Famous Pedigrees

I recently asked fans of my page…what do you want to see me blog about? One of the answers was ‘famous lines’. Here’s my take on this, not so simple, topic.

Many of us don’t ‘line breed’, in the strictest sense of the word, anymore. With hamster breeding there is a lot of line mixing, for want of a better phrase. Depending the species of course. So to pinpoint a famous ‘line’ is quite tricky. Line breeding refers, in its simplest terms, a degree of inbreeding involving parents or grandparents down the generations of bloodline. Said to cement certain features into the line, it’s losing it’s popularity among some fancies. Many newer breeders prefer to outcross (breed to something unrelated) and then incross (breed back to a relative), or keep outcrossing each generation. So you can’t really pinpoint a line that is famous as hamsters from either method might win a certificate of merit or a show.

The easier thing to do would be to name a famous hamster perhaps? Well I’d rather use the term ‘well known’ as we aren’t talking about celebrities πŸ˜‰

In any species of hamster, a well known animal would be a champion or grand champion. With six certificates of merit, that can’t be awarded by the same judge, a grand champion really is a worthy representative of his species and variety.

Some of the nicest things about the hamster club are the following:-

1. A lot of breeders have a champion or grand champion.

2. Because nice hamsters and their offspring are readily shared, a lot more breeders have champions and grand champions in their lines.

3. Because we have pedigrees that we regularly give out to people, you’ll see the names of champions or grand champions on there. Sometimes marked with a *** for a champion or perhaps ‘GC’ etc. A breeder is also more than likely to point it out to you as a matter of pride.

These things mean that, instead of one famous hamstery or a few famous lines, there are many more opportunities for newcomers to the fancy to obtain nice animals with good pedigrees behind them.

Unfortunately, in addition to these champions and grand champions being rather too numerous to list, unscrupulus breeders or back yard breeders might use such a list to fabricate a pedigree. So it’s not something I could, or would want to, publish.

Lastly, there are no shortcuts to coming to a show, speaking to people and learning from experience. There really isn’t. Information is readily available for those serious about showing and breeding.

Alas, whilst I’ve had a few ‘nearly champions’ and a lot of other peoples champions in my own pedigrees, I’ve yet to get there with one of my own. A champion black would be the best achievement for me. One day!

If there is something you’d like to read about specifically, comment below and I’ll see what I can do!

A Typical Show Day.

*sigh* The last show of the year! Well, for an exhibitor who attends both sets of club shows. Sadly, for a lot of exhibitors the last show was the Wootton Bassett Christmas show last week held by the Southern Hamster Club.
Barnt Green is a new venue for the Midland Hamster Club and replaces the previous Kingswinford show. As the last show of the year, this is also a Christmas show for the Midland members.
I always hitch a lift to shows with fellow exhibitor Vectis and we try to get there fairly early. That usually means getting up on or before 6am but as we had relatively few things to pack and few hamsters to take, it was a much more relaxed affair this weekend.

I only brought Astere, my black eyed white hamster that was born at Vectis. I’ve had a whole week of being woken at 5am by my neighbours new cockerel so I didn’t feel confident that my usually scatty brain could manage too many things this time. It’s funny how I can be very organised when it comes to other people’s lives or needs but so very forgetful when it comes to myself!

This is Astere in his show pen. The pen is designed for dwarf hamsters and is notably different to those used for syrians or roborovski hamsters. All dwarfs and short haired syrians are penned on woodshavings even if it isn’t the substrate you would use at home. I know of a few hamsters (not many but a few nonetheless) who can’t go to shows as the wood shavings cause eye irritations even over the course of just one day. This is one reason I use paper bedding from Fitch.

Barnt Green 2015 a

In addition to the bedding, every hamster needs a piece of veg for moisture and a dog biscuit for food. I use cucumber as it stays wetter for longer and Biscroks are recommended by the clubs as being the lowest in salt out of the dog biscuits generally available. You can buy your own or the club provides them at the show. The veg should be added at home to account for having enough water during the car journey there. We always take extra too. The additions of extras is not allowed, the toilet roll tube was for the journey up and back only. The pens look quite small to newcomers but the hamsters feel safe enough in them to sleep the day away.

Transported in special show pen carriers, the hamsters are quite safe and guarded against injury during the car journey as they could fall and hurt themselves in a cage or carriers could topple over if we brought too many of them. Many exhibitors paint their carriers according to their hamstery colours. Mine are red but Astere is travelling in these as I’ve only him and it saves on car space. The carriers are made to hold either four or six pens and even hold mouse pens. They have a special, removable, wooden ‘divider’ that sits between the two levels so that the hamsters can’t chew the pens above.

Barnt Green 2015 b

Close to Birmingham, Barnt Green is slightly closer than Kingswinford but we still weren’t sure how much we could rely on the directions so we left little to chance and set off just after 7am. We knew there were 183 syrians entered and over 80 dwarfs so we needed to be there on time. I was hoping to be able to see how the sales were set up in the morning Β and collect the paperwork as I’ll be the official sales manager next year.

The syrians were split between two judges and we all managed to get out of the hall before 6pm. The syrian pens are shown below. As you can see the hamsters are all happily asleep. These guys were judged first and still sleeping come the end of the day. I even got to book steward for judge Andrew Bryan. I thoroughly recommend book or pen stewarding for judges when you first start as you learn a lot about colours and standards that all helps towards breeding.

Barnt Green 2015 c

And the trophies and prize cards set out for the end of the day presentation. We went a bit quick today so we could all leave on time. Prize cards are generally collected straight from the table as you go, trophies, medals and rosettes are handed out by the judge.

Barnt Green 2015 d

In addition to bringing home second place black eyed white chinese and third place in the ‘members points’ class, I also brought these lovely hamsters back:-

At the top is a sable boy called Assam from Bourne Valley Hamsters, the black and the cream are Ceana and Perzik from Wyeside Hamstery. I also have a black girl called Jocasta from Lilliput Hams who is a fidget so I couldn’t grab any non blurry pics of her just yet.

I look forward to 2016 and the Ferndown show. You can find all the details of shows on the National Hamster Council show page.

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 πŸ™‚ 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!

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 πŸ™‚

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.Β  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