I’d always known Chinese Hamsters were harder to find than their more common cousins, after all the first I’d heard of them when I went to buy a pair of Russian Hamsters and saw them in the shop. I’d fallen for them and came away with a pair of brothers. It wasn’t long after that when that particular store stopped selling them but other stores seemed to follow the same pattern.
Three years after that I came across one in a rehoming section of that particular store, that was the last time I’d see a Chinese Hamster in that store. I realised that I might need to go elsewhere to find a Chinese Hamster in the future.
On two occasions I had known of Chinese Hamsters being available in a smaller pet shop chain but later on, even they stopped selling them. In fact that company have stopped selling Dwarf Hamsters too and are focusing on Syrian Hamsters instead.
From reading discussions on a hamster forum it would appear that others are having the same issues with finding this endearing species and it often makes you wonder why. I was once told that it was because they just don’t sell very well as people want the more stereotypically cute, rounder other species. After all, any sensible retailer is going to stock what sells but I think there is a lack of knowledge of these species, meaning they are being sold as pairs and inevitably most pairs seem to fall out. Chinese Hamsters can be vicious towards each other and can inflict serious injury or worse on their opponent. If they’re lucky and survive a fight with minor injury then they will need to be caged separately and some people are reluctant to pay out for another cage, particularly when pet shops are pretty insistent that this species would be fine as a pair. I’ve heard stories of hamsters being returned to the store or given away free to whoever asks for it as a result of the fight. Maybe the pet shops think that this species presents more problems than their worth which is a shame because housed correctly this species can make a wonderful and loving pet.
So where do people turn? For those lucky enough to be able to travel for a breeder or to a show, that represents the next option and for most, the last resort. Whilst this option should ensure that healthy and tame pets are going to new homes with the additional support a breeder can offer, it is not an option for everybody and unfortunately those people have had to go without.
Jessie Jaye was my last Pet Shop Chinesey and she’s probably going to be our last. Obviously it will be beneficial for our show team if we were to source all of our Chinese from breeders but it has made me reflect on what pet shop Chineseys have done for me too. They have been such a huge part of Metallica Hamstery’s history and without them, I wouldn’t even have known the joy of owning the species let alone got involved in breeding and showing them.