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How Much Does It Cost to Own a Hamster? (In 2021)

Nicole Cosgrove

June 9, 2021

Introduction

Hamsters might be one of the most popular choices for first-time pets. These fluffy cuties are tiny enough to fit in your hand, but not so small that you lose sight of them. They are usually very friendly and calm, making them perfect pets for smaller kids who are learning the ropes of pet care.

You might even have a soft spot for these radical rodents and simply love having them around. But if you haven’t owned one in a while, or this is the first time, the cost is one of the most important factors in welcoming one—or two, or more—into your home. Let’s break down the price of owning a hamster to get a firm grasp on what you’ll be spending.divider-hamster

Bringing Home a New Hamster: One-Time Costs

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Credit: pixel2013, Pixabay

Your biggest expense will be upfront when you have to buy all of the necessary supplies and care products they require. You’ll have to buy your hamster (or hamsters) along with the cage, food, bedding, and other various components.

The price will also depend on where you get your hamster—whether it be a private breeder, pet store, or current owner. Prices can change depending on what type you want and how frugal or extravagant you plan to be with the set-up.

Free

You can probably find someone who is looking to rehome their hamster. After all, lots of kids get a hamster and when the newness fades away, you have a little critter left in a cage that gets no attention.

Some parents or pet owners just want to make sure the little fuzzball goes to a loving home. Most of the time, the cage and supplies will come included, but you still might have to pick up a few things.

Adoption

  • $5-$50

Hamsters cost $5 – $50. It varies so much depending on the type of hamster and what’s included in the purchase (such as a cage, food, etc.). Age may also play a factor.

If you find a surrendered hamster at a local rescue group, you can expect they’ve had wellness checks by a vet.

Breeder

  • $5-$20

If you select a breeder, they will only sell a hamster as-is with no cage included. You might get a small bag of starter food if they’re generous enough to toss that in as a freebie.

Hamster cost can vary quite a bit depending on the mutation, markings, and breed. Each breeder will charge their own rates or fees as they see fit. Most are highly knowledgeable about care, so sometimes it really pays off to get a hamster from a specialized professional.

Types of Hamsters and the Average Cost
  • Teddy Bear Hamster—$5-$20
  • Syrian Hamster—$5-$10
  • Dwarf Hamster—$5-$20
  • Chinese Hamster—$5-$20
hamster-pups-pixabay
Credit: etafotok25, Pixabay

Supplies

  • $50-$140

When you’re ready to buy supplies, you might only have to get certain items one time. Unlike food and bedding, other necessities should be a one-stop-shop until the product loses functionality.

The cage is going to be where most of your money goes right upfront. You can choose a size you need depending on how many hamsters you have. It’s a good idea to get more than one so they can have friends, but that will be up to you and how much you can afford at the start.

Other items like toys, wheels, and exercise balls can be replaced whenever they wear out.divider-hamster

List of Hamster Care Supplies and Cost

Each time you buy these supplies, you can expect to pay:

Bedding $10
Wheel $10
Toys $2-$20
Exercise Ball $6-$14
Water Bottle $5-$20
Food Dish $2-$8
Cage $10-$50
Food $5-$10

Annual Expenses

  • $400-$600 per year

In comparison to a dog or cat, a hamster is relatively cheaper—not only when it comes to vetting bills, but also food and care. But don’t let that trick you into thinking that these pets are inexpensive.

You have to continually replace bedding, buy food, and find an exotic vet for your hamster. If they develop any odd health issues, you could wind up spending more than you think.

You should also always take your hamster to see the pet doctor every year to make sure they’re in tip-top shape. Sometimes, you might not even realize your little one is suffering until they get a closer examination.

Health Care

  • $30-$300+ per year

Health care for a hamster will be usually inexpensive, but it can climb if they develop any issues. If your hamster needs x-rays or specialized care, you can really rack up some vet bills fast.

Since hamsters are generally healthy, this shouldn’t be a primary concern—but it is possible, so it needs to be put in your calculations.

hamster-being-held-pixabay
Credit: Aqe, Pixabay

Check-Ups

  • $35 per year

Annual check-ups are strictly precautionary, and they’re very important. There may be something going on with your hamster under the radar that can be treated or prevented entirely if routine tests are performed.

Check-ups for a hamster isn’t too costly, averaging about $35 for one appointment. Price varies depending on your veterinarian and their clinic rates.

Vaccinations

  • $0 per year

Hamsters don’t require any type of preventative vaccinations—unlike other domesticated pets, which can cost upward of $100 per dog or cat.

Dental

  • $25 per year

When it comes to teeth, hamsters take care of all of the hard work for you. They have chompers that always grow, so they instinctively file their own teeth by chewing away on—well—just about anything.

If you want to buy some terrific filers, wooden toys and other materials keep their teeth an appropriate length. All you have to do is make sure their supply is stocked, and they’ll gnaw as needed.

