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Small pets

Where to get a hamster (and what kind of hamster)?

36 replies

Medea · 08/01/2010 15:31

I'm in London. I contacted a breeder that was recommended, but they won't have any hamsters for months. I'd like to get one now, though, as I've promised my daughter she'd have one in January. Are pet shops reliable for hamsters? If so, does anyone know a good one in London? Or a list of breeders? The internet hasn't been very helpful.

Also: what type do you recommend--Dwarf? Syrian?

Many thanks.

OP posts:
Ronaldinhio · 08/01/2010 15:36

try go-go from Argos

saves a lot of worry and heartache

Medea · 08/01/2010 15:48

Tried that, but go-go was a no-go. Alas.

OP posts:
purpleduck · 08/01/2010 15:49

We have 2 hamsters, both from the same breeder. They are lovely, I think because they are bred for their temperment. They are syrians btw.

Have you looked here?

Thats the club the breeder we know belongs to. They may have other connections.

Its very important to handle hamsters to tame them. I worry about pet store hamsters as they are probably bred for hardiness rather than temperment

steamedxmaspudding · 08/01/2010 15:52

Have you tried the pet rescue centres? They quite often have hamsters and the like, would always try there before going to a random pet shop.

Also, does it have to be a hamster? They're a bit rubbish IMO - nocturnal so sleep all day and then keep you up all night on their squeaky wheel... Gerbils are nice little creatures and a bit more fun, I think.

purpleduck · 08/01/2010 16:01

You can change their patterns somewhat. And get non squeaky wheels

We haven't tried to change our hamsters sleeping pattern, and they are typically up before the kids go to bed - so there is time to play- and in the morning.

midori1999 · 08/01/2010 16:02

We have a Syrian and he is lovely. I got him from someone I knew who bred them, but I have no idea where you'd find a breeder.

I do agree, they are pretty crap pets compared to some. They are easy for children to handle, because they are slow, but they can be grumpy if you wake them up, and ours is mainly asleep when DS is awake.

Would you consider something like a pair of Rats? I can certainly help with where to get them, and they are like a tiny dog really. Never bite, trainable and very friendly. Boys would happily sit on your daughters lap.

Sorry, I know that's not what you asked...

purpleduck · 08/01/2010 16:08

rats are nice too

Summersoon · 08/01/2010 16:26

A big vote for a guinea pig!

Hamsters are nice,too, but they don't very long (1.5-2 years). For that reason I would not get one from a rescue centre unless I could be assured that it is a very young animal.

Blondeshavemorefun · 08/01/2010 17:33

hammies are fab

yes they are nocturnal, but if you get your hammy out and play with it, they become very socialable and ours often wake up with a bit of rustling and then come for a play

downside, agree do die after 3years if not before

Batteryhuman · 08/01/2010 17:42

There is an unwanted one on AIBU this evening

diddl · 08/01/2010 17:42

Someone has just posted on AIBU that they haven´t cleaned their hamster for a month!
Perhaps you can contact them & see if they will let you save it from further neglect

GrungeBlobPrimpants · 08/01/2010 17:49

Yes I've just been on the 'I wont clean out the hamster thread' - so sad that people treat pets like unwanted toys

But to answer your OP, Syrians best (just one - they are solitary). We've had 3 and each one has been entirely different in terms of temperament and handling. Find out all you can about them before making your decision. We have always got ours from local pet centre with v high standards - there are some pet places I wouldn't touch with bargepole though. Maybe ask locally for pet shop recommentations? Or local rescue centre? (I bet there are a lot of unwanted pets right now)

Blondeshavemorefun · 08/01/2010 20:02

also went for a peep - turns out its a dh taking the piss/arguing with his dw

Medea · 09/01/2010 09:16

This is so helpful, everyone, thanks! Yes I've heard 'rats' make good pets, but yuck...I'll never get over the association. It was good to hear the pros and cons of hamsters, though, and the suggestions of gerbils etc. I broke the news to DD this morning that she won't have a hamster anytime soon, and she's unbelievably upset, so I will immediately get on purpleduck's club suggestions.

If there's anyone else out there that knows where to get a hamster (in London or the burbs or even Windsor/Slough where MIL lives) please let me know. Although I'd go to a rescue center a dog or cat, l'd rather not get a hamster there, as I'd prefer to tame a recently-born one. (Same goes for ads from people trying to get rid of theirs, cage and all.)

OP posts:
purepurple · 09/01/2010 09:21

We get our hamsters from Pets at Home.
Do you not have any in London?
DD's first hamster lived for more than 4 years.
Don't get a dwarf one as they can escape very easily and are difficult to catch.

Bella32 · 09/01/2010 11:06

Syrian. From local pet shop.

Have had hammies all my life (as my own pets) but wouldn't be my first choice for a small child. Nocturnal and not overly-sociable.

