Extras – A Hamster’s Balanced Diet

It’s important for any hamster to eat outside of it’s basic packet muesli. Muesli (or pellets) is not complete although it does come close and many hamsters do well being given nothing else. Imagine if you had to eat the same breakfast muesli everyday, or worse…a monotonous diet of shreddies. Yes, I have strong opinions about a pelleted diet, hamsters are not rabbits.

An easy way to provide variety, and therefore balance, is to mix more into your dry food. Mixed wild bird seed is an easy one. Your vet may tell you to be careful of whole oats, due to pouch perforation. Well. I’m sceptical that this is as common an issue as the distributors of science selective pellets may lead you to believe. Some hamster do well on this type of food, more do not. Think of the breakfast analogy above and think about which you’d rather feed.

It’s nice to provide something extra on top of their dry diet. It’s vital to remember that every mouthful of a treat or an extra means one less mouthful of their (mostly complete) dry diet. Extras should not be overfed. An easy rule of thumb is to dry feed a small bowl full every 2-3 days and on the day you put the new food in, add in something fresh or wet. Keep it separate from your dry, there’s nothing worse than soggy muesli. Your hamster will prefer the fresh on the day and store the dry for eating on days 2 and 3. This is the best way, in my opinion, of stopping selective eating. Hamsters naturally horde their food so take advantage of this to make sure they can still have a varied and balanced diet.

Your choices are fresh veg, fresh fruit, protein like wet dog or cat food, leftover human food and other food items such as porridge. The foods to avoid are citrus fruits, human chocolate, onions, garlic in some hamsters, spicy food, salty food and very sticky food that might get stuck in a pouch. A little bit of sugar and fat is fine unless your hamster can’t tolerate it or is diabetic (remember that sugar does not make a hamster diabetic).

I recently asked fans of the Facebook page what they like to feed. Broccoli, kale and carrots were top of the list. Bell peppers, cauliflower, sweetcorn, corn on the cob, green beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, watercress, rocket, peas, spinach, sugar snap peas, fennel and parsnip were all suggested. Apple, courgette and cucumber too.  It’s lovely to hear so many owners feed such a wide range. I’ve been a bit stuck on feeding kale recently, and kalettes are a cute veg to feed (look like tiny kale).

Broccoli.jpg

Wet food wise I have fed a lot of different brands of dog and cat food. I find that although Applaws is taken readily because of the texture, I prefer food that is fortified wherever possible. My guys have a preference for pate as well as flaked meat and I use puppy mousse, kitten pate or similar. I tend to mix this with Ready Brek made up using water (not the sachets, too much sugar), as disgusting as it sounds it makes it go further and the hams love it. To this I might add EMP, a supplement often used for birds. If I’m giving extras to a new mum though, I tend to feed meat and porridge separately. This may be a better option for those of you with only one hamster. Just bear in mind that you will want to ease off extra protein when your hamster is older as it can stress the kidneys.

Other extras include dried mealworms, dried crickets, dried sprats, pumpkin seeds, dog biscuits and dried fish skins. Ancol hedgehogs and dried pigs ears can be fed but I’d take these out periodically as otherwise the hamster will eat only these (they are quite big).

A good regime might be:-

Monday – Dry food plus a spoon of fresh veg. Less for a dwarf.

Tuesday – No food today

Wednesday – Cup cake case with a small spoon of wet dog food. Less for a dwarf.

Thursday – Dry food.

Friday – Treat with human leftovers or a shop bought treat of an appropriate size. Or fresh veg/fruit again if you’d prefer. If you have a young hamster, this could be a day for mealworms or similar.

Saturday – Half portion of dry food and a small dog biscuit. Puppy bones are ideal for dwarfs.

Sunday – No food today.

If your hamster has lots of left over food in the cage, just decrease the portions. Keep decreasing portion sizes until your hamster is eating everything. Keep an eye on your hamster’s waste and waist! Runny poo means stop everything except the dry food, see your vet and add in extras slowly once they have recovered. If your hamster feels too chubby, cut back. If you can feel your hamster is boney or skinny, add more assuming they are finishing it. If there is a lot of food left and your hamster is still skinny then chat with your vet.

As an aside – if your hamster is diabetic, it’s very difficult to control this with diet. In humans, carbs and fat all contribute to glucose levels too. Keep the sugar low by all means, your hamster still needs a balanced diet and medication if appropriate. Information on medication can be found on Vectis Hamstery’s website vectishams.webs.com

Despite the best variety, you still need to make sure they have plenty of vitamins and minerals. Particularly D3. Use a vitamin paste in wet food or a powder supplement. You can also use a supplement in the water.

Variety. Your hamster will thank you for it 🙂

Zhou Liang Mar 2017 a

Show Pen Maintenance: A Necessary Evil?

It’s time! I think I lost out on a first place in Roborovski class at a recent show because of a neglected show pen. Any points removed were well deserved I have to say. I’ve not repainted my pens since I started showing Syrians in 2013 *shame*

Syrian Pen 1

So I’ve finally gone out, bought the paint, set up the work table and found all my pens. For good measure I’ll also do my pen carriers. It’s worth pointing out that for new members who hire pens, your pens don’t get penalised for condition as it’s accepted that it’s the club’s issue/owner of the pen to look after hire pens rather than the member who hired it.

