Are Hamsters Illegal In Australia?

There is no doubt that hamsters are cute pets. These tiny furry rodents are not only cute but also harmless, which makes them the perfect pet. But do you know hamsters are illegal in Australia?

Yes, hamsters are banned in Australia because the government considers hamsters to be pests. It is illegal for anyone in Australia to own a hamster or bring one to the country. This prohibition is implemented in all the states of Australia.

Even though it is a bit harsh to say these cute little animals are pests, the Australian government has its reasons. This article will see how hamsters have acquired this unfortunate title from the Australian government and why this blanket ban has been implemented against them across the continent.

Rules Importing Hamsters into Australia

The Australian government strictly controls the import and possession of all foreign animals under the environmental protection and biodiversity conservation act of 1999. All the animals that comply with all the regulations under the law are allowed in the country. Hamsters do not comply with these strict regulations. So if anyone tries to import a hamster into Australia or if any Australians keep a hamster as a pet, it is breaking the law. If taken to court, these persons will be penalised under the regulation.

There is, however, one exception. The exception is permitted only for fulfilling medical research purposes. Only male hamsters can be brought into Australia for research purposes by a professional. Not only that, the hamsters should be castrated beforehand to make sure that they cannot breed once they are in Australia.

Reasons why

According to Australian quarantine rules, hamsters fall under the exotic pest category. The department of agriculture, water, and environment of Australia have described hamsters and several other animals as a legitimate threat and risk to the local ecosystem. It is hard to imagine these little rodents as dangerous pests, but the Australian government is very concerned about the effect of the wild hamster population on their environment.

The government fears the consequences of the accidental or intentional release of hamsters into the Australian wild. According to the Australian government, hamsters can create a significant threat for Australia’s native plants and wildlife. 

Even though you may not dream about letting your pet hamster get away from its enclosure, history suggests that it is only a matter of time before someone pet animal could get out of their enclosure and take refuge in the wild. As hamsters are desert animals, the chances of adapting to the arid Australian environment are significantly high. 

Given an opportunity, the hamsters will be procreating at a prolific rate in the Australian wild, creating an increased competition for food and habitat, which is essential for the survival of native animals. 

Agriculture and crops can also get affected if they start to breed in the Australian wilderness. The Australian government had already suffered from this problem when rabbits got introduced to the Australian wild. 

Even though hamsters are much smaller than rabbits and are pretty easy prey, there are few native predators to keep the booming hamster population under check.

The chances of spreading exotic diseases is yet another reason why the Australian government is not keen on lifting the ban on hamsters. 

Even though hamsters are not considered a high source of risk for diseases like rabies, the chances are they can bring in an unknown exotic condition that is still not found in Australia. There is a chance that the hamsters can become significantly infected with diseases, which has propelled the Australian government to implement a blanket ban against these small rodents.

What would happen if you got caught with a hamster in Australia? 

Even though there are no recorded cases against people for possession of a hamster, the government has kept heavy penalties in place if anyone gets caught in the Act. According to the Department of Environment and Energy, if anyone gets caught while importing a hamster into Australia or possessing one, they can face five years of prison time and a 210,000 Australian dollar fine.

Hamster Alternatives

If you live in Australia and are disappointed about the blanket ban against hamsters, don’t worry, as there are a couple of other cute pets that you can have instead of a hamster.

Guinea Pig

Guinea pig outside on some grass
Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are perfectly legal for you to get a guinea pig as a pet in Australia. Even though the Guinea pigs are a little bigger than the hamster, they are equally cute and affectionate. Even though you cannot keep a guinea pig inside your home like the hamsters, they are the best hamster alternative available in Australia.


Grey rabbit on some grass

Domesticated rabbit is yet another popular pet that you can get for yourself. Even though the rabbits are much bigger than a hamster, a rabbit can be an excellent alternative for a tiny hamster if you have a little bit of space.


A ferret on some grass with a leash on

You may not have considered a ferret a pet before, but they can be a sweet substitute for a hamster. Even though ferrets are bigger than a hamster, ferrets are considerably smaller than many other larger pets. These animals are very social and can be easily handled and trained.

Mice and rats

These rodents are the most closely related animals to hamsters when it comes to size. You can keep these little critters in small enclosures. As these animals are pretty small, you can easily keep the cage inside your home.

Other Countries Where Hamsters Are Banned

Even though it may seem a bit unbelievable, Australia is not the only country that has banned hamsters. Other countries have prohibited importing and possessing these small funny animals to protect native species and the environment. 

It is illegal to import hamsters in New Zealand. Even though you can keep a hamster as a pet in most states in the United States of America, hamsters are illegal in Hawaii. If you live in California, you can keep a hamster as a pet, provided it is a domesticated golden hamster. All other varieties of hamsters are prohibited in California.

All in all, you cannot consider getting a hamster as a pet if you live in Australia. If you try to import a hamster in Australia, you will break the law and face severe penalties. There are many other animals that you can consider as a pet. Talk to your local pet shop to find the perfect hamster alternative for yourself.

It's a good thing to share!

By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.