Having a pet is always a fun, cute, and exciting idea, right? However, what we mostly forget is how costly it can be to own a pet and be responsible for it. A dog, cat or hamster doesn’t only need your endless cuddles or petting. No food or treat is enough to meet a pet’s needs.
Many things come with being a pet owner, and a massive part of it is the financial ability you have to be a responsible pet parent. Take a look at our list of things to know before getting a pet hamster.
In this article, we will answer the most vital, if not, the most asked, question to us by inexperienced or first-time hamster owners. This question is not embarrassing, we asked it ourselves the first time we got a hamster.
We appreciate people who ask this question because it’s a sign that you are a caring person and responsive enough not to jump on the idea of having a hamster pet without doing your research. So, how much does owning a hamster cost?
- How much does it cost to own a hamster
- Breakdown cost of setting up a hamster
- Cost of hamster needs; from a cage, toys, food, getting a hamster and more
HOW MUCH DOES OWNING A HAMSTER COST
It will cost you to have around $800 right from the beginning to have a hamster. A hamster alone is not too expensive, but the accessories, cages, and vet fund altogether can bring that number up. Below, we have breakdown of what cost each of these items.
Many things are incorporated when talking about the cost of owning a hamster. Here, we will discuss and break them down one by one of them. We will show you which are necessities and which are luxuries that your hamster doesn’t really need and, instead, save that money for an emergency fund.
The cost of a hamster cage that meets the required floor space is somewhere between $30-$200 depending on the type. For example, a bin cage (plastic box) runs for $20-$40, ready-to-use hamster cages are from $40-$80, and a bookcase or glass aquarium is from $60 and up (try to find secondhand from Craigslist or marketplace from fish owners).
The three-dimensional size should be at least 100x50x50 cm or 39x20x20 in floor space; 4000 cm2 or 450 square inches. Don’t buy critter colour cages or those cages that are tall two-tier cages, they are not suitable.
Read more about suitable hamster cages, how to choose one, and the difference between bin cages, ready-to-use, and DIY cages from this article.
Bedding helps the hamster to feel comfortable and warm in the cage, but most importantly, it feeds their obsession with burrowing. Hamsters love to dig a hole to hide their hoarded food or sleeping dens, so we recommend bedding to be at least 5 inches (13 cm) deep.
Not all bedding is safe, though and not all of them might be impressive enough for your hamster. Hence, we don’t recommend you bulk buy or overbuy bedding until you find the one that is safe and loved by your hamster. Here is a guide about hamster bedding.
Hamster bedding costs from $20-$30 per 3-5 kg (6.6-11 lbs), depending on the type and brand.
Water Bottle/Water Bowl
This is a simple decision but may take some time. You must let your hamster try both and see how they use or react to them. Often, the water bowl is instant love, but if you notice that your hamster is not drinking enough (leave a pen mark on the bottle to see how much they drank in 24 hours), perhaps it’s time to try the water bowl.
The hamster water bottle without a stand or holder is from $8-$10, and the ones that withstand or holder are from $10-$13. The water bowl (which is also the same look/kind as the food bowl) is from $2-$10, depending on if they are made of plastic, ceramic, or glass.
We recommend the ceramic or glass to avoid your hamster chewing through them, and then you must buy a new one. Check our recommendation list.
Food is a little tricky to calculate the cost of, but for now, we will discuss the dry mixes you can buy from pet stores. These dry mixes of hamster food are from $2-$10 depending on what’s included inside. Often, they contain nuts, dried vegetables, and dried fruits.
The expensive ones include blocks that are high in protein, vitamins, and nutrients. If you want to save money, you can instead buy cheap dry mixes and cook your hamster a meal instead. They love boiled and scrambled eggs, boiled chicken and vegetables and fresh fruits.
However, if you cook for your hamster, don’t add salt or pepper or any spices, just plain is fine. You shouldn’t feed your hamster any deep-fried meat or meat that is high in fat, like pork or beef. For fruits, don’t give them any acidic fruit like pineapple, lime, lemon, or oranges. The fruit must not be too wet or spread colour around.
Not all vegetables and fruits are recommended for hamsters, so check this list of best hamster food.
Hideouts or dens are one of the favourite features of cage hamsters. You see, hamsters sleep often, especially during the day (because they’re nocturnal animals). Hence, a den that is cosy, comfortable, dark, and spacious, but not too much space is perfect – they like being in a tight hole.
Most dens/hideouts are made of plastic or painted wood. We recommend a den that is made of wood but without paint, since hamsters bite and chew everything, if the paint on the wood is unsafe for hamsters, that’s dangerous.