Before I went to B and Q there was a scrabble to find the various bits of info provided by show pen guru, Mark, on what paint to use. Black gloss and white gloss for the Syrian pens (Dulux is favoured) and Ronseal Deep Mahogany for the dwarf pens. It’s worth noting that members have previously mistakenly used something like ‘cotton white’ rather than ‘pure white’ gloss and have also mistakenly varnished dwarf pens. It’s just woodstain for those and you can tell the difference between the shades of white on the show bench so be careful.

First job is cleaning. All my pens are getting a full clean rather than their usual quick wipe. I’m hoping not to have to paint all of them if they are just a little stained.

Syrian Pen 2

Then sanding any chew marks out. Sanding also provides a better surface to paint the new gloss onto I’m told. After sanding, I managed to remember to wipe the pen out again. Look at this black paint dust.

Syrian Pen 3

Due to the application of masking tape, I preferred to paint the inside first and freehand the black. I’m quite good at my edges, you might like to mask both. I’m more likely to need to re do the interiors of all the pens whereas I reckon only two of mine need the black redone. We’ll see!

Syrian Pen 4

Looks like more than one coat will be needed. On my second one I realised that you need to paint the inside front lip first and the top outward facing edge last. I got a bit covered in paint this go haha
Syrian Pen 5

Look at the difference!

Syrian Pen 6.jpg

This is the paint I used for the black on the other show pen. The white dried in a couple of hours, the black needs to be left overnight between coats and a good day/night to completely lose the tackiness I’m told.

Syrian Pen 7.jpg

The pen I’m painting was chewed by a naughty boy on the way home from a show because I forgot my divider (see further down) meaning the pens didn’t sit right in the top of the carrier.

Syrian Pen 8

I’ve sanded the chew marks down as much as I can. and then painted.

Syrian Pen 9

Looking good!!  After it’s second coat I’ll redo the mark on the bottom (for identification you mark the bottom of your pens so the judge can’t see). For the pen carriers I bought a Valspar satin paint called ‘wine cask’. I’m really hoping it dries more red than that! I had to get the chap to mix it up for me. The divider is place on top of the bottom row of pens in the carrier to give a space between rows. This gives extra ventilation, makes the top row more secure and stable as well as helping to stop the hamsters underneath being able to chew the pen above!

That’s my progress so far. Hopefully I’ll have some more photos later this week. It’s definitely worth the work to avoid losing marks in the future 🙂

 

On Spanners And All That

Just as things were getting going my hamster go and get old! Sadly I’ve now lost Boffo and Atlanta’s line as Nebbiolo refused to breed and is now too old to risk it. As she never looked pregnant I highly doubt she’d take anyway. Grenouille is on the edge and is going for her last try, with anybody at this point! Both fantastic looking girls and the result of a lot of hard work.
I’ve got a lot of them getting nearer to that dreaded cut off point. So I’m starting to breed almost round the clock to make sure they ‘take’ and I don’t lose the effort of several generations.
The Roborovski are just as bad with my agouti line now gone with Evie and my pieds gone with George and Ursula. I’ve had to bring in some youngsters but these now carry husky too so I’ll have to be careful.
The Chinese are following suit with the loss of Astere, Arty and nothing here from Jock thats breedable anymore. No more Not or Wullie either.
The Pallids time here has been short lived with Nut now being too old and them having to be split for fighting. She does look good now though!

However there is some good news. Wigley’s coming up for breeding (in the Syrian queue!) and I do have plenty of husky Robos here. Bardane the Chinese lives on in Luzerne, Safran and Frenee who gave me two boys as it turns out. I’ve got a little white boy here and Froggy from Vectis has two girlfriends lined up. Jock’s son Oats has been busy and his son James looks amazing.

I embark upon new lines in Chocolate and establishing my Ivories/black eyed whites in Syrians. I now start to roll up my sleeves for the blues as well. The blacks are not gone by a long shot as I bred so many lines so I have options there. Just not the ones I wanted. I’m hopeful, in time, that I can put that back on track.

I have some normal winter whites here that I’m going to pair up from tomorrow too.

Surely things will start to look up…..

One of the frustrating aspects of breeding is….

Breeding! It’s harder than you think. I honestly skeptically question anyone who has ‘accidental litters’  because breeding is actually not that easy.

At the moment I’ve female Syrians who won’t stand, female Chinese hamsters that won’t take, male Roborovskis that want to only hold hands. What’s going on??

Autumn. That’s the short answer. The shift to the colder nights and shorter days means I’m playing catch up with my daylight bulb and heating to make sure the hams don’t just decide to stop breeding altogether for the winter.

What is the best virtue that a breeder can have? Patience. What is it that I most lack?…yup.

Hopefully, I’ll have some babies coming soon.

H

Hopefully I’ll have some babies on the

Welcome to my world!

I started breeding in 2013 and joined the Southern and Midland hamster clubs in 2012. I joined the National Mouse Club in 2014. With this blog I intend to shed light on how difficult it is to breed ‘properly’ or ethically, the hurdles and joys of doing what I do. Not all breeders are evil and all that jazz. With my background in rescue and my current work as a vet nurse, I hope that my idealogies will help to educate people.