The Cost Of Owning A Hamster
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When it comes to a first pet, hamsters are a great choice. They are small, relatively easy to care for, and they aren’t as much of a financial commitment as a cat or dog.
That being said, you may find that owning a hamster costs more than you expect.
Many people think only about the cost to purchase a new pet – not the cost to keep it. You have to think not only about the cost to buy and set up your pet’s cage, but also about recurring costs for food, bedding, and veterinary care.
Here’s what you need to know about how much it costs to keep a pet hamster.
Bringing Home a New Hamster – One-Time Costs
Your new hamster is going to spend most of his life in a cage, so it’s important to choose the right cage and to equip it with all the necessities.
It’s also important to think about other initial costs like a vet visit, vaccinations, and spay/neuter surgery. These costs aren’t required for every pet, but it’s worth thinking about them as part of your decision. It pays to be prepared, especially as a pet owner.
Here’s what you need to know about one-time costs for pet hamsters:
Buying a Hamster
Hamsters are easy to find in most pet stores, both national chains and local shops. For the most part, they are affordable as well – generally $10 to $20.
There are three primary breeds of hamster kept as pets: Syrian, dwarf, and Chinese.
Many pet stores sell several breeds of hamster, though you may need to look around. You may also be able to find hamsters from a local shelter or small animal rescue.
The price to adopt a hamster varies because it often comes with the cage it was surrendered in. If you purchase from a breeder or pet store, you’ll need to purchase a hamster cage yourself.
If you have a specific breed of hamster in mind or you’re looking for an uncommon coloration, you may want to talk to a breeder. Purchasing from a breeder might be more expensive but you may have more options when it comes to age, sex, and color.
Hamster Cost by Breed
|Breed||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
|Syrian (Golden Hamster)||$10||$20|
Supplies and Setup
The first thing you’ll need to get ready for your pet hamster is a cage.
The cage you choose may depend on the type of hamster you’re getting. A dwarf hamster cage might not need to be as large as a cage for a Syrian hamster, for example.
Just remember that your hamster will be spending the majority of his life in this cage, so it needs to be large enough for him not to feel cramped. It also needs to be big enough to accommodate all the necessities like his exercise wheel, hideouts, toys, and food bowls.
Your hamster’s cage should be made from durable materials and designed to provide ventilation. On average, you’ll spend between $30 and $75 on a decent cage.
In addition to your hamster’s cage, you’ll need certain accessories as well as an assortment of hamster toys. You should also have food bowls and a water bottle, plus the necessary hamster food and bedding to get your cage started.
The final starting costs to consider for a pet hamster are the initial vet visit and spay/neuter surgery.
All pets deserve an annual trip to the vet to monitor their health. This costs around $35 for a small animal and should be pretty simple – your hamster doesn’t need any vaccinations.
Spay or neuter surgery is a more significant cost – upwards of $100. Because surgery can be risky on such a small animal (and the lifespan of a hamster is only a few years), the better option is to simply prevent unwanted breeding by keeping the sexes separated.
A Syrian hamster cage should only house one hamster anyway since this breed is highly territorial.
Hamster Supplies and Setup
|Cost Type||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
|Initial Food and Bedding||$15||$30|
|Initial Vet Visit/Vaccinations||$35||$50|
|Total = $95 to $185 (without spay/neuter surgery)|
Cost of Hamster Ownership – Annual Expense Breakdown
Before you head to the pet store to pick up your hamster, you should already have his cage and the necessary supplies set up. Your hamster will be stressed from the transition, so you’ll want to be able to put him right into his cage so he can settle in.
Once your hamster’s cage is set up and ready to go, take a final look at your expense sheet to make sure you’re ready for the commitment. Pets are not cheap and if you’re not completely confident you can cover the recurring costs to feed and care for your hamster, consider another pet.
Here’s what you need to know about annual costs for pet hamsters:
Annual Medical Expenses
Feeding your hamster high-quality commercial food will help him stay healthy for as long as possible. Just as a precaution, however, you should take him to the vet once a year.
