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Apr 112014
 

Hamster hair (or hamster fur) and hamster colors come in a wide variety because there are so many different species of hamsters. However, the five most popular species as pets are: the Syrian, Winter White Russian Dwarf (Djungarian), Campbell’s Russian Dwarf, Roborovski and the Chinese.

Let’s look at the hair and color of each type of hamster. You’ll surely find one that describes your hamster!

black Syrian hamster

Lucia by Heidi Terese

Syrian Fur Colors

The Syrian is by far the most popular hamster and the most varied, in terms of fur. There are also many Syrian hair colors, but they fall into two categories: the self and the agouti.

The self Syrian hamster means its entire body is the same color except in the typical spots such as chin, paws, and mustache. Typical examples are black, cream, and sable.

Golden Syrian hamster

Sydney loves to pose

 

The agouti Syrian has crescents and cheek flashes which the self doesn’t. Typical examples are grey, cinnamon or yellow, or golden.

 

 

Syrian Hair Length

Syrians have either short or long hair, and there are no Syrians with medium length hair. If you see some breeders say theirs have medium length hair, they are just tufts or a long skirt.

Generally, a long-haired female has a lengthier coat than a short haired one, and there will be some tufts on the ends of its hair. A long-haired male hamster, on the other hand, has a flowing skirt. The skirts of these long haired hamsters are lighter than the rest of its body, as it is diluted along the hair’s length.

Syrian Hair Patterns

The different Syrian hair patterns include roan, banded, and dominant spot.

  • A roan looks like a white hamster with color that is concentrated on its head, then gets lighter as it goes toward the rear of the hamster.  There can be just a little color or a lot of color, depending on the hamster
  • Banded hamsters often have a straight band of color around the middle of their bodies.
  • Dominant spot hamsters, as the name implies, has a prominent spot, or spots of color evenly spread all over their bodies. Some Syrians have just a few spots while others have so many spots they have very little white fur showing.

Russian Dwarf Hamsters: Winter White

Winter White hamster

He is so fat… by Jannes Pockele

Russian Dwarf hamsters include two main types: the Winter White (Djungarian) and the Campbell’s.

The Winter White Russian Hamster is typically dark grey with a black dorsal strip running along the center of its back. The fur on its belly is usually white or off white. Unlike other hamsters, their fur can change its color into white during winter. This was very useful when these hamsters lived in the wild. But don’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen to your Russian dwarf, as captivity may have bred this change out.

The Sapphire Russian hamster is soft purple-grey with a grey undercolor and thick grey dorsal stripe with an ivory belly. The ear hair is light grey-brown.

The Pearl Russian hamster has a white pattern with colored hairs throughout its fur.

Campbells Russian Dwarf hamster

Wallace eating on Emily’s lap” by Roban Kramer

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters come in a wide variety of fur colors. These can include the usual grey-brown wild color, sandy with white belly, blue-grey with white belly, and black all over.

What makes them more interesting is the different types of coats they come in, including:

  • Normal: short and flat
  • Satin: shiny which makes the hamster look wet or greasy
  • Wavy: somewhat long and wavy; the coat changes to a normal coat over time; curly whiskers
  • Rex: short, soft, and curly; the coat and whiskers remain curly when they become adults
Roborovski dwarf hamster

Dave the Hamster By Philip Roberts

Roborovski

The original or typical robo will be sandy brown with a white belly. This is also referred to as agouti. You will also notice the white area over its eyes. Some people refer to these as the robo’s “eyebrows.”

The other type you might see is white faced. Obviously, this type Roborovski has a white face and body, although its body may be almost completely white or have a small tan area on its back.

If you want to know more about dwarf hamsters, read Great Book About Dwarf Hamster Care!

Chinese hamster

nobby 2 by girlalive1

Chinese

The two most typical colors for Chinese hamsters are normal and dominant spot.

The normal Chinese hamster color is what you find when the hamster is in the wild. It is a mahogany gray-brown fur with a concentration of a darker brown color along its upper body. There may even be a stripe of black hair along its back.

