Before choosing a hamster make sure that you do want a hamster, as a pet should not be bought on impulse. Remember, it is an animal and not a toy so it cannot be put away and forgotten. Your pet should be fed and handled daily and cleaned regularly.

Now that you have decided to buy a hamster, where do you go? We would always recommend that you go to a breeder because you will normally have a wider choice and be able to get first hand tips from them, although many Pet Shops sell hamsters that have been handled regularly and well cared for. the choice is yours.

The choosing can take a long time as you will have to decide on whether to have a male or female. long or short haired, satin or plain coated and then what colour you prefer.

Male or Female? Males are usually noted for being more docile and easier to handle, although females tend to have more character.

Long or short haired? This is purely personal preference but thought should be given to the necessary grooming of long haired males (females do not get long coats just fluffy coats) before deciding.

Satin or plain coated? This is again a personal preference (as there is no difference in the keeping of them) and will only depend on which you like.

Colour? There are over forty different colours in existence at the moment so the decision will be up to you. If you have a particular colour or coat type in mind, then a breeder may be able to help you obtain your choice.

Once all the above has been settled, look for a hamster of four to six weeks old, bright eyed with no open wounds. A healthy hamster should be alert and lively and have a clean coat. Do not necessarily go for the smallest one as this could also be the weakest. It is advisable to see the hamster handled so that you can judge if it reasonably tame. It should be noted that they may be a little frightened and skittish but not vicious. If one seems to be biting a lot do no choose this one.

You should be provided with a container to take the hamster home in and it should not be disturbed until its cage is set up, this means do not keep taking the lid off to look at it. Once the cage is set up put the hamster into it and leave it undisturbed for a day to let it settle in.