Hamster Cost: Helpful Information For New Hamster Owners

Unless you can get one for free from a friend who recently had a litter of hamsters, you are going to spend some money for the initial purchase of the hamster itself.

But, it’s unlikely you will have to pay more than $20 for your hamster with the average price being between $5 and $20 depending on breed and where you purchase it – breeder, rescue or pet store.


The real costs come from hamster care!

That’s certainly not free, but it’s probably not as much as you expect.

In this article we will look at the different aspects of hamster cost from startup to ongoing expensive during the lifespan of your delightful little pet.

First things first

Before you buy your hamster you will need to have sourced a cage, bedding, water bottle/bowl, food and toys.

So how much is hamster care going to set you back over the course of your hamster’s lifetime?

Let’s break it down…

We will look at cage, bedding, water and food, hideout, exercise, toys, and health


It may be the case that you have rescued/adopted your hamster and the center has included all of these things in the price, but in most situations the first thing you will need to do is find these things yourself.


Of course you want your hamster to be as comfortable as possible with lots of room to run around in, so the bigger the cage the better.

But, if you don’t have a lot of space in your house then a huge cage could be problematic.

Try to choose something that will best suit both you and the hamster – and then give more emphasis to the needs of the hamster!

What do we think?

We believe that the more floor space and height to the cage, the better!

Here is a brilliant article that will give you in depth information about cage sizes and ideal requirements for each breed of hamster.

As you will see, there is a lot of noise around at the moment from hamster forums wanting minimum cage sizes to be raised and we wholeheartedly support this.

All hamsters like to burrow so it is really important than you choose a cage which is tall enough to be able to allow for a thick amount of bedding material (aka litter) to be put down.

Minimum height requirements are 24 inches with 6-10 inches of bedding depth. But these are just the bare minimums and we would really encourage you to go for more than.

Different types of cages

There are 3 types of hamster cage…

Wire or mesh cage

  • the most common and widely available habitat
  • well ventilated, chew proof and easy to clean
  • not very suitable for dwarf hamsters because they can escape through the gaps in the metal
  • usually quite shallow so hamsters can’t burrow easily and when they try to the bedding and cage bottom composition can get pushed out of the sides.

Tank with wire mesh top

  • The best habitat option for dwarf hamsters and probably your Syrian hamster too.
  • Enclosed so no chance of escape, but pretty well ventilated from the top.
  • An easy cage to clean and much better for burrowing than the wire cage.
  • Can be glass or plastic. Glass is heavier and not as easy to maneuver.
photograph by Dianne1009, distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


  • Not a specifically designed habitat for hamster care, they are usually made from glass and perspex and have similar qualities as tanks.
  • The downside is that the ventilation isn’t fantastic.

How much does a hamster cage cost?

Depending on which type and size, expect to pay between about $70 and $200.

So, which ones are best?

To answer this we will need to discuss cages for Syrian hamsters and cages for Chinese and dwarf hamsters separately.

Syrian hamster cages

Due to their much larger size Syrian hamsters need a much bigger cage than Chinese or dwarf hamsters. But, they can also be housed in a cage with bars as there is no chance your furry friend can escape by squeezing through the cage wires.

Chinese and dwarf hamster cages

They may be small, but they still require ample space to run around in. Especially if you are keeping multiple numbers together and including toys and a wheel etc.


Cleaning your hamster’s cage is not difficult and is an important job in helping to keep your furry friend happy and in good health.

Therefore you really need to clean it thoroughly once a week and give it a really deep clean once a month (e.g. take it apart and clean the wheel, toys, bars, any tubing, etc).

You can find information on the steps for cleaning here.

Which products are safest to use on my hamster’s cage?

Great question. There are a number of options you can go for.

If you do not want to risk chemicals around your hamster then you can try cleaning the cage with white vinegar and hot water – due to vinegar’s strong smell it is best to wait a while before putting your hamster back in.

If you want to get a deeper, more effective clean then you will likely need to use some kind of disinfectant (like bleach) or anti-bacterial dish soap are fine in small amounts and will give an effective clean.

Other supplies you will need might include:

  • scrubbing brush
  • sponge
  • old toothbrush
  • rag for drying
  • and possibly a scraper to get off really stuck down areas.

So, you can see, it isn’t all that much and costs for cleaning can be kept pretty low.


For the hamster bedding (or litter) you want something that is absorbent and will provide comfort, warmth and the opportunity to burrow.

You also don’t want something that is scented because hamsters have a very sensitive sense of smell and scented bedding may be unpleasant to them.

Another big no no is dusty bedding. Please check the packaging before you purchase because dusty bedding can cause breathing problems for your pet.

What bedding can you use?

Wood shavings

Wood shavings are the best option as they are:

  • soft to walk on for your hamster’s delicate feet
  • able to absorb fluids and moisture
  • cheap to buy and manufacture

Our choice would be Aspen shavings because…

  • it is the most widely used and available
  • it doesn’t have strong aromas and controls odor well
  • it is are absorbent
  • it is affordable

One negative is that some Aspen shavings can be dusty so it would be a good idea to search out and try a few brands.

