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Why You Can't Buy Hamsters In Australia

by Marie Vonow (follow)
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Have you ever seen hamsters on television or in a video and thought what a cute pet one would make? If you live in Australia (or New Zealand) you are unable to buy them here and importing them is illegal. You may wonder why when surely something so small and cute couldn't pose any threat.

Why you can't buy hamsters in Australia
Courtesy of Pixabay

Although there are over 20 species of hamster, only 5 are kept as pets. Wild hamsters are common in many Asian and European countries. The Golden Hamster originated in Syria. The farmers there became frustrated with the damage they did to root crops and so they trained dogs to hunt them.

Fauna species introduced to Australia, including rabbits and mice have harmed both the natural environment and the agricultural industry in the past and the government doesn't want other species to do the same. Australia has unique flora and fauna. Some native species are fragile and already endangered. Hamsters in the wild would compete for food and other resources. It would also be possible for hamsters or similar rodent pets to introduce diseases that were a danger to native wildlife.

If people kept hamsters as pets and some escaped, were set free or dumped and they bred, this could have a negative impact on the ecosystem. One of the most popular type of hamster, the Golden Hamster, is a desert species which could threaten little desert native animals such as jerboas by competing for limited food supplies.

Hamsters in the wild in Australia could damage grain crops as well as root crops. It is difficult to deal with the problem once a creature has spread and caused widespread damage. This has been seen with rabbits which have been responsible for much damage in Australia.

Why you can't buy hamsters in Australia
Courtesy of Pixabay

Facts about the breeding ability of hamsters
Hamsters breed very quickly. The gestation period is short, varying depending on the variety -
Syrian – 16 days, the quickest gestation period of any mammal
Dwarf and Chinese – 18 – 21 days
Roborovski – 23 – 30 days

The number of pups in a litter varies with different types of hamsters. There are usually 6 to 12 pups in a litter but there can be as many as a whopping 20. That's a lot of little hamsters and they may be ready to breed as soon as 3 weeks after birth.

Female hamsters are able to get pregnant again straight after giving birth to a litter. Sometimes hamsters give birth to a new litter every month.

Young females can breed from as young as 3 weeks of age.

Why you can't buy hamsters in Australia
Courtesy of Pixabay

Gerbils are also prohibited in Australia and New Zealand for the same reasons as hamsters.

There are stiff penalties for possession of 'exotic' (not native to Australia) animals that are illegal to own in this country and that includes hamsters.

#Family Pets
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Looking at the photos of the hamsters, they look my rat like and capable than guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are small, cute and fluffy, hamsters aren't fluffy and cute, they look like tough guys that could easily last out in the wild, unlike guinea pigs, which wouldn't last long, from what I know of them.

Very interesting, when I told Graham (my husband) about it, he said what about guinea pigs? I'm now wondering about that too ...
Guinea pigs breed quickly but not as quickly and prolifically as hamsters. Also, according to an article I read, they are more prone to dying off from various illnesses. May be these are the reasons guinea pigs are not prohibited.
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