​​California Hamster Association

CHA Ethical  Code

The CHA views breeding as a very serious decision. The following outlines the expectations to which we hold all hamster breeders. We have adapted our code of ethics from the Ontario Hamster Club and IHANA, with permission.

Understanding of Commitment

  • An ethical breeder understands that their actions affect living creatures, and this is not taken lightly. Therefore, the breeder devotes a great deal of time and effort into learning about the husbandry and genetics of the animals which they will be working with.
  • The breeder understands that the care and keeping of these animals requires more attention than the average pet owner, and the breeder strives to set the standard for husbandry as well as ensure that their animal enjoy the highest quality of life.
  • The breeder considers their capabilities and keeps their animals within this range. They do not breed more animals than they can adequately provide quality care for, be it in their home or through adoption.

Care of Litters

  • Neither mother nor pups are disturbed beyond a reasonable amount (mainly for feeding) until all eyes of the pups have opened. Pups may not be handled before this time.
  • Photos of pups before this time shall not be posted on websites or social media. This encourages inexperienced breeders to disturb mom and pups.
  • Pups should be weaned and separated into same-sex groups at the age of 4 weeks. After 6 weeks of age, Syrians should be rehomed or housed solitarily.
  • Homes shall be reasonably ensured before breeding. Acceptable homes include private adoptions, sale to a reputable pet store, trade to other ethical breeders, and remaining with the breeder. Pups with special needs (runts, defects, etc.) shall remain with the breeder unless their specialized care is disclosed to a capable adopter.
  • If homes are not plentiful, excess animals must remain cared for by the breeder until they are secured.

Breeding Stock

  • All breeding animals should be in good health and free of any inheritable defects. As the offspring of these animals are destined to become breeding stock or pets, this includes poor temperament. The breeder should understand the difference between natural temperament and tame temperament. They should therefore choose animals that are inherently friendly.
  • Females should not be bred before the age of 4 months, nor after the age of 1 year. No female shall be allowed to carry more than 2 litters.
  • Any breeder should have good knowledge of genetics and is expected to avoid lethal and deleterious pairings.

Care of Breeding Animals

  • As breeders are expected to exemplify the highest quality of animal care, ethical breeders are expected to provide the same standard of husbandry as would be expected of pet owners.
  • Cages should meet or exceed 450 square inches, with the exception of taming or rearing cages, which may be 360 square inches.
  • High quality food shall be provided at all times. We use and recommend Harlan Teklad 8640, but another high protein block may be used.
  • Animals should receive regular human contact and out-of-cage time. This is not just a kindness, but a genuine need. 
  • Syrians should always be housed solitarily after 6 weeks of age. During mating, the animals should be placed in a neutral location and constantly supervised. They should then be returned to their respective cages.

Business Ethics

  • Breeders should charge a flat rate for all adoptions. "Rare" colors or patterns do not exist; truly exceptional animals should be held back for breeding.
  • Correct terminology should be used in all public and personal correspondence, except for clarification purposes. Syrian hamsters should be called such--"Teddy bear," "Fancy bear," "Black bear," Calico," and other such names are confusing and incorrect. Dwarf hamsters should be listed by species--Roborovski, Winter White, or Campbell's. If they are hybrids, this should be disclosed. Likewise, the term "Purebred" is ambiguous and misleading, and so should not be used.
  • If at all possible, resale sites should be avoided. This includes Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, and others. We understand that these can be powerful tools to new breeders, but their use should be minimized as they do not tend to attract the best clientele. It is preferable to use personal websites and business social media instead.


  • If private adoption is the end goal, homes should be reasonably checked to ensure the hamster will receive adequate care. A suitable cage and diet should be ensured at minimum. This can be accomplished via an application form or personal correspondence.
  • If a store is the end goal, one that reasonably adheres to this code of ethics should be chosen. The breeder should do all they can to ensure that the staff of the store is knowledgeable on hamster care and that this information gets to the public.
  • Ethical breeders shall offer lifetime support to their animals and personal adopters. It is reasonable to expect breeders to make themselves available to answer adopter questions or concerns. Additionally, the breeder should welcome any of their adopted animals back into their hamstery should the need arise.