Are you considering getting a hamster as a pet? Before you make a purchase, it’s essential to understand where these cute furry creatures come from. The truth is, the hamsters you find at most chain pet stores are often bred in what is known as a Rodent Mill. In these large warehouses, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, and other rodents are bred with little regard for their well-being.
A Glimpse into the Rodent Mill
Inside these Rodent Mills, female hamsters, in particular, are bred to the point of exhaustion. These places keep the rodents in small, cramped, and unsanitary cages, leading to immense stress and potential health issues. The poor breeding practices and genetics further compound these problems.
One pet mill in Europe was even investigated by PETA UK, and the findings were heart-wrenching. The story they shared sheds light on the heartbreaking reality of animals bred for the European pet trade. Take a look at the images below to see the conditions these animals endure.
Uncovering the Truth: Rodent Mills Breaking the Law
Rodent Mills not only exploit animals but also break various aspects of The Animal Welfare Act, putting them at risk of facing criminal charges. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, owners and keepers are responsible for meeting their animals’ welfare needs, including providing a suitable environment, diet, and protection from suffering and disease.
Failure to meet these needs can result in severe consequences, such as being banned from owning animals, facing fines, or even imprisonment for up to six months. The law is clear, and these Rodent Mills are in blatant violation of it.
The Call for Ethical Breeding
To ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Rodent Mills must operate as ethical breeders. This means separating hamsters into spacious enclosures when not mating, providing exercise opportunities, offering bedding for burrowing, avoiding over-breeding, and maintaining animal records to prevent inbreeding and genetic issues.
By adhering to these standards, ethical breeders can protect the natural genetic variation of hamsters, which is currently being compromised worldwide due to inbreeding at Rodent Mills. In the wild, natural selection eliminates health problems, allowing only the strongest and healthiest individuals to reproduce. However, in the domesticated environment, these issues persist and perpetuate the deterioration of the genetic code in domesticated hamsters.
The Hidden Dangers in Pet Stores
Regrettably, not all hamsters bred in Rodent Mills make it to pet stores. Some suffer from conditions like wet tail, skin problems, neurological issues, brachycephalic syndrome, or hydrocephalus. Brachycephalic hamsters, with their short, squished-in faces and fragile teeth, require special diets. Others may have hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, which can lead to severe complications and reduced quality of life.
If you want to bring a hamster into your life, consider adopting instead of shopping. Adoption and rescue centers for hamsters are a great option to find a furry friend in need of a loving home.
Remember, every decision we make has an impact. By choosing not to support Rodent Mills and pet stores that source from them, we can collectively work towards a more compassionate treatment of these delightful little creatures.