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Small Pets: Meet Peanut the Hamster

Posted by yornma on February 8, 2013 in Animal Articles, Small Pets |

How old are you ?

i am 27 weeks on monday the 4th of February and in hamster years thats 24 ( although there is lots of theories to how many years it is, and mummy found that one human year for a hamster = 50 years in a hamster, )

How did you get your name?

i got my name as when i was 5 weeks old ( the day mummy got me ) i was so tiny and the coloring she said looked like a peanut, to my head and patches on my bottom end, she was struggling to find a name till she asked my daddy what he thought first thing he said was peanut and that was the name mummy kept coming back to so it stuck, now i get nick names peeny weeny as im small .

I see that you are a Syrian Hamster, can you explain a bit about what that is?

There are two types of hamsters, dwarf hamsters and Syrian hamsters. Syrian hamsters are the larger breed of hamster. Syrians go by many names according to their coat type and color (Teddy Bear, Black Bear, Golden, Fancy, Panda Bear, etc). Syrians are very territorial towards each other so they need to be house separately. DO NOT put two or more Syrian hamsters in the same cage. A lot of people make this mistake and they end up with dead hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are the smaller hamsters. They’re are four subtypes of dwarf hamsters. They are the Chinese, Roborovskis, Campbell’s and Winter White dwarf hamsters. Dwarf hamsters are very social little critters. Two or more same sex dwarf hamsters can be housed in a cage, as long as the cage is big enough. Dwarf hamsters are hard to tame though so for beginners I’d recommend getting a Syrian hamster.

Syrian Hamsters

The most obvious difference between Syrians and dwarfs is the size. Syrians average about 8 inches in length.
Syrians come in a multitude of colors compared to the dwarf. They range from solids to calico. They can also be short-haired or long-haired.
Syrians are loners. They cannot be housed together unless they are young.
Syrians, when tame, remain that way, even if neglected.

Dwarf Hamsters

Dwarfs often don’t get longer than 3 to 4 inches.
Most dwarfs (unless they are albino) have a dark dorsal stripe running from the head down to the tail.
Dwarfs come in far fewer colors than Syrians.
Dwarfs can live together or in small groups.
Dwarfs tend to be more active than Syrians, but that activity level varies from hamster to hamster.
Dwarfs, when not kept hand-tame, will become wild.
also a syrian is the largest of all hamsters and what most people think of when you say hamster, they are the easiest to tame and enjoy human contact once they get used to it,

What is a typical day like for you?

a typical day often starts about 3pm as i’m nocturnal although got my times a bit wrong ūüėÄ , i will get up and eat some food then come out to play i LOVE my wheel i have in my cage i can play on it for hours with short breaks to get a drink or some food, i love to run up and down each ladder on ether side of my cage too going in circles really i also love to chewy the cage by my water bottle too, then i will often have a sleep and come out from 6 pm on wards and then have a sleep i will come out further two times during the night some times around 10-12 pm and then between 2-4 am and some times about 5 am too for a short while, with sleeps in between, some times i will have a cuddle with mummy when she’s awake other wise i will only get up for a drink or reach into my tube that leads me to my bed box and have a snack.

Do you have any favorite foods?

i love dried fruit such as banana and i like a very little bit of carrot i LOVE dog biscuits such as markies as when i wouldn’t touch any thing hamster wise mummy went looking for what i could have and found i am allowed dog biscuits so she got me some and i LOVE them they also are good for keeping my teeth short, i also like the seeds in my hamster food that also has the dried fruit in ūüėÄ

Do you have any furry siblings that you share the house with?

No, mummy isn’t allowed cats or dogs and there isn’t room for a second hamster cage as the house is small, and i cant live in the same cage as another Syrian as we would fight we don’t like to share our cage with others, the closest i get to other siblings is a cat who visits me and mummy occasionally and the birdies they feed out side but their wild ones

Do you and your mum have any advice for those considering a hamster as a pet?

first make sure you can question the people about the breeder as if they are not bred correctly they will fall ill very early on, its ideal to go to a garden centre or private breeder with a high reputation, so you’re not loosing hamster after hamster, mummy found that out the hard way, and to choose a cage big enough to fit a wheel they can play on so it’s not touching the bottom of the cage as hamsters run at least 3 miles in the wild a night to find food so need something to run in, and have a ball for them to run in or there¬†are these wheels that go on tracks that can be fun, some toys in a controlled area can be good too for hamsters to play on, and handling is a must if you want to be able to play with them and get them in and out the cage easy with no nips, from day one if your confident enough before they go into there cage you can begin to hold them but only go from behind as it scares hamsters if you go over the top of them and always make sure its over a box that will contain them if they jump and make sure you don’t hold them high so if they jump out they wont get hurt, i didn’t wiggle i was good from the start, only occasionally did i jump but as i was so small i had a rotastack tank type thing so i could get used to a cage as being so so tiny it was more than big enough till i grew and then i got the cage im in now, as i needed space and more room for toys,
hamsters will need their cage cleaned well ether with hot water in the bath ideally so it doesn’t matter about if water spills, and soap is okay so longs its well washed off, with hot water, or there is hamster safe disinfectant in most pet shops and some other places to sell pet stuff may sell it, and if you spray that on it you can then just wipe away the dirt with a tissue but make sure it’s thoroughly dry before putting bedding in, the cage will need to be cleaned once a week, and there is stuff alternate to sawdust which is more ideal as there can be mites that make a hamster itch and occasionally loose hair it also is better as they make the smells of urine not so bad and they are more absorbent the one mummy uses is called tumble fresh but there is loads of the same sort of thing with different names.

