Meet John the Hamster
How old are you?
I am nearly 1 ½ years old, my birthday is August 17th. My Mummy chose me a birthday when they estimated my age at the rescue that took me in.
Where did your name come from?
My Mum likes animals having names that are different, rather than the cliché of calling a white pet “snowball” or similar. And it’s fun for an animal to have a more human name. John came from a college teacher she had that was inspirational for her, and she just liked the name. Think it suits me.
How did you come to live with your mum?
I was taken in along with some other hamsters by Furry Friends Animal Rescue (Surrey, UK) on Christmas Eve 2011. My Mum saw us and hadn’t had a pet for years so decided she wanted to give one of us a home. She chose me because I was older and she thought the baby hammies would find homes quicker. So on February 26th I was adopted and came to live with her.
Are people scared of you because you look different?
Some people are, and it makes me sad. I often get comments like “pet of the devil; evil hamster with those red eyes”. My Mum thinks my red eyes are beautiful, we don’t understand why certain coloured animals are unpopular.
Are you a true albino hamster?
No I’m not a true albino, if you see my pictures my ears have dark speckles.
Do you have any cage mates or other furry family members you live with?
Not a cage mate as Syrians meant to live alone, but I have a brother called Whiskey who lives in the same room as me. He was also adopted from Furry Friends, but much later than I was and he’s older than me. But because I was here first I call myself the big brother 😉
What are you favorite things to do and/or eat?
I love running in my ball, and getting to explore different places in the house. My absolute favourite food is peas! Can’t get enough of them.
Have you ever escaped your cage?
Not escaped my cage but I did escape my ball once. It was when human Grandma was looking after me while my Mum was away. My Mum told her to leave my cage open on the floor and I’d find my way back, which I did. Found asleep in my cage the next morning
Do you get to go outside of you cage often?
Oh yes every day for quite a while. Mum waits til I wake up in the evening then I get to come out and play.
Do you know any tricks?
I don’t yet, but my Mum is planning to try and teach me some. She thinks I won’t manage it because I’m too stubborn and independent!
Does your mum have any advice for owning hamsters?
Yes, hamsters require more care than most people think and a lot of websites/videos you see giving hamster care are often at least partly incorrect. Hamsters need a large cage with plenty of space and plenty of toys for enrichment so that they don’t get bored. Paper based bedding is best, people often use sawdust which can be dusty and isn’t good for them. They need wooden objects in their cage that they can chew on, as their teeth constantly grow so they need to gnaw on things to keep them a good length. A wheel or ball on a stand (John has a ball on a stand, he didn’t understand how to use a wheel!) is good for them to exercise. It is also good for them to have small amounts of fruit and veg in their diet.
Is there anything you or your mum would like to add?
Yes, we are very pro rescue and would always advise getting a pet from a local rescue rather than a shop or breeder. A lot of people don’t realise that you can get hamsters, or in fact most kinds of pets, in rescue. John uses his Facebook page to fundraise and promote animal rescue. There are so many out there in various rescues that need good homes, we would like to say please choose rescue
About Syrian Hamsters:
Latin name:Mesocricetus auratus
Other Names: golden hamster, teddy bear hamster (long haired), black bear hamster, European black bear hamster, fancy hamster, standard hamster, and the hairless variety is sometimes called the alien hamster.
Expected Life Span:
2.5 – 3 years.
Syrian hamsters usually about 6-7 inches (15-17 cm) in length.
Behavior and Temperament:
Syrian hamsters are nocturnal but may wake for short times during the day. They generally quite good-natured and easy to tame and handle. They have a reputation for being nippy, but that is usually due to lack of handling or trying to handle them during the day when they would rather be sleeping.
Syrian hamsters are solitary and territorial. They should always be housed alone. They may tolerate other hamsters when they are young, but by the time they reach 8-10 weeks old, territorial fighting usually starts and may be fatal.
The natural coloration of syrian hamsters is golden brown (technically agouti, meaning the hairs are banded with darker and lighter colors), with a lighter belly. They also have a dark marking on the cheeks, extending from the jaw up toward the ear. Through selective breeding there are a number of variations in colors and patterns.
Hamsters as Pets
Hamsters have no detectable body odor. They are inexpensive to buy and outside of cage cleaning and proper food are relatively maintenance free. These adorable rodents are subject to very few health problems and diseases. Since they sleep during the day, they are active at night when most people are home. A hamster can be a wonderful family member and an excellent pet.
Are Hamsters right for you?
What type of schedule do you keep?
Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they will be most active at night. If you’re a light sleeper who is disturbed by the smallest of sounds, a squeaky wheel at 2 a.m. might drive you to distraction. If you work a graveyard shift and are looking for furry companionship during the day, hamsters are bound to frustrate your expectations. But if you’re a night owl, a hamster could be the perfect companion when you’re burning the midnight oil!
Do you have children?
Because of their small size, hamsters are often purchased as pets for children who want to play with them during the day. However, just when it’s time for your child to go to sleep, it’s time for a hamster to wake up. A hamster awakened suddenly from a nap during the day may bite. Therefore, hamsters need to be handled only with adult supervision by children under 8 years old.
Hamsters require a gentle touch and may be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises. The motor skills of children under 8 are usually not refined enough to make a hamster feel comfortable being handled. Young children who lack fine motor control and self-restraint may inadvertently drop a hamster, squeeze him, or scare him into biting.
Young children are also at greater risk for zoonotic diseases (diseases that are can be passed from animals to humans) because of their undeveloped immune systems and because of their tendency for close contact with pets without proper hand-washing. Children under 5 are particularly vulnerable to the effects of salmonella, a type of intestinal bacteria that hamsters can carry. Although rare, hamsters have been known to carry Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, a virus that can seriously sicken young children
(taken from: http://pethamstercare.com/)
Avoid cedar and pine wood chips; aspen is a safer option. You can also use many of the newer paper or other fiber-based beddings.
Hamsters love a cozy nest for napping. However, the cotton nesting materials found a pet stores is unecessary (and can cause problems if eater or wrapped around toes). Shredded toilet paper or facial tissues are an excellent nesting material (and economical too).
(taken from: http://www.healthypet.com/KidsKlub/CareSheetArticle.aspx?title=Caring_for_Your_Hamster)
- Feed your hamster a pellet diet as directed by the label. Note: a seed and nut diet is not a complete diet; only a pellet diet is complete.
- Because hamsters are nocturnal, it might be best to feed them in the evening so that they eat when their food is fresh
- Supplement the diet with fresh vegetables such as leafy greens, lettuce, spinach or carrots (avoid high sugar fruit)
- Clean up leftovers before they spoil
- Be sure their water bottle is filled with fresh water
- Scoop up soiled bedding each day
IMPORTANT NOTE: Hamsters have high metabolisms and can become hypoglycemic if they do not eat every day. If your hamster appears tired or isn’t eating well, go to your veterinarian immediately.
Completely clean the aquarium once a week with hot, soapy water.
Take your hamster to your veterinarian at least once a year, though twice a year is preferable because their life spans aren’t very long. Your veterinarian can also cut their nails at that time for you if you aren’t comfortable doing it.
Tip: Let your child know that hamsters may only live for a few years so that they aren’t overly shocked when their pet dies.
For More Hamster Information & Care Tips:
And hamsters are also famous…they are the stars of their own Kia commericals
Author’s Note: Many thanks to John and his mum for letting me interview him. Pictures of John the Hamster were used with permission. Please visit him on his facebook page John the Hamster.This post is a part of the small pets theme. Please click on the badge below for more interviews/articles on small pets.