Rodents may not exactly have the most positive impression among humans, but there are always those who want them as pets. While rats are (almost) always considered a vermin in a conventional domestic environment, their hamster cousins have a much friendly coexistence with the most dominant animal species on earth. In the United States, hamsters account for only 1% of the entire pet owner population while over 98,420 of its kind were used as a live experiment in research labs as of 2015. Technically, they qualify as an exotic pet creature.
According to Caring Pets, certain states in the country are not allowed to buy and sell hamsters as pets. In fact, they were officially off-limits to people living in Hawaii and California. With a natural lifespan of 1.5 to 3 years, not many would perhaps bother with investing too much endearment on short-lived creatures.
Fortunately, due to their very diminutive size, some households would choose a hamster due to its relatively low financial upkeep. After all, tiny pets do not take too much of space and utility resources like food, water, and energy. Anyone who wishes to enjoy the luxury of overlooking expenses, there is a good reason for choosing a hamster as a pet.
Complete Overall Cost
So how much does a hamster cost? When it comes to overall pricing, hamster prices just account for one aspect of the expenses. Another component of the overall cost is the material needs that keep this fragile domestic rodent alive.
Hence, when accounting for both the average retail price of a hamster in pet stores along with its ‘basic life support,’ pet owners are looking at a total cost of approximately $109 to $222. However, it is possible to reduce the overall cost by skipping some of the items in the list of the cost breakdown either during the initial purchase or at all.
As mentioned earlier, the average cost of a hamster only accounts for less than half of the entire expenses. Here is the entire itinerary and its corresponding projected cost as presented by All Pet Magazine:
- Adult hamster breed: $5 to $30
- Housing: $30 to $50
- Exercise wheel: $10
- Bedding & nesting: $3 to $30
- Feeding equipment: $3
- Water bottle: $5 to $12
- Grooming equipment: $7
- Hamster toys: $15 or more
- Hamster food: $5 per 5-pound pack
- Medical services: $50
About Food & Drink
When it comes to feeding hamsters, a single 5 pounds of pellets can last a month or so – especially considering the fact that hamsters tend to savor every morsel ‘slowly’ inside their cheeks. Diversifying the hamster’s diet may possibly decrease the consumption rate of its monthly food supply. Putting tiny pieces of fruits or vegetable in its food bowl is a viable alternative for artificial treats sold in pet stores.
According to Animals Mom, a hamster can consume a total volume of 2 teaspoons of water per day. With that fact in mind, it is always important for pet owners to choose a chew-proof water bottle to keep the volume under control.
Like all mammals, exercise is a crucial part of a hamster’s lifestyle. In fact, keeping them actively occupied prevents them from being disruptive. As mentioned earlier, exercise wheels and toys can give them something to work off their excess energy and keep them from ‘going crazy.’
While some pet owners would spend at least $25 to give their hamsters a hobby, Wiki How has demonstrated a number of home-made DIY hamster toys one can make from scratch. These handcrafted cage accessories include popsicle-made ladders, cardboard tunnels and an eclectic obstacle course comprised of the pieces from a baby puzzle box.
About Shelter & Bedding
Considering the average cost of a hamster open-air cage, the type of material plays an important factor for homeowners in terms of choosing their beloved rodents’ home. The following types of hamster homes mentioned by Pet Care Education include the following:
- Wireframe: standard chew-proof shelter
- Plastic aquarium: visually aesthetic draft-control shelter
- Plastic tube: solid weatherproof recreational shelter
As for the bedding, it is important to take note that these surfaces require replacement of at least 70% of the entire interior area once a month. Replacing all of the bedding may cause anxiety due to the unfamiliarity of the surface cover. As for the choice of material recommended for homeowners, Caring Pets feature the following options:
- Wood shavings
- Wood/paper pellets
- Shredded paper
- Hay or grass
About Grooming & Health Care
Grooming is not a basic necessity for short-haired hamsters. However, long-haired hamsters require extra help from their owners in terms of combing their fur. While hamsters rarely suffer the consequences of poor hygiene, they are not immune to diseases.
So how much does a hamster cost if they get infected? The price for treatment and vet consultation do not necessarily exceed the estimated cost breakdown. If there is one clear advantage of owning small mammals like hamsters, it is the relatively cheap price of their out-of-pocket health care.
5 Types of Pet Hamsters
What often determines the differences of hamster prices is the type of breed a pet owner would choose. These are the following types of popular hamster pets featured by Pet Hamster Care:
Syrian: $5 to $20
These types of long-haired rodents are also called ‘Teddy Bear hamsters’ due to their similar fur color. They span a total length of around 6 to 7 inches, with an average lifespan of 2.5 years.
Campbell’s: $4 to $13
More popularly known as ‘Dwarf hamsters,’ their growth rarely exceeds beyond 3 inches in length. Although they tend to live no more than 1.5 years, they can coexist well with others in one cage.
Robvorski: $13 to $30
Fun, energetic, and vigorous seem to be the right adjectives to describe this type of hamster. Growing at an average length of 4 inches, these hamsters tend to have the longest lifespan (3.5 years the most).
Winter White: Around $15
Also known as the ‘Siberian hamster,’ they are widely acknowledged for their exotic appearance. These hamsters grow at an average length of 4 inches. However, they inherited the same genes of their dwarf cousins – giving them a short 1.5 years of lifespan.
Chinese: Around $16
One of the unique features of the gentle Chinese hamster is that most of them have rat-like tails. They grow at an average length of 4 to 5 inches, with a lifespan of up to 3 years.