Once you find one that you are satisfied with you can pay for a huge bag of it that will last months, if not a year.

Tree shavings

If you cannot find Aspen shavings then other options would be shavings from trees such as white birch, apple, pear, elm, sycamore etc.

Be aware that these shavings will have a stronger aroma than Aspen shavings.

Be sure to make the bedding deep enough so your hamster can burrow away to their heart’s content.

A minimum of 6-10 inches is required (depending on species), but hopefully you have bought a nice big cage so you can go much deeper.

Research shows that a hamsters in cages with lots of burrowing space have lower stress levels and are generally more healthy.

Paper bedding

Paper bedding is also an effective litter option.

Please use either paper towels or plain paper (recycled for eco-friendly points) as inks can be toxic – so no newspaper.

Water bottle or water bowl

You can find out about the pros and cons of each here. We are just going to show you which ones we like the best.

For the water bottle it is best to purchase from a pet store or online, but the water bowl you can just use a dish you have in the house if it is suitable, so that will cost you nothing.

A water bowl needs to be:

  • shallow but not too shallow
  • heavy enough to avoid rocking
  • it is are absorbent
  • placed on a raised platform away from bedding
  • preferably with steps leading up to it

Water bottle

The size and shape will be dependent on the size and shape of the cage and hamster you have.

You can find information about the pros and cons of water bowls and bottles in our article on hamster care.


Feeding your hamster will not cost a lot because you can buy pre-made dry food mixes and supplement their diet with items you would eat yourself anyway.

Main diet

Good quality commercial pellets should be the basis of your hamster’s diet as hamster pellets are designed to mimic the seeds and grains your hamster would eat in the wild.

What percentage of the diet? About 90%

A good tip is to buy in bulk. You’ll take a bit of an initial hit, but if you can get a number of months or year supply it will be cost effective in the long run.

And the other 10%?

That can be made up of treats. And by treats we don’t mean chocolate and candy. Feeding hamsters sugar is not good!

Here are some good treats to give your hamster:

  • Grains – can come from prepared loose seed mixes, which is created specifically for hamsters. offer no more than a tablespoon daily
  • Vegetables – carrots, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens, and some other dark green vegetables.
  • Fruits
    • Give in moderation – strawberries, grapes, bananas, apples, pears.
    • Avoid – apple seeds, citrus fruits, watermelon, rhubarb
  • Hay – Timothy hay is the best choice

For foods that you should never feed to hamsters, see this article.


Similar to the water bottle scenario here with size and shape very much dependent on cage and hamster size.

Hideouts are really important because they are where your hamster will sleep and replicate the burrow they would have in the wild.

You can find a range of plastic options online or in pet stores or you can fashion your own out of wood.


The best hideouts are made from wood because they are safe to chew and absorb moisture. But, you can find more range of plastic ones


You won’t know how big your new hamster will grow so you need to choose a hideout that you think will be able to accommodate it when it is fully grown.

Good ventilation is important, so a spacious opening is ideal and enough space inside to allow for good air movement.

The hideout doesn’t necessarily need to have multiple openings because your hamster will likely only use one entrance and block up the others with bedding anyway.


Owning a pet is a big responsibility and giving your pet the exercise it requires can be challenging for some pet owners.

Hamsters may be much smaller pets than say a dog, but a hamster needs exercise and space to run. They love to run.

Exercise wheels

Fortunately, for hamster pet owners finding time and space to exercise their pet is not an issue because owning a hamster also means owning an exercise wheel!

Hamsters love having an exercise wheel in their cage and will spend hours and hours running on them.

photograph by Mylius, distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

How to choose a wheel

There are a few things to consider when selecting a wheel, including:

  1. size of hamster
  2. ease of cleaning
  3. when does your hamster use it and where is the cage located?
  4. how many hamsters do you have in one enclosure?
  5. how much money do you want to pay?

For point 3 – think about whether your hamster is most active at night or during the day and where their habitat is located.

If they are active at night and live in a bedroom then you may want to consider a quiet spinner, such as this one.

For point 4 – rather than put multiple wheels in one cage you could spend you dollars on a flying saucer wheel that can accommodate more than one hamster at a time.

Exercise ball

We would advise against purchasing an exercise ball for these reasons:

  • hamsters can’t use smell well to navigate inside a ball, so can get disorientated (due to having bad eyesight) and crash into or fall off things
  • hamsters can become dehydrated as the balls are poorly ventilated and trap heat
  • ventilation slits vary depending on exercise ball and some can be wide enough to trap the hamster’s feet
  • hamsters can’t leave the ball when they want to and this can cause stress
  • the balls can get dirty easily and lead to ill health for hamsters
  • it is harder for the hamster to stop the momentum of a ball than a wheel – this could lead to injury
  • most exercise balls are too small


Toys can be expensive and toys can be cheap!