The dominant spot Chinese hamster has a base white color with patches of the normal color across the upper part of its body. It may also have the stripe of black along its spine.

The Chinese hamster tail, for which they are known, is about an inch long and is hairless.

Summary

Hamsters come in all different colors. But most people pick their hamster based on its personality, regardless of color. And remember, no matter what hair color your hamster has, it’s still fun to gently pet it!

To best see your hamster hair, keep it in an aquarium cage. Read Using an Aquarium for your Hamster Cage for more information.

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Mar 052014
 

If you are going to travel with your hamster, consider all the items you will need to bring to make the trip as comfortable as possible for your hamster. These include a cage, food, water and a medical kit. Also think about how you are going to travel as you’ll probably find that car travel is best.

Traveling by Car

The easiest way to transport your hamster is by car. That’s because a car is a much easier place for you to control the conditions which will make your hamster comfortable when traveling. Let’s look at the different key items you’ll need when you’re about to travel with your hamster by car.

Cage

Travel with a hamster

Flickr photo by ninithedreamer

The cage or carrier is the most important of all the items you have to bring. More than anything else, the traveling hamster cage has to be well-built, ventilated, and escape-proof.

You should avoid pet carriers made of cardboard as they are only good for temporary use. For instance, bringing your hamster home for the first time. No matter how solid they look, they are not made for anything but short trips.
Hamster travel cage

The ideal material is plastic but it must be the durable type that will be difficult for your hammy to chew through. In addition, you should avoid all wire cages as they are not secure enough. What’s more, they are not accepted for air travel.

The cage should have a self-locking top or door. You may want to weigh down the top with something heavy so your hamster can’t pick the lock and get out.

A one level hamster cage is best, but if your cage does has more than one level, take out any ladders and platforms so your hamster won’t try to climb around. One bump in the road and your hamster can have a bad fall from the second level of a cage.

Put bedding in the cage so your hamster can burrow if it gets scared. Hamster Carefresh bedding

And remember that your hamster likes a steady temperature so check your hamster if you turn on the car heater or AC. If you decide to open the car window you may want to cover the traveling cage so your hamster doesn’t get cold air blowing directly on him or her.

Finally, just as a precaution, get a label and attach it to the cage. Clearly write your hammy’s name, your name, address, and contact information. It is also a good idea to include your vet’s phone number in case of emergency. You should also add feeding instructions on the label.

Water and Food

When it comes to hamster travel, make sure to bring along your pet’s regular food and drink so its diet won’t be affected, especially if you’re going to be away from home for a while. The less change there is in your hamster’s diet, the less stressful the trip will be for your pet. Hamster food

If you are not certain about where you can find the same pet food where you are headed, bring enough food and treats to last for the whole trip. Don’t forget to bring along sufficient water, too, because just like people, a hamster could develop an upset stomach if the water is different. It is also a good idea to bring disposable spoons and dishes for easy cleanup. Besides, these are very convenient utensils and can be purchased anywhere.

Keep in mind that cucumbers are mostly water. So a slice of cucumber in the traveling cage can provide both food and water.

Emergency Kit

It’s best to avoid complications during your trip so take along any medication that your vet prescribed for your hamster. In addition, your kit should include ear cleanups, cotton swabs and balls. And while you’re at it don’t forget to add a tick and flea spray or powder. This might seem like overkill but it is better to be safe than sorry.

To complete your hamster travel kit, get an envelope and put any medical records and medical information in it. Such information might not be needed, but you never know. Also include your vet’s name and contact number.

A brush or lint roller might also come in handy to clean your pet’s fur so it doesn’t make a mess in the hotel.

Travel by Plane

If you must travel with your hamster by plane, you should first check with the airline to see what its hamster travel policy is.

Most airlines will not allow you to carry your pet on the plane and be with you at your seat. Most airlines will insist that the hamster be put in the baggage compartment. That’s because they don’t want a hamster loose inside an airplane cabin where he or she could chew wires and cause a terrible accident. So there is a good reason for the airlines insisting that your hamster travel in the baggage compartment.