Treatments for Parasites

  • $35-$100 per year

Hamsters can come in contact with parasites that will require treatment. It’s not definite, but it is possible. Yearly vet check-ups can help you discover any parasites, but you might see signs or symptoms beforehand.

Hamsters can suffer from mites, pinworms, or tapeworms. All of these conditions can be treated with routine medication, such as hamster-safe antibiotics.

hamster-eating-pixabay
Credit: appledeng, Pixabay

Emergencies

  • $35-$300+ per year

Problems arise—it’s just a part of owning any pet. If your hamster is injured or sick, you might find yourself at an emergency vet facility for help. Unfortunately, there is no definite cap on costs here.

Diagnosis and treatment can be relatively inexpensive, but the more drastic the condition is, the more expensive it will be.

Euthanasia, which is putting your hamster to sleep, costs about $75 to $150, depending on facility pricing. Many times, hamsters don’t show signs of sickness until it’s very advanced.

Medications for On-Going Conditions

  • $120+ per year

Hamsters can have health issues just like any other creature. Most of the time, it will only require routine antibiotics for a week or two—problem solved. But especially as your hamster ages, they may need daily medication.

Hamsters can suffer from liver or kidney disease. While diet plays a huge factor in health, they may need meds to help keep them stable. The price will vary based on the type of medication.

Food

  • $50-$80 per year

Hamsters are herbivores and their diets need to be full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Commercial pellets can take care of the bulk of their dietary needs. However, it’s always a good idea to give your hamster some fresh fruits, veggies, and grains, too.

Most edible snacks for hamsters are next to nothing, as it’s usually stuff you can find in your fridge (like carrots, broccoli, berries, and bananas.) But you should give them rodent-specific goodies, like timothy, hay as well

Environment Maintenance

  • $220 per year

You will have to keep your hamster’s cage clean and grime-free. Since they use the bathroom in their cage and chew up objects, you’ll have to consider replacement costs.

For one to two hamsters, one bag of quality bedding should last about a month. If you choose to add in cage liners to keep the floor clean, there’s an extra expense, but it can be worth it for sanitary reasons.

You can use regular soap and water with a vinegar solution to clean your hamster’s cage. This combination is inexpensive and totally safe for your hamster.

Most cute little hut shelters in hamster cages are chewable, made of wood or cardboard materials. A plastic hut may last longer, but it doesn’t always prevent chewing. Realistically, you will probably only have to replace a house once or twice a year.

Water bottles typically last a while, but you might have to replace one if it encounters any damage or loses function.

cute-hamster-eating-pixabay
Credit: mordilla-net, Pixabay

divider-hamsterHamster Environmental Upkeep:

Bedding $120/year
Cage liners $50/year
Disinfectant $10
Hut/Shelter $20
Water bottles $20

Entertainment

  • $20-$50 per year

When it comes to entertainment costs, every hamster will be different. You might have a calm hamster who chews minimally. Or, you might have an extremely active hamster with destructive tendencies.

If your hamster loves chewing up new toys right away, you’re going to replace these things frequently. But when it comes to running wheels and exercise balls, one should work for a year—or several!

hamster-pixabay
Credit: jcfrog, Pixabay

Total Annual Cost of Owning a Hamster

  • $400-$600+ per year

Overall, you can expect to spend at least $400 on your pet hamster annually. This cost can go up slightly or drastically depending on your individual hamster’s needs—and how many hamsters you have.

Emergency vetting and other factors may not happen for years after you buy a hamster, but it’s still a cost you should be prepared for—just in case.

Owning a Hamster On a Budget

Sometimes, you are going to need to cut corners with care costs, and that’s okay! There are some monthly items you can substitute if you find yourself running low on cash.

You can even use these methods regularly, but if you change their diet in any way, make sure you are covering every nutritional need for your hamster.

Saving Money on Hamster Care
  1. Use substitute bedding. Instead of dishing out money for bedding, you can use toilet paper, newspaper, or paper towels that you have at home.
  2. Toilet paper rolls come in handy. Rather than restocking chew toys that can get pricey, give your hamster a leftover paper towel or toilet paper roll to chew on. You can also give them pieces of cardboard from those Amazon packages that always roll in.
  3. Give more fresh foods. If you are struggling to buy a bag of commercial pellets until payday, look in your cabinet. You can give your hamster a little mix of items you already have at home like fresh fruits and veggies, grains, and nuts.
  4. Consider fleece blankets. A newer concept for rodent-owners is using fleece blankets in place of bedding. Your hamster can snuggle up, hide, or lay on top of these blankets—plus, they are very absorbent, washable, and reusable.

divider-multiprint

Conclusion

Now you can see just how much you’ll be spending upfront for your furry friend. Costs decrease significantly after the initial buying process. You can expect to drop $120 right away, with monthly costs averaging $30 to $40 thereafter.

Depending on vet care and other expenses, you can shell out over $600 per year. So, don’t be fooled into thinking that hamsters are always inexpensive. Like any other pet, they can be pricey with care, but it’s worth the reward.


Featured image credit: JarkkoManty, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.