Meet Our Hamster Charles...

Meet Our Hamster Charles...
I'm just 4 weeks old!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Need Help Choosing A Cage For Your Teddy Bear Hamster?

What I found when I was researching teddy bear hamster cages was that there are 4 main alternatives to choose from…

  1. Wire or Metal: These kind of cages have been around as long as hamsters have been kept as pets. The cage is easy to clean and because of the material, odours are not absorbed and there is plenty of ventilation. The primary problem with most bared cages in the past was a lack of space. But now-a-days there are 2 and 3 storey models that are available, so lack of space is no longer an issue. The only thing you need to be worried about when purchasing a multi-storied barred cage is that there is not too much space between the stories in case of a fall. There are a few disadvantages to wire or metal cages - you must make sure the gap between the bars is not too large or else your teddy bear hamster will likely escape (if a hamster can get his head through the gap then the rest of its body will easily slide through too!) You can get around this by choosing a wire cage that has been designed for mice. The other disadvantage of wire cages is that if the water bottle leaks and the dampness is not cleaned up then the metal can eventually, over time, erode which can cause harm to your teddy bear hamster.
  2. Glass Aquarium: This is probably one of the least favoured options. While this type of cage provides plenty of room for your hamster to move around and explore, there are more disadvantages than there are advantages. Most importantly, there is poor ventilation, which creates an unhealthy environment for your hamster. The glass aquarium is also very heavy to move around. You must have a cover over it, a wire one is best. You can purchase these at many pet stores. Some stores offer screen tops, but these are not sturdy enough, as teddy bear hamsters are very adept at chewing through a screen top in no time at all! However, having said that, with a good sturdy cover, glass aquariums are nearly escape-proof.
  3. Plastic: With this type of cage the advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages, making this possibly the most ideal choice of cage for your teddy bear hamster. The ones on the market today allow the imagination to run wild! You can find many models of them at most good pet stores. There are a large variety of tubes and compartments that can be purchased as “add-ons” to your cage allowing you to “design” your own unique hamster home. If you wanted to you could even connect to a second cage which could be a hamster gym or possibly a breeding house. The options are endless. You can make the cage as simplistic or elaborate as you like. Plastic cages do not absorb odour and they provide good ventilation. The only concern with plastic cages that I could find was the lack of doors to get the hamster out for the much needed personal contact and possibly the lack of ventilation in the tubes themselves.
  4. Homemade: If you are handy at making things or know someone who is, you can have a cage made specially for your hamster. In most cases, these cages are constructed from wood, wire mesh, and/or Plexiglas. Although this type of cage can be attractive and fun to make, wood acts as an absorbent and so extra bedding is needed at all times and the cage must be cleaned more often than with other types of cages. The other drawback is that hamsters love to gnaw on things, eventually damaging the wood. However, if you have the materials, the time and expertise, this might be a good option to consider. Another effective and inexpensive cage is one made from plastic storage containers, with a sturdy wire top.

Regardless of the type of cage selected, make sure all the doors and openings are secure so that your teddy bear hamster can't open it or chew his way out. Also, be sure there aren't any spaces large enough for him to squeeze through and escape. Look for a cage that will be easy to dismantle and clean, nothing is more frustrating than cleaning a cage that doesn't come apart easily or has a lot of small spaces that are hard to clean.

A cage should not be constructed of any absorbent materials such as soft woods, cardboard or fabric. If there is paint on the cage you should ensure that the paint is lead free. Ventilation is extremely important—there should be flow of fresh air, but not a cage that allows drafts.

Whichever style of cage you choose for your hamster, there’s one very important thing you must keep in mind - it should be located in an area where the room temperature will remain stable without drafts and away from direct sunlight.

So, shop around and check out your options and have fun choosing the best home possible for your teddy bear hamster! Once this has been taken care of you can focus on the care and feeding of your teddy bear hamster. If you would like more information on hamster care, like what supplies are necessary and what will work best for your new hamster, then check out our hamster care DVD. This will show you what is a proper diet for them and also the proper ways of handling and taking care of your hamster.

Hope you have as much fun as we have with our new little 4-legged family member, Charles! There’s a picture of him at the top of this blog. Until next time….

Friday, September 21, 2007

Five Tips For Buying Teddy Bear Hamsters...

