Places to get a hamster in Singapore
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
Please note that adoption fees charged by the SPCA typically covers the cost of initial care and veterinary procedures. Nevertheless, adopting a hamster from a shelter means you are giving a second chance at life to an abandoned animal.
Ads from pet owners
These are hamster owners who have mated their hamsters to produce litters that they try to sell away. Oftentimes, they would advertise in online or print classifieds, or they would post notices on online forums or notice boards at supermarkets or condomium clubhouses, etc. Sometimes, these pet owners may advertise using the word "adoption" but upon further negotiation, it turns out more to be an outright sale. These pet owners apparently have not separated their hamsters and have even allowed them to mate. Do not encourage such irresponsible behaviour by buying hamsters from them.
Some other hamster owners, due to their personal circumstances are selling their adult hamsters, while some others are selling or giving away hamsters that they have found. It is advisable to meet up with the hamster owner at the place where the hamster resides to see and interact with the hamster before making any decision.
Pet farms are usually large establishments in one of the rural (or rather, sub-urban) areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, Lim Chu Kang or Kranji. Generally, they consist of two portions: a storefront and a larger unseen section where breeding animals are kept, although a few do not breed in-house but import the animals.
Storefronts are usually very presentable with display cages of different breeds of hamsters for sale, as well as sales staff to assist if you need help. Prices are generally not cheap (they exist for profit-making just like any business) and the breed quality depends very much on how the breeding parents are chosen and how well they are cared for behind the scenes.
It has been reported by certain animal welfare organisations that at certain pet farms, unscrupulous breeding occurs behind the scenes and the hamsters that are used for breeding may be kept in appalling conditions, while they churn out litter after litter not unlike a production line. If you really have to buy from a pet farm, please request to view the cages of the parent hamsters used for breeding if you feel the need to. If you are not allowed to view them, no matter what reason is given, it is wise to think twice (or thrice) before buying from them. If the animal is claimed to be imported, do ask to see the import documents and overseas breed certification, and make sure they are genuine. Some of these pet farms may even supply pets to middlemen and/or to your friendly neighbourhood pet store, which makes it even harder for you to know whether the pet you are buying is from an ethical source or not.
After all that have been said, good pet farms operating on ethical principles do exist, but they are not common. Over the years, a perception has somehow arisen that being ethical and operating a pet farm just doesn't mix.
Not all pet shops sell pets. Only some display pets for sale, while some others feel it is not ethical to sell pets. Just like pet farms, pet shops sell pets to make a profit like any other business. Therefore, prices are not cheap, breed quality and pet health also needs to be carefully checked. Some pet shops have good hygiene and healthy pets for sale, while some other pet shops may not have hygienic display cages.
Let your common sense help you make the judgment. Most pets in pet shops are obtained from either local unregistered breeders (a.k.a. pet farms) or overseas breeders. Pet shops usually would not reveal the pet farm or unregistered breeder that the pet came from. Some animal welfare advocates advise against buying pets from a pet shop or a pet farm as it perpetuates the cycle of commercial and unethical breeding of pets, while many other pets are abandoned or put down.
If you do shop for pets in a pet stop, check all the pet cages on display. If one of the hamsters looks sick, or even if one cages is unclean, it is not wise to buy from the pet shop as there is a chance that communicable diseases can be transmitted within animals in the same pet shop. However, there are many other diseases that can be contracted by your new pet before the sale that will not show any sign or symptom during the purchase. If you do buy from a pet shop and your new pet falls ill, seek veterinary advice immediately to ensure the disease is contracted before the sale, and then try to claim veterinary fees from the pet shop. Do not ever be persuaded into an exchange for another pet.
There are definitely pet shops out there selling pets ethically and honestly, in a clean environment. However, the difficulty is in finding them, as they are not common.