Hamsters themself are usually very cheap and cost from 5 to 20 $ depending on the breed you choose. While syrian and dwarfs can be found on the lower end of the range, chinese, winter white and others tend to be a bit pricier. But in the case of hamsters the accessories and supplies are the things you will spend most of the money on. Especially for first time owners it can be surprising how high the costs of owning a hamster really are. In this article I will give you an overview.
Price of the hamster itself
As I mentioned in the introduction, the price of the hamster itself is very low. Most pet shops charge between 5 and 20 $ for each, depending on its breed. In the case of hammies breeders tend to have the same price, but if you are lucky you can even get one for free from friends.
If you want to do rescued pets a favor, you can also visit a local animal shelter and adopt a pet from there. Have in mind, that you don’t know the record of those pets and veterinary costs can be higher.
You will spend by far the most money on the initial setup and you should buy these items before you even take your hamster home. Here comes my list with everything you need for your hamster:
- Hamster cage: 70 – 130 $
- Hide away: 5 – 20 $
- Food bowl: 5 – 15 $
- Water bottle: 5 – 15 $
- Running wheel: 15 – 40 $
As you see, the costs will be somewhere between 100 and 220 $ but you can exceed easily as there are nearly no upward boundaries. I recommend you to buy high quality and sturdy items right from the beginning. Chances are, that those things will last the whole life of your hamster and even longer.
Have in mind that the cage is most important. Don’t save money on the wrong end here. If you want to learn more about the best hamster cage, read my buying guide. I also wrote one for the best dwarf hamster cage.
These are the costs for the ongoing care. You will need to buy hamster food, bedding and cleaning equipment on a regular basis. Here is what most hamster owners spend on the items:
160 $ are the bottom and costs can go up to 390 $ or higher. The largest amount goes to bedding and you can save a lot here. Buy in bulk instead of small package sizes and costs will decrease dramatically.
Most people don’t take veterinary costs into account while they think of small pets. However, your hamster should see the vet once a year when he is healthy. A visit usually costs around 100 $ so that you can calculate with vet costs between 200 and 300 $ over the lifespan of your little friend.
Tips to keep the costs low
If you are surprised about the money you could spend, I want to give you some tips for saving now:
- Buy high quality: this is especially for the initial setup so that you don’t have to buy twice. But food and bedding have an impact on the health of your little critter. Good products will reduce the vet costs when your hamster gets older. The wrong bedding can also cause respiratory problems.
- Buy used items: the most expensive item will usually be the cage. Often you can find cheap offers at Craigslist or in Facebook groups.
- Buy in bulk: you can save a lot of money when you buy food and bedding in large amounts at once. If you have concerns about the freshness of opened food packages you can just put them into the refrigerator.
- Don’t wait if your hammie needs to see the vet. Costs are always lower when you start the right treatment early.
Many people underestimate the costs of owning a hamster. No wonder, when the pet itself is so cheap. Don’t make the failure to buy a hamster without having the budget for caring in a responsible way. Plan to spend at least around 700 $ during the whole lifetime of a hamster. Learn more about hamster care.