  1. A knowledgeable dealer will naturally advise you, but if you are very uncertain take along an acquaintance who is familiar with teddy bear hamsters. Hamsters can almost always be found at good pet stores.
  2. Don't go to buy a hamster until the afternoon. The animals are rather lively then and you can evaluate them better. In contrast to guinea pigs and mice they are active at dusk and at night and prefer to be left alone to rest during the day.
  3. Choose a young hamster about 3 to 4 weeks old. Young animals become hand tame more quickly than older ones.
  4. Look for any possible signs of illness - bare places in the fur; sneezing; dry eye; teeth too long or nails too long; limping or dragging a leg; constant scratching or reddened skin.
  5. After you've bought your hamster, take home some of the nest material from it's cage. This will make it easier for the hamster to get used to its new cage at your home.

Choosing The Right Teddy Bear Hamster:

A healthy hamster has a smooth, shining coat, bright eyes without any discharge, a dry nose, and a clean anus; it's body is almost symmetrically cylindrical. Apart from that, it should make a lively impression, but if it has just come out of a deep sleep, this may not always be guaranteed.

In contrast, the coat of an ailing hamster looks unkempt and dull; the animal has sunken flanks and often a dirty anus. Inflamed eyes or a nasal discharge can also be a sign of illness. If the hamster is "wobbly" on its legs, trembles, sneezes, or wheezes, you should point it out to the dealer, but don't buy the animal. If an animal has diarrhea (recognizable by dirty fur around the anus), you should not buy any other animal from the same cage.

Male or Female?:

The sex you choose is not important. Some say that males become hand tame more quickly, but experts say they have had various experiences with each gender. Be guided by your own feelings when you are buying and take the teddy bear hamster that most appeals to you.

Differentiating Between Sexes:

In the male the distance between the anal opening and the genital opening is clearly larger than it is in the female, and males have a more pointed rear end. In the sexually mature male (from the fourth to the fifth week of life), the testes are clearly recognizable to the left and right of the anus.

The New Home:

Before you get your new teddy bear hamster, set up the cage and choose a permanent location for it. It's best if you bring the hamster home in its little transport box the quickest way possible, because the unusual circumstances intensify its efforts to free itself as quickly as possible.

When you get home, put the carrying box in the cage, open it, and wait until the hamster comes out by itself. Take the old nest material you got at the time of purchase of the animal and put it in the sleeping house. It bears its scent and will signal: this is my home, even if the surroundings don't match anymore.

Careful Acclimation:

Most hamsters are at first quite confused and frightened by the move and the many new impressions. Normally it takes about a week until the hamster has gotten used to its new surroundings. There are a few things you can do to help it get used to its new home...

  • Cover the cage with a light cloth to allow it to investigate its new home in peace.
  • Limit yourself to changing food and water.
  • At first, don't change anything in the cage; your hamster will then feel at home more quickly.
  • Postpone visits from friends who want to meet your new pet.

Now all you have to do is choose a great name for your new little friend!

Please bookmark this blog at the bottom of the page and come back often, there'll be lots of interesting facts and information on teddy bear hamsters! I've got lots I'd like to share with you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Start Of Our Journey With Teddy Bear Hamsters...

Meet Charles!!!

He joined our family in June and belongs to my daughter Vanessa. For many years our daughter has asked for a teddy bear hamster and I have always said "maybe when you are older" or something to that effect, the main reason being I didn't want to have to be responsible for any more pets (we already have 2 dogs and 4 cats and that keeps me busy enough!)

My "maybe when you are older" answer began to crumble a bit when 2 of Vanessa's friends each got a hamster. Then on a visit to a pet store one day we decided to "just LOOK" at hamsters, but that was the beginning of my downfall, they were so darn CUTE!

So the next step was to do some research and find out as much as I could about teddy bear hamsters. If we were going to have one I wanted to make sure that we knew how to take care of him or her to the best of our ability. So we read books and did much research as we possibly could on the internet to find out all the information we needed to make this new little critter a happy and healthy one.

There was one condition to us getting our newest member of our family and that was that Vanessa was the one to look after it and I am delighted to say that she has upheld her side of the bargain and is doing a fantastic job - she is the one who is the sole care-taker of Charles!

The reason I created this blog is to help Vanessa and her friends (and anyone else who has just started out on a new journey with teddy bear hamsters!) to provide the best environment and care for their new pet hamsters.

Also anything at all that I find that is fun and cute and has ANYTHING to do with teddy bear hamsters, will appear on this blog, so please bookmark us and check back often!