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Old 11-01-2011, 10:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Hello all,

I am looking to start breeding again (specifically, Syrians, Campbell's, and winter whites if I can find some), as a family owned pet shop I used to work for has asked me to breed hamsters for them. I used to breed an occasional litter and sell it to them, trying to do my best with what I could find in the local pet stores around here after a search for any breeders around me had proved fruitless.

So I am not a novice by any means on the whole process and of course genetics, but this time around I would really like to get some good quality hamsters (preferably with pedigrees so I have an idea of what I'm going to be producing with each pairing) shipped to me from a good breeder. I am particularly interested in greys of any type and also yellows, torts and tri-coloreds for Syrians and blues and mottleds for dwarfs.

So far an internet search for a breeder that has what I am looking for and ships has failed me. I found one breeder that breeds Syrians and Campbell's (in colors/patterns I am looking for, looks like they have good type, etc.), but they do not ship. Does anyone know of any breeders in the U.S. that have what I'm looking for and/or will ship?

Also, I will be providing Syrians and dwarfs for two stores (the family has two stores, one in the city I live in and another 1.5 hours away), and they told me they generally sell 25-40 Syrians per month and maybe 20 dwarfs per month (though they might sell more dwarfs if I can provide them with some friendly ones). I am, of course, aware of average litter sizes of the species, their gestation length, how often they should be bred, etc. But to meet this quota of hamsters every month, does anyone have any suggestions on how many males/females I should have of each species and any insight on how I should go about it? I was thinking of getting perhaps 5-6 female Syrians and rotating their breeding schedules that so that no one is having litters back to back or getting overbred. I'm not sure, as I've never had to fulfill a quota of hamsters before.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Where are you located? I breed Campbells in blue black chocolate and BE lilac in self and mottled. I am in middle Tennessee.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

I'm in Fargo, North Dakota. I have heard that it generally costs around $200 to ship hamsters from just about any part of the U.S. Is that true, or is there a way to ship them more cheaply? (I wonder, because I used to work for PetSmart and they never got in any particularly large shipments...if it costs that much to ship them, they really aren't making hardly anything on their hamsters.) Do you ship? Do you currently have any hamsters available, and how much do you sell them for?

I am not overly concerned with the dwarf colors I am breeding so long as they are healthy and friendly, but certainly the colors and patterns you breed seem to be more desirable to people.

Btw, if you don't ship or aren't going to have any hamsters available soon, do you know of a breeder that I could contact, or a website with a list of breeders I could contact (preferably ones that have websites)?
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Old 11-03-2011, 04:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Almi please could you conduct any negotiations on price , shipping etc by PM thank you.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

As a general note, shipping is that expensive because it's done by airplanes, which have prices for animal transportation and require special approved containers, so the total does come to about what you named. Large scale hamster trade probably has specialized shipping arrangements, which could well be much cheaper per animal. Such as by a truck from some reasonable distance.
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Old 11-03-2011, 01:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

It does cost $200 plus to ship. The minimum an airline charges is $175 for the smallest carrier (that was Delta two years ago so I wouldn't be surprised if that has gone up). The cost increases as the carriers get bigger. Then you need to add on the cost of the carrier, cost of the health certificate and any additional shipping charges the breeder may charge. By the time you get all of that done, you can expect the total shipping cost to easily be $250-$300. The shipping cost would be the same for a single hamster as it would most likely be for a dozen of them. If you're considering getting more hamsters than that, you have to consider density restrictions on the shipping containers and add containers accordingly. Some airlines will let breeders ship at a lower rate if the shipper has a USDA license but you really have to push and it does depend on the individual agent making the reservation and the airline personnel on duty when the shipment is brought in.

Of course in addition to all of that is the cost of the hamsters themselves. I sell my hamsters for $10 each no matter the color, species, etc.. however if I have to ship them, the price doubles to $20 a hamster due to all the work I need to do for a shipment.

All that being said, with your intent to breed for the purpose of supplying pet stores, you're going to be hard pressed to find a reputable breeder that will sell to you. Reputable breeders encourage breeding to improve the fancy not breeding for the sole purpose of breeding. Novice breeders are encouraged to start off small with complimentary lines and expand from there as their knowledge and experience grows.