although mummy has had some hamsters for 3 years 5 years and even 6 years if they are healthy happy and enjoying life they can live longer than what is said, as most of mummies hamsters she had as a teen when she had 5 of them in separate cages near each other though but not close enough for contact threw the bars but they lived a minimum of 3 years most were 4 years + ,
there are common illnesses hamsters suffer from and this is what i found out about the common illnesses.


This information was taken from PDSA’s website.

General Hamster Information:
Hamsters are best housed individually. Sexually mature females are aggressive to other females and to males. The exception is with littermates which have been housed together from an early age – even then problems may occur. Housing litter mates together can of course result in unintentional incest!
www.pdsa.org.uk is where i found some additional information to help explain things easter.
however after about 3 weeks you will learn what your hamster does and doesnt like, you will learn if they like carrot or prefer a bit of cucumber, or dont like it at all, and you will pick up on things they enjoy to do like i LOVE tubes and ones that can be got from pet shops that are like toilet roll tubes but thicker so i can nibble at them as well as play on them, i enjoy to chew so i get lots of things i can chew on such as wooden blocks got from pet shops i can chew to bits, and other things like that, and so at first it maybe all new but both hamster and human will get used to each other and will learn what the hamster enjoys each hamster is different and has their own personality,

Hip glands, which appear as a black dot on each hip, are present in males. They are used for territorial marking and are poorly developed in females. Hamsters have a cheek pouch on each side of the inside of the mouth. Food, and even baby hamsters, may be temporarily stored here! Hamsters are the most aggressive of all the small rodents. Hamsters can hibernate. A sleeping hamster should be awakened carefully! Because of this a hamster appearing dead may merely be in a deep state of torpor (sleep) and should be warmed and awakened, not buried!

Hamsters: A Brief History 

These small rodents can be found in the wild in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, China and Siberia. All the Golden hamsters in captivity in Britain are said to be descended from one male and two females imported from Syria in 1931. A wide variety of coat colours are available and long-haired varieties and a number of different species becoming more common. For example, the Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus) and the Russian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) as well as the common Golden or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus).
The hamster, has simple housing needs and is relatively odourless (if cleaned regularly) but it is predominantly nocturnal. These animals have to be kept alone as they fight when housed together and can inflict a considerable bite to a human who picks them up in an incorrect manner. Sadness may result from their short lifespan – the larger species live an average of 18-24 months, while smaller species have a shorter lifespan.

How should I pick up my hamster?

Hamsters are best picked up by encouraging them to walk into cupped hands. Startling them will result in a bite which is more the fault of the handler than the handled! Remember when holding by the scruff that they have large cheek pouches and a lot of loose skin so can still turn!

What type of housing should I provide my hamster?

A captive environment needs to offer space and exercise facility plus privacy and warmth. Cages should be escape-proof and gnaw-resistant and plastic or polypropylene cages are excellent. Metal cages are less warm and comfortable while wooden cages are not gnaw-proof and are difficult to sterilise.
Hamsters need plenty of bedding which absorbs moisture. Thick layers of paper (including newspaper are ideal. Shavings may contain aromatic compounds that may be directly irritant or may react with urine. Cotton wool should be avoided as it can cause severe constipation (if ingested) and any strands of material, artificial or natural, can wind around legs causing restricted blood flow.

hamwheel

What do hamsters eat?

Hamsters should be fed predominantly on commercial rodent mixes. Too often owners give too much vegetable matter and high-energy sunflower seeds. Remember that these animals are used to a fairly dry environment without many green vegetables in their diet. Using supplementation with seeds, grains, fruit and greens is useful but should not be given in excess resulting in an unbalanced diet. Water should be given freely.
were it says cupped hands just to add i dont like cupped hands so some may not like it when were smaller it can some times be comforting but some like me it will make us worried so slightly more open hands can some times be preferred,

What do pet rodents eat?

