Zhu Zhu Pets: Hamsters to Save Christmas?

Kids are going ga-ga for these cuddly, robotic hamsters known as Zhu Zhu pets.

ByABC News
November 20, 2009, 11:32 AM

Nov. 20, 2009— -- "Zhu Zhu Pets are everywhere!" -- or so goes their catchy jingle. Come Christmas morning, retailers across the country hope that will be true.

Zhu Zhu Pets, the cuddly, on-the-go hamsters who squeak, roll, even drive their own cars, are on their way to becoming the holiday season's "must-have" toy.

Retailers like Ken Levinsohn, owner of the Learning Express toy store in Scarsdale, N.Y., hope they'll be the hamsters that save Christmas.

"Based on the demand, it's going to be hot," Levinsohn said.

The trouble is for Levinsohn is that he has none to sell. Following in the footsteps of must-haves of seasons past -- the Furby, Tickle-me Elmo, Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies -- supply seems to grow short just when demand is high, and Zhu Zhu Pets are flying off store shelves.

"It's easier to get a swine flu shot than to get Zhu Zhu Pets," said customer Julie Gerstenblatt.

Levinsohn said he has been waiting for another shipment for nearly two months. "Clearly, the demand is there. The product is not. It's very frustrating," he said.

But it isn't just small independents like Levinsohn who are having trouble getting hold of Zhu Zhu Pets. Even the biggest retailers say they can't get enough.

At the Toys "R" Us in New York City's Times Square, salespeople don't bother putting Zhu Zhu Pets on the shelves. Every shipment has sold out in a matter of hours.

One salesperson told us that even the accessories, which are sold separately from the coveted pets, were running low. At one store, shopper Theresa Brdaric scored the last Zhu Zhu Pet car.

"The cars are going for quite a bit on Ebay. The cars and the ball are the biggest sellers on Ebay, I think. I'm just happy to get some," she said.

On Ebay, the $9 hamsters are being auctioned for up to $60 a piece.