​Demand for pet hamsters rises in Vietnam as Year of the Rat nears

Demand for pet hamsters rises in Vietnam as Year of the Rat nears
A hamster is seen in a toy helicopter at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

At prices of just VND100,000-180,000 (US$4-8), hamsters have become one of the most sought-after pets for Hanoians hoping to get their own lucky mascot before the upcoming Year of the Rat.

According to the Vietnamese zodiac, January 25 marks the first day of the Year of the Rat, one of the 12 ‘signs’ assigned to each lunar year in a repeating 12-year cycle.

Though “cute” and ‘adorable’ are not always the first thoughts that come to mind when thinking of rats, the creature is listed first amongst the 12 zodiac signs.

Those born in the Year of the Rat are considered to be full of spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility, and vitality.

Tuan Anh, a resident of Dong Da District, Hanoi, took his daughter to a pet store on Phung Khoang Street, Thanh Xuan District, in search of a pet hamster before the forthcoming holiday.

“This will be the fourth hamster in my family,” Anh said.

“At first, I was anxious when my daughter told me she wanted one because I was worried about sanitary issues and also about that my daughter would not be able to take care of it [but] after learning a bit more about hamsters, I found out that they’re easy to raise and clean.”

“They also form bonds with humans pretty quickly.

“This year is the Year of the Rat so I want to buy a pet hamster because it will help us have a peaceful and fortunate new year.”

Two hamsters are seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Two hamsters are seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Tran Dong, the owner of a hamster pet shop in Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, shared that his shop has been extremely busy over the past few weeks as customers come in to search for hamsters they can bring home as mascots before the Year of the Rat.

In comparison to the same period last year, Dong’s shop is selling three to four times her usual number of hamsters. On some days, that number increases fivefold.

Hamsters, which belong to the subfamily Cricetinae, fascinate youngsters with their petite, lovely appearance and silky fur, according to a pet shop owner.

The price for a ‘bear’ hamster ranges from VND110,000 ($5) to VND180,000 ($8) while ‘white winter’ hamsters sell for VND100,000-130,000 ($4-6).

A container full of hamsters for sale are seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

A container full of hamsters for sale is seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Pet hamsters’ favorite foods include vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.

Hamsters can keep themselves meticulously clean by bathing in the sand, meaning owners need not do much to care for their pets.

However, raising hamsters requires that owners buy a variety of accessories such as cages, foods, toys, grindstones, and deodorant sprays.

Linh Dan, a resident of Thanh Xuan District, who recently bought a white hamster, said she hopes the animal hamster will bring fortune in the New Year and help her feel less lonely when she is home alone.

A hamster is seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

A hamster is seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Three hamsters are seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Three hamsters are seen at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Three hamsters on a running wheel at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Three hamsters on a running wheel at a pet shop in Hanoi. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Linh Dan, a resident of Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, shops for a hamster at a local pet shop. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Linh Dan, a resident of Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, shops for a hamster at a local pet shop. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Linh Dan, a resident of Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, shops for a hamster at a local pet shop. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Linh Dan, a resident of Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi, shops for a hamster at a local pet shop. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

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