On the other hand, if you have little jars at home, clean them and put them to use.
Chew toys are a very essential need in a hamster’s life. They have plenty of use. The first and most important is they keep hamsters’ teeth at a healthy length, they keep the teeth sharp and clean. Another benefit is they keep hamsters busy and help them to channel the extra energies they have to burn.
Chew toys’ prices range from $2 to $15, depending on the type and amount. For example, rice pops are useful, easy chew toys and cost only $2. But Whimzees are great and last longer, but they cost $15.
Remember, not all chew toys are safe for hamsters. Woods that are painted are often not secure unless it is stated that it has edible colouring. We recommend natural wood (but don’t bring one from the outside as they might be carrying mites).
Hamster chew toys are often connected or mistaken as treats. Chew toys must be available all the time to help entertain and keep your hamster busy and happy, which means they must be low in sugar or fat.
ALSO READ: How to stop your hamster from bar biting
Bath sand is the one your hamster will use to clean their coat and pee and maybe poo if they feel like it! However, you can’t pick and bring home any sand from the outside world because this sand might have mites. Yet, if you freeze them for 48 hours, then bake them for 3 hours, and cool them down, they might be good enough (although buying sounds easier and cheaper).
You can buy sand online that is designed for hamsters, but not all of them are safe. Hamster sand shouldn’t be dust-like or powder-like. Some reptile sand is safe to use, and sand toys for kids can be bought online.
Hamster sand costs from $9 to $20, they are one of the most expensive supplies on the hamster list and must be changed pretty often (2-3 times a week). Check our article about hamster sand baths and how to buy a safe one.
Sandbox is where you can place your hamster’s sand where they can clean their coat, pee, and hopefully poo (hamsters are known to poo in their sleeping quarters, wheel, and everywhere!).
They don’t have to be fancy, but we recommend them to be deeper than a food bowl and twice as wide/long as your hamster because they need to roll on it.
In your kitchen, if you have those square food boxes, that should work (but your hamster might chew it). If you want to buy one, they cost from $9 to $20. The simple ones with a scoop are about $9, but Syrians can’t fit there.
So, make sure to check out the size. Here is a list of our recommended hamster sandboxes.
Play toys mean wheels, saucers, stairs/ladders, tunnels, swings, bridges, and a mini playpen, that you should add inside the cage. These toys will help your hamster keep busy, active and burning energy, and happy.
Personally, if I bought two types of bridges, tunnels, bridges, mini playpens, and swings, I won’t be putting them in the cage at the same time. In this way, when your hamster gets tired of its usual toys, you can remove the old one and add the new one, perhaps placing it in a different location in the cage.
However, wheels and saucers should be placed in the hamster cage at all times and only be removed during deep cleaning or of course, when broken. These play toys cost between $5 to $20 if you find a set or themed one.
A playpen is a play area outside the cage. It’s almost the same as the playpen parents and dog/rabbit owner uses. However, with a hamster, if you use a metal bar, the spaces between the bars should be small enough to avoid successful escape drama.
Hamster playpen costs between $14-$30, depending on the type and size. There are metal bars, cloth, and plastic/glass. Some of them are big enough for you to sit inside to play and cuddle with your hamster. Playpens are a great way to tame your hamster and get them familiarised with your scent.
Hamster treats come in many forms. They might be dried mealworms which almost all hamsters love or they can be vitamins or dried fruit, dried meat, or blocks that are rich in all nutrients packed together.
Hamster treats can also be something from your kitchen, like cooked food or fresh fruit. Hamster treats are almost associated with hamster chew toys, however, chew toys must be given to hamsters often to keep them entertained. In contrast, goodies must be only shown once a week to prevent your hamster from getting overweight.
Hamster treats cost from $2-$8 per pack.
Vet Carrier/Transport Cage
A vet Carrier or Transport Cage should be secure, safe, and small enough so your hamster won’t panic while inside. If they didn’t come with soft fabric inside, make sure to place used bedding or if they have a favourite shirt of yours.
It’s best to place a water bottle and a small food bowl inside, but if the ride is no longer than 15 minutes, it’s okay without any but leave them two (2) treats to ease their anxiety or stress during the trip.
The cost of a vet carrier or transport cage is somewhere from $10-$20. Remember, a vet carrier shouldn’t be their permanent home, it’s too small.
For cleaning supplies, there are some cleaning supplies specifically for a hamster but using a safe-for-baby soap should be safe enough as long as they have a mild-zero scent and you rinse the cage very well to remove any soap left over. Read our guide on how to properly clean a hamster’s cage.
