Where To (And To Not!) Adopt a Hamster

Since I’m going to be adopting a hamster within the next month or two, I thought this post idea would be perfect! I could learn a bit more about this topic, and share this information with y’all 🙂 I hope you enjoy!

When looking to adopt a hamster most people automatically go to a pet store, but are there better options? What makes those options better? How do you know if an option is “good?” Today we’ll be talking about why supporting pet stores isn’t the best choice and offering ideas for places to find a hamster to adopt.

Pet Store Hamsters

Hamsters from pet stores usually appear happy and healthy, but the big picture is not as happy as you’d think. Hamsters in pet stores are mass-bred in ‘factories’ called ‘rodent mills.’ The goal of rodent mills is making money, which is how business works, but there are ways to make money without mistreating animals. The hamsters are kept in overcrowded conditions on an unhealthy diet. The cramped, overcrowded cages quickly become filthy with urine and feces. The hamsters are being bred and rebred with terrible genetics, resulting in sickly, mentally ill, and even dying hamsters.

When the few ‘healthy’ hamsters are weaned, they’re shipped to stores in such a way that many die in transport.

A common thought is that purchasing a hamster from a pet store is rescuing the hamster from those terrible conditions, and to a degree, this is true. You are improving the life of that one hamster. But when we once again look at the big picture, your purchasing that hamster tells the store there’s a demand, resulting in more hamsters being mass-bred and sold to the store.

Not purchasing a hamster from a store is not going to put them out of business, and that’s not the point. The point is that by not supporting rodent mills those can become less popular, resulting in more hamsters coming from ethical breeders with better genetics, health, and happiness overall.

Better Places to Adopt Hamsters

So where do you get a hamster from? Here are a few ideas:

  • Buy and Sell websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, and occasionally Facebook Marketplace will have hamsters available for rehoming. These hamsters are usually from pet stores, however, you’re not giving your money to the rodent mill. It’s going to a regular person, who can’t take care of their hamster anymore. Most of the hamsters on these sites aren’t properly cared for, so by adopting a hamster from a site you can give them a new and improved life. Always take a person or two with you to the pickup, for safety reasons.
  • Ethical breeders breed hamsters, but they do it humanely and are worth supporting. Their hamsters are usually more expensive, however they do have good genetics and a healthy back round, and there’s a lower chance of that hamster needing expensive medical attention in the future. Ethical breeders will also usually get you to sign a contract saying you’ll return the hamster to them should you be unable to keep it in the future. They make sure the hamsters go to good homes.
  • Animal shelters will usually have a few hamsters needing homes, and I’d recommend googling for shelters in your area. They’ll probably have an adoption fee, which supports the shelter so they can care for more animals in need 🙂

So those are places you should get hamsters, but I wanted to mention another place you shouldn’t adopt a hamster from…

Backyard Breeders

Now when it comes to adopting hamsters from buy and sell websites (i.e. Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace) there are usually several backyard breeders in the mix. Backyard breeders are similar to unethical breeders and rodent mills, who are breeding hamsters for profit, but inhumanely. The main difference is backyard breeders typically have their ‘hamster factory’ in their garage or basement.

Hamster breeding should be left to ethical breeders who properly care for and healthily breed their hamsters. Supporting backyard breeders promotes unethical (inhumane) breeding of hamsters, and should not be supported with your business. How do you tell if someone is a backyard breeder? Here are some tips:

  • The ad states they have only young hamsters available, as they would keep adults for breeding.
  • The same person (check the username) has several ads for young hamsters across the buy and sell platform(s).
  • They don’t have pictures available/won’t send photos if asked.
  • They have a multitude of baby hamsters!

In many cases where someone is advertising young hamsters, they are a backyard breeder. But sometimes an uninformed person will unwittingly have opposite sex hamsters together, resulting in an accidental litter…

Accidental Litters

Housing hamsters together is not recommended (even for dwarfs), simply because in a domestic environment they don’t benefit from the company. But sometimes people do house hamsters together, which can result in an accidental litter of hamsters, should they be opposite sexes. The owners didn’t want to breed hamsters, so they try to rehome them quickly by advertising the pups (baby hamsters) all over.

People with accidental litters more often than not are uninformed about hamsters, and the hamsters aren’t in proper living conditions.

Give people the benefit of the doubt; if you’re interested in an ad for young hamsters, feel free to message the advertiser and inquire if it’s an accidental litter, but do so kindly (don’t accuse them or shame them for letting their hamsters breed).

Sometimes you can improve someone’s life by taking a hamster off their hands, and even the lives of their other hamsters! Offer to help them out, and maybe write out a list of hamster care resources for them to check out. If you are kind and helpful you may make a new friend!


Where you adopt your hamster shouldn’t be taken lightly. Looking into different places to adopt a hamster is very important; you can find a hamster in desperate need of a better home while at the same time not supporting unethical breeders.

Please leave a comment in the ‘Reply Section’ down below and let me know where you adopted/purchased your hamster, or plan to adopt them! For the record, Beanie was a pet store hamster.

I hope this post was educational and helpful for those looking into adopting a hamster! If you’re interested in more hamster-related content be sure to like this post and follow the blog, and I’ll be back on Tuesday with more small pet care, DIYs, recipes, cage setups, stories and more, have a ham-tastic day!

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