Due to the low maintenance required, hamsters are one of the most popular choices for first-time pet owners. The fluffy cuties are easy to bond with, thanks to their very friendly and calm nature. Besides, they are small enough to fit in your hand and make perfect pets for kids who want to learn about pet care.
You might be considering owning these radical rodents. If this is your first time owning one, the cost is an important consideration. Whether you want a Dwarf, Syrian or a Chinese hamster, the prices are generally similar unless a particular species is not readily available in your area. But what other costs are there?
The main costs associated with owning a hamster
The main costs of owning a hamster are:
- A hamster
- Vet bills & Insurance
In this guide, we’ll run through each of these and highlight any potential savings you can make along the way.
The Cost of a Hamster
The most popular way of buying a hamster is via a pet shop, where you you can expect to pay anywhere between £5 – £20 for a hamster, depending on the breed.
If you are looking for a specific breed of hamster, you may need to buy via a breeder, which could see the price rise to approximately £35. The advantage of buying from a breeder is that you get a wide variety of breeds, markings, and mutations. Also, breeders are likely to be highly knowledgeable about care, so they might also give you specialized advice.
A cheaper route for getting a hamster is to check at your local rescue centres. They are not often available, but when they are, you can normally adopt a hamster for under £5, and will be helping the rescue centre at the same time.
Alternatively, keep your eye out on social media or online marketplaces where some owners are looking to rehome their hamster to a good home. Sometimes you’ll also get a cage and accessories thrown in for free too!
Cost of a Hamster Cage
The cost of a hamster’s cage depends on the material and size. The smallest cage size you should consider for hamsters is 24L x 12W x 12H inches, but ideally you should buy as large a cage as you can afford and comfortably fit in your home.
A large cage costs anywhere in the region of £90 – 115 and you can often find bundles that include wheels and accessories to help you save.
Keep an eye out on online marketplaces and social media as you can often find second hand cages that can be cleaned and reused for only 20-25% of the original cost.
Cost of Hamster Accessories
Your hamster is going to need exercise and stimulation; otherwise, they can become irritable and sometimes chew the cage bars. In the wild, Syrian hamsters are known to run for miles and miles at night. The most common hamster toys include balls, exercise wheels, tube mazes, slides and chew toys.
Exercise wheels help hamsters run around while mazes and slides increase a hamster’s living space by providing areas to explore in the confines of the enclosure. The more tubes you have in the cage, the more space your hammy has, which is crucial to a hamster’s well-being. Don’t forget to provide chew toys to keep the hamster’s teeth in perfect shape. To avoid the teeth growing too long, invest in good chew toys.
You can expect to spend between £40 to £80 for the initial cost when getting a hamster. Expect to pay on average £10 a month on new chews if they are broken or damaged.
Keep in mind that you could also come up with your own DIY hamster toys that will keep costs down – such as cut offs from logs or nibble sticks. Adding an empty toilet roll to the cage can keep a hamster entertained for a couple of hours and won’t cost you anything. Be creative and you’ll be surprised at how much your hamster will enjoy your efforts.
Cost of Food for a Hamster
Most of a hamster’s diet in captivity is high-quality commercial pellets and dry food mixes. These are affordable, but make sure you don’t go for low-grade hamster food. Look for a good quality food to keep the hamster feeling active and avoid extra vet bills. Hamsters are small so eat less, so a bag of pellets could last for months. a hamster’s diet should cost less than £10 a month.
Don’t forget that hamsters also need fresh foods, including veggies and fruits. You can reduce this cost by sharing some of the cut offs or leftovers from your own meals as this will be plenty for a small hamster.
Cost of Hamster Bedding
You won’t just put a hamster in a bare enclosure; they also require lots of bedding for sleep and holding waste. The most readily available are wood chips, but the best bedding is aspen wood chips because it’s safe and twice more than other beddings.
Another option to look for is paper bedding, but this is more expensive than wood shavings. Depending on how often you change it and how much you use it, the bedding could last for up to several weeks.
If you have a litter box, the bedding can stay longer as the hamster makes waste in the box. Without a litter box, almost all bedding will need to be removed every week. If you buy a 60-litre bag of bedding and use about 5 litres in the cage each week, you can use the bedding for 3 months. In this case, the monthly cost of bedding could be £7 to £15. If you get a new bag every month, the cost could be up to £180/year.
Cost of Vets and Insurance
You are also going to need a specialist for check-ups and treatments. Experts advise taking hamsters for basic check-ups every single year.
Many owners consult a vet when they notice unusual behaviour or illness with the hamster, something that’s bound to happen during your fluffy friend’s life.
Common signs and symptoms to look for in sick hamsters include.
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of fur
- A runny nose
For example, if your hamster has wet tails, it could cost between £5 to £15. Surgeries can cost in excess of £75. It’s not uncommon for surgeries to cost up to £150 when you factor in medications. Check-ups are not cheap either and could cost up to £50. Some injections could cost up to £75. Most people don’t consider this, if your hamster falls ill and can’t be cured, euthanasia may cost up to £150.
Assuming your hamster is in good health, the average cost of vet care can cost about £75-£200. Given this price is fairly low, it is difficult to get insurance for a hamster, so you should make sure to have this amount readily available in case of emergencies.
How much do hamsters cost over a lifetime?
Before you leap and buy a sweet hamster in your life, make sure you can afford to take care of it. If need be, save in advance to ensure you buy all the supplies and have enough vet care for their entire life.
Now that you are well-versed in all facets of hamster costs, you can make an informed decision whether or not owning one of these is financially feasible for you.