This page is for hamsters being shown in the main show. Pet class is judged differently so if your plan is to only enter pets then the pen and judging grid isn’t applicable for you. Do read the last section on noise though.
Roborovski are more challenging to show than other species because they require more work in order to ‘sit’ on a judging grid. However, you can produce some nice show hamsters if you work on them. Have a look at the Varieties page for more information on what to aim for in terms of standards.
Roborovski are shown in syrian pens as they are often too small for the grids on the front of dwarf pens. I would recommend you buy at least one syrian pen, even if you have to hire out the rest. You will need it to ‘train’ your hamster.
By train I mean to get them used to being in a pen all day. Start with a few minutes and build it up from there. There is no limit to how young you can start them as long as they can’t get out of the pen, but I’d probably go from about 4 weeks on as a minimum. They need to be fully aware of their surroundings in order to benefit from this experience. Obviously if you haven’t bred your hamster yourself you will need to start after they’ve had a chance to settle in with you.
The next step is the grid. You can make a grid using 6mm mesh in a photo frame and either nailing it together or using wood staples. Just the frame and not the backing. Whenever you handle your show hamster put them on the grid so they get used to the feel of it. You don’t want them to just sit still, your aim is to stop them jetting off. They can walk around on the grid but must stay on it. They’ll only encounter the grid for about 5 mins during a show.
One important issue that might get overlooked is the general noise of a busy show hall. It’s hard to recreate this if you live on your own in a quiet house. My hamsters are in a busy area of my home so they get used to the TV, visitors, kids and dogs. The more exposure to sound they have, the more it will become familiar for them. You could try playing videos of crowds on YouTube which is similar to a technique used for puppies to get used to fireworks.
Your show roborovski should be checked thoroughly both when you enter and on the day of the show and withdrawn if they have any lumps, wounds, parasites or are otherwise unwell. Eyes should be bright and open with no discharge, coat should be flat and not greasy, nails should be tidy and they should be unstained underneath ideally. Some staining is inevitable and you should then be prepared for the judge to take points off for this (main show only).