First of all, Hoffer's has some of the MOST RUDE employees I've ever come in contact with. I've seen positive reviews where people said they were more knowledgeable than a high-school petsmart employee, and that may be true, but they do NOT know the first thing about taking care of their animals OR customer service. PS, you can't return anything you buy here... I never had to, but it's good to note. I shopped at this store for probably 6 months and USUALLY I had to stand around and wait for more than a half an hour before going back to the front of the store and asking for some help, because NOBODY asks you if you need help or have questions.
There were THREE girls (all teenage or early 20s) who were consistently nice to me here and seemed to know what they were talking about... to an extent. Today I went to Hoffer's and I pointed out a small black rat sitting by himself with his eyes closed in pain, ruffled fur, and who was rocking back and forth in a corner. The girl I spoke to was kind - and smart - enough to remove the rat from that cage and put him in a quiet place. However, this is just more proof that their animals are sickly.
God forbid you do have questions because they don't know the answers.
A rat we bought here three days ago has Mycoplasmosis, a very painful respiratory disorder that is EASILY transmitted to other rats and mice. I know for a fact that there are other rats in there who also have respiratory problems (I saw a saleswoman explaining this to another customer, about an older rat who has lost her hearing) and these illnesses are spread through the air. Likely, ALL OF THEIR RATS AND MICE ARE SICK because of this.
I told one of the men that works there (did not get his name unfortunately) that our rat has Myco, and his response was ""what?"" HE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT WAS. Then he tried to tell me that he was sneezing ""because of the bedding."" I have three rats and I KNOW the difference between ""new home sneezes"" and wet, coughing, painful, fluid-y SICK sneezes - sneezes so huge they were causing my rat to cry with discomfort. I also explained to him before he said this that veterinarian DIAGNOSED him as having myco. Likely the people giving them positive reviews talked to someone who was confident and looked like they knew what they were saying, I doubt that any of them have the expertise that others are saying.
I at first admired them for breeding their own animals, but now I realize that they don't know the first thing about breeding an animal responsibly. They mix and match rats from different cages and different litters all the time. Usually there are 10 or more baby rats in a cage, sometimes with two adult rats. In a 10 gallon cage. Ridiculous. You don't have to know that rats need 2 sq. ft. of space each to know that it is TOO MANY animals in one cage. The same goes for gerbils, mice, hamsters, degus, birds, and pretty much everything else.
Yes, a lot of people like this store because it is huge and interesting and has a wide variety of animals, it's ""fun for the kids."" Please don't continue to give your business to them because of this. There are many other stores that are much more worthy of your time and business and will be more polite to you, as well as cheaper - their prices are sky-effing-high. The first time I brought home two rats and all supplies it cost me almost $200! And then I was told by someone who didn't even know the first thing about rat illnesses that if the rat is sick it doesn't matter because they only cost $8 (and female dumbos are actually $11.99).
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE look for an unwanted animal on petfinder or at the humane society before rushing to give your hard-earned money to these nincompoops. Your animal will probably be sick and miserable, the way they treat them is no better than a mill.