Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Cage and Wheel for Evey

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I mentioned that I might be getting a new cage for Evey in my last post - it's a definate now! I ordered an Alexander for her yesterday. Slightly annoyed because I ordered it from the German ZooPlus site as it was cheaper there but the UK site has reduced their price today, could have got it for a little bit less. Doesn't really matter though, just glad she's getting an upgrade, really think she's going to love it!

This is the Alexander, it's 101 x 52.5 x 51 cm (L x W x H) -

ZooPlus Alexander
I've also ordered her a new wheel as she's broken her Flying Saucer the little madam! Luna had it for two years without breaking, Evey has it for two weeks and bits start falling off the spindle! I've ordered her a Karlie Wonderland Wheel, also from ZooPlus. It's the 29cm one so nice and big, wooden and will look lovely with all the wooden accessories that come with the Alexander.

Karlie Wonderland Wheel from ZooPlus
I'll be getting some Plasti-kote to protect the wheel and shelves as well as ordering some Fitch substrate. I've found that having two cages with woodshavings in them is just too dusty and will be switching to Fitch ASAP.

Can't wait to see what Evey thinks of her new cage and wheel!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Taming Evey

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Things are going slower than I'd hoped in all honesty, since getting Evey we've had a few road blocks. My mum was staying with us, Christmas came, then mum went, then it was New Year, then Evey decided she wouldn't get up until 4am. I stay up late but 4am is too late for even me to be taming a hammy!

When we first got her she quickly earned the nickname 'Freakaleaper' as she would leap in the air if she was startled and make this squeaky toy squeak. At the start of her first taming session, once my other half and I had taken the wire top off her cage, she irrupted from underneath her Flying Saucer where she's nesting and only my other half putting his arm in the air stopped her from leaping right out of the base of her cage. She soon settled and started wondering around the edge of her cage having a sniff of us but she was still skitish and her leaping like that put both of us on edge so we didn't end up handling her that day.

Skip forward a few days and I put her cage into the massive playpen I have for her when she's tame, this meant that she could only jump out one side of the cage, the side I was sitting at. The session went OK, I picked her up and she did what I expected and leaped off but then went straight back into her nest and wouldn't come out again. I won't ever disturb a hamster next unless it's an emergancy so she put an end to that taming session!

For a few days or so after that she wasn't getting up until 4am so I missed out on those few days, although I did get to give her loads of treats and that just before going to bed most nights (or after, once she'd woken me up banging about in her cage!). She's been absolutely fine taking treats which as been great!

She seems to have sorted her body clock a little bit and for the last three days she's been getting up between 4 and 5pm each evening. The first night I started handing some treats through the bars then, purely on the off chance she would go into it, I offered her her ball. She hopped right in and seemed to love it! Only put her on the floor for 5 minutes or so as baby hams or those new to a ball shouldn't be in them long. Put her back and she was begging to come out again! I offered her the ball again and she went straight in, suggested to my other half that we do a bit of bath taming but I was a bit wimpy and wouldn't do it so he did. She was fine, had a good old sniff and I picked her up a few times. She jumped right off but I expect that to be the case for a while. So since then she's been getting ball time and bath taming each night and I hope that, relatively soon, she will get used to being picked up and will stop leaping off instantly. She's happy to climb over my hands to leave her ball which is good and my other half has handled her a little bit too.

Hopefully we won't hit any more stumbling blocks! On the cage front we will definately be getting an Alexander and really soon, I'll be ordering it by the end of the month. Can't wait to get it! The access it has was holding me back but after these last few days where Evey has been coming straight out as soon as the door is open has put those worries to bed. I reckon she's going to love her new cage!

Maganed to weigh Evey this morning, she weighs 137g at exactly 8 weeks, a lot bigger than Luna who was 122g at over 9 weeks!

Just a quick note - I don't usually like using a bath as they tend to be very cold (even with towels underfoot) but Evey is only in there for five to ten minutes at a time and it's the safest way to tame a freakaleaper ;)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Good and Bad News

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I've been avoiding anything hamster related for a few months now but I'm now back in the fold, full of enthusiasm and thought I'd do a quick post as to what I've been up to.

