Multiple litters are here!

All three girls gave birth as expected. Over the next few weeks I’m hoping to do a sort of breeders diary to give people an idea of what’s actually involved in raising these guys. My aim is to bridge the gap between those who think that multiple litters are horrendously time consuming and those who think they are very easy.
The reality is in between the two. Assuming the timing is right you can raise multiple litters without too much extra hassle. There’s not a lot of difference between one, two or three at the same time. But when you put in a degree of effort for one litter then you do have to plan in advance how to achieve this times two or three extras.
The hardest part, for syrians, is anticipating how many temporary cages you need for the youngsters when they get old enough to split up. The point at which they fall out with their siblings is hard to predict, as is the size of any litter. But the nice thing about hamsters is that they usually aren’t too difficult to rehome, especially when they are quality animals that are tame, healthy and good looking. This is why it’s worth putting in the extra time.

Contrary to popular opinion, mostly expressed online, a good breeder can breed multiple litters and across different species, assuming that they put the time in. I am not expecting to do much but eat, sleep and breathe baby hamsters for the next 6-8 weeks. In terms of profit. There are easier ways to make this small amount of money. The money we make is really more of a token towards the cost of raising them and to discourage those looking for a freebie. I like the idea of being the same price, or cheaper that major pet store chains as you get so much more for your money.

The coming tidal wave?

I’ve had to go all out and pair up everything I have to avoid losing lines as females get older. I’m hoping that I’ve got enough litters on the way to take my various bloodlines into 2016.

My own fault, in a way. I’ve had a crisis of career over the previous couple of months, so haven’t been 100% focused. I mean, if I were to get a full time job outside of the house then how would I have time for my breeding.

In any case, I’m happy with my two part time jobs that fit in quite nicely but it means I’ve looked at my list and had a bit of a panic. It’s the wrong time of year for prolific amounts of babies.

But if I wait til spring then half my girls will be retired so here I go. My list of expected litter on the website is the longest it’s ever been! I’ve got spare baby boxes coming out of my ears and disappearing under an increasing stack of baby food/kitten food/kitten milk.

I’m ready! Hopefully they are too. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll have time to make some videos although I’m not promising anything.

Proving you can’t know it all with hamsters

With hamsters, sometimes the only way to truly know what other colours they carry is to mate them with a hamster who is a different colour. To illustrate my point, I mated my black girl Nessie to a cinnamon boy Gadwin. Cinnamon is recessive, so is black. If I get doves, it means that boy parents carry each others colours. i.e. Gadwin carries black and Nessie carries cinnamon as you need two of both of these genes in one hamster to produce this colour.

I was expecting goldens but suspecting cinnamons as Nessies dad Dougal had thrown some funny honey babies before. Lo and behold I got this:-

Nesgad Litter 20-06-15 - Day 25 g

Hmmm, very orange for a golden? I jest, this is a cinnamon girl. This mating proves Nessie does carry cinnamon. Sometimes pedigrees can’t tell you everything and this is why we test mate to prove purity in lines that shouldn’t have anything in them. Recessives can carry a loooong way 😉

Fillongley show 2015

I had a really great time at this last show. I took only three pens of roborovski with me as I’ve not taken any in to a show for a while. My job this time was to book steward for Susan Washbrook (Lilliput Hamstery) while she judged and I enjoyed every minute of it. With pen steward Julie Young (Dragonfly Hamstery) it was good fun. I have no poker face when I book steward and my own hamsters come up so I prefer not to enter syrians on a day when I steward for them.

My back survived pretty well, only causing me an issue right at the end which was really good and I even got a chance to give back Thor the robo and pick up Odin and Princess Leia to bring home. Thor and Odin are husky boys so very important to breeding of these in the UK.

My own robos did very well and brought home 1st, 2nd and 3rd out of a class of four (normals). Not many but still, Dalmeny won his class fair and square 🙂 Pied girl Ursula didn’t do as well in non standard but this is more to do with her being a bit too small ideally.

Looking forward to Real London which is on the 12th September 2015 in Bracknell. Hoping to enter some mice there too. Before that the hams and mice will be going to a display that I and Vectis Hams Rachel will be holding at St Francis Animal Welfare on the 30th August near Fairoak. Do pop along if you are in the area!

