It’s a sad fact of life.  There are more animals in this world than there are good homes.  Many owners are irresponsible or unwilling to properly care for their pets.

This dilemma is not just faced by dogs and cats.  A considerable number of hamster owners view their pets as “disposable.”  After all, the hamster did not cost much money.  “Why should I care,” is an often seen response.

Thankfully there are many rodent enthusiasts out there who worry about these animals.  Though CHA does not have a formal rescue “organization,” just about every fancier I know has either taken in and kept, or re-homed a little waif that is in need.

Why do people get rid of their hamsters?

Though each situation is different, most cases of people wanting to get rid of their critters fit into rather specific situations.  The most common is a person who has a litter of babies they want to get rid of.  Often, these folks have purposely bred their hamster (with no thought to where the babies would go) or had an accidental breeding, and don’t want to take the babies to the pet shop.  Many other litters are produced from females who were purchased at pet stores and, unbeknownst to their new owners, were already pregnant.

Older animals often find themselves looking for new homes when their owners move (apparently taking that cage along is just “too much trouble”).  Others find themselves, or their kids, growing allergic to the animals over time.  Some hamsters are gotten as part of a school project or science experiment, and when it is over, they are disposed of (what a great lesson to teach kids, don’t you think?).

And what is the number one reason people get rid of their hamsters?  It’s quite simple, and I hear it all the time.  “We got tired of them,” they say.  Or “the kids lost interest.”  Sometimes it’s “they smell,” “the kids don’t clean their cage,” or “they make a mess.”  To put it quite simply, the novelty has worn off so they want the hamster to disappear.

Where do they go?

Many of these animals are simply dropped off at the local pet store.  I imagine that some find homes, but many end up as lunch for some snake.

Some people turn loose their unwanted pets.  In the case of our domestic rodents, this often means a slow death through starvation/dehydration.

A few people do try to be responsible for their pets.  As with other animals, the humane society will take hamsters.  Unfortunately, many humane societies simply euthanize all rodents that come in since they do not have the proper facilities to house and care for them.  Recently, there has been a very happy trend and many more humane societies are taking in and placing the small pets, including hamsters, rats, and mice.

And then, of course, there is us.  Many folks happen across hamster fanciers on accident, at a display or on the Internet.  Usually, their assumption is the same – for some reason us fanciers not only will take, but want their hamsters.  I have actually had calls from out-of-state folks who become upset that I won’t come get their animals.

Though CHA is not a rescue organization, and we don’t have any formal rescue program, many fanciers will take in the occasional hamster and either keep it or place it.  This informal network of fanciers has helped a multitude of hamsters.  CHA members are welcome to take rescues to shows in an attempt to find them homes, and often a place can be found for them in displays.  We even have an event at the American Family Pet Expo where we have a rescue booth and adopt out animals.

Before Getting Involved

It is very important to think things out before getting involved in rescue.  Often, people start taking in animals, find themselves overwhelmed, and the animals end up in the same situation they were in to begin with.

Taking in rescue animals requires some pre-planning.  First, do you have the time and money to take in additional animals and house them for an indeterminate period of time?  Rescues animals have enormous potential for bringing in parasites and diseases that could have a devastating effect on your own animals.  Do you have a location to totally isolate them from you own critters?  Do you have adequate spare cages?
Rodent Rescue
by Nichole Royer
Page 2