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Old 05-15-2012, 11:38 AM   #41
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Location: Hampshire
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Default Re: Pet shop hamsters? Whats the problam?

I've read this whole thread, sat for a bit to try to work out how I feel, and still haven't come up with a definitive answer, just various thoughts. I'm fine with that though, things are rarely black and white.

When I bought Jam and The Cloud my first two robos, they were from a large chain pet shop, and I imagine I was like many other people in that I wanted to get a hamster, so I went to a pet shop and got two hamsters.

They were lovely healthy hams, alright The Cloud was a bit er different, but they lived to two and two and a half respectively, a good age for robos. Had there not been an issue with Jam early on (the fluffy bedding incident) it could well have been I'd have had them their whole lives without ever searching out a hamster forum, or learning anything new about hamsters. Having had two healthy hams, I'd likely have gone back to the large chain store and got more robos after their passing too.

I imagine the majority or people keep their hams this way, with no idea at all of what goes on behind the scenes, cage sizing, bedding, nutrition, healthy stimulating environment, all the things we see as essential and the norm are not the knowledge your average hamster owner leaves the pet store equipped with. It doesn't necessarily mean that hamster is doomed to an awful existence, it's just they could have a much better existence.

So the first thing I would like to see changed in pet shops is the education. Education of staff passed on as education of owners. I know we mostly like to see the bigger the better with cages, but adequate sizing would be a start. My Syrian George lived very happily in a ZZ1, and then as I am fortunate enough to have both the space and the means he lived in a ZZ2. He was happy in both, what he was not happy in was the cage I rescued him in, which was about the size of a mini duna in length, and actually thinner. The same with wheel size, bedding (I am horrified that hamsters are STILL dying thanks to fluffy bedding) nutirtion ect. If a new owner can leave a store with a factual care leaflet, and have any questions answered informatively and correctly it would be a huge help.

On to the trickier subject of where hams are coming from. As I'm sure everyone else is, I am horrified at the conditions and treatment of the hamsters in hamster farms. For me there is no defense, it is abhorrent. When I was first told a cage the size of a Rody will have up to 25 hamsters writhing about all over each other, as well as the other horrors we are all aware of I was shocked and disgusted. I felt sad that it would have been the beginning of their lives.

Some here may know The Cloud was a white robo, most likely his colouring sprung up from a freak gene mutation. In the months after I got him there were a few more whites pop up in the same store, then no more. I imagine his mother was most likely bred till she died. When I contrast that with how I cared for Bianca, then Lilly, then Daisy while they were breeding it breaks my heart to be honest. I doubt if The Cloud's mum had a prolapsed pouch in the middle of the night she'd have been rushed to the vet, more likely she'd have been discarded or left to die.

If there had been no The Cloud, then I wouldn't have been asked to breed him, and there would have been no second and third generation of pompoms, so I have to ask myself am I hypocritical for detesting the system that produced him but being glad I got him for all that followed. Maybe so.

I think there should be a distinction made between a pet shop and a large chain store. Although I couldn't breed for pet shops myself as I'm too obsessive about potential owners, I can see that some breeders if they have a good relationship with the store owner, and feel satisfied the owner is as passionate about welfare as they are could do.
I think there are also good and bad breeders, breeders that do everything they can for the hamster's well being, healthy development of lines, and put a lot into finding good owners, providing detailed care sheets ect. Then there are breeders who are little more than mini hamster farms with the welfare of the hamster as a secondary issue.

My concern if there weren't farms would be that people will just breed hamsters, much like many won't take the time to seek out a really good breeder, and just go to the store, would more people just put a male and female hamster together and hope for the best. My George came about this way, from what I know there were five babies, other than George, none of whom made it to their first birthday, and again other than George all had various internal and external problems. George was a very fortunate boy. Obviously there wouldn't be as many hams as the farms produce, and I think no farms would encourage more people to seek out quality breeders, but it could potentially bring new problems.

So is the answer to cut down on the farms bringing in strict legislation to ensure that standards of health and hygiene are adhered to? To stop chain stores selling animals all together? To bring in a quality standard of breeders that can supply stores, cutting down the number and therefore raising the cost of hams?

