Hamster Society S'pore reports a surge in unwanted hamsters, at least 71 hamsters rescued since start of 2021

31 abandoned ones and 40 surrendered ones. :'(

Fiona Tan | May 18, 2021, 01:34 PM

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Many hamsters were abandoned or surrendered in the past few months, according to a Facebook post by the Hamster Society Singapore (HSS) on May 9.

71 hamsters rescued from January to early May

HSS said that they have seen a "rapid increase" in the number of unwanted hamsters since the start of 2021.

Within the month of April alone, 22 hamsters were rescued from four of these locations.

In one the incidents, a total of 10 Dwarf hamsters had been discarded at Jurong East on Apr. 4, 2021. Two weeks later, on Apr. 18, another five Dwarf hamsters were rescued at Ang Mo Kio.

Image from Hamster Society Singapore/FB.

HSS' most recent hamster rescue took place on May 7 when a Syrian hamster was abandoned in Yew Tee.

The hamster was found with a host of medical ailments like a swollen and infected right eye, a swollen left toe and severe cataract in its left eye.

According to HSS, the hamster let out "the most distressing screams" when it was handled by the vet.

Image from Hamster Society Singapore/FB.

In addition to the 31 abandoned hamsters that they rescued, HSS representative told Mothership that the group has also taken in around 40 hamsters that were surrendered by the public.

However, these numbers are likely an underrepresentation of the hamster abandonment issue in Singapore.

The group's surrender request form was not kept open throughout the past year. On a few occasions, the form was closed as the foster team was overwhelmed with surrendered hamsters that were sick and required long-term medical care, HSS told Mothership.

Syrian hamsters surrendered to HSS in Mar. 2021. Image courtesy of HSS.

The HSS representative added that sick hamsters were often surrendered because the cost of medical treatment outweighs the cost of a new hamster. In addition, owners might not be willing to devote more time and effort towards caring for a sick hamster. By the time, HSS receives these hamsters, some of them were already "severely sick".

Here are some examples:

*Graphic warning*

Hamster on the left had raw wounds on its body and it was screaming in pain, HSS said. The hamster on the right, fortunately, had its fur grown back after multiple visits to the vet. Image courtesy of HSS.

This poor little one had severe mites infection and glaucoma. Sadly, it passed away four days after HSS took it in. Image courtesy of HSS.

In other cases, hamsters were surrendered after an accidental breeding which can be overwhelming to owners who suddenly have to care for more hamsters.

Work-from-home arrangement contributes to rise in abandonment cases

HSS highlighted three reasons why there has been a surge in abandonment or surrender cases.

They told Mothership that it is "very common" for people to buy hamsters as "surprise gifts" for their friends and family.

Impulsive purchases is also another issue as interested people did not do sufficient research before buying hamsters.

In view of the Covid-19 situation, there were also people who got themselves hamsters to accompany them at home. However, they later realised that they cannot commit the necessary amount of time and effort in caring for the hamster after the work-from-home arrangement phased out earlier this year.

"Hamsters are particularly at risk of such scenarios (abandonment and surrenders) as they are cheap to obtain and are often thought to be easy and cheap to care for," the HSS representative said.

Misconceptions about keeping hamsters as pets

The HSS representative told Mothership that many parents have the misconception that hamsters are "good starter pets" for their children.

"This is a big problem," the representative said.

Hamsters are not as "easy and cheap to care for" as what some might assume given their petite sizes.

For example, one should not keep multiple hamsters in a cage as they are territorial creatures despite being small in size. Keeping many hamsters, both males and females, together will also risk over-breeding.

"This misconception is due to people seeing many hamsters living in a single enclosure at pet shops. However, it is important to note that the hamsters at pet shops are still young and have not matured. Once they grow older, they will start being territorial and fight over space," the HSS representative explained.

HSS therefore recommends to only keep one hamster in one cage. There is also recommended cage sizes for different types of hamsters.

In addition, hamsters are crepuscular animals. That means they are mostly active at night. This could mean that hamster owners will only get to observe their inactive state if they only watch them during day time.

If you have any skittish hamsters which require taming, the taming process has to be done during night time and it can take as long as weeks and months. When taming is not done properly, hamsters can become aggressive and bite.

As a result, poor understanding of hamsters' behaviour can lead to owners becoming bored of them or finding them hard to deal with.

Adopt, don't shop

The HSS representative urged residents in Singapore to avoid buying hamsters on impulse as pet ownership is a lifetime commitment.

"If anyone is interested in owning a hamster, we strongly advise them to do research on the appropriate supplies to get and to have a sizeable vet fund set aside. Despite their small sizes, hamsters are prone to many sicknesses (e.g. tumours, pneumonia, cancer) which incur high vet fees," she said.

Alternatively, if you wish to get yourself a hamster, HSS will encourage interested parties to adopt hamsters instead.

As part of the adoption process, potential owners will be screened by HSS to ensure they are ready to commit. They will also be educated on the proper ways to care for hamsters.

Surrendered hamsters can find a forever home through adoption too.

About Hamster Society Singapore

HSS is a non-profit and all-volunteer organisation that was officially approved and registered as a society since Mar. 4, 2019.

The organisation aims to assist, rescue, foster and rehabilitate unwanted, neglected and abused hamsters.

HSS has handled over 300 abandonment cases in the past few years. Successful adoptions on HSS' webpage date as far back as Jan. 12, 2019.

If you are interested to adopt a hamster, you can view the adoption gallery on HSS' website.

HSS' adoption gallery. Screenshot image from Hamster Society Singapore website.

Should you spot an abandonment case, you can drop HSS a message on Facebook and email them at [email protected].

You can find out more about HSS here.

Under the Animals and Birds (Amendment) Act 2014, anyone who is found guilty of cruelty to animals, including the abandonment of any animal, can be imprisoned for up to 18 months, fined up to S$15,000, or both.

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Top image courtesy of Hamster Society Singapore