Archived Q&A and Reviews

Getting a hamster for my daughter

Oct 2006

Our daughter wants a hamster. We did not ant to buy it at Pet- Co, we have heard of their mis-treatment of animals etc. Who else sells them? Are their any clean, wholesome small pet shops out there that people have had recent experience with? I heard you have to get them young. Does any family out there have a hamster that gave birth in the last few months? We are looking for a Golden hamster. We would come get it. Also I heard the hamsters chew through plastic and metal cages and glass is the best. What is your experience with cages? We have already read several children books on caring for hamsters but it is always great to hear from real people. Thanks for your help amy

RabbitEars, in Kensington (right at the top of Arlington, near the hardware store and the ice cream store) has rescued small pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and, yes, hamsters. I know they have some long-haired hamsters right now (ethereally cute) but I've seen golden hamsters, too. They've all been taken in from local shelters, so you'd be doing a hamster a favor to adopt from there! sd
That Pet Shop in San Pablo (maybe it's Pinole..) is a small family run pet shop. It's on San Pablo Avenue near Tara Hills Drive way out near Hercules (you can find them in the phone book...call for exact address and directions). They have hamsters, rats, mice, sometimes bunnies or kitties. Jeff is the owner and he's really nice. A woman named Karin works there and she's the ''rat lady''...I bet she knows hamsters too. I'd like to add a suggestion for getting rats instead of hamsters. Although we've never had hamsters, we do have 2 rats. They are VERY social, handleable, smart and sweet pets. Because they are social it's best to get 2 so they have company (make sure it's two of same sex if you don't want babies). Either way, call That Pet Shop...you'll find them very helpful Rat mom
There is a great small pet store in Kensington, run by some extremely thoughtful and conciencious folks. I'm sorry that I don't recall the name, but I hope someone else can send it in. It is adjacent to the parking lot for the Kensington Ace Hardware on The Arlington at Amherst. The parking lot is on Amherst. If these folks do't carry hamsters, I'm sure that theyd know of a great, responsible source Mom
I happen to know that THAT PET SHOP unfortunately closed in June/July of this year. The shopping center's lease went up too high ANON

Hamsters breeding

March 2005

Re: Thinking about breeding rabbits
Here's a story for you:

My son had two hamsters. When my son was seven, he decided it would *fun* to breed them. During ONE DAY, they fornicated until there was semen everywhere -- the female was covered in it, the cage was a disaster. Both hamsters were exhausted. Female gives birth and things are progressing well enough. One of the babies dies. Mother eats half of it. My son, already freaked by the previously mentioned fornicating, gets really freaked out. I clean out the half eaten baby. Yuck. The father is returned to the cage some time after the babies are well able to look out for themselves. Father kills the babies, the mother is almost mortally wounded trying to defend them, and we weren't around to stop the carnage. The mother has a huge, gaping wound on her side and the babies are all dead. The father, who was once a dear and loveable pet, is so damaged by the female that he dies shortly after. Son is no longer even interested in the thought of owning, let alone breeding, any small animal ever again.

Okay, those are the worst case scenarios, but I have seen rabbits turn vicious after breeding, or at the very least, lose interest in their human friends.

If you do decide to go on with this idea, please have everything ready, be prepared, by a book or two to educate yourself, and ABOVE ALL -- find homes BEFORE you have the babies. Otherwise, you may end up with a bunch of bunnies you didn't want in the first place. Oh, and rabbits do not ever stop screwing so you can't let them run around unless you want to see your kids utterly revolted by the whole experience after a (short) while. heather

Good source for hamsters

Jan 2004

I went to two local pet stores and was appalled by the condition of some of the animal habitats. The hamsters seemed ok, but considering the bad conditions of some of the cages and aquariums, it was obvious that the owners were not animal lovers, to say the least. Can someone recommend a place that is run by people who take excellent care of their animals? Also, I am in contact via email with a breeder in San Francisco whose email screen name is ''DreamGuardian.'' Not sure if this is the name of the business or not. Does anyone know of and have any opinions about this breeder? Thanks for your responses. marianne