Blue – The latest colour on the block

Hopefully due to grow up big and strong, the survivor from my latest litter is a blue. Out of two black parents carrying this new ‘dilute’ gene, this little girl is very special to me. Ideally I would have like a boy that could have more than a couple of litters, but I’m happy to take this.
Her mum and dad will be paired again at some point to see if I can get more blues out and possibly males too. I’m very excited as this colour is lovely.
Not standardised just yet, the gene is being experimented with by a couple of hamsteries. Namely Norwood Hamstery, Laura Lovatt and now Tuftyfluff Hamstery here in the UK that I know of. They are possibly more. The dilute gene seems to have different effects on different colours so this process may take a while.
In the meantime, I’m happy to work with it’s effect on blacks and it would be very interesting to see it’s effect in chocolates too. I’m currently working towards a few different goals although ultimately a good black is still my most important aim.

Just a little over 2 weeks old now, I hope you enjoy the photo spam you will be forced to see over the coming weeks.

Protula Litter 07-08-2015 Day 12 a Protula Litter 07-08-2015 Day 13 a Protula Litter 07-08-2015 Day 13 b

Handling Roborovski Hamsters

I often get asked if people should handle their new roborovski hamster and it made me wonder if there is somewhere on the internet that suggests you shouldn’t. Goodness me I shouldn’t have looked!!

So, to right this awfully bad misinformation let me educate you 🙂

I breed and show these delightful creatures and that means I handle them, a lot. They are just like any other species of hamster. They are handled from 2 weeks old, as soon as their eyes are starting to open, and then handled every day until they go to their new homes. The ones I keep for showing have to be handled regularly to get them used to life on the show bench, just like the syrians and the chinese.

Roborovskis are clowns….on rocket fuel. A slow robo is either old or sick. Even the tame ones that we have at the show or on display stands need to be handled over a box, just in case they decide to have a run. They are not pets for small children because they need to be handled by older children or adults so that they don’t get squeezed too hard.

The idea that there are robos out there that don’t get any handling at all because the internet says not to is very sad.

Roborovskis like to be handled, they like to sit on your hand and clean themselves…the ultimate sign of a calm hamster. The best way to handle them is to get a storage box, place some of their bedding in it and ‘juggle’ your robo hand over hand until they calm down. Most do after the intial 30 seconds of ‘lift off’ as soon as they realise you aren’t going to eat them this time.

Naturally, your roborovski will run from you when you first go into the cage but will soon calm down. Handle, handle, handle! That’s the key to having your robo then turn around and inspect your fingers for treats. They are not a cuddly species but that doesn’t mean you should allow them to become feral. All that happens is they live in constant low level stress from being too nervous. You aren’t doing them any favours.

Robos do not cope with stress very well and will squawk at you when they feel unable to handle life. Just keep letting them now that handling is normal, and fine and that you going into their cage is also not a problem. Do it on a routine and they will soon realise that there is nothing to be worried about.

My best advice is to choose a hamstery page, blog or website for information directly from people who breed the species rather than cutesy pages from people who maybe own one or two and then become self professed gurus on them.  Sure, you can have robos from large chain pet stores that don’t like to be handled because they haven’t had any at all, or no positive handling, til they got to you but that is not a species characteristic just a sign of an inattentive breeder or a grumpy individual.

This is where going to a registered show breeder helps. An unhandleable hamster is disqualified from the show, especially if they bite (which robos rarely do) and are usually not then bred from.

I’m hoping to put some care articles/videos up soon to illustrate aspects of caring for these, and other species of hamsters as well as mice.

Happy handling!

Denchlet 13-04-15 - Day 21 a

Latest litter and some frustration

My latest litter are now 12 days old and starting to venture out of the nest. With any hamster species, babies should remain undisturbed until 14 days old as mums are quick to cull their litters if they aren’t happy with your presence. Even tame mums can do this.

Eager to see what Atlanta had given me, I raised the nest roof to find…..three babies. Whilst this is certainly better than no babies, three is a little frustrating. Contrary to wild myths and rumours, it’s quite hard to get Syrians to breed and they don’t often give you large litters. As a show breeder, it’s nice to have more of a range of choice.

Still, three is three and better than two :p All short haired goldens, the aim of this mating was to put a generation between the dark grey that Atlanta carries and the black that her babies will carry. Grey and black are not good to mix together if plain self black is what you are aiming for. But Atlanta has a pedigree background that is mostly unrelated to the other hamsters I have here so adding in her, and Boffo (dad) bloodlines is important.

Babies look chunky, one looks particularly dark but will keep an eye on how they grow. I can start handling them as soon as their eyes open which I am looking forward to.

For now, chicken baby food for mum and youngsters and then porridge tonight. Diced cucumber offered regularly at this age too.

Boffat Litter 28-05-15 - Day 11 a Boffat Litter 28-05-15 - Day 11 b Boffat Litter 28-05-15 - Day 11 c