ADOPTIONS & ADOPTING
Kindly note that Hamsters SA does not support the sale of hamsters, unless it's a reputable breeder who deserves reasonable compensation for their knowledgeable and correct efforts to provide a properly bred hamster. This is to discourage irresponsible "backyard" breeding, and overcrowding and bad housing in pet shops.
If you are looking for a hamster, please consider adopting an unwanted hamster from a rescue center first
....mature animals also make wonderful pets and need love!
Currently we do not know of any experienced responsible hamster breeders in SA.
Please see the Breeding topic for details on the matter.
CLICK TO GO TO A SECTION:
BABIES, AND WHEN ARE THEY READY TO BE ADOPTED?
(We assume that you separated the mom & dad as soon as you discovered the litter since another pregnancy can occur within hours of her giving birth):
Do not use a flash when taking pictures of hamsters because this stuns and/or frightens them like a lightning storm would, and can also damage the eyes. Rather take photos during daylight hours without a flash. In fact, unless your camera or phone's shutter action can be set to silent mode, do not take photos of the babies and mom at all until all eyes are fully open - the sound can frighten the mom who could then reject or kill the babies to protect them from what she could perceive as a predator lurking.
Do not clean the cage, nor disturb the nest, until the babies emerge on their own (sometime between 2 and 3 weeks).
As soon as you realise that your hamster is pregnant, or discover that she has given birth, ensure that mom (and babies, when they start eating solid food) receives a good nutritional diet of good quality dry mix and additional fresh food (see the Food & Treats page) to ensure the health and strength for her and the growing hamsters.
Generally, babies can go to new homes once their eyes are fully opened and they are running around competently, as well as able to eat all solid foods and drink water by themselves. It is best to leave them with mom until 4 weeks old, but 3.5 weeks could still be fine (definitely no younger). Please refer to the topic about Grouping & Pairing for explanation as to why they cannot be kept together.
Some people believe that hamsters fair better if kept with their siblings for up to 8 weeks old. However, they will need to be separated into male and female cages by the time they are 4 weeks old because they can actually start breeding after this cage, which is not good for the little girls' bodies & health while they are still mere babies themselves. If you only have one girl, she can stay with mom for up to 8 weeks (as long as mom is healthy and/or continues to accept her presence).
Distinguishing the different genders in young hamsters is often really difficult (even for experts) and we therefore recommend that you take the babies, with an extra cage, to your nearest exotics vet to assist you more accurately in this. Most pet shops are not reliable places for this assistance....many oopsies occur at the hands of these places because their distinguishing is also often inaccurate. Otherwise, please see our Sexing section to see if you can actually identify them yourself.
When the babies reach 8 weeks old, they will each need to be separated into their own housing to avoid territorial issues arising that could affect their confidence and taming. They are definitely ready for adoption at this age.
GETTING YOUR HAMSTER ADOPTED TO A GOOD HOME
As soon as you discover that a littler has been born, start advertising like crazy for them to be booked for homes at 4 weeks old. There are so many hamsters looking for homes, so don't just rely on the HSA group where most members already have their fill of furries. Advertise on some of the abovementioned groups too, as well as on your community pages, put a flyer at your local vet, etc. etc. etc.
Kindly note that, besides the fact that it is illegal to sell animals on Facebook, we do not support the trade of hamsters via our group unless it is a verified responsible breeder who may ask for compensation, or a rescue/shelter that may ask for an adoption fee.
WE REPEAT! Do not use a flash when taking pictures of hamsters because this stuns and/or frightens them like a lightning storm would, and can also damage the eyes. Rather take photos during daylight hours without a flash. In fact, unless your camera or phone's shutter action can be set to silent mode, do not take photos of the babies and mom until all eyes are fully open since the sound can frighten the mom who could then reject or kill the babies to protect them from what she could perceive as a predator lurking.
When putting hamsters up for adoption, don't be shy to insist on correct conditions for your hamster to be adopted into (e.g. correct size cage/s, wheel/s, etc.). You have every right to insist on checking the conditions first before the hamster leaves you!