This place is excellent for rodents: Your Basic Bird 2940 College Ave, Berkeley 510.841.7617. In place of hamsters, I recommend rats. Friendly, smart, always ready to play. When loose, they actually seek you out. Neat pets. The only thing is, get them from a good place, and make sure they have been handled regularly since very young. Hamsters seem more innocuous, but they sleep all day and they seem to bite. Lynn
Feb 2001

My six year old daughter has loved having a dwarf hamster. They are small like a mouse but furry and cute. Minimal work and very tame if you play with them regularly. They are small enough for young kids to handle. One warning, we lost one to a respiratory problem caused by the fluffy bedding we bought in the pet store - they accidentally swallow some and it causes problems. Use only toilet tissue for bedding. They shred it up to be very fluffy. Of course for real reciprocated affection and bonding I vote for dogs and some cats. Lynn

East Bay pet store that sells hamsters

Nov 1999

Well, the Great Pet Debate is winding to a close, and it looks like we will be getting a hamster. We've visited three pet stores & read a few books, but before making a committment I would like to know if anyone has had any experience, positive or negative, with Tropical Fish & Pet in Pinole, Lucky Dog Pet Shop in Berkeley, or Lucky Goldfish in Oakland. Does anyone know of other East Bay pet stores that sell hamsters? Are there hamster breeders out there who sell babies? Anyone's pet expecting? All advice will be greatly appreciated. Melinda

We purchased a hamster from Lucky Dog Pet Store on San Pablo and I wouldn't recommend them. They were so eager to get rid of the hamsters that I felt they misled us. I thought they were very manipulative (taking advantage of my son's eagerness to have a pet). I would not get the very small hamsters (can't remember what they are called--I think it's Russian something). Even with a great deal of attention, the small hamster we purchased from them never did like interacting (esp. with children) and was not a fun and loving pet. Jacqueline

We bought our hamster at Wet Pets in San Pablo. They had a mangy looking one there at the time, but our guy is very cute, heatlhy, and we've had no trouble with him, other than the accidental escapes. Enjoy your nice new pet! Sarah

I have only bought live food at Lucky Dog, but Victor Yool, who writes a biweekly gardening column in the Chronicle, gave it a hearty recommendation in a column a few months back. He said something like It kept my brothers and I in furry friends for years. We bought our son's pet mice at Petco and they came with a health guarantee (I forget how long--maybe 3 weeks). You might wish to check them out. (They're a big chain.) Fran

Allergies to hamsters?

Aug 1998

I have a 6 year old w/ asthma and he wants a hamster. Anyone have kids w/ asthma that have hamsters? I wanted to know what kind of affect they have on asthmatics if any. Thanks! Em

My son and I have recently become summer babysitters for a dwart hamster (Siberian), which is very cute and has short fur and not much of it. I'm allergic to fur myself, but I've never had any problem with this little critter. If you want to look for hamsters, make sure you don't get a teddy bear hamster which does have long fur and might cause some problems. -- Diana
Regarding non-allergenic pets, I have faced the problem of wanting cuddly pets but being extremely allergic to all furry things. I discovered by chance though that either pet rats are small enough or they are not allergy ridden for me, and that they make GREAT pets. They are loving, gentle, very social little creatures. They need, like all babies, to be mothered and gentled when very young if you want one which is bonded to you. And they love company so I would definately get two (of the same sex!) (preferably females). Frederick Chopin Jr. (had great wee piano playing like hands) filled a huge pet void for me and won the hearts of all of my family and friends who though rats are unappetizing. Their is a marvelous vet named Dr. James Harris 510-339-8600 in Montclair who has cared for school rats for years. It was well worth our while to drive there from Berkeley when needed. He can educate you about the right (and wrong) kinds of wood shavings to put in the cage, what to feed them, etc. and was very reasonbly priced- he loves these little critters too. Andrea