All of the pet rodents can be fed a good, high quality rodent chow (pelleted food) available at pet stores. It is important to feed these high-calorie foods in restricted quantities as obesity is a common problem (especially as many of these pets are not especially active!). If you find food stashed or buried in bedding when cleaning out then you are feeding far too much!

How often should I feed my pet rodent?

Fresh food and water should be available at all times.

Do I need to give my rodent vitamins?

As long as your pet is not selectively feeding (ie. picking out only its favourite food items) then vitamins are probably not needed. However, this is often not the case so a basic water-soluble vitamin supplement will do no harm, especially if there has been a risk of slight food spoilage in storing.

Can I offer my rodent treats?

Seeds and nuts can be offered as an occasional treat (less than 10% of the daily diet). Fresh, well-cleaned vegetables and occasionally a small amount of fruit can be offered as well. Leafy green vegetables (not lettuce or celery) can be offered, as well as yellow and orange vegetables. The total daily amount of these “human foods” should not run more than 10 % (1/10) of the diet. Thus, the pets should eat mainly pellets (90% of the diet), 5-10% vegetables and fruits, and occasionally a few seeds or nuts as treats. Many owners offer the food in heavy, spill-proof ceramic dishes, although feeders can be purchased and attached to the cage. Offering hay (such as alfalfa cubes or clover) to the pets as a source of fibre is also acceptable (as long as your veterinary surgeon approves).

What about water?

Fresh water should be available 24 hours a day and is usually provided in sipper tubes available at pet stores, although it can be placed in spill-proof dishes. The water should be replaced DAILY (at least) and the tubes (specifically the end the pet drinks from) inspected daily for blockage that can develop if the pets spits food into the sipper tube.

ham1

What are the common problems that hamsters suffer from?

  • Wet tail-¬†The most common problem in hamsters is ‘wet tail’ (proliferative ileitis or transmissible ileal hyperplasia). The causes are unclear and various bacteria can be isolated from animals with the disease, which can be transmitted by direct contact. However there are probably a host of factors which predispose to the condition, most of which may be linked to stress (eg overcrowding, new home, etc) The small intestine in these cases is thickened, which may cause the signs, resulting in death in the early stages of the disease but also just when the animal seems to be recovering. Treatment should be started as soon as possible and should include antibiotics and fluid therapy (by mouth and by injection).In older female hamsters wet tail must be distinguished from womb infections where pus may be emitted from the vulva thus looking like wet tail.
  • Parasites-¬†In hamsters a gut parasite (Hymenolepis nana) may be a significant problem and can lead to intestinal obstruction. It can be treated by your veterinary surgeon, as can pinworms, although many consider these not to be a clinical problem in hamsters.
  • Pneumonia-¬†In hamsters, as with other rodents, respiratory disease is common and can be caused by viruses or bacteria. Because hamsters are kept singly by most owners the sort of respiratory problems seen in big colonies of mice and rats are less likely to occur.
  • Skin problems-¬†Itchiness is frequently caused by mange (a mite infestation). Again, this may be associated with stress and changes in husbandry. In older hamsters hairloss may be caused by another mite (demodex) or by internal tumours (especially adrenal or brain tumours). Ringworm is an occasional problem and may be transmissible to people.
  • Old Age¬†some times they will get these illnesses or tumors that can give them breathing issues or other issues, and some can prolapse which is were the insides come from the bottom area but this is very rare it only happened once to mummy’s hamster and she had a lot at one time so its rare, and only happens due to old age,however if you’rE worried about any thing a vet is there to help and can put your mind at rest so if your worried its best to call a vet as soon as you suspect any thing earlier any thing is court the better and often it isnt any thing to be alarmed about, and they will help. signs to look out for is not interested in food or play and are not running around even when you have them out they may just sit there and do nothing, that maybe the first signs something¬†isn’t¬†right.

ham2

My pet seems lonely. Can I house more than one rodent in each cage?
While it is most common to have a single or occasionally a pair of animals, several generalities can be made regarding group housing:
If a male and female are housed together mating will occur.
Never house opposite species in the same cage (i.e. a rat and a mouse).
If a pet rodent has been housed alone, it is best not to introduce a new friend to it as fighting is likely to occur. Some species, such as Syrian hamsters, should always be kept singly.

Additional Tips: 

Many owners offer their pet rodents wood sticks to chew, which helps control overgrown incisors.
also dont use deodorant spray in the same room as the hamster as this can course issues best not to use any thing like deodorant or air freshener any were near them. and no bleach on there cage no chemicals unless its the hamster safe disinfectant and only soaps if there thoroughly washed off and cage completely dry before you put the hamster back.


Author’s Note:

Many many thanks to Peanut and his mum for all the information and the interview questions. His facebook page is no longer active. Pictures were used with permission.

This post is a part of the small pets theme. Please click on the badge below for more interviews/articles on small pets.
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