What Happens to Unsold Hamsters? {How Long Are They For Sale?}

Do you ever look at all the hamsters in a pet shop and wonder what happens to unsold hamsters when no one wants them?

I try not to think of worst-case scenarios, but how long do pet stores keep hamsters? What happens when hamsters or other pets don’t get adopted? I also want to help people with options when they need to know what to do with an unwanted hamster.

In this article, we will discuss and find out what happens to unsold hamsters.

What Happens to Unsold Hamsters?

Local pet stores and large pet shop chains have their own protocols for how long to keep hamsters before they cannot sell them anymore.

At this point, they work in conjunction with pet shelters or non-profit organizations to help with adoption strategies.

Before that, the price of a hamster in a pet shop should be reduced. When further price reductions are exhausted, it’s time to give them away to adoptees.

How Long Do Pet Stores Keep Hamsters?

Pet stores keep hamsters of many different ages. Usually 12 weeks is when a pet store would stop selling hamsters at full price.

There is a brief time period (usually 3-5 days) where they can reduce the price of this aging hamster before they look for adoption methods. A

hamster’s life span is short at an average length of about 18-24 months. Animal charities and shelters will help to find them safe and loving homes when pet stores are unable to keep them any longer.

What Happens to Pets in Pet Stores?

Pets in pet stores are marked down in price when they have overstayed without being able to be sold to a loving home. There are brokers, charities, shelters and adoption centers that could get involved in the process of helping to rehome these animals.

Sometimes a pet store will give up and give away their animals for free to anyone including their friends, relatives or rescue groups. Many employees of these shops grow attached to these animals and help out as well.

Does PetSmart Take Hamsters Back?

Within 14 days of purchase, it is very likely that a large corporate franchise operating under the name, PetSmart will take back their stock of pets including hamsters.

They sell reptiles, rodents, felines and canines to people who may have fallen entranced with a spur of the moment decision to take them home, only to regret the choice they made later on.

Maybe their home won’t allow for the animal or there are further complications. Sometimes fish are taken back or exchanged when they are bullying others in a community aquarium.

An aggressive hamster could be exchanged as well when you return them to the same shop within a week or two of purchase.

YouTube video

How Old Should a Hamster Be When You Buy It?

You should try to make sure a hamster is at least 3 weeks of age before you decide to bring him or her home with you. It’s best to actually wait until they are 7 weeks old for additional safety.

Hamsters need to develop where they are born with their mothers nearby at first. Transporting a sensitive and frail baby hamster can lead to potential risks along the way.

Keeping dwarf litters of same sex hamsters in pairs or groups for their first 3 weeks is best for their overall health in the long run.

What Happens When Pets Don’t Get Adopted?

When animals enter shelters, they cannot remain there until the rest of their natural lives expire. They will be put down if they are not adopted.

Some shelters give it a week, some even longer. Shelters that are full may not keep rodents like hamsters longer than 72 hours.

Destroying an animal or putting it down is a normal part of a shelter’s difficult task of operating a humane and safe environment for unwanted animals to have one more chance at being rehomed before it is too late.

What Do You Do With an Unwanted Hamster?

You should really consider trying to get a friend, relative, neighbor or contact to take your hamster if he or she is healthy. Add in the cage for free and make sure that your old pet will receive love in a new home.

You can post about this hamster on:

  • forums
  • community center bulletin boards
  • social media
  • buy/sell marketplaces
  • a local shelter
  • animal charity

Rescue shelters will take your unwanted hamster from you. Pet stores may receive animals that you purchased there if they are usually returned within 14 days of sale.

What Do Pet Stores Do With Dead Animals?

It’s bound to happen and we don’t like to think about it. Pet stores have to handle dead animals and this is the hardest part of the job. You work there because you love them. I’ve been in their shoes.

But you also have to see them go. Once per week, dead animals need to be transferred to vets or facilities where they are cremated. This is the policy in many states and countries. It all depends on where you live.

Leaving a dead animal to freeze first before disposing helps to limit the decomposing odors that can be released. If not, this could cause the other animals in a pet store a great deal of stress as their olfactory senses are usually more sensitive than ours.

What Do Pet Stores Do With Unsold Reptiles?

Unsold reptiles go through the same process that other potential pets in the same shop that are trying to be sold to loving homes. They are going to be reduced in price to make it more likely someone will step in a purchase them.

When this method fails, the time period of about 3-5 days expires and an animal shelter or rescue facility may step in to help. Employees, friends and relatives of pet stores can also intervene and assist with adoption.


Thank you for visiting PocketPetCentral.com for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.