It really depends on whether you purchase them from pet stores, an online shop or make them yourself.

Appropriate toys

The most important thing to remember is to put things in your pet’s habitat that are made from wood or cardboard.

Hamsters teeth never stop growing so they chew things to grind them down.

And they chew everything!

So plastic, rubber, cotton, and metal toys are not good.

Plastic, rubber and cotton can be digested and make hamsters sick, and metal can crack their teeth.

What if i keep a close eye on my pet while they are using things made from these materials?

If you do want to use items made from things like plastic, rubber, cotton and metal you should only do so when you are there to supervise. Then you can check for and stop chewing.

Creating a whole hamster run, for example, out of plastic tubing can be really fun for both you and your pet hamster.

It just requires supervision.

Are there any issues with cardboard?

If you are concerned about the glue that may be used to hold together toilet paper rolls and kitchen paper rolls then you can get pet friendly cardboard rolls from a shop.


Wooden items also need to be pesticide and chemical free. If you are not sure whether they are or not it is best to purchase pet specific items from pet store or online shop.

With all of that said, let’s look at some toys you could go for.

Free (or almost) toys

DIY toys are a great way to entertain your bet while keeping costs low.

The classic DIY toy is the cardboard tube. Hamsters love to scurry through tubes and if you make sure it’s wide enough and put ventilation holes in them then you can make a whole circuit of these things for your pet or pets to run in as much as they want.

Other effective DIY toys might be:

  • cardboard boxes
  • plant pots
  • old cups and teapots
  • ladders made from ice-lolly sticks or tree twigs
  • wooden chew blocks
  • wooden climbing blocks
  • coconut shells for climbing or housing

You could even embark on making DIY chew sticks and chew balls as shown in this fantastic article.

The personalities of all pets are different and their taste can vary over time. Luckily, they are loads of toys out there for even the most picky of pets.


Sadly, owning a pet is not always just fun and games watching them play and giving them lots of cuddles.

We wish it was like that, but sometimes our beloved pets will also get sick and a hamster is no different from other animals when it comes to this.

Vet visits

Annual check-ups with the vet are important to make sure your hamster is a healthy as it should be. An annual visit to the vet shouldn’t be too expensive, but price will vary between veterinary clinics.

Expect to pay 30-50 dollars for a general check up.

If you have to make an emergency appointment then the price will be higher. Maybe even double the cost.

There is no need to neuter or spay your hamster because you will either be keeping them alone (Syrian hamster) or in same sex pairs or groups.


Unlike some domestic pets (e.g. a dog or cat), a hamster doesn’t need to be vaccinated.

However, they may require treatment for parasites such as mites or tapeworms.


Detecting tape worms is difficult, but your vet may spot them if they test your hamster’s poo during a basic checkup.

With mites, look for these signs:

  • frequent scratching
  • dry skin
  • hair loss

Treatment supplies for parasites could cost up to $100 a year.


The cost of dental work is very low as a hamster is great at taking care of it’s own teeth.

All a hamster needs from you is enough wooden toys for them to gnaw on and keep their constantly growing teeth ground down to a length comfortable to them.


How much does a single hamster cost?

  • On average, hamsters cost between $5 and $20
  • Hamster cost is largely dependent on the breed and where you get your pet from

What is the best food for a hamster?

  • Good quality commercial pelleted food along with treats such as grains, fruit and vegetables./li>

How do I feed my hamster?

  • Feed your hamster every day by keeping their pelleted food bowl about 75% full.
  • Fruit and vegetables can be given 2 or 3 times a week, but should be in small portions.
  • Don’t overfeed – hamsters are hoarders so will likely have some in reserve.
  • If keeping more than one hamster, scatter the food around the cage so they don’t fight over it.

What can I do if one hamster hogs the food bowl?

  • Scatter food around the cage so it is not just in one place. This also a fun way for your pet to find food and how they would find it in the wild.

Are hamsters and easy pet to look after?

  • Hamsters are quite easy to care for if you do it right. They are small animals so don’t need huge cages that take up a lot of space. They can exercise themselves if you put an exercise wheel in their cage. They need daily monitoring for food, water and removal of wet areas, but most cages only need a full cleaning once a week.

Can I keep hamsters together?

  • You can keep a dwarf hamster with another dwarf hamster. In fact you can keep multiple dwarf hamsters together.
  • But you cannot keep a Syrian hamster with another Syrian hamster. They are solitary animals and will fight ferociously.

Which species of hamster makes the best pet?

  • This really depends on what you want. If you want to observe multiple hamsters interacting with each other than one of the 3 dwarf hamster species would be best. But they are quick and small, so difficult to handle.
  • If you want a hamster that is a little more docile and easier to handle then you should choose a Syrian hamster.

How long will my hamster live?

  • This will depend on the breed and general health of the animal. But, it could be anywhere from 1 year to 4 years.

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