Hamsters are mammals that belong to the rodent family having large incisor teeth that are continually growing necessitating gnawing to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. The word ‘rodent’ is derived from the latin word ‘rodere’ which means ‘to gnaw’.
Hamsters form the Family Cricetidae which is broken down into different Genera (including Cricetulus, Phodopus and Calomyscus). Within each Genera are various species of hamster. There are many different species of hamsters throughout the world and most hamsters inhabit semi-desert areas where they live in burrows. These burrows consist of many tunnels and separate chambers including chambers where the hamster will store food and sleep. Hamsters are nocturnal, sleeping during the hot days and waking in the cooler evenings. They have very poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing.
Most species of hamsters have expandable cheek pouches in which they can carry food and bedding back to their burrow where they will store food. The word ‘hamster’ comes from the German word ‘hamstern’ which means ‘to hoard’.
Only a few hamster species are widely kept as pets but the hamster is the most popular of the smaller rodents kept as a pet in many countries today.
The advantages of buying from a private or hobbyist breeder is that breeding has usually been carefully planned and thought through with regard to producing robust, healthy hamsters of good temperament. Many breeders will also offer some form of guarantee contracting to take the hamster back if not suitable. Unfortunately the same cannot always be said for hamsters sold in pet shops or those that have come from commercial breeding farms where hamsters are bred in mass numbers for the pet market.
Many breeders also show their hamsters and so breed towards producing a good healthy show hamster with a view to keeping one or two themselves so quality and temperament is of vital importance when planning the breeding.
Although breeders of show hamsters specialise in breeding show hamsters, there are also owners who have bred their pet hamsters. These may be the result of a planned or unplanned pregnancy but the hamsters have usually been well cared for and handled regularly and so make very suitable pets.
Buying a hamster direct from the breeders means that there is the opportunity to see the parents and know the date of birth of the hamster(s) that it is intended to purchase.
Buying a Hamster from a Rescue Home
Another option when seeking a hamster as a pet is to obtain a hamster from a rescue home. Many hamsters, both young and older hamsters, unfortunately become abandoned or homeless through no fault of their own every year.
Rescue homes usually assess the hamster’s health on arrival and often carry out treatment if needed before offering for rehoming.
Unfortunately obtaining a hamster from a Rescue homes means the hamster’s background or exact age are often not know.
Depending on the rescue organisation they may require the completion of a series of forms, interviews or even a home visit to assess suitability as a potential hamster owner. Their primary concern is to ensure the correct placement of the hamsters in their care with a suitable new owner.
Russian HamsterBuying a Hamster from a Pet Shop
Most often these hamsters have come from commercial hamster farms, but some pet shops will also take surplus babies from breeders or litters from pet owners with unplanned pregnancies. There is therefore some risk as to whether these hamsters will be of good temperament or health as the parents cannot be seen and often little or no information can be given about their background or breeding.
It is no fun buying a unhealthy, weakly hamster(s) and then dealing with the problems this presents afterwards – it can cause a lot of heartache so it is essential to find a good healthy hamster(s). Should any pet shop or the health of the hamsters for sale cause concern they can be reported to an Animal Welfare organisation or local authority if the conditions warrant it.
As with any pet, keeping a hamster requires a commitment to care for it during its life which could be 2-3 years or longer. The commitment required includes not only routine feeding, care and time spent with the hamster but also the provision of veterinary treatment if the hamster becomes ill which can be costly. Although proper care will go a long way to ensuring that any hamster remains happy and healthy there may still be times when prompt veterinary treatment is needed and once a hamster is ill it can deteriorate quickly.
Pages: 1 2