One challenge to be aware of with hamsters is that they are nocturnal, so they tend to be most active at night when you’re not asleep. If you notice changes in your hamster’s diet or exercise habits, it could be a sign of illness and you should consider a trip to the vet.
Here are some of the common health problems known to affect hamsters:
- Ear mites
- Respiratory infection
- Tyzzer’s disease
- Bacterial infection
Your hamster requires an annual veterinary visit to keep an eye on his health. Costs vary, but you should expect to pay about $35 or more per visit.
Unlike larger pets, hamsters don’t require vaccinations or dental cleanings. Your hamster is also unlikely to require treatments for fleas or other parasites, but if he does need some kind of medication you can expect to spend at least $10 to $15 on it.
In the event that your hamster gets sick or needs surgery, tests and treatment could cost upwards of $100, especially if you go to an emergency vet.
Because hamsters don’t have a significant number of expected veterinary expenses, it probably isn’t worth paying a monthly premium for pet insurance. You may be better off putting that money aside into a saving’s account for emergency vet visits.
Estimated Medical Costs for Hamsters
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Flea, Tick, and Worm Treatments||Occasional||$15|
|Emergency Expenses||Occasional||$100 and up|
Food and Supplies
When it comes to recurring expenses to keep your hamster, the two primary categories are food and bedding. Because your hamster is small, however, these costs are fairly low.
A high-quality commercial hamster food will cost you under $5 per pound which is more than enough to get you through a month. Treats may cost a few dollars extra.
To keep your hamster’s cage clean and tidy, you’ll want to use an absorbent hamster bedding. You’ll need to clean out your hamster’s cage and replace the bedding once a week or so, making the total monthly cost for bedding around $10.
Additional costs for cleaning supplies and replacement toys won’t be necessary every month, but you should budget a few dollars for these things just in case.
Food and Supply Costs for Hamsters
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Food and Treats||Monthly||$5|
Also Read: What Do Hamsters Eat?
Total Annual Cost of Owning a Hamster
Hamsters may be small, but they require just as much care as other pets. You still need to house your hamster, feed him properly, and take him to the vet when needed.
If you want to become a pet owner, you need to be sure you are ready for the responsibility and that includes the financial responsibility. Owning a hamster requires an upfront investment to purchase the cage and supplies as well as recurring monthly costs for food, bedding, and other supplies.
Here’s a quick summary of the estimated annual cost for keeping a hamster:
- Purchasing/Adopting = $5 to $20
- Cage and Setup = $95 to $185 (without spay/neuter surgery)
- Annual Veterinary Costs = $35 (exam only)
- Monthly Food and Supplies = $25
These costs will vary depending where you live as well as the type of hamster you have and how many you keep. Be sure you can cover these costs with extra for emergencies before you bring a pet hamster into your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a hamster cost?
Hamsters tend not to be very expensive, though prices may vary depending on the breed and where you get them. Generally speaking, you’ll spend between $5 and $20 on a hamster.
How much does it cost to neuter/spay a hamster?
There’s more risk involved in surgery on a small pet than a larger animal like a cat or dog, so it may cost at least $100 but possibly upwards of $250 to do it. Many veterinarians won’t perform such a risky surgery, so you may be better off keeping the sexes separated.
How much does a hamster vet checkup cost?
The average cost for a vet visit for a hamster is about $35. You may need to find an exotics vet or one familiar with small animals, so the cost could be higher.
How much does it cost to microchip a hamster?
The average cost to have a pet microchipped is about $45 and it is a one-time fee. There’s little point in having a hamster microchipped, however.
How much does hamster food cost?
A bag of hamster food will generally cost no more than $10, though even a 1-pound bag is more than your hamster needs in a month. Many bags contain at least 2 or 3 pounds, so your total monthly cost for food is likely to be less than $5.
How much does a hamster cage cost?
It pays to invest in a quality hamster cage because these little animals are masters of escape. A high-quality hamster cage ranges from about $30 to $75, depending on materials and size.