Last Updated on: 24th September 2023, 09:37 pm
One of the easiest ways of getting hold of a hamster is through a pet store. However, pet stores must sell hamsters old enough to go to a new home.
Reputable pet stores sell hamsters once they’re at least 6 weeks old. At this point, they’re sexually mature and old enough to leave their mothers and littermates.
Sometimes, stores hold younger hamsters out the back until they’re old enough to be sold.
Once hamsters reach 12 weeks old, stores prefer to give them to a charity or shelter to be rehomed due to their short lifespans.
Some pet stores have adoption centers, where older unwanted hamsters are sold for a lower price. Hamsters in these centers can be of any age, and some are elderly.
What Pet Stores Sell Hamsters?
Hamsters are commonly sold across the U.S. You can find them in most national chain stores, including PetSmart and PetCo. You can also find them in local, independent pet stores.
While the big companies sell hamsters in all their stores, they don’t always have hamsters for sale at the same time. Whether they have them depends on their location and how many hamsters their breeders have produced.
Buying a hamster from a pet store has been controversial because they’ve been found using rodent mills to breed them. The result is that many animals have genetic abnormalities and health conditions.
They’re also kept in cramped conditions, where stress is rife, and there’s a high risk of inbreeding. You can never be sure where the hamster has come from, which puts many potential owners off.
How Old Are Hamsters at Pet Stores?
Pet store hamsters vary in age, and there’s little way of telling how old they are. However, most hamsters are between 6 and 10 weeks old when they arrive at the store.
Hamsters must be separated from each other when they’re around 6 weeks old.
If not, they fight, sometimes to the death. As a result, pet stores choose not to keep hamsters that are too old, as there’s not enough space to house one hamster per tank.
How Old Are Hamsters When They Go to the Pet Store?
The youngest age hamsters go to pet stores is 4 weeks old. Hamster pups are ready to leave their mothers at 21-28 days old.
After this time, they must be separated into same-sex cages to prevent fighting and unwanted pregnancies. Hamsters can reproduce and have pups as young as 4-6 weeks old.
Before going out onto the shop floor, hamsters spend a short amount of time acclimatizing to being separated from their mothers and away from customers. Once they’ve settled into their new environment, they’re ready to go out on display to be sold.
When hamsters reach the shop floor, they’re usually around 6 weeks old if their age has been correctly determined. Many stores keep between 2-4 hamsters in the same cage while out for sale.
How Old Are Hamsters When You Get Them From the Pet Store?
While pet stores can offer a guide on how old their hamsters are, there’s always room for error; some may be older or younger than you’re told.
Then, there’s the amount of time they’ve been on sale to consider. Some hamsters are sold immediately, while others remain in store for a few weeks before being shown interest.
This is more common with hamsters who burrow into their bedding throughout the day, remaining hidden from the general public’s view.
If store employees didn’t note the hamster’s exact age when they received it, it’s easy to lose track.
Due to store rules regarding age, you can assume that your hamster will be 6-12 weeks old.
Do Pet Stores Sell Old Hamsters?
Most national pet stores stop selling hamsters at 12 weeks old because they only have short lifespans. As described by Laboratory Animal Medicine, this is between 18 to 24 months.
Once they reach this age, they’ll donate them to animal charities or shelters, who’ll then find them a safe and secure home. Unlike large pet stores, animal charities like to see evidence of a large enough enclosure before allowing the hamster to leave their care.
Local, independent pet stores are more likely to sell older hamsters. They often feel a greater responsibility for the animals in their care. They also become attached to the hamsters they have for sale and want to see them go to a good home.
Some stores, including those that operate nationally, have adoption centers where hamsters who can no longer be cared for by their owners are taken to find a new, loving home.
The pet store will cover the cost of food, housing, and veterinary treatments, making them a more affordable option.
What Age Should Hamsters Be Sold?
Hamsters mustn’t be sold before they’re at least 21 days old.
For most hamsters, this is still too young. Several charities and animal care experts agree that 6 weeks is the minimum age for selling hamsters.
The animal is independent enough to live without its mother and littermates at this age. It’s also the ideal age for it to get used to your scent and adapt to frequent handling without getting too stressed out.
If your local pet store knowingly sells hamsters younger than 6 weeks, you should report it to your local authorities. Alternatively, you can alert your nearest animal charity or shelter.
How Old Are Hamsters at PetSmart?
Like other stores, hamsters sold at PetSmart are typically between 6 and 10 weeks old.
PetSmart is a popular store, so hamsters sell quickly. That’s why the hamsters tend to be younger on average than in independent pet stores that first require proof of a suitable environment.
The issue with PetSmart is that many employees work different shifts. In the case of larger PetSmart stores, not all workers will know how old each hamster is or when they were first brought into the store.
That said, you can attempt to estimate the hamster’s age by its size and the thickness of its coat. Older hamsters have slightly thinner fur than young hamsters.
You must be at least 18 years old to buy a hamster from PetSmart.
Do Pet Stores Sell Female Hamsters?
Pet stores sell male and female hamsters. However, due diligence is required, as not all pet store employees are trained to distinguish males from females.
You can tell the difference between the sexes by identifying their sexual characteristics. For example, females have two rows of nipples on the belly, and their vagina is close to the anus.
Male hamsters have large testicles near the tail, and their penis is much further away from the anus. Also, while males and females have scent glands, they’re more prominent in males.
Another thing to remember is that pet stores sometimes accidentally house male and female hamsters together, resulting in unexpected pregnancies.
To prevent accidental breeding and sexual-related behaviors, some pet brands have designated male or female stores, which means they only sell one particular sex. If you’re looking for a particular sex, you can call your local store to see what they sell.
While pet stores undertake due care and diligence to ensure they’re not selling hamsters too young, ask about the hamster’s age before you commit to purchasing it.