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Hamsters Anyone?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
We have two hamsters over for the Hannukah holiday week. They usually live in my son's kindergarten, but we volunteered to take them over for a week.

I really didn't know anything about hamsters. Only knew I like all furry critters, so why not?

They arrived in a fairly dirty cage, with rodent poop mixed all over the sawdust, and a plastic cup with some disgusting looking pellets for their food. They had no names, and the staff doesn't even know what sex they are. Turns out they were given to the kindergarten but the kids aren't too enthusiastic and neither is anyone else. Basically, the staff just throws in their food, adding the occasional piece of vegetable, and makes sure they have drinking water.

Well, that didn't sound right to me. Plus, no animal can possibly like to live in such a dirty cage... I wanted to take them out and noticed right away that one of them was totally terrified. It would squeal and curl away as I tried to touch it. It didn't take long to see why either as soon as I put it back into the cage, the other one began chasing it around, literally driving it up on the walls of the cage. You know, it just didn't look like playing...

I checked on the internet and sure enough, hamsters are solitary animals and don't tolerate another hamster in their cage... So, off I went to get them another cage, clean bedding and better food.

A couple of hours and $40 later, they were separated into clean cages, with cool little plastic "homes" and better food. I figured I better introduce the new food gradually, but they just wouldn't touch the old stuff now that they had natural yummy hamster food.

We've been taking them out everyday too, into a makeshift playground I made them, where I hide the yummy food and let them "forage" for it. Once they fill up their cheek pouches, I get them back into their cage, where they apparently stock it up into their little homes.

They're both so much relaxed now. The bullied one is actually fatter already, and lets us handle him or her without a problem (can't tell which, but I now think they're both females).

Made me think just how important knowledge and education are when it comes to pet care. It really isn't that difficult to make a pet's life good, if you know how. On the other hand, you may like animals, but you can easily turn their world into a terrible place just by doing something as simple as putting two loners into the same cage.

Anyway, makes me feel all good and warm inside seeing them so happy now. Here are a couple of pictures (hotlinked from my blog post about them here):

post #2 of 37
I learned more about Hamsters just reading your post than I've ever known.

They sure are cute little guys/gals though
post #3 of 37
Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job with them! Do you have a wheel in the cage for them? That is the only other thing I would suggest. Oh, and also some type of mineral lick.

Just like in cats, boy hamsters have extra parts.

They are both really, really cute.
post #4 of 37
Those are a couple of cuties!
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys I swear I spend more time with them than the kids do - they really are cute.

By the way, the cats couldn't care less about them. Mishmish was the only one who showed some interest on the first day, sitting on top of the TV next to the cages and keeping watch for about an hour. Then she tired of it and doesn't pay them any more attention. The other two just don't see them, even when we hold them outside the cage. Needless to say, no matter what, there will never ever be any direct interaction between the cats and the hamsters.

It does make me appreciate the company of cats as pets even more though, having a big tabby purring away on my wrist as I type - none of the hamster ever does that!

Originally Posted by AbbysMom View Post
Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job with them! Do you have a wheel in the cage for them? That is the only other thing I would suggest. Oh, and also some type of mineral lick.
Oh, definitely a wheel in each cage! And if we ever get a hamster of our own, it will only be when we can afford one of those huge fancy cages with tunnels too

As for the mineral stone, I read all sorts of things about them. Some hamster experts recommend them while others say to stay away. Since they now have rich and varied food, I figured they would be better off without these. Could be wrong though.