Sadly, on September 6th, my little madam Luna passed away. Her age caught up with her within a couple of days and she passed away peacefully some time in the early morning. A lovely man, Ray, from Animals at Home collected her and took her to be cremated. He said he'd never seen such a big hamster! My partner and I miss her so much but take comfort in knowing she had a wonderful and full life. She was our happy little lunatic.

A couple of months after Luna passed I felt that we would both be ready for a new little Syrian in the near future and contacted Harry at Hammys World who had a few litters on the way. I was hoping for a relation of Luna but ended up falling in love with a Golden Banded female from a different line. Harry was exceptionally kind and brought her round for us when she was ready as I'm still housebound. He gave us loads of stuff as well which was amazing! He said that it was from Luna, made me bloody cry!

Well, this little Golden Banded has been named Evey and oh my she's a terror! Completely different personality to Luna but just as much of a madam!

This is Evey after I woke her up, poking her bum because she'd scared me going to sleep with her bum sticking out of the substrate -

She's really confident and has a love of burrowing. She's been awkward and made her nest under her Flying Saucer though which is a nightmare because she can't run on it anymore (it's half buried). I've temporarily put a medium Savic Rolly in her cage but will be replacing it with either a Trixie wheel or a Savic Orbital. Her Flying Saucer can go into her playpen then so she'll still get to have a run on it. 

I'd like to upgrade her cage and get her an Alexander and a wooden wheel but it all depends on whether or not I can save up the cash in all honesty. I'm thinking if I can save up £100 I can get her a new cage, wheel and some new toys. Or save up £150 and get her a 100cm Falco ;) I think she'd love the burrowing it would allow!

Hobbes is doing great, he's now got both his Kios and Combi and I'm seeing if I can pick up a cheap Kora to attach to the set up as well. He's stopped burying his Flying Saucer since I got him his Silent Spinner. Typical! He's nice and confident now and will take treats from us, no luck on the handling front but in all honesty I don't hold any expectations. Would be nice to have him sit on my hand one day though, so far I've just had a paw on my finger!

Hobbes is such a happy little guy now, he's really taken to my other half too. He always comes out to say hello whenever he hears us talking (Hobbes that is, not my OH!) and demands treats.

I'll post some more updates regarding Evey's taming and potential new cage (which is looking more and more likely) as and when. If you'd like to read Luna's memorial it's posted on Hamster Central - Luna 9/12/2010 - 6/6/2012

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Care Guide: Choosing a Cage

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Once I decided a hamster was what I wanted, the first thing I really looked into was buying a suitable cage. There is a massive variety on the market but sadly a large portion of those are unsuitable, some even cruel. It seems that manufactorurs don't do any actual research regarding hamsters needs before designing cages. There are however, lots that are suitable. This guide is just a simple list of things to look out for and consider to give you a helping hand when deiciding on what cage to purchase for your furry friend. If you want to find out if the one you choose is definately suitable, don't hesitate to contact me or post a comment on here. The guys over at Hamster Central (me included!) will be able to help too.

Hamsters are highly active creatures and need plenty of space - probably a lot more than most people realise! Not only does a good sized cage provide room for the essentials - wheel, house, food bowl, water bottle etc - but plenty of room for toys and running about as well.
Savic Ruffy 2 80cm x 50cm

The RSPCA recommend cages be at least 75cm by 40cm although most experienced hamster owners will tell you that Syrians need a little more space and most dwarf species are happy in cages slightly smaller than that. However, bigger is better*. There are numerous cages on the UK market that reach and exceed, this size. Some are quite costly, reaching up and over £100 but a lot are relatively cheap (£50 and under). There are also alternatives to the bog standard, wire hamster cage including aquariums, bin cages (storage boxes converted into cages using a bit of DIY), furniture "hacks" and cages marketed for other species. 