I actually think the last one wouldn't be such a bad idea to be honest, along with the right education for and from store staff I mentioned earlier. Paying more would also possibly raise the status of a hamster and their worth in some people's eyes, take them away from being viewed as a child's pet, a throw away pet to an animal with it's own specific needs, emotions, and character that deserves our love and respect.

Last edited by Pompompoms; 05-15-2012 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:40 PM   #42
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Essex
Posts: 603
Default Re: Pet shop hamsters? Whats the problam?

Well the problem is that - it's a shop. A living thing should never be in a shop. You can't ethically breed, keep and sell any animal if you do it just for the profit. Because then you don't care about the animals themselves, and that's what rodent mills are like, they don't care. And it's not just rodent mills who are the culprits, it's also hundreds if not thousands of private individuals who breed their pets for profit without paying any attention to their health and usually know nothing about caring for them properly, because they think it's a good way to make some extra cash on the side.

In my opinion demand for pet shop animals will never stop unless the attitude of the masses changes. There needs to be some kind of organisation that puts itself out there and brings this issue to the attention of the public, and tries to educate them. A charity can't usually do these things, because they don't have enough money or staff...I know there are some organisations like that, but for this to work, it would need to be literally 'shoved' in people's faces - i.e on the street in the form of public campaigns, on billboards, on the tv. I don't think the internet is enough, because you won't find them unless you search for them. Public opinion needs to change about small animals - most people still regard them as children's play things and disposable pets. Unless there is public uproar, the government won't do a rat's bum about it. Once the general view is towards better rodent welfare, the new laws would be more accepted&understood. Obviously we can't stop all rodent mills as we can't stop all puppy mills, but it certainly would be good to try.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:55 PM   #43
Willow's mummy!
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: East Anglia
Posts: 419
Default Re: Pet shop hamsters? Whats the problam?

Originally Posted by HammyWammys View Post
i understand what your saying, but people these days i:e parents when kids ask for a pet & they go to pet shop & buy whatever they dont think about where they come from do they?.
im guessing it would be same for guinea pigs?
i got mine from a rescue because P@h doesnt know how to house them properly!
i get all my food ect from p@h and everytime you see people buying pets, & i just feel sorry for them
Last time we were at P@H, we'd bought some hamster stuff, cat stuff & a book on budgies because elder son wants a budgie; we were behind a family in the queue who'd gone in & bought 2 hamsters & various hamster accessories, including bedding & food. While we were walking round the shop, we'd talked about what & why we were getting or not getting stuff, & I noticed that the fluffy bedding had gone from the mum's basket by the time they got to the checkout - this could have been because I was talking to my sons about the dangers of it.

Younger son asked if we were getting a budgie that day & I explained 'No, we have to find out about the needs of a pet, & get everything it needs before starting to look for it.' The teenage girl of the hamster buying family looked very thoughtful as she heard me saying this.

Will my speaking in front of a family I'll likely never see again, & wouldn't recognise if I did make much difference? I don't know.

But I do think it makes a difference when we talk to people we do know! If we can't encourage our friends & family to know more about the negatives & positives of pet shops & about the alternatives, we're not doing the best for our pets.

When we tell friends & family about 'Thinking about getting another hamster and finding out where a good breeder of (preferred breed) is near to us/contacting the Blue Cross & finding out what rescues they've got', we open the dialogue to talk about why we'd prefer not to get 1 from a pet shop.

When we talk about the cost of animals & how 40 isn't really that expensive for a cage & how we've researched & thought about what to get, we lessen the chances that our friends will go into a pet shop to wander round while their child is at a nearby birthday party & come out with a pet.

I'm old enough to remember being able to walk into a pet shop in my early teens & come home with a small pet in a cardboard box - luckily my parents did know I'd gone to buy it & I had the cage etc ready - but now legislation has moved on as more is known about animal welfare. My husband was still able to walk into a pet shop & walk out with a hamster for younger son, but the shop person did have to tick off a sheet to say she'd advised him on feeding, etc. The pet shops & hamster farmers aren't the ones initiating the changes - they cost them more! The changes happen because informed people request & expect them.
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