Your hamster will still have to be in a traveling cage that the airline might inspect to be sure that he or she cannot chew its way out. You’ll want to put some water in the cage, of course. As with car travel, you may want to put a slice of cucumber in there for liquid.

Also, airlines may not allow your animal to travel when the temperature is too cold or too hot in the baggage compartment.

If at all possible it is much easier for your hamster to travel by car than by plane. If you are moving a long distance away, think about giving your hamster to someone who will care for it and getting a new one when you reach your new home.

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Feb 182014
 

Hamster history tells us that some hamsters, such as the Syrian hamster, had a native habitat that was warm and dry. Other hamsters, such as the Djungarian, originated in a cold weather habitat such as Siberia. But domesticated, pet hamsters don’t really favor climates that are too hot or too cold.

Instead, hamsters prefer to live in a temperate environment. The fact is that your pet will suffer and be susceptible to sickness if placed in conditions that are too cold or too hot. The most appropriate climate for hamsters is 68 to 78° F (20 to 25 C).

 

Effects of Frigid Temperature

If your hamster starts to get too cold, your hamster tries to protect itself by going into hibernation.  You can tell your hammy is in hibernation if you notice it’s staying in the same position for a long time, isn’t breathing very much, and looks like it’s dead. The danger is that your hamster won’t recover from hibernation. hibernating hamster

Immediately attempt to bring it out of hibernation by taking it to a warm environment and rubbing it gently.  It could take more than half an hour to get its normal bodily functions back. If you are concerned, take your pet to the vet

Avoiding Too Cold Temperatures

There are a number of ways to make sure your hamster doesn’t get too cold.

Always be careful about where you place your hamster’s cage.  You never want to put a cage outside. Hamsters are indoor pets.

Also, you don’t want to put the cage on the floor of your basement because in the winter, the floor gets very cold.  If you must keep a hamster in the basement, make sure it is raised up off the floor and has some way to get heat in the winter.
Hamster caage starter kit

Even inside your house, remember that cold air is closest to the floor. So keep your cage on a flat surface that is well off the floor and has good ventilation.

In your room, don’t put your hamster cage in front of an air conditioner as the cold air can then blow directly on your hammy. And, yes, if it’s too cold your hamster can go into hibernation even in the summer.

If the hamster cage is near a window, as with air conditioning, make sure breezes don’t blow in the window and into your hamster cage.

Finally, make sure your hamster has plenty of bedding material in its cage. That way, your hamster can burrow down deep to help keep warm.

Effects of Too Much Heat

Just as it is important to keep your pet away from extreme cold, so is keeping it away from too much heat.  When too hot, your hamster can get dehydrated or heatstroke, either of which is quite dangerous for your hamster’s health.

Avoiding Too Hot Temperatures

Again, putting your cage near a window can mean direct sunlight on your hamster. Direct sunlight provides too much heat, even for the normal wire cage.  And if you’re using an aquarium or bin cage, there is usually even less air circulation. That means more heat can build up inside the cage

Even if you put your hamster cage on a piece of furniture that is away from the window and think it’s safe remember that the sun moves during the day moves (actually, it’s the Earth that’s moving, but that’s a different story).  So check to be sure your cage doesn’t also get too much sunlight during the day when you may not be in the room with your hamster. air conditioning duct

If you have central air conditioning, also check for the location of the vents that the hot and cool air come out of. Put your hand over the hamster cage to make sure, the hot and cold air from the vent is not blowing directly on your hamster.

Additionally, in the winter, you may want to move your hamster cage to where the rest of the family is, such as the living room. But here too, make sure your hamster cage doesn’t get put too close to a fireplace or space heater. You’d be surprised at how fast these can overheat a small creature such as a hamster. And that’s particularly true for dwarf hamsters that are even smaller than Syrians.

Summary

As a hamster owner, you want to make your pet’s environment as comfortable as possible. Temperatures that are too cold or too hot are both unhealthy for your hamster.

