Time of the dayGenerally, hamsters are asleep by day and active at night, so try to buy your hamster in the evening as late as possible. A higher activity level shows that the hamster is healthy and happy.
How do I know if the hamster is healthy?A healthy hamster has:
- clear and bright eyes,
- a smooth clean coat without any bare patches or lumps,
- clean ears (the younger a hamster is, the more hair it has on the outer side of the ears),
- no discharge from the nose,
- neither coughing nor sneezing.
If you are buying a hamster at night or late evening, a healthy rodent will be active and alert, picking up the nose to sniff the air.
Do not forget to have a look at the other hamsters and animals you are not going to buy. Are they well kept? Are they healthy or have problems? The latter means that your hamster has more chances to get the disease as well, so it would be reasonable to look for a better pet store.
Is it unfriendly?If you stick your still finger in the cage and the hamster tries to bite you, it does not necessarily mean it is unfriendly. The hamster is probably scared and wants to protect itself. Besides, hamsters have bad eyesight and may simply think that your finger is food. If you find a hamster that shows affection right away, you are lucky indeed. But this happens rarely enough.
Male or female?The gender does not have much influence on a hamster's character, so this is entirely up to you and your preferences.
Two in the same cage?Hamsters are territorial rodents, so they should be kept in different cages. However, there are several hamster species known to be pretty social: Dzungarian Dwarf hamsters, short dwarf hamsters, and Russian hamsters. Those can be kept in the same cage. It is best when they are litter mates and thus have been together since birth. Also, make sure that two hamsters you want to keep in the same cage are of the same sex. Otherwise, you may unwillingly turn into a hamster breeder.
Food is importantAsk the owner what food the hamster has been eating so that you can give it the same. If you prefer to change its diet, do this gradually.
The more your ask, the betterFind out about the hamster as much as possible. How long has it been held in the cage? What is it age? Is it afraid of strangers? Does it like people at all? What are its favourite things and food? Does it like playing? The more you ask, the better you know whether this is the very hamster you dream of.
AgeIt is good to buy hamsters when they are between 4 and 7 weeks old. This age is best for taming.
Transportation to a new homeHamsters are little and very nimble, so their transportation box must meet the following requirements:
- sufficient access to fresh air (air holes),
- no holes and gaps which the rodent can escape through,
- secure closing,
- do not use cardboard boxes if the way home is longer than 2 hours - the hamster will easily gnaw its way out. Use a plastic box that meets all the above requirements. Also, add some food and bedding to the box.
Now, you have learnt enough basic information about buying hamsters. It is just the right time to get one!
Image credit: Mariela, cdrussorusso