How Old Are Hamsters At PetSmart? Pet Store Hamster Age

How Old Are Hamsters At PetSmart?

Aside from those looking for a specific species or variety of hamster, most small pet owners adopt hamsters from their local pet store or PetSmart. While these chains make adopting a hamster simple and convenient, one downside is that there is very little information provided about your specific pet. One missing but important piece of information is the hamster’s age.

How old are the hamsters sold at PetSmart? Most hamsters sold at PetSmart and other chain pet stores are between 4 and 6 weeks of age when put on the sales floor. While policies will vary between stores, a hamster should never be sold or separated from his or her mother before four weeks of age. 

Read on for more information about the age of hamsters in pet stores, a hamster’s lifespan, and other information about the small pets sold at PetSmart.

The Age Of PetSmart Hamsters

Hamsters may go up for sale between the ages of 4 and 6 weeks, but that doesn’t mean each hamster on the sales floor is that young. A hamster may go onto the sales floor at six weeks of age and then sit for several weeks, or even months, before actually being sold.

To get a more accurate estimate of your potential hamster’s age, then, you will need to ask the sales associate how long the hamster has been at their store (ask how long the hamster has been at the store, not on the sales floor, as the store will most likely have a specific quarantine period for hamsters in the back before placing them for sale).

Once you find out how long the hamster has been at the store, add six weeks to get the approximate age of the hamster.

Why are some hamsters for sale longer than others?

There are a couple of reasons a hamster may find himself waiting for his forever home for a longer period of time than his peers. One of these reasons has to do with personality.

Most people who are looking for a hamster to adopt are looking for a companion with whom they will be able to spend time and play. A hamster who is timid and spends more time in his hide-out will get less attention than a hamster perceived as friendly and outgoing.

The desirability of personable hamsters over shy hamsters is understandable, but the quiet ones often make wonderful pets too. The noise and activity levels of a pet store can be overwhelming for some animals, and oftentimes a hamster simply needs a calm, permanent environment to permit his or her personality to shine.

The other reason a hamster may sit is if she looks more “plain” than the others. While wholly unfair, the reality is that the flashier hamsters will be more desirable to a percentage of the consumer base than the less embellished ones.

This is especially true with color and markings. A hamster with multiple colors and markings will get more attention than a hamster of a solid color.

What does PetSmart do with unsold hamsters?

How long a hamster may sit on the sales floor before being deemed un-sellable will depend on the store, as each will have its own policies.

Oftentimes, a hamster will be discounted if sitting too long. Many stores have a policy where the price of their hamsters are decreased by 25% after a specific amount of time, 50% after twice that, and 75% or lower after a number of months.

Other stores will transfer their pets to another location or even to an adoption center if they stay on the sales floor too long without interest. And sometimes, small pets will be offered to the store associates at a steeply discounted price, or for no cost, if they have been sitting too long. 

The Lifespan Of A Store-Bought Hamster

It is important to know the general lifespan of a hamster, especially when considering the adoption of an older pet. There are five species of hamster sold as pets – the Syrian (the larger hamster, also called a Golden), the Robo, the Winter White, the Campbell’s dwarf, and the Chinese hamster.

The average lifespan will vary somewhat between these species, but the overall average is between 18 and 30 months (or 1.5 – 2.5 years). This is important information to have when estimating the age of a pet store hamster – if the sales associate tells you a hamster has been sitting on the sales floor for nine months, you have to understand that this hamster may already be in the middle of her life by the time she is adopted. 

Adopting An Older Hamster From PetSmart

Adopting an older animal of any pet species is both admirable and rewarding. These pets are just as deserving of a loving home as their younger siblings and have waited too long.

They are also considered to be less desirable than their younger peers, and the longer they wait on the sales floor, the less likely it is they will be adopted. Still, while an older hamster should not be looked over, there are a couple of things to be aware of when considering the adoption of an elderly hamster.

The first, as mentioned, is the lifespan. If you are looking for a hamster for your child, you may not want a hamster who may only live for another 9-12 months. Processing the death of a pet is both a valuable and a hard lesson, and one that you may not want to approach so soon. 

The other point to consider is sociability. Hamsters are solitary creatures by nature and do not need nor particularly want human attention and affection.

For those who are looking for a hamster as a companion, it may be better to adopt a younger hamster. A younger hamster will be easier to tame than a hamster who has lived half of his life in a solitary cage with little human interaction.

It is certainly possible to condition an older hamster to tolerate and possibly appreciate human attention, but the success rate will be smaller than with a younger animal.

Is PetSmart The Only Place To Buy A Hamster?

PetSmart, Petco, and other large chain pet stores are where you will most commonly find people adopting hamsters. Adopting a hamster at one of these stores is not only convenient and inexpensive but also offers something we humans are becoming increasingly accustomed to – instant gratification.

Did you visit a friend with a hamster and fall in love? You can stop at a pet store on the way home and pick up one of your own (along with the enclosure, food, and everything else you need for that pet).

Did you watch a tv show about hamsters and decide you are ready to take the plunge? Drive on over to your local PetSmart and choose from the many hamsters they have on their sales floor.

Of course, I will always recommend that you do extensive research before taking on the responsibility of adopting any pet, but once you are ready to take the next step, a pet store provides the convenience and variety that are attractive to many new pet owners.

But pet stores are not the only place one should look when considering adding a small animal to the family. If you are looking for a specific species or variety of hamster, you may want to look for a local breeder.

If going through a breeder, you will likely have to wait longer for your pet than if going to a pet store (though not much longer – the average hamster gestation is less than three weeks), but the advantage is that most breeders will carefully select their breeding stock for health, temperment, and specific physical traits like coat length and color.

Lastly, you can try your local animal shelter if you are considering a hamster. Most animal shelters and SPCAs will often have small animals for adoption – including rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. If you go this route, not only will you be taking in an otherwise unwanted pet, but you will have the added benefit of knowing that your hamster was thoroughly looked over by a veterinarian or other professional.

Hamsters adopted from animal shelters will not be sold for a profit, meaning you will usually find more honesty and transparency about the animals when adopting rather than when buying from a breeder or pet store. 

The Importance Of Determining Pet Store Hamster Age

If you are considering purchasing (or adopting) a hamster, it is important to find out as much information as you can about the individual animal, including his or her age.

Depending on what it is you would like to do with your hamster, determining an accurate estimate of age can help you decide whether or not to proceed – if you are looking for a hamster with whom you can interact and train, you may want a younger hamster.

If you are looking for a quiet and easy-going companion, you may be okay with an older pet. Every hamster deserves a loving and comfortable home, so while it is important to take the age of a hamster into consideration, don’t overlook the older ones – they are often the ones who make the best pets. Check out more of my recent articles on owning and caring for small pets here!

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