Please ensure that your hamsters, babies or mature, are adopted as one hamster per cage only. If an interested party cannot prove that they have more than one cage if they want 2 or more, you have every right to refuse to let them have your fur kids!
Be wary of people who seem to want a male and female together, or your entire litter. This should raise your alarm bells that there could be a breeding scheme on the go, which may also include feeding of other animals who eat rodents! (Note that hamsters are apparently not good food for snakes, but some ignorant people don't know this).
It would be a good idea to print our Basic Care sheet and provide that with each adoption (also available in our files section on the FB group).
Do not give the babies to a dodgy pet shop (we are trying to discourage shops from housing and selling live hamsters and other rodents). However, there are indeed some very caring pet shops who do not sell animals, but will gladly assist and accept your critters to be put up for adoption via their business. Try to locate one of these nice places.
If you cannot get your babies adopted out by the time they are ready to leave, and you cannot keep them, please contact your local animal shelters/rescue centers to see if they can assist. Please do not abandon or neglect them.
Please see our stance about your accountability when it comes to handing over your hamster/s to a new owner.
Downloadable Basic Care Sheet
LOOKING FOR A HAMSTER TO ADOPT
Please check the above mentioned pages/groups and shelters before supporting the selling of live animals in pet shops
and our Facebook page: HAMSTERS SOUTH AFRICA: ADOPTIONS.
We do sometimes consider buying a hamster from a dodgy pet shop or irresponsible owner as a form of rescue, but then face the dilemma that we are encouraging such practice. Do what you think is right with regard to the situation at hand.
Please remember that abandoned adult hamsters also need good homes and are just as loving as babies once tamed. In fact, many will be tame since they have already been pets, so they will only need a short adjustment period to build up familiarity and trust with you, and will reward you with companionship a lot sooner than if you have to go through the process of taming a youngster.
PATIENCE IS KEY!!! Do visit our taming page for guidelines on the process with any hamster, baby or adult, to ensure a smooth process. The taming process should not be rushed as any traumatic or stressful experience could result in the hamster taking longer to gain confidence and trust in you, and you could even permanently ruin your chances of creating this bond. Many hamsters are abandoned because the new owner did not exercise the necessary patience and they lose interest because it "has not become the pet" they imagined they would have.
TIP: For first-time hamster owners, we recommend considering a more mature hamster, since they have usually already been a pet and the shelter (or owner giving it up for adoption) can often tell you about it's character and personality. They are normally tame and, if you get one that is also confident and sociable, your first hamster journey will be easier and less confusing than taking on a hyperactive, skittish baby that you still have to tame, which can be quite daunting for a first timer. And older hamsters do deserve someone who will accept the love they still have to give.
Adoption fees are usually applied at REGISTERED RESCUE ORGANISATIONS (NPO's). This fee assists with recuperating much-needed funds in caring for the hamsters and other animals while at the shelter (food, bedding, staff, medical costs, etc.) Home inspections may also be required before granting the adoption, in order to ensure appropriate housing, conditions, etc.
In the case of PRIVATE ADOPTIONS, via Hamsters South Africa, a price may not be asked since this goes against ethics - we do not approve of breeding for money or gathering animals for the purpose of selling. However, many private persons have placed hamsters for adoption due to unavoidable situations where they can no longer keep them, oopsie litters as a result of bad advice from a pet shop, unsuspectingly acquiring a pregnant hamster, or rescuing hamsters from bad situations out of the kindness of their hearts. Many such persons have gone to great effort and extra expense to provide a healthy place of shelter (including veterinary costs in some cases), and have given time & effort to tame or build up confidence in a neglected hamster, or kindly raised a surprise litter with great care to ensure optimum health. It would therefore be acceptable and appreciated if you wish to offer some kind of voluntary compensation of your own free will (if not money, then a bag of decent food, or even half a bag of Carefresh, etc.)
The owner also has the right to request a home inspection and turn down an adoption if they are not happy with any conditions or situations.
LINKS TO ADOPTION SITES & RESCUE CENTERS
If you have an "oopsie" litter, or even an older hamster that you can no longer keep, please advertise or ask for assistance on the following Facebook groups/pages (let us know if you find any others groups), or if you're looking to adopt:
Also advertise on your local community groups/pages, with flyers on your local vets' notice boards, etc. to increase their chances.
