Hamsters make a great affordable pet for younger people, or people who aren’t as experienced in keeping pets.
Don’t get the wrong idea, that doesn’t mean that hamsters don’t require tons of love just like any other animal. They’re popular among among younger kids because they’re cute, fluffy, and easy to take care of.
Compared to pet rats, for example, hamsters aren’t quite as intelligent, they won’t really show the same affection for their owner, and rats keep themselves a lot cleaner than hamsters.
Nonetheless, rats require a bit more from you, and they need to be kept in groups of at least two, so if you just want one pet, and you want something a little fluffier and aren’t worried about those other things, then let’s talk hamsters.
The HIDDEN Costs of Hamsters…
Okay, maybe calling these costs “hidden” is a bit dramatic, but there are a lot of things you’ll need to buy alongside your new hamster, and the price can really start to add up.
Beyond that, you’ll have to buy things every month or every couple of months, which also costs more than you might expect.
Let’s go over that…
Note: Prices for things can vary quite a bit from country to country, even city to city, so these are just general guidelines. We’ll include some recommendations of products on Amazon, since they often have some of the best prices for pet stuff, and it’s usually not the type of stuff you need to see in person first so pet stuff is good to order online.
Just one bit of caution: If you’re buying a cage or other essentials online, do it before you buy your hamster, and make sure it has actually arrived and is at your door before taking home a hamster. Don’t necessarily trust the shipping estimates and just assume it’ll be there, you don’t want to end up with a poor little homeless hamster.
Buying a Hamster
A hamster is an affordable pet when you’re talking about the cost of the animal themselves, often costing anywhere from $10-$20, but sometimes a bit more, and sometimes a bit less.
In any case, it’s the smallest expense you’ll be incurring, so if it ends up being a little more for the exact one that catches your eye, you don’t have to worry about that.
You can take a little time at the shop to play with the hamsters, and see if one of them seems to like you a little more than the rest, but there won’t always be one that really stands out from the group.
How Much do Hamster Cages Cost?
Next up is the cage itself, and then we’ll get around to filling up the cage with all sorts of goodies and essentials. When it comes to choosing a cage, we like to keep it simple, something like this:
- Structure on two-floors
- Made of robust plastic with transparent base
- Wire net upper part
- Fully accessorized. Hamster cage with high bottom
- Product Dimension: 23.6 x 14.4 x 11.8 inches
Why did we choose this one?
Because it’s not overly expensive, but it’s still a BIG step up from the cheaper ones. It has two levels, so your hamster(s) get to have an upstairs and a downstairs. The pieces are well-made and they fit together easily, which is important because you’ll be taking it apart to clean it on a very regular basis.
The bottom part is see through, which is a unique feature that’s GREAT. It gives you a whole other perspective to watching your hamster live their life, and makes it easier to tell when it needs a good cleaning.
It’s much nicer than the colored plastic bases most cages have, except that with time it will start to get a bit scratched up, and the only reason that’s an issue compared to the solid color ones is that you’ll notice it a little more on the transparent plastic.
You might be tempted by those cages that have those cool looking tunnels all around them, and they can be kind of fun, but they’re also more work to clean, and you have to make absolutely sure they have enough ventilation. You can also get separate hamster tubes for their cages, or find cages that have them build in but are still made with wires.
Things For Inside Your Hamster’s Cage
Now that we’ve got the cage itself picked out, let’s get it stocked up with everything they need, from bedding to water bottles to food, toys, and more.
Best hamster bedding: One of the highest rated and affordable options is Carefresh White Small pet Bedding, 23L (Pack May Vary), it’s a solid choice. There are, however, a lot of different options to choose from, and different colors, materials, and more. This is a good place to start, but see how it works for you and then explore what else is out there.
Bedding is one of the biggest costs over time, it starts to add up throughout the course of a year, so that’s just something to keep in mind. The more bulk you buy, the cheaper it gets, but don’t go overboard because you’ll risk being stuck with a ton of bedding eventually unless you plan to continue keeping hamsters.
If you end up with the cage we highlighted above, the bedding goes in the very bottom, and make sure you use enough to give your hamster a place to burrow in and hide away when they’re feeling reclusive. Hamsters like a lot of bedding, and they’ll make a mess of it quite soon, so just keep that in mind.
Best hamster food dish: You don’t have to put a ton of thought into this, it’s just a small dish to hold your hamster’s food. You may already have something around the house, or you can opt for something simple like this:
- These absolutely chew proof dishes feature wide profiles that lend stability
- The heavyweight design makes these dishes tip resistant.
- Eliminate messes and promote healthy pets with Stoneware Dishes,
Beyond that, you may want to keep an eye out since you never know when you’ll find something really cool to replace it with!
