Scientists around the world and Hong Kong health and veterinary authorities have said there was no evidence that animals play a major role in human contagion with the coronavirus.
But having pursued a policy of zero tolerance for COVID-19, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday (January 18) she could not rule out any transmission possibilities and therefore the government could take no chances.
Some 150 of the pet shop's customers were also sent into quarantine.
Residents in the Mong Kok neighbourhood questioned the government response.
"It's not like every small animal is going to be infected," said 27-year-old beautician May Chong. "I think it is really brutal and sad."
Aside from ordering the cull, authorities asked dozens of pet shops to close, while imports and sales of small mammals were suspended.
Buyers of hamsters after December 22, 2021 were asked to hand them to authorities for culling and not leave to them on streets.