Saturday, 25 February 2012

Time to buy your hamster!

After getting everything ready for your little furry arrival its time to get one at last! Ideally, buying from a breeder is best as they have made sure the hamsters are healthy. If that isn't possible then a pet shop is the next best thing.

Choosing a Species

There are 4 main species of hamster, a russian dwarf, a chinese, a roborovski and a syrian. There are also campbells dwarf and winter white hamsters but if you get your pet from a pet shop chances are they will be one of the first mentioned. 

Syrians are the large hamsters, also known as teddy bear, black bear and golden hamster. They are some of the tamest you can get, and are larger so easier to hold. I have also found they are the easiest to tame. They MUST be kept alone at all costs.
 Male syrian

Russian dwarf hamsters are smaller but still need a lot of space! They have a bit of a reputation for being aggressive, but with enough taming that won't be the case. Not a good idea to get these for children. Can be kept in pairs but there are risks.
Russian Dwarf

Roborovski hamsters are tiny and very very fast! They are more the type to watch rather than play with, and do best in same sex pairs.

Chinese hamsters are a small "mouse like" breed and must be kept alone. Males can be rather offputting due to their large "fun bags". Not good for children.

 Chinese female

Next you need to make sure the hamster you are choosing is healthy. Check they have bright, fully open eyes and clean fur. Check they are not too thin and have a dry bottom with no poo attached. Lastly, check they are free of cuts or bite marks and that they are in a tank/cage with same sex same breed hamsters to prevent babies.

After you have checked all these things then you are set to go! Make sure you buy a bag of the food your hamsters has been given whilst in the pet shop, and if you intend to change this then mix that bag with the new bag to ensure there are no tummy upsets from changing food too fast.

Off you go with your new furry friend to start your lives together :D

Friday, 24 February 2012

Busy Busy Busy

I've been so busy! Sorry for the lack of posts, I should get round to doing one later today <3

Thanks for your patience ^_^

In the meantime, check out the zoo's Facebook!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Guest Blog Post

I just did a guest post on Inky's blog, check it out! Its all about the treats I feed my hamsters and mice :)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What do I need?

After buying a cage, and before getting a hamster there are a few other things you need.

  • Substrate (posh word for the stuff you line the bottom of the cage with)
Most people go directly for woodshavings, as these are what the stereotypical hamster bedding is. I dislike shavings as they are dusty, not very soft and get everywhere! They can cause respitory issues, as they did with my syrian before I knew better, and can generally make their lives uncomfortable. There are some good ones on the market, dust extracted and soft, and these are called snowflake shavings:
 If you want to use shavings make sure they are not pine or cedar as they are dangerous to small animals. Also ensure you air the shavings before use to remove as must dust as possible.

There are other options when choosing a substrate, one of these being Megazorb:
This comes in huge bags as it is horse bedding, and is fantastic. The 85l bag costs me £8 and lasts a good few cleanouts for all the animals! It is soft and absorbant, with a slightly yougurty smell XD.

Next is Aubiose, another horse bedding which is also sold in huge bales:
This is hemp bedding, and from what I have heard its really good. I am planning on changing to this in the near future.

  • Houses
Once you have chosen a substrate type, there are some more things to think about. Houses provide hamsters somewhere to sleep where they feel safe and warm, and somewhere they can escape if things are a little too noisy. Many cages come with houses, but if they don't there is a wide variety to choose from. I won't recommend any, as a house is a house, but here are some pretty pictures :D

Dwarf hamsters only:
Syrian and dwarf hamsters:

  • Wheels
Next onto wheels. You MUST provide your hamster with a wheel. In the wild they would run up to 8km a night and so a wheel is necessary. There are some great ones on the market, but also some terrible ones.

Make sure you get a solid running surface, wheels that are grids or slats are terrible for your hamster as they can easily get their legs trapped whilst running, resulting in a break, or even get bubmlefoot, a terrible condition caused by spending long periods on mesh/slats.

Bad :(

Good :)

Apologies for the picture overload ><. All above "good" wheels are silent, which is of course a pro. Ensure you get the right sized wheel for a GROWN hamster, as they grow fast and often get too big for the strater wheels in a matter or weeks. A syrian hamster should have a wheel of at least 8inches. For a dwarf  wouldn't go any smaller than 6.5inches.

  • Food
Next on the shopping list is food. A good hamster mix is essential for keeping a healthy hamster. I use Harry hamster, Hazel hamster in the U.S, and I find it to be the best food on the market for syrians.
For my dwarf hamsters I use the Burgess Dwarf Hamster Harvest, which has smaller pieces and is more geared towards dwarf hams.
They are pretty much all the essentials, apart from obviously a water bottle and food bowl. Once you have all this it is a good idea to set up your cage, which I will show you in the next post as I doubt anyone will still be reading by now XD.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

So you decided you want a hamster...

