While I encourage adopting from a shelter or rescue if possible, sometimes it’s not possible to find what you’re looking for from those routes. There’s nothing wrong with buying your next pet from a good pet shop, as long as the animals for sale are healthy and housed in clean areas, and it is not an impulse purchase. I would steer clear of pet shops that have sick, overweight, underweight, dirty, overcrowded, or pregnant animals. People sometimes claim to have “rescued” their new pet from a bad pet shop situation… but I think it would be more honest to say that they bought their pet from a bad pet shop, who is going to use that sales profit to buy/breed/sell more unfortunate little animals for others to “rescue” from them. Despite my best efforts, most of the animals I have bought from pet shops have not lived long, and were not friendly. My healthiest, friendliest hamsters have come from shelters and hobby breeders.
My track record buying hamsters from pet stores isn’t good, though my current hamster, Maximus Decimus Meridius (the adventurer mentioned in my last post), came from the Centre d’Animaux Safari – Centre Rockland, and is a healthy (and durable!), friendly hamster. I had previously searched the SPCA and online communities like Craigslist and Kijiji, but had no luck finding a hamster. I checked out the hamsters at one pet shop on St-Laurent, and found not only one litter…but the daddy mating with the mommy right over the babies, creating the next litter right there. I did not want one of these hamsters, since there was clearly a sexing problem (that is, they were not able to separate the males from the females, and prevent unintentional breeding). It’s possible these were meant as feeder hamsters – I didn’t want to find out.
I kept looking. No visit to the Rockland Centre is complete for me without a stop at the pet shop to coo over the animals and fish. Walking through their aisles of fish tanks feels like being in a mini aquarium; it’s common to see babies and toddlers held up to see the fish tanks during their mall visit routines. They no longer have cats, but there’s always a bunch of hamsters, mice, rats, guinea pigs, degus, hedgehogs, gerbils, birds, and fish to gawk at. There are also aquatic turtles and a couple lizards, as well as live insects to feed said animals. I was really looking forward to getting a cup of mealworms to feed a hedgehog boarder I had recently, but alas, I wasn’t given permission to feed her outside food. Maybe next time…
Anyway… when I looked over the hamster selection, the staff member was very friendly and helpful, and even kissed the hamsters when she put them back into their bins. Unfortunately, the store isn’t able to separate the males from the females due to lack of space, but they can try to sex the hamsters for you to ensure that you get either a male or female. This is one of the reasons why I prefer getting male hamsters over female hamsters. Their small furry animals always look healthy, active, and well cared for (must be due to all the kissing).
I like the pet products they carry for hamsters and cats. They have a nice selection of high quality food, bedding, set ups, and toys for hamsters and cats. Things are attractively displayed, well-ventilated, and kept tidy. Scratching posts, carriers, grooming products, etc.. Small animals seem to be bought quickly, and there are rarely empty bins. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. They have sales and a loyalty card. Mall parking is free, there’s a bus stop right out front, and you can multitask your visit buy doing other shopping at the same time.