Here is Hamster Care, we recommend you have a specific veterinary/emergency fund. Around $500 is food enough and make sure to bring back this amount in case you had to get your hamster to the vet and you spend some from this fund.
Of course, the higher, the better, but around $500-$1000 is safe enough. You’ll be surprised how many hamster owners don’t have an emergency fund. At the same time, there are almost zero companies that will cover a hamster for insurance, therefore, an emergency fund is essential.
You should also remember that not all vets cater to the hamster, make sure you can find 2-3 vets not far from you whom you can access for emergencies who are knowledgeable and treat hamsters.
I decided to add a hamster at the end because we don’t recommend buying one; instead, we suggest you adopt or rescue one. However, we also understand that we have readers from all over the world and adopting or rescuing one is not an option or a norm in their location.
Usually, buying a hamster from a pet store like PetSmart or Petco is between $20 and up depending on the age and species. Often, an older hamster is free to adopt, which we really encourage you to do.
On the other hand, aggressive hamsters are also usually free to be adopted. You shouldn’t be put off by bringing an “aggressive hamster” home. Often, these hamsters are too old to share a cage where they develop their territorial instinct and would fight everyone who gets into their personal space.
That’s why you should read our article about why hamsters shouldn’t live together regardless of their species, gender, and age.
You should also contact your local animal shelter and see if they have hamsters or you can find individual people on Facebook and Reddit. They are rescuing abandoned hamsters and rehome them. We have a list of ways to adopt a hamster.
However, there are also places where you have to pay for the adoption fee; usually, they are from $15 and up. Read our article on hamster costs and prices.
ESTIMATED COST OF OWNING A HAMSTER COSTING TABLE
So, how much does owning a hamster cost? Here’s a quick overview of the cost:
Based on the calculation table above how much does own a hamster cost? According to it, around $804, but remember, $500 from it is for the emergency vet fund. But that doesn’t mean it should be something that you should brush off because that fund is more significant than you think.
HOW TO CUT DOWN THE COST OF OWNING A HAMSTER
Here’s a tip, many of these supplies can be found in your home. We instead save you money on these things than winging it with the vet fund. Here are some things you can resource from your kitchen or that drawer with random stuff in it:
- Adopt or rescue a hamster – like we said before, it’s best to adopt or rescue a hamster. Hamsters are being abandoned in the dumpster or hallways by former owners or left unsold in a pet store because they’re too old. However, they still deserve a loving home
- Dens/hideouts – you can use small jars where the jam came with, you can also create one using paper, cardboard boxes, or popsicle sticks (look up on Youtube some DIY guides)
- Food bowl/water bowl/sandbox – these can be any small ceramic sauce bowl you have in the kitchen or plastic boxes where medicines or jewellery are kept
- Water bottle – you can make one out of a regular water bottle and use zip ties or velcro to hook it in or outside the cage
- Food – you don’t need to buy the expensive ones unless your vet advises you to do so, cook for your hamster when you cook for yourself but set aside their portion before you add seasoning to it. Don’t use garlic or onion either, just plain and simple boiling is good enough.
- Chew toys – you can pick up a thick branch of wood outside, but you should chop them into small pieces, freeze them, and then bake this on low heat (to avoid catching fire), this will help kill the mites and whatever stuff that shouldn’t be brought inside your home or in the cage.
- Cleaning supplies – use baby-friendly soap instead of buying one, as long as it has minimal to zero scents, they are safe to use, and you rinse thoroughly to remove any soap
Based on the calculation table above, how much does own a hamster cost? According to it, around $804, but remember, $500 from it is for the emergency vet fund. But that doesn’t mean it should be something that you simply brush off because that fund is very important than you think.
Hamsters get sick or injured like any other animal. You can check this common hamster illness article. We really recommend you have an emergency vet fund, and we can’t stress how important that is.
Owning a hamster is not cheap, but it’s less expensive than owning a cat or dog or a horse, that’s for sure! However, this doesn’t mean that you can cheap out on hamster supplies. You should be responsible enough to have an ample budget to give your hamster a comfortable life.
If you are a teenager or a young person without personal income yet, you should speak to your parents if they can help you. In return for keeping up with your grades or working extra work at home like cleaning the garden or garage, doing any other jobs that can be done at home.
We hope that you found this article about how much does owning a hamster cost helpful. If we miss something or you want to add anything or have any questions, let us know in the comment section below. We’re happy to hear from you.