Most Big chain pet stores sadly have something called a rodent mill. Rodent mills are big warehouses that breed hamsters with very little care. The female hamsters will be bread to death, these places will contain the hamsters in small, crowded and dirty boxes. The hamsters will then start to become stressed due to the small / crowded enclosures and this can possibly trigger health conditions alongside the poor breeding and genetics.
PETA UK went inside a pet mill in Europe. This is the article they wrote about what they found inside:
Sadly, some of the new baby hamsters may not make it to the pet store. There have been reports of hamsters and animals having conditions such as wet tail, skin conditions, neurological problems, brachycephalic and hydrocephalus. A Brachycephalic / hydrocephalus hamster could have various genetic problems, they can have a short squished-in face and brittle teeth and they would then need a special mushy diet. Some may have water on the brain that can cause a lot more problems.
To comply with the Animal Welfare Act Rodent mills need to operate as ethical breeders, where hamsters are separated into large enclosures when not mating, with wheels when babies arn’t around etc, How ethical breeders operate can be seen here.
Please take a look at our page of Adoption and Rescue Centers for hamsters to see if there is a place to adopt from near you.