There are a number of things to consider when searching for the right cage for you and your hamster, I'll try and cover as much as possible in this post. In no particular order mind you! This is to help you make a more informed decision when choosing a cage - so that when someone recommends a particular cage you can decide if it's a good recommendation, or if it's suitable for yourself and your hamster.

Bar Spacing: Syrian hamsters shouldn't be kept in cages that have bars further apart than 1cm, a cage with larger bar spacing should be meshed to prevent escapes. Dwarf hamsters can squeeze through tiny gaps, although most adults will be fine in cages with 1cm bar spacing, babies and smaller dwarf hamsters are safer in cages with smaller bar spacing or in aquarium, tank or bin cages.

Shelving: If the cage includes a bar or mesh shelf, it must be removed or covered as they can cause injuries and bumblefoot. Solid plastic or wooden shelves are best.

Holes: Tank style cages, such as the ZooZones, have holes for water bottle spouts and that, although a lot of hamsters will ignore them, if you have a hamster that has a thing for chewing anything and everything, the holes will need to be covered or blocked.

Height: The height of a cage can vary greatly. A tall cage (40cm plus) must have a selection of shelves and hammocks to prevent falls, or even better a full sized shelf which will not only prevent falls but provide loads more room. Short cages can pose a problem where wheels are concerned - make sure that the cage is tall enough to accommodate the right sized wheel. Flying Saucers are good for shorter cages as they aren't very tall.

Base Depth: Cages with separate bases and tops (like wire cages and tank style cages) need to have a base that is deep enough to contain plenty of substrate. Hamsters are burrowing animals and require a deep layer of substrate. 

Access: A lot of commercial, wire cages only have small doors which makes accessing the inside of the cage difficult. Although putting your hands inside the cage while the hamster is in it should be kept to a minimum it does make life easier having decent access to the inside of the cage. The position of the access should also be taken into consideration - front access is needed if you plan on stacking cages, on shelving units or relatively high.

Weight and Bulk: Heavy, bulky cages are difficult to move so unless you are sure you can get help to move the cage when needed, ensure that where it will be placed means you can clean it where it stands or that it's light and easily picked up (Savic wire cages have secure handles which makes them much easier to move).

*In most cases at least - nervous, shy, sick, injured or older hamsters are often better in smaller cages

Introducing Hobbes

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Hobbes is my teeny tine Roborovski. He's about 7 months old now and has been with me for a month or so. I found him after looking for a dwarf hamster to adopt on Gumtree, Preloved etc. I had no idea what species he was - I was hoping for a robo - but got in touch with the owner and a couple of days later she brought him round. His old owner was moving into student accomodation that didn't allow pets so she wanted to rehome him. Well, she was stood by the boot of her car which had a tiny Ferplast Combi 1 in it and the smallest nose I have ever seen poked out of the little plastic house. I fell in love before I'd even seen the rest of him ;) She handed him over and left... No goodbye or anything. Quite sad to be honest.

But anyway! Took him up to our flat and put him into the spare bedroom, my mind going a million miles per hour trying to work out what cage I can afford to get him. No way was he staying in the Combi! I later saw that he had that awful cotton fluffy bedding stuff, removed that, replaced it with tissue and put a wooden log in there for him. He spent the rest of the day sleeping with his chin resting on the wooden log. I put a sand bath in for him too as he looked really greasy. Within a few hours he looked much, much better.

Oh! Just remembered - he was called Stevie, not Hobbes when we got him but we changed his name after a few days of having him.

Anyway, here's his first video which shows his tiny cage -

We ended up ordering him a Ferplast Kios which is much, much larger than his tiny Combi and so far he seems to love it. It took him a few days to realise that he could dig in there (he had hardly any substrate, 1cm thick at best, for the first 6 months of his life) and subsequently covered my floor in wood shavings >.< I don't mind though, as long as he's happy! Here's his Kios -

He's settled in really well in there thankfully. I think he's enjoying his new home with us anyway :D

Bonus videos!