding. If you want to reduce expenses, you can use unscented, undyed toilet paper for nesting material and paper rolls and unpainted woodblocks cut in smaller pieces as play items.
Ongoing Costs Associated with Feeding Your Hamster
As soon as you finish setting up the environment for your hamster, the next logical step is to provide it with food on a regular basis. Like for most small pets, a happy hamster is one with a diversified diet.
As most people already know, hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat almost everything, from fruits, nuts to seeds. If you have a hamster as your pet and you don’t want to give it fruits or seeds, you can buy pelleted foods, available in most pet shops. In fact, it’s a lot better to feed your hamster with pelleted foods, because they are balanced and give your pet exactly the nutrients it needs. With seed-based diets, your hamster might pick out only what it likes and will ignore important nutrients. They can’t do that with pelleted food.
You shouldn’t spend more than $5 – $10 for a bag of pelleted foots, and it should last one month to six weeks, depending on how many hamsters you have. If you want to offer your hamsters a treat from time to time, you should know that they really enjoy fresh foods, like carrots, walnuts, broccoli, or raisins.
Keeping Your Hamster Healthy and Costs Involved
As you’d probably expect, even a small pet like the hamster needs to be seen by a doctor from time to time. You should find a good veterinarian as soon as you’re sure you want to own a hamster. The doctor should specialize in exotic and small animals, including or especially hamsters. The cost of an examination will vary, depending on multiple factors, like where you live, the purpose of your visit, and medication that is prescribed. It’s usually a good idea to book a veterinarian consultation right after you buy your hamster, to know exactly where you stand. After the first consultation, yearly visits to the doctor should follow.
Veterinarians usually suggest an initial exam within a week after the purchase, and then yearly, to prevent common diseases that could put your pet, you, or your family in danger. Along with common health concerns like respiratory diseases, teeth problems, or even diarrheal infections, that could have a strong impact on your pet’s life, your hamster could also carry something that can be transmitted to humans. Most of these conditions can easily be avoided with periodical veterinary visits.
In addition to routine check-ups, be prepared to take your hamster to the vet as many times necessary to make sure you keep it healthy. One of the most common medical problems involves teeth issues. Their teeth keep growing constantly and will need to be trimmed down by a specialist.
Should the average working Joe get a hamster?
You shouldn’t get a hamster based just on the fact that they are small, thus they must be cheap to own. Although they may be small, a hamster can add a variety of expenses to a new home, so before you decide to add a hamster to your family, make sure you are prepared to add their routine care to your household budget.