You can also ask RESCUE CENTERS for assistance if you really cannot find homes.
However, please do your very best to find good homes before approaching the rescue centers, which are often already inundated with animals
and should not be used as a "dumping ground" without any prior effort from yourself first.
Boggle & Brux (Cape Town)
- JHB; CPT; DBN & PMB; Bredasdorp; Ladysmith KZN; PE
PAWS - Plett Animal Welfare Service (Plettenberg Bay)
Animal Welfare Society of SA (Cape Town - Phillippi)
(Other Animal Welfare Society SA branches - Google your closest branch)
KZN Critters Rescue and Rehome (Shongweni)
Kumandra Rescue & Outreach (Durban)
Rat Angels - Rat & Rodent Rescue (Randburg, Gauteng)
Cape of Good Hope SPCA (Cape Town)
The 3 R's Rescue (South Coast, KZN)
TRANSPORT / LIFTS:
Refer to our travelling tips page for some advice on making the hamster more comfortable on the journey home, if it is a fair distance.
If you require the hamster to be given a lift between cities, perhaps someone on this FB group can offer it a ride:
TRANSPORT for Adopted PETS South Africa (but please make sure the lifter is aware of the travel tips).
UNDERSTANDING YOUR RESCUED OR PET SHOP HAMSTER
The following information is extremely important,
not only for the wellbeing of the hamster but also for your relationship with it, going forward.
Hamsters are generally very sweet and most are relatively easy to tame. However, you may be alarmed, or even disappointed, when you bring a new little one home and it is incredibly scared, runs and hides away when you approach, or even screams every time you go near. Even after some time your hamster may continue to be nervous and skittish, and still appear to not be trusting you.
Pet shops and rescue centres can be extremely stressful places for hamsters: loud, smelly, noises from other animals, etc. (and in shops there is often also constant interference and even rough handling by staff). Therefore, many hamsters we get from these situations can be extremely traumatised, anxious, and stressed.
PATIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING IS REQUIRED!
This information can help you to build trust with your new hamster.
1. SPECIES-APPROPRIATE SIZE HABITAT AND ITEMS
PLEASE ensure that your hamster’s habitat meets the minimum recommended unbroken floor space (see Cages & Housing page).
Hamsters in undersized cages will feel trapped and vulnerable, and can also develop cage aggression (or start bar-chewing if in a small wire cage). Wild hamsters can run up to 9km every night, and if she has enough space, and an appropriate sized wheel, she can "get her run on", and feel happier. A decent burrow area of safe bedding substrate (never pine shavings), and/or bedroom house, as well as a few hidey places also helps them feel more secure and allow them to mimic natural hamster behaviour.
2. GIVE IT SOME TIME TO ADJUST
Remember that when you bring your new hamster home she is now in an entirely new habitat, and your household also smells and sounds completely different from the pet shop, rescue center, foster home, or previous surroundings, and has also had to endure a car journey. She may have changed habitats a few times already in a short space of time. She is unfamiliar with the sound and smell of her new family’s voices and bodies. This could also be the first time that a young hamster is away from her siblings or mother, which can be rather daunting.
Therefore, it will be useful to keep in mind that she needs a little space to settle in, familiarise and scent her new habitat in order to feel safe. She really does not want to be handled and bothered right now in this time of high anxiety!
Let her be for a few days in order to get used to all these changes and to make the habitat her own.
3. GET A LITTLE ROUTINE GOING
Change the water and food daily, but resist touching her just yet. She may be a little nervous at first but will become accustomed to your hands messing about in the habitat, and learn that your presence is no threat and brings good things. Add extra nesting material (stripped up 1-ply toilet paper, never fluffy nesting) if necessary. Do this at the same time every day, if you can. Evenings are best as hamsters are awake and more alert during those times.
She should become familiar with such simple actions and routine, and become more confident and curious about you, and start showing up for you and investigating what you are bringing.
Hint: Rubbing some of the nesting and/or bedding substrate on your body will help her become familiar with your scent.