The bottom line is that your hamster needs to stay in a warm room and isn’t exposed to too much sunlight or air that’s too cold or too hot. In addition, you need to make sure your hamster has deep and comfortable bedding.

To avoid guessing what the temperature is, you could install a wall thermometer in the room so you will know if the temperature is in the right range to keep your hamster healthy and happy.

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Feb 082014
 

Every wonder when and where different breeds of hamsters came from? Although you may not think so, hamsters actually have a long history. Read below to learn more about hamster history.

Hamster history

 

 

 

 

 

Syrian Hamster Discovery

It all began in Aleppo, Syria.  Sometime in the late 1700s the Syrian hamster was documented in a book titled “Natural History of Aleppo” by Alexander Russell and revised by his half-brother Patrick after Alexander’s death.

Credit for the naming of the species, however, goes to George Waterhouse in 1839. At a meeting of the London Zoological Society, he presented the “new” species. As history would have it, his presentation was based on an elderly female hamster from Aleppo, Syria.
Syrian hamster discoverer George Waterhouse

Waterhouse named the species Cricetus auratus. He used the word “auratus” because in Latin it means “gold” or “golden”. That was probably the coloring of the hamster he found in the wild.  So you could say the first hamster known was the Golden Hamster.

The next major event in hamster history was around 1930 when zoologist and Professor at the University of Jerusalem, Israel Aharoni, found a mother and litter of hamsters in the Syrian Desert. Many of these died or escaped. But the remaining hamsters were given to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where they were successfully bred as Golden Hamsters.

They were a bit bigger than the ones Waterhouse found, so they were named Mesocricetus auratus, although they were probably the same species.

The common name, hamster, comes from the German word hamstern, which means to hoard or to hide. As you know, hamsters love to stuff and hide food inside their cheeks.

Importation to the US and Europe

Because Golden Hamsters proved so easy to breed and take care of, they were sent to labs in the United Kingdom in 1931 and seven years later, in 1938, to the United States.

There, the animals became popular as pets, and by the 1950s this rodent had become a craze. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands were the first countries to sell these rodents as pets, but as hamster history shows, they also became a hit with kids in the United States.

All the variants today most likely came from the one litter that was discovered and bred in Syria. The only exception would be those that travelers brought to the US.

Roborovski Hamster History

The dwarf hamster known as the Roborovski hamster comes from the semi-arid areas in Mongolia and Northern China.
Roborovski hamster history

This type hamster was named after its discoverer, Lt. Vsevolod Roborovski who, in 1894, reported seeing them during an expedition to China. Years later, in 1903, they were scientifically studied by zoologist Konstantin A. Satunin.

Time passed again, and it wasn’t until the late 1960s that Roborovskis were imported to the UK. Unfortunately, they did not breed well in captivity. Other European countries, the Netherlands in particular, were more successful breeding Roborovskis. They finally began to be available as pets in the 1990s, reaching the shores of the U.S. in 1998.
Since then, the dwarf Roborovskis have become a very popular breed.

Campbell’s Dwarf Hamster History

The Campbells Dwarf Russian Hamster, like the Roborovski, was named after the person who first discovered it, Thomas Campbell. He discovered the breed in 1905 and it was named Phodopus Campbellis in his honor.

The Campbells was imported into the UK by the London Zoological Society in 1963, where it was successfully bred. However, it didn’t become widely available as a pet until the early 1980s.

Djungarian / Winter White Dwarf Hamster History

The Djungarian hamster, also known as the Siberian or Winter White hamster, was originally found in Siberia and Eastern Kazakhstan.  Interestingly enough, it has a long history, having first been found in 1773.  It was at first thought to be part of the mouse family.

However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that they were bred and studied by scientist Klaus Hofmann in a German laboratory. In the 1970s they began showing up in the UK pet market, then moved on to the U.S. market in the 1980s.