Rats miles better

Good luck.

diddl · 09/01/2010 13:18

Depends on the age of your daughter & how confident she is at handling small things!

We have a couple of dwarf rabbits & are gorgeous for cuddling-also guinea pigs-not too small.
But still not to be dropped!

We have three dwarf hammies-oh my goodness so cute& funny!
Unfortunately we have had to seperate due to fighting.
They are siblings & lived happily together initially.

So been a bit more expense re cages than we first thought!

midori1999 · 09/01/2010 14:45

I wouldn't go to a Pet Shop for a rodent or small animal. They are usualyl from rodents farms, which over breed the parenst and keep them in appalling condtions mostly with little handling, so as well as not being the best way to get a tame baby, I personally chose not to support this trade, just like I chose not to support puppy farms.

Medea, would you consider going to meet a breeder and their rats to see what you thought? I ask as I only got my first rats as I wanted to ethically breed feeders for my snakes. (frozen pet shop rats are also from rodents farms) and I wasn't keen on them at all. In fact, when I got them home it took me half an hour to transfer them to their cage as I was so scared they'd bite me. And I had gloves on.... I thought they were mostly quite ugly and didn't get them. However, I now have 24 and they are mainly pets. They really are great and I think if more people had met any 'proper' pet ones, they would be far more popular.

Ivykaty44 · 09/01/2010 14:50

When we first got our hamster we used gardening gloves to handle her untill she got used to use.

That way my dd was confident that the hamster wouldn't hurt her.

We keep little tiny hammy chocs near her cage and if the paper crinkles she hears and comes running out.

Our hammy is big though with lots of fluffy hair and ver mad

Blondeshavemorefun · 09/01/2010 14:57

mine sounds ths same as yours ivy

we use gardening gloev to tame, and all our hammys (had them over 10yrs) are sociable and come out and play at a rustle

Heqet · 09/01/2010 14:59

hamsters hate people, esp kids! and hate being pets!!!

Rats are better, they are really sociable and LOVE people.

imo, get a pet who won't be miserable by being kept by you.

JollyPirate · 09/01/2010 15:07

Go to a breeder - my Hammie came from Alphabet Hamstery in Swindon and had been handled from a young age so is very tame. She positively adores interaction. Go for a Syrian hamster as they are easiest to tame and handle. We've had our hammie for six months now and she's utterly adorable.

bruffin · 09/01/2010 15:33

I had syrians as a child. We had 2 sister roborovskis a few years which are the smallest bread, but are fascinating to watch, not so good for handling as they are very fast, but we loved them and I would have them again. We had the same problem as diddl and after 9 months they started fighting and had to be seperated. Even though they were seperated they died within 3 days of each other at 2 and a half.

muggglewump · 10/01/2010 00:26

I asked a while back on here about getting a hamster for DD who was desperate for one.

I was advised that rats make much better pets and so DD got a pair of females for Christmas. (I hid the cage in my wardrobe for a week and put the rats in it on Xmas Eve and then tranferred to living room!)
Her face was a picture as she wondered how on earth Santa had got live animals in the house!

She, and I absolutely adore them. They are really sociable, don't bite at all, love being handled and we are going to train them. I've bought a book on it.
They don't smell, and are really easy to clean out. They don't cost much to keep either. I spent around £100 initially on them and the cage/food/bedding/bottle.
They will eat anything, DD spoon feeds them which they love!

I am so glad I got them, and can see us always having rats now.
I really can't recommend them enough and am so glad I was talked into them instead of a hamster.

Oh yes, and because we have two they interact together which is really sweet and funny. We love watching them groom each other, fight (playfully) and then curl up to sleep together.

We got them from a local pet shop. I couldn't find any breeders near me, and I didn't know about the rodent farm thing.

Medea · 12/01/2010 00:12

This is fascinating about the rats. But I don't think I can do it.

I'm from NYC and about 5 years ago the rats were ready take over the world. The basement of my apartment building was flooded with rats who were gnawing at the chickens etc that were stored in the basement by the Thai restaurant that occupied the ground floor; and one could regularly hear the scratching of rats trying to chew their way into my apartment while my children slept. Rats were crawling all over the subway tracks, too, day and night. It was disgusting. The mayor declared a war on rats, and the situation seems to have improved. But as a result of those experiences, I have a rat phobia and just could never in a million years of cognitive behavioural therapy be able to have a rat as a pet. Just a photo of a rat would make me throw up. But I am the first to admit that this is totally my own problem. I'm sure it's true that rats make wonderful pets.

As an update...we have had no luck finding other breeders around here, so we've put our name on a list for a February or March litter with the original breeder that was recommended to us. Meanwhile we took our distraught daughter to the pet shop (where there were no hamsters available) to buy hamster paraphenelia...which has temporarily appeased her. She is 7 by the way, and her brother is 10. So I gather their bedtimes are late enough that they'd be able to play with the hamster pretty regularly.

Thanks again everyone.

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