4. ALLOW HER TO APPROACH YOU
It is very important that your hamster is fully awake and alert, and you let her approach you first. Never chase or just grab her up! That is a sure way to get bitten or cause a set-back in any new trust that she has started building with you.
Ensure that your hands are thoroughly cleaned (but no hand sanitizer, heavily scented soap and/or hand lotion).
Rub some bedding on your hands so that they smell somewhat familiar.
Place a treat on your hand and lay it flat inside the cage. You can talk softly to her too. She may come and sniff, and even try to nibble, your fingers - don't be startled if she does this…she is most likely testing if YOU are food (don’t forget that they have poor eyesight so may initially be confused between your fingers and this new treat).
With any luck, she could crawl on your hand right away and eat the treat, but don’t be disappointed if you just get a sniff and then ignored since she might not yet feel completely confident about your hand. Simply move the treat closer to the tip of your hand to make it easier to reach without getting on. If she is reluctant to take it from you at first, simply leave the treat for her to fetch once your hand has gone. You may need to do this a few times, or for a few more days…she will soon come to learn that the hand is a friend and brings happiness.
NEVER: * Grab her * Make sudden movements * Make any loud noises/shrieks * Chase her
Once she seems comfortable with your hand, or even sitting on your hand, gently stroke her back or head with your free hand. After these interactions over a few days, you should be able to start bringing her out of the habitat cupped in your hand (or by letting her crawl into a mug, tube, or container if she is not willing to get onto your hand by herself).
5. NEVER PUNISH YOUR HAMSTER
Unlike other typical pets, e.g. dogs, hamsters have no concept that any kind of behaviour is considered either "good" or “bad”! They go by natural instinct and simply cannot understand any type of punishment or reprimand. Hamsters mostly exhibit "bad” behaviour out of fear, stress, or boredom.
If your hamster insists on biting you, often a toy or a treat can work to divert attention in another direction. Gentle nibbling can indicate that they're testing out your scent, and licking can also be a sign of affection and trust. If your hamster bites hard, it means they're scared or that they just don't want to be handled right now.
Hamsters are naturally prey animals and many can therefore be easily startled, especially when approached without warning (always make sure that she is awake and aware of your presence and intentions).
In time, you should learn what triggers her biting or actions, and you should then refrain from doing the things that cause her to be stressed and afraid. With some hamsters, they can learn that “good behaviour” gets rewarded with treats (it’s worth a try, and what hamster won’t love a treat!).
6. GET TO KNOW YOUR HAMSTER'S INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITY
All hamsters have their own individual personalities and temperaments. With time, you will learn your own hamster's personality, and start to understand what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable.
You can only build up trust with your hamster by being gentle and speaking softly until you learn the extent of how her personality will react to certain stimulations/factors/actions. Do not freak her out with any over-enthusiastic actions.
Hamsters make different sounds for several reasons, including happy little chirping noises, chattering/grinding of teeth when annoyed or unsure. etc. Screaming is a sign of fear or pain (like a constant loud funny buzz). It is important that you don’t force yourself on a hamster that is doing this…she needs more time, so step away for now!
Hayley Thea Ittmann with Rosemary
7. PROVIDE PLENTY OF ENRICHMENT IN YOUR HAMSTER'S HABITAT
With time and patience, your hamster will settle in nicely and should willingly come to you, explore your hand for offerings and attention, and even explore the room/playpen/zone that you choose for outside playtimes.
Since you won’t be on hand 24/7 to entertain her, be sure that you provide sufficient enrichment items in the habitat to allay any boredom.
If your hamster is bored, she may dig continuously in the same spot, or even try to gnaw her way out of even a decently sized habby, or nibble at the bars of her cage (note: bar chewing is really BAD for their teeth, which is one of the reasons why wire cages are no longer really recommended).
See the Accessories & Enrichment page for some ideas to provide enrichment.
For full taming programs, see the Taming your Hamster page.
PLEASE TRY NOT TO SUPPORT THE TRADE OF LIVE ANIMALS VIA PET SHOPS.
ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!
FIND A SHELTER NEAR YOU, OR ASK ON YOUR COMMUNITY PAGES.