If you've bred before then you know what to expect litter-wise but have you really run the numbers on breeding to the scale that you're considering? Just looking at the Syrians and taking the low end number of 25 hamsters per month, you're talking about housing a good number of hamsters. For 25 hamsters, you'd have to predict having 3-5 litters available per month depending on litter sizes. A Syrian female will only produce a maximum of 3 litters for you if you don't overbreed her. So doing some math you'd need a minimum of 12 females for the first year, with staggered birth dates so that they're not all breeding simultaneously. That's taking a very optimistic approach to the litters though, realisticly you'd need 20-25 females with staggered birthdates and that's just to fill the minimum of 25 hamsters per month. Increase that to 40 hamsters per month and you're looking at 5-10 litters per month which increases the number of females you'd need to at least 25-40 hamsters. Then you have the males you need to consider. Sure you could have the minimal number of males but I've never liked to do that. I easily have one male for every 2-3 females. In some lines I have more males than females.

The next thing to consider is what you're going to do once the female hamsters hit a year of age and can no longer be bred (due to infertility and ethics). You'll be housing the retired females and then need to add a younger female for each retired one. The same thing will happen again the following year. Working with better lines, you'll have females that easily pass the age of two years and you'll be housing them as retired hamsters longer than they ever bred. You will easily surpass having 200 hamsters and that's just considering the Syrians.

One more thing to consider is the cost. As a large scale hobby breeder I can tell you that you can't make any money on the hamsters unless you're placing each hamster privately at $10 each, which just isn't going to happen if you're breeding quantities. I lose money every month, many months I lose hundreds of dollars. But it's my hobby, not a business. Every hobby costs money, I'm just lucky that sometimes I can get some money back for my efforts. Once you start dealing with vet visits, testing, medications, heating in the winter, electricity for the lighting, well, those amounts add up fast. Those are just the monthly costs, the start up costs are even greater with the cages, water bottles, shelving, lighting, heating and supplies. I'll never make back all the thousands of dollars that I've put into them but I knew that going into it and don't expect to. Realistically, the only way you can profit selling hamsters to a pet store is if you're cutting corners somewhere- be it lower quality food, over-breeding, infrequent cage cleaning, getting rid of non-breeding animals, inadequate caging densities, etc... There's a reason why commercial breeders do what they do and breed the quantities they do.

The last thing to consider is the USDA. Once you gross (which is different than net) $500 you need to become USDA licensed which may or may not be an easy thing for you to do, it will mostly depend on your hamstery set up. You can get an application sent to you here:
USDA - APHIS - Animal Welfare - Animal Care
With the numbers you're talking about supplying, you'll definitely need to get licensed as you are already expecting to surpass the $500 gross.

I know it all sounds like a great idea and a nice way of making some extra money but take it from me, that just doesn't happen. Make sure you're taking it on for the right reasons. I've had plenty of people approach me in this down-turned economy to get hamsters thinking it's an easy way to make a couple hundred dollars but that's not at all realistic.

-Janice
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Old 11-04-2011, 06:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Great post! *applauds*
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Thanks Janice, that was extremely helpful. Like I said, before I was just breeding a litter here and there, and most of my hamsters at the time were special needs guys that I adopted, not breeders. (So I am used to having a lot of critters around, at least.)

Unfortunately, since I cannot find a breeder so far, I may have to resort to pet stores for now.

I do want to try to supply at least one of the two stores with hamsters, as I do think it's at least better than them ordering them from some hamster mill and supporting that. Btw, I did used to try and sell my litters personally, but due to my location I never had anyone that was interested, and I had no way to advertise. People around where I live would rather just go to a pet store or get one from Petco's adoption center, or pick up a free one on Craigslist.

As far as making money, maybe I will, maybe I won't. It's not too big of a deal. I'm going to go ahead and try it anyway, and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. But thank you for all of the wonderful insight, and please, if anyone can direct me to a breeder that is close to me/has what I'm looking for/ships, please do!
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Old 11-05-2011, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Shipping

Linda Price sometimes ships, shes in California
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Looking for breeders in the U.S.

Thanks a bunch Jaybee!!
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