Chinese Hamster History

As you would suspect, the Chinese hamster originally came from Northeastern China. They were first domesticated and used as a lab animal around 1919. This type hamster entered the U.S. around 1948 for breeding in research labs. By the mid-50s, they were being successfully bred at Harvard University.

Beginning in the 1970s, the Chinese hamster became more popular as a pet.

Scientific Research

The hamster is widely used in scientific labs because they breed quickly, have a relatively short life cycle, are not susceptible to diseases, and handling them is easy. Because their cardiovascular system is similar to humans, scientists often use them for cardiovascular research.

As you can see, hamsters have a long history, first as scientific curiosities, then as lab animals, and finally, as the loveable pet we know today.

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Sep 042013
 

If you’re considering getting your first pet, a hamster may be the perfect way to go. Not only do they make great house pets, but also they are reasonably easy to keep, and not as expensive as dogs or cats can be.

But if a hamster will be your first pet you should know what to expect as they go through their short life. That way, you can do what you need to do in order to ensure that they have the best life possible.

How long do hamsters live?

One major fact that new pet owners will want to know is how long hamsters live on average. The actual age at which a hamster dies depends on several factors including the food that it eats, how much exercise it gets, and its general well-being.

You also need to consider that different types of hamsters live for different amounts of time. For instance, while the typical Syrian hamster may have a maximum life span of around 2 ½ to 3 years if properly looked after, a Roborovski could possibly manage around 3 to 3 ½ years. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, have shorter lifespans of from about 1 ½ to 2 years.

So you can expect the typical hamster to live from 1 ½ to 3 years.

To give your hamster the best possible chance of lasting a long time, it’s important that you, as an owner, care for it properly so it can stay as healthy as possible.

Young active hamsters

During the younger years of a hamster’s life, it’s usually very active and doing a lot more than when it gets older. There’s a good chance that you have already seen a YouTube video where the family hamster is in its ball or running in its wheel or climbing around hamster tubes. You want your hamster to be active so he or she can stay healthy. CritterTrail hamster tubes

During this stage of their life you’ll want to add different items to the hamster cage such as toys, chew sticks, and hamster tubes.

Young hamsters are usually up for playing, running around and, of course, eating. Be careful with the amount and type of food you feed your hamster. You don’t want your hamster to become over-sized very quickly. That can shorten its lifespan. For more information about hamster food, read What You Should Feed Your Hamster.

Also, in terms of human interaction, younger hamster can be trained to be friendly creatures. It is crucial that during the first years of your hamster’s life, you try to spend as much time with them as possible, as this will help them stay healthy and happy.

Signs of aging and what to look out for

Of course, after the first couple of years your hamster will begin to show some of the telltale signs of aging, and despite what you may think, they are surprisingly similar to humans.

You will notice that unlike before, while they do still enjoy playing, they spend less time doing so, and they will progressively move slower as time passes. Their appetite will also diminish suddenly during the last stages of their lives, and it may come to the point where they go full days without touching food.

However, you can do some things to help look after your aging hamster; such as holding it. For the most part, don’t force it to play, but continue making food and water available for him or her.

Hamster death 

Inevitably, at one stage or another, your hamster will die. Now while death is never a pleasant thing to think about, you can do your part to make sure that the process is as comfortable as possible for your pet, and make the struggle as painless as possible.

This mainly involves offering them healthy food and even treats to consume, regularly providing fresh water, and continuing to clean out their cage. If you do not give your hamster the appropriate amount of attention, you may be shortening its lifespan even further. Therefore, it may be a good idea to put the hamster cage in a room where the rest of the family sits, so that they get as much attention as possible.

Finally, when your hamster’s time has come, you have a few options to consider. The first is that you can bury him in your back yard as a remembrance, or you can take it to the vets to be disposed of. That’s your choice at this point, but if you really treasure your hamster’s life, and have some pictures, it might be nice to create a little memorial book.

Summary

Hopefully this article has given you some much needed insight into the life of a hamster, and how you can be the best owner possible. It is worth doing some research before deciding which type of hamster you want to own. That way you can prepare to give it the best life possible and not be surprised about how long it will live.

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