Originally Posted by AbbysMom View Post
Just like in cats, boy hamsters have extra parts.
Well, then just like small kittens, those extra parts can be hard to detect It's something to do with the distance between the sex opening and the anus, but my inexperienced eye really can't tell with these two.
post #6 of 37

Thank you for the education
post #7 of 37
It's wonderful what you've done for them. It's too bad they can't stay with you.
post #8 of 37
I love hamsters. I have had many. My last hamster, I had a little litter box. and a scoop. That little guy always used his litter box . His cage was so easy to clean, and it didn't smell either. I just wished they lived longer.
post #9 of 37
Originally Posted by Anne View Post
Well, then just like small kittens, those extra parts can be hard to detect It's something to do with the distance between the sex opening and the anus, but my inexperienced eye really can't tell with these two.
The hamsters in your photo don't look young enough to have difficult-to-detect male parts. Due to that I would guess they are probably females, because trust me you would KNOW if you had males once they hit about a month old...they get quite a bump back there. Here is a site with pics if you need help determining gender: http://www.hamster-heaven.com/sexing.html

Syrian hamsters (the ones you have) were my first non-cold-blooded pets as a child that were actually mine and not a family pet like the dogs. I've had more hamsters than I could count, (probably 100+) thanks in part to my not knowing about them being solitary in the beginning. The more you handle them the more tame they will be. My first hamster was the offspring of the classroom pets in my science class and after that the numbers went up pretty quickly. I think I had a strange genetic quirk or something in the beginning because I had up to 6 hamsters living together peacefully in my first years of having hamsters. They were all descended from a few hamsters I got from a friend who also had multiple hamsters who lived together peacefully (and the classroom pet offspring). This was very unusual, Syrian hamsters are normally very hostile to other hamsters and will even kill each other. Unfortunately a lot of pet stores won't tell people that which bothers me a lot!
Personally I've only gotten 3 hamsters from pet stores over the years, the rest were either from friends or in more recent years from shelters and rescues. I found out that the animal control in our city will euthanized hamsters they get because they don't have housing for them so there are 2 rescues in the area who routinely take any that animal control gets and find them homes. I've also gotten two from classified ads where people couldn't keep them. I really enjoy them as pets, they are very sweet once you tame them and fun to watch. I haven't had any in a few years because I've had pet rats. My favorite are the tortoiseshell/calico hamsters!
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the info and links! Looks like ours are indeed females then!

I think they are sweet and facsinating animals, actually. I know I will definitely push towards us keeping one of them, or possibly getting one of our own. Don't tell my husband, but I actually browsed some local "craiglists" yesterday and saw there are quite a few hamsters in need of good homes out there... so maybe?

I am really pleased with how the cats don't seem attracted to them as prey (or as anything). When they get to the window next to the hamsters, they get busy watching the view and don't pay attention to the rodents. Makes me feel a bit safer about having a hamster. It's not that I intend to ever let them play together, it just feels safer knowing the cats won't bother them while in their cage. The hamsters seem totally cool about the cats too - they just go on with their business and ignore the cats entirely.
post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 
Oh, and just had to add. I've seen pet rats in need of a home and I wonder if maybe that would be a good option for us too. I think they are smarter, right? I need to do some reading on pet rats.
post #12 of 37
The only problem I see with Hamsters is their short lifespan... They live 1-2 years, at the most 3... I had them when I was younger, and it was hard to deal with the deaths ... and oh boy... they bread like crazy!
post #13 of 37
Yes, rats are very smart. Some people say they are as smart as dogs. You can train them to do tricks and come when called. They can also be taught to use a litterbox which makes cage cleaning easier. My rats love to ride around on my shoulder. Another nice thing about rats vs. hamsters is I can let the rats run around on a table or desk to play and they won't try to jump off. The hamsters will go right to the edge and jump off if you don't watch them (no matter the height!)
My younger cats like to watch the rats but they never bother them, just sit and watch them outside the cage. The rats don't mind. Here's a video of Church watching and the rats checking him out:
post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link - Lovely critters you have there!