Looks like a shopping trip is in order! It is a good idea to have everything you need before you actually aquire your hamster, instead of buying it at the same time.

First off, you need a cage. Pretty obvious really. What isn't as obvious is that you need a bigger cage than most pet shops sell. These animals may be small but they need SPACE. If you think about it, most hamsters live in their cages for 95%+ of their day, and if they have a cage that is too small then it can be really frustrating (often a cause of bar chewing). Here is a quick list of recommended cages for each type of hamster, please take this on board as it saves you money replacing cages later on.

Dwarf, Chinese and Roborovski

Single hamster - Mini Duna - The smallest I would recommend for a single hamster of these breeds, I had a chinese in one, and now my robo lives in there. Ideally I would go for something larger but not everyone has the space.

                        - Zoozone 1 - The bigger option, if you have the space your hamster will appreciate this over the mini duna. Just remember they need the top grill meshing (metal mesh attatching to the grill to prevent escapes)
                       - Imac Bingo - I can only find the link for Pet Supermarket for this cage, if you are intending on buying it don't get it from there. Wait until other pet supplies websites have it in stock. I had terrible service from Pet Supermarket >_>. This cage is only slightly smaller than the Zoozoone 1.

There is also the option of going for an aquarium, but this needs to be as large as the mini duna, if not larger.

Two hamsters (only in the case of robo or dwarf. Never house chinese together, the risk of fighting is too high) -  Zoozone 1 again would work for a pair, or even better the Zoozone 2 to give them the extra space and lower the risk of fighting.

I'm only listing tank style cages here as it is widely believed the smaller varieties of hamsters can fit through bars that have more than 0.8cm bar spacing, which most do. I have also only summarised cages, if you don't want any of these then look around for something you prefer, just bear in mind the sizes of these.


I am only listing cages for single syrians here, because you should never EVER house more than one syrian per cage. They are solitary animals and do not need company from others of their kind. They fight to the death when faced with another syrian.

The RSPCA recommends cages of 75cmx50cm as the smallest acceptable for a syrian. Most people believe they need slightly more, me included.

Hamster Heaven - A fantastic cage for syrians, I have mine in one of these and he loves it. There is so much space and it doesn't look too bad either. This is one of the more expensive cages available for hamsters.

Zoozone 2 - This is also suitable for syrians, although the top does need meshing again.

Hagen Big One - I cannot find a link for this in my quick internet search but it meets the minimum requirements and I have heard good reviews.

The Bin cage - Depending on size can be suitable for both the smaller varieties of hamsters, and the syrian. The only downside is they need a little bit of DIY. They are just a simple storage box, so can be the cheapest option :D

It is best to get the cage a few days before you get the hamster so you can set it up and ease the transition of your new pet, it also means they don't have to spend too long in their carrier.

I'm going to end this post here as it is a lot longer than I expected. If you have any questions regarding cages please ask me in the comments. Next post all about what else you will need.

***Quick side thing*** I've just seen this on Youtube from one of the people I subscribe to and I think its a great idea, I love home-made stuff for my hams. Certainly something to try out. Check it out and give it a go, but make sure you use it as a very occasional treat because of the high sugar content.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Is a Hamster Right for You?

When deciding you want a pet, and more specifically a hamster, there are quite a few things to consider. 

First off, will a hamster fit into your budget? Many people think hamsters are easy to look after, don't need much time and don't cost a lot. In reality the cost of the hamster itself is miniscule but the cost of a large enough cage can spiral. My syrian cost £9.50, and the retail price of a cage large enough for him to have a good quality of life was over £100. Lucky for me I got one cheap as it was a returned product and had been opened.

They also can sometimes need vet care, which can cost a lot. You need to be prepared to pay out for these things, as a hamster is your responsibility. If you are not prepared for the chance that you will need to pay vet costs I would reconsider having a pet such as a hamster. Maybe settle for a fish...

Secondly, does a hamster fit your lifestyle? Hamsters are Crepuscular, which means they are mostly awake in the twilight hours. This means they are not a fantastic pet for children, prior to popular belief. Hamsters wake up when a child is going to bed. They make good pets for people who are out most of the day, as they don't need attention until later in the evening. They also take a while to tame in most cases. I know my syrian took 2 months to become fully tame, and that was with taking 30 minutes a day to get him used to me.

Thirdly, are you prepared for the menial tasks? It may seem a silly thing to think about, but they need cleaning out at least once a week (if on shavings, if on something like megazorb you can leave it a little longer). Are you prepared to do that? They also need water and food changes regularly. This may seem trivial but it is a reality and you need to be prepared to do these things. At least 30 minutes out time with you/in a ball is also needed per DAY. Starting to sound a bit more than you expected right?

