Buying a Hamster
Where to buy a hamster
When you are buying a new hamster it is always best to go to a reputable breeder or pet shop. Good hamsters are not that expensive so you do not have to look for bargains. You should not buy from a private person unless you know exactly what you are getting. An untamed or badly tamed hamster will only disappoint you, and there is always the possibility that an unknown hamster may be ill-tempered because of bad treatment. The wisest procedure is to select a healthy young animal and train it yourself.
How old should a hamster be before I buy it
Try to look for one between five and eight weeks old. Baby hamsters are very shy and are easily frightened so there is no point to try to tame one until it is a little, but not too much, older. Also you should remember that the hamster's natural lifespan is only about two years, although the odd animal can reach the age of three, and so you will be able to enjoy yours for a longer time if you get it soon after it has been weaned.
Inspect a hamster's heath before you buy
Take your time as you make your decision. Ask the breeder or pet shop assistant to show you as many animals as you want to examine. You will want to make sure that you choice is in good physical condition with an easy-going disposition. Care now may well prevent problems later on.
First look for signs of good health: soft clean fur, bright clear eyes, and a general feel of solidity. Avoid bony or skinny animals. Look at the ears which will give you a good idea of the hamster's age. In a young hamster, the insides of the ears are covered with tiny white hairs. These gradually disappear with age, and when the animal is older the ears are hairless and shiny. Some hamsters may have nicks in their ears. This is usually a sign that they have been in a fight but, if the nicks are clean and healed, it is nothing to worry about.
After examining the ears, look at the nose, feet and belly. There should be no sores or crusty scabs, which indicate either skin problems or fighting. Avoid any animal with a runny nose or watery eyes, or one that is lethargic and dull. A wet tail is also a sign of poor health. Make sure there are no scars or bald patches in the fur. Do not worry, however, if you see small spots about a centimetre in diameter on the hips. They may be either flesh coloured or black, and feel much thicker than the rest of the skin. They are called dimorphic pigment spots and are perfectly normal.
A new hamster is an exciting time for the whole family. Just remember to make sure you know what you are getting and that the hamster is in good health.