I went on exploring related videos and came across this one -

Is that cute or what? I think I'm going to feature this one on the TCS blog
post #15 of 37
Aww they are so adorable!! I had one that was the same color as the first one- golden banded. I loved her so much, she was amazing!! It makes me sad that they had put them together in a cage, they could have killed each other from fighting ...But carolinalima is right- their lifespan is too short.. My little Miller lived 2 years, and then she died very suddenly after a trip to the ER vet...It's still better to have them as short as their lives are though..
post #16 of 37
We don't have hamsters in NZ but they sure are cute. I had three pet rats a few years back and they were great pets!
post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
Well, as often happens, this trigerred a website I just bought http://www.teddy-bear-hamsters.com and will work on the content over the next few weeks. If anyone has hamster pictures to share (Syrians only, not dwarf), please send them on to me anne at thecatsite.com - thanks!
post #18 of 37
Oh I have tons of hamster photos!
Feel free to use any of my hamster pics you want Anne as long as you have some kind of note somewhere on the site that they are from me (Lizzi K or chicagocanine.com)

You can find them here:

Most of those photos are Syrians, I think there are a few of a dwarf hamster, they start with "cinn" because the hamster's name was Cinnamon Bunzz

Here's another cute pic that was not in that directory:

Oh I also have a few with my dog:
post #19 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thank you! Some good pictures there! I will drop you a note once the site is ready and I'll be sure to credit any of the pictures I'll end up using and link to you from the links page too - thanks again!
post #20 of 37
We have had 2 hamster both were Russian dwarfs. The first one we got from the local flea market and she was a sweetheart! Her name was Toni:

and she LOVED the little wooden chew sticks. She would go through those like nothing!
And then our second one was a winter white and she was evil. She came from petsmart and liked to chop my fingers... loved my boyfriend though!

I hope you get to keep one or get one for yourselves! They make adorable pets! And ours always had such personality!
Also as for the big cages, we found 2 huge ones at the flea market for $10. We just made sure to clean it out really really well and both of ours loved it!
post #21 of 37
Originally Posted by Anne View Post
Leaves?! I'm sure you've probably read more since this picture has been taken, but never ever bring anything unsterilized from outside and put it in the cage! You could be bringing in fleas, ticks - or eggs and larvae from either, mites, worms, disease, and bacteria and molds that do not need to be in a small area where it can build up.
So never bring anything in that can't be baked in your oven to sterilize it or better yet not at all since a rodent will chew on it.

You can find plenty of items to decorate and enrich their habitat. Paper towel and toilet paper tubes are always a huge hit.

As for life span, I had one hamster for 4 and a half years. He was an adult when I bought him. I have no idea how or why he lived so long. Maybe it was the occasional treats of chicken noodle soup. He was also given a rare mealworm treat, and regularly had fresh produce.
post #22 of 37
The hammies are adorable! I had a Syrian when I was in 1st grade, she was soo sweet.
If you are interested in possibly getting rats here are two good sites for info: http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk and http://www.goosemoose.com (click on the 'Rats Rule!' link).
I have been keeping rats for about 10 years now, they make such fabulous little pets! It's been forever since I've had a hammie, but rats require a LOT of attention and suffer from a lot of health problems so they can quickly become expensive -- so this may be something you want to take into account. That being said I couldn't imagine not having them in my life. Also, they MUST be kept in same sex pairs or groups to be happy.
post #23 of 37
awesome, I have tons of hamster pics...
here are some- use them please:
There are some good ones and some bad ones on there but my favorites are:

post #24 of 37
Poor hammies.I hate it when people don't research the care of pets before they get them.Thank goodness you got them and sperated them.
I have a drawf hamster named Zoey.She is a doll and so sweet.
Campbells,Winter Whites and Robos can live in pairs.
post #25 of 37
Oh I just remembered a few more photos I had. These pics are of my calico hamster Callie. I wish I could find another calico/tortie hamster, I love the pattern!

post #26 of 37
I used to have a tortie hamster. At the time I didn't know that's what her coat pattern was called.
post #27 of 37
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
awesome, I have tons of hamster pics...
here are some- use them please:
Thank you! How can I give you credit for the pictures? by your TCS username? or do you have a blog or a website?
post #28 of 37
TCS username will be great
post #29 of 37
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post

Awwww. I have her twin:

post #30 of 37
Originally Posted by AbbysMom View Post
Awwww. I have her twin:

Awww so cute!! Whats his/her name? Mine was a boy and his name was Nero, but he is over the bridge now So is the other golden banded, her name was Miller..
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