Try not to go in the afternoon as the hamsters are inactive and it's hard to tell whether it's because they're sick or just plain sleepy. The mornings and evenings are fine.
A hammy deep in sleep-don't wake him up! Hamsters sleep like a log in the daytime and they should certainly be allowed to do so. Some are described as crepuscular, others nocturnal. Do find out if this suits you under A suitable pet?
first unless you also plan on buying a few more cages for the others.
The first time owner could do the best with one but then, it's
entirely up to you. Remember, it's not just cages but ALL the
accessories as well. It's just ONE TO A CAGE! Some
owners say that hamsters can be kept in pairs but please don't try this
unless you know exactly what you're doing! It's no joke that they fight
to the death. Even if they avoid fighting, the smaller, weaker one may
be bullied. Consider this.
Top of page
Dwarf hamsters have been said to be able to stay in pairs, groups or colonies even. Please check out the behaviour page for more.
Usually shops have very young hamsters and I've seen many people go for those but beware - don't get them if their eyes haven't opened. They are way too young. They will very possibly die. However, I doubt that these are sold nowadays, with the increase in knowledge about them. You can see pictures of these on the hamster pups page.
It is unfortunate that pet shop owners take the pups away from their mothers before they are weaned. They may survive but will grow up to be weak individuals and more susceptible to wet-tail and other ailments. The best is to start off with a healthy hamster that is around 3-4 weeks old. They should have opened their eyes already and will be walking around and playing with their siblings. They should look pretty much like those in the top picture which are just three weeks old.
Hamsters don't live very long so getting one that isn't so big yet is also a consideration. The rule here is: don't go to extremes! There are certain concerns in getting an older hamster though they might be just as suitable. These are that they might be overly agressive from not being handled, might be pregnant if not separated from males, and might be older than you suppose. Being in the pet shop for a long time might also have meant life with other hamsters and older hamsters have usually been injured.
The hamster won't cost you much and it's no loss if you can't get one from a friend. You can get one for anywhere from $5 - $12. I've heard of ones even pricier. In other countries, you pay for special color and qualities. Here, most Syrian hamsters are from roughly the same stock so the amount you pay doesn't reflect the type of hamster you get. However, the newer imports that tend to be bigger and have longer fur than the ones here previously might cost you a bit more.
Some of the dwarf hamsters sold here are much more expensive but the range is also quite large as there are four species (campbells, winter whites, roborovskis & chinese) of them being sold here with many color variations.
Remember that the cost of the hamster is not the end to the budget you must put aside for your pet hamster. Remember to check both the price page and the reason page, for the cost of other hamster needs and the suitability of having a hamster as a pet before you make your decision.