The bottom line is, a hamster relies on you for everything, and I really mean EVERYTHING. You are their carer, much like a dog or cat, and if you "can't be bothered" one day, they really suffer for it. I own 4 hamsters and it can be challenging, but worth it. I do this list for anyone who is considering buying a hamster so they can be ready for what responsibilites accompany it.

On a lighter note, they are intelligent, fun and cuddly pets and I would recommend them to anyone who has the time and patience to look after one :D

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Pea's cage, and epic Tupperware!

Ooo late blog post, I feel bad :(. Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day for the other day, hope everyone had a lovely time. I gave all the hams some of the love pasta as a treat :D.

Pea's extension arrived yesterday and I must say she has quite the palace now!
She now has a two tier Imac Fantasy and seems to love it, which I'm really happy about. She has steadily upgraded cage sizes with age, from a mini duna to this :). I love it, she loves it, good times all round.

On another note, I bought some tupperware today for my hamster/mouse storage and I LOVE it. My favourite colour is purple, and these are purple! Small things amuse small minds and all that. Anyway, here they are (how sad am I posting a picture of tupperware?)
Made my day finding those!

Monday, 13 February 2012

February's Recipe

My first recipe in Inky's challenge is the pasta of love! Simple, tasty and quick to make, this recipe is ideal for all those loved up furries this February.

  • Pasta, cooked
  • Carrot hearts
  • Bakers Allsorts
  • Cheese kisses
Step by Step guide
  • Cook the pasta
  • Cut the carrot into heart shapes
  • Cut the cheese pieces into kisses
  • Drain pasta and allow to cool
  • Arrange lovingly on the plate
  • Serve
 I found the bowl looked good, but the furries couldn't get into it (doh).

 There you have it, my entry for February's rodent recipe challenge! Sorry no pics of the hams enjoying, they would NOT sit still.

***Never feed too much of any of the ingredients for this dish to your animals, they are meant as a treat only!***

If you would like to take part in the recipe challenge go to this page to register and read the rules :)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

My brother came to stay...

My brother is over staying at my house for a week and so the zoo has been relegated to the kitchen :(. He refuses to sleep in a room with them due to the noise, and I can't say I blame him, so they are all living on the kitchen table at the moment:
and the poor mice don't fit so they are on the floor:
On a plus note, I can see when they are awake easier and take them out, on a negative note Munchkin makes me feel terrible because he can see me all the time, and always wants out ><.

I also aquired a huge 80L plastic box to keep my megazorb in, because it is a pain in the backside having the huge open bag sitting around. Yay for storage solutions!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Cold Weather and Hamsters

As most of you in the UK will have noticed, it has been consistantly below freezing. A big concern during this type of weather is keeping your small furries warm, as they can go into hibernation if they get too cold, which is completely unnatural for hams and often leads to death.

I try to keep the temperature in the hammie room as a constant warmth, and give them extra bedding. If it gets really really cold I place a hot water bottle at the side or underneath the cage to keep them toasty.

If, heaven forbid, you find your ham hibernating then take them out of the cage and wrap them in a warm blanket or towel. They need warming up, but slowly, a huge change in temperature in a short space of time can also cause death. You could also wrap a hot water bottle in the towel and hold the hamster on that.

They are hardy little things but sometimes they need a helping hand from us. So please, in these horrid temperatures, help your hams out all you can, because there is only so much they can do for themselves.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Easy Home-made Boredom Breaker

Here is my step-by-step guide to making your own cheap boredom breaker for your furry friend!

The beauty of this is that it uses up the otherwise useless toilet roll tubes, and doesn't cost anything (apart from the cost of treats...).

First off, this is what you need:
  • Toilet roll tube
  • Treats of any description as long as they are small and not fresh
  • ***Optional*** Toilet tissue - shredded
  First off, get the empty toilet roll tube:

Fold one half of one end over like so:
Then fold the other half of the same end so it seals one end of the tube:
Turn it over and get out a few treats. I chose a vegetable drop, a peanut, and a yogurt drop:
Place them into the tube through the open end (Please excuse my legs, I couldn't get it to stand up):
Then repeat the folding to seal the treats inside:

And there you have it, a super simple, cheap boredom breaker. Mine go nuts for these, and it takes them a good while to get inside. It also gives me something to do with all my spare toilet rolls XD.

***The tube can also be stuffed with plain, unscented toilet roll as well as the treats, to add a little more for your pets to rummage through***

Monday, 6 February 2012

It arrived!

FINALLY Little man's Imac Bingo came today. I've been waiting since 11th January to get one, Pet Supermarket fell through and had horrible customer service when I tried to sort it out, so I cancelled the order after three weeks >_> and re-ordered from Net Pet Shop. I cannot recommend them enough! It was so well packaged, and arrived within 2 days (excluding the weekend).

The packaging, I am very impressed:

I'm so relieved he can get out of his cramped temp cage now, I'm going to rush off and set it up for him :D

P.S can you believe this is retailed for rabbits? *shudder*