Nearly 100 hamsters taken from a Lawrence man on Friday by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been put up for adoption across New England.
Last week, a man visited the group’s Nevins Farm animal care and adoption center in Metheun to report that his hamster population was out of control.
The man, whose name was not released, estimated he had about 80 hamsters in his apartment. He did not own a car and planned to take them to the animal shelter in a cab, said Mike Keiley, director of Nevins Family Adoption Center.
He started out with just two, a male and a female he bought from a pet store and over time, they continued to reproduce.
“He couldn’t afford them any longer,’’ Keiley said of the man, who is receiving welfare payments. “He had gone hungry a couple nights in order to feed his hamsters.’’
At the start, the hamsters were kept in fish tanks, typical, but then the owner needed to get more creative and began using things like 5-gallon buckets, Tupperware containers, and an empty cat litter box.
The MSPCA sent two volunteers to the home, rounded up all of the hamsters, and brought them to Nevins Farm. Most were put up for adoption there, but 48 were sent to other animal shelters across New England.
Hamsters can start reproducing when they are only about eight weeks old and, after a pregnancy of up to a month, give birth to up to 12 babies in a litter.
“Depending on the survival of the babies, that number can jump from two to 10 or 20, and then it becomes an exponential number,’’ said Keiley. The owner had been attempting to separate the animals by sex, but Keiley said that distinguishing gender can be very difficult, especially when they are young.
Twelve hamsters were adopted Sunday, and the MSPCA said most of the others are available for adoption. For more information, call Nevins Farm at 978-687-7453.
“Most of them looked very healthy,’’ Keiley said. The majority of the animals were short-haired with tan, white, or light brown fur.