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I bought a djungarian hamster as a gift for a relative's daughter, but now she says she doesn't want to keep it, because it's very aggressive and always bites. She's had a few hamsters before and says this one is a true nightmare. She's been having it since a month ago and the hamster is now two-months old.

Our attempts to find a new owner have been fruitless. We called a few pet shops and offered our hamster for free, but the answer has always been no. We tried to find a new owner for this hamster online, but no one was interested. And, unfortunately, there are no pet shelters here, at least those accepting hamsters.

I can't really afford spending more time and effort trying to find a new owner for the hamster, so there seems to be no other choice but to release the hamster.

So my question is: Where should I release the hamster to maximize its chance of survival?

The location is Moscow, Russia, and the options include urban streets and parks as well as countryside forests, swamps, and fields. The current temperature is 8°C.

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Do not release the hamster.

You should never release pets into the wild. There are multiple reasons why you should not.

  1. The pet is unlikely to survive without humans. Domesticated animals are frequently not equipped to survive on their own. They are often accustomed to human care, so they very well might not know what do on their own to survive. Furthermore, they have been taken out of their native environment and selectively bred to be more suitable for living as a pet and less suitable to living as a wild animal. Also, being small and mouse-like, I'd think it pretty likely it'll just end up getting eaten by a predator pretty quickly.

  2. Released non-native pets that do survive are an invasive species, which can devastate the local environment. For example, pet pythons released in Florida are now an invasive species in the Everglades, consuming a very worrying amount of native wildlife. Goldfish are taking over lakes and ponds in places in the United States and other countries. And so forth.

  3. Abandoning a pet is unethical. When you obtain a pet, the animal is completely dependent on you for its welfare. That responsibility to look after its well being doesn't go away when the animal becomes inconvenient.

So what should you do with a pet you no longer want or can no longer care for?

The only responsible choice is to continue your search for another home for the pet. Yes, this means you might end up taking care of it for a long time when you do not want to, but that is a possibility you should consider whenever you purchase a living animal as a pet.

In this particular case, the hamster has only been around for a month, and it sounds like it is unwanted because it is aggressive. You should try working with the hamster to see if you can help it to become acclimated to handling. I personally do not know much about handling hamsters, but there are many resources on this subject already. In a worst case scenario, where you are unable to make the hamster less aggressive or rehome it, hamsters typically only live 2 to 3 years anyways.

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  • Thanks for your answer, but I can't completely agree with it. For example, contrary to what you say, Djungarian hamsters do not originate from sand dunes and the edges of deserts. They are from Siberia and Mongolia and can survive snowy winters. In the wild, the Djungarian hamster's fur changes color in the winter, and this adaptation helps them to evade predators in the snow-covered steppes Oct 16 at 12:41
  • Also, you say that invasive species can devastate the environment. Come on, I am talking about releasing just one single Djungarian hamster, not a bunch of them. As far as I know, hamster have not yet evolved to be able to reproduce without finding a mate Oct 16 at 12:41
  • You are talking about keeping the hamster, but the girl has returned the cage with the hamster to me and I must get rid of this hamster because I live in a tiny studio and this hamster gets really noisy in the night. It destroys my sleep. I absolutely need to sleep well in order to be able to study properly at my university. Are you really suggesting I must sacrifice the quality of my education just to save the hamster? Oct 16 at 12:42
  • A friend of mine suggested the following solution: To "forget" the cage with the hamster at a crowded place such as a big railway station, with a note saying that everyone interested is free to take the hamster home. In my friend's opinion, this gives a better chance for survival as compared to setting the hamster free in the wild Oct 16 at 12:42
  • I've removed the statement about their native habitat. But I stand by the rest of my response. Of course one hamster can't devastate the environment on its own, but if the hamster can survive outside, you must assume someone else could have done the same, and there could be another hamster outside it could breed with.
    – Kai
    Oct 16 at 16:38

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