Best hamster water bottle: We recommend going with a glass bottle, for starters. This one has a cute little carrot that floats in it, so you can easily see how much water is left at a quick glance. Take a look, here:
- water bottle; Made of recycled glass
- Easy to install and refill
- Drip resistant
- Equipped with a water level indicator
- Holds 12 fluid ounces; Measures 2 inches length x 2.5 inches width x 12 inches height
It’s a good idea to avoid plastic bottles because hamsters love to chew plastic. You can also help mitigate them chewing apart parts of their cage by giving them chew toys, which we’ll look at in just a moment, but first an important message about water bottles.
Many water bottles have little ball bearings in them that stop the water from coming out until your pet goes to lick it, which pushes the ball up a little bit, rotates it, and allows water to come out.
Before putting the bottle into your hamster’s cage, make sure the bearings are loose enough that you’re able to move them with your finger gently. You want to ensure water is coming out, and you want to keep an eye on the water level daily just to make sure it never gets stuck.
It’s not very common for this to happen, but it certainly has happened, and can cause your little friends to become dehydrated. Sometimes, they’re just a little tight from the manufacturing process. This is also why we love the hamster water bottle that’s linked above: it has that little carrot to quickly check water levels.
Alternatively, you can use a dish for water as well, but it will lead to more clean-up.
We recommend avoiding most of the free-standing water bottle setups, since your hamster will probably knock them over and check them up pretty good. A bottle that hooks on to the side of the cage, and lives on the outside of the cage, is ideal because it doesn’t take up any extra room and it’s easier to fill without opening the cage or disturbing your hammy.
Best hamster shelters: Just about anything will do here, as long as they can comfortably fit inside in, and have a little room to burrow around in their bedding. Wood ones are nice, here are a few good examples to check out:
- Natural wood.
- An interesting toy with small animals.
- It's suitable for hamsters and mice.
- 9 entrances(exits).
- Size: 7.9"x2.8"x2.8" (20x7x7cm)
- Cute bridge is made from natural wood sticks held together with two flexible metal wires.
- Easily bends to fit a variety of shapes and sizes to reach elevated areas; encourages exploration...
- Can also be curled into a domed shelter your furry friend will use as a warm, cozy nest.
- Safe for chewing to satisfy her instinctual urges and help keep incisor teeth trimmed and healthy.
- 9 x 4.2-inch bridge is recommended for hamsters, mice, chinchillas, rats, sugar gliders and...
Best hamster toys: It’s time for the fun stuff! There are so many different toys to choose from for small pets, and you don’t have to stick with stuff that’s just designated as being for hamsters. Take a look at rat toys, and stuff for other small pets, too. Here are some toys for hamsters that offer a great value to get you started:
- Natural wood material.
- Cute design.
- Pet's play toys.
- Fun wooden seesaw for hamsters.
- Size: 8.7"x3"x3.7" (22x7.5x9.5cm)
- Keeping them healthy and active and helping them play around their environment in a new fun way.
- This Wooden toy Chew Toy gives your small rodent the prefect opportunity to play and work out!
- Function: entertainment, decompression and grinding teeth for small pet.
- Lovely shape and delicate appearance can be used to grind pet's teeth, so that the pet's life will...
- Applicable to: hamsters, chinchillas, Guinea pigs and other small pets.
- By the security of natural wood, suspension bridge is perfect.
- Offers pet mountaineering and exploration of desire.
- Promote exercise and help to develop coordination and balance skills.
- Destructible toys satisfy small animal's instinctual need to chew.
- Quick link fastener for easy attachment to cage.
And a few good options for them to chew/take care of their teeth:
- Helps reduce boredom in small animals and provide your pet with hours of playtime fun
- Pet safe natural chewable material
- Apple Wood or Crispy Chews can also be used on the Kaytee Ka-Bob.
- 4.5" long, 6.5"wide, 1.25" high
- For small animals
- Measures 2.75*1.18*0.6 inch /7*3*1.5 cm
- Hamster chew toys are made of all natural lava stone
- The genuine volcanic rock is ideal for gnawing pets to keep their teeth clean, healthy and trim
- These are the perfect size and shape for critters to chew
- Perfect for chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils and other furry animal
Obviously, hamsters need food too, here’s some information on that:
- What do Hamsters Eat? (Best Staples & Treats for Syrian, Dwarf & Baby Hamsters)
- Can Hamsters Eat Grapes & Their Seeds?
- Can Hamsters Eat Bananas & Banana Peels?
Final Thoughts on Hamster Costs
You can expect to spend anywhere from around $100 to $150, even upwards of $200 to get everything you need before you bring your new hamster home. After you’ve got all of that lined up, the costs don’t stop.
Food and bedding are the biggest on-going costs, and potential vet visits as well if your hamster gets sick. Expect to spend around $150-$200 per year on food and bedding, additional toys, replacing things that get too chewed up, and so on.
Compared to many other pets, hamsters aren’t really all that expensive, but the money can still add up so make sure you want to commit to spend at least as much as we’ve discussed, and possibly more in some unfortunate situations (Like if they get sick and need something serious done at the vet…)