Being a pet owner is like being a parent…

I have learned through 8 years of parenting, that a lot of the time, you go with your gut, or your instincts, when it comes to your children. I also think this applies to owning and caring for a pet. Being a pet owner is like being a parent. 

If you read this blog, or follow us on social media you will know that we bought a hamster, for Little Man’s birthday, recently. 

I did a lot of reading on the internet, spoke to some friends who had hamsters already, and went to a pet shop and a well known chain pet store, to get advice and make sure we knew what we were taking on. 

We decided to opt for a local pet shop and we took our newly acquired cage and went off to get our new family member. 

I have to say, I was told very firmly not to  get a pet from the big chain store, and to go with a smaller, independent pet shop who would know where the hamster had come from, been bred and would be more helpful. 

To be honest, we had a bad experience. I felt that we were basically seen coming, and that the pet shop was more interested in our money than the welfare of the hamster,  that we were given incredibly poor advice on how to settle a young hamster into a new home, and we (and my vet) think the hamster we were given was actually probably unwell when she came home with us. We followed the advice of the pet shop, some of which went against my instincts, but sadly, the hamster died. It was incredibly traumatic, for the children, and for me and when we spoke to our vet, he was very concerned that we had a) been sold a potentially unwell hamster and b) given such bad advice on how to handle her. We were told incorrect advice on when and how to handle her, what to feed her and how to let her settle in her new home. By day two of her being at home, I knew we had been given incorrect advice which seemed to contradict everything else I was being told. The person who sold us the hamster claimed to be an expert with years of experience. 

After some discussion with the vet and also other hamster owners, we decided to try again. This time we went to a different place, and we adopted a hamster that needed a new home, that was slightly older, and used to being handled. We were given totally different advice to what the pet shop told us and when I mentioned this, was told I had definitely been given wrong advice. 

Thankfully Nibbles 2 is now settled in, is happy, healthy and seems to be coping with her new abode, and lets me handle her. The children adore her, and she gets a lot of fuss and attention.


I knew something wasn’t right, from the get go, first time round, but because I was a novice, I didn’t go with my gut, and do what I thought was right, and instead we had a bad experience and the guilt I feel about poor Nibbles 1, who really was lovely and loved in her 5 short days with us, will take a while to go. 

For some reason, I thought that a pet shop, that is well known would be a good place to get a first pet. I have never actually bought anything from a pet shop before. Our fish come from a very reputable aquatic shop, our cats were adopted from private homes where I met the parents of the cats and know their history, our snails were via a friend who knows about snails. It was not a good first experience. I know not all pet shops are like this, but the whole thing has left a very bad taste in my mouth. 

Like parenting, next time, I will go with my instincts. 

*For reference, we have been in contact with the pet shop in question. They agreed to refund us the money for the purchase of the hamster, which frankly, I was not bothered about, I was more concerned that they gave us bad advice and sold us an ill hamster. My vet has been a great source of help and we did seek medical advice for the hamster, but unfortunately the illness she had is not really treatable. At this point I am not sure we want to take any further action or report the pet shop and at this point, it is “their word against ours” as to what happened*

I debated whether to close comments on this blog post. I am sharing our experience, hopefully it will be helpful for others. I rarely ask people to be kind or to not be negative, but I am for this post. We know what happened, we did our best, and second time round we have made sure to take the correct advice and care, animal welfare is our main priority. Any nasty comments will be deleted. Thank you. 


Posted in Pet's Corner.


  1. I have owned Dwarf Hamsters for must be 5 years now & have had a bad experience with a pet shop hamster too, he was ill when he came to me.

    So I went onto a hamster forum called Hamster Central, there are lot’s of very experienced hamster owners but also hamster breeders. These breeders belong to National Hamster Council which has standards of breeding & showing hamsters. Basically they are pedigree hamsters who are bred for temperament, health & show standards. I have had pedigree hamsters & they are tame & healthy.

    You can find the National Hamster Council online & can join the hamster forum too.

    Your new boy looks gorgeous xxx

  2. I am so sorry to read about Nibbles 1 and it proves how many unscrupulous dealers there are out there – you hear about it with puppies but never really think about the same thing happening with hamsters. Wishing you all the best with Nibbles 2.
    If I was you I would report the pet shop, perhaps to trading standards, because a visit from them might be enough to kickstart some better practices from the owner and possibly stop other people being duped like you. (But I also understand that you might just want to put the thing behind you.)
    Thank you for adding this cautionary tale to #AnimalTales

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