My last post about my Robo brothers I was attempting to reintroduce them. I did the split cage method where I put a wall between them so they could smell each other but be safe from scraps. I then would switch their sides every day so they would get used to each others scent until they smelled the same. I then lifted the wall after a little over a week and the went right at it. What is so strange is how they did this. It was quiet. It looked like a lot of sniffing of each other. But then I saw the blood! OMG!
I felt sick to my stomach. Luckily in just seconds Snow backed off and I was able to scoop him up quickly and put him in a safe place. I situated them in separate bin cages again and from there for a good week they seemed both shaken. I left them alone mostly but did check in on them while adding food to their bowls – to make sure they were fine. When I returned over Christmas (my husband had been caring for them) they were back to normal and I’ve added more toys and driftwood to their cages and started giving them some new treats (Yogies!). These treats they love so much they began to take it from my fingers. Snow and Patch have taken to crawling up the mesh sides when I open the top.
Okay, what has happened to these guys? They entered the 6 month mark I believe – not sure as they are pet shop hams – and I think they are NOW settling down with me. Suddenly becoming “tame” …I didn’t get these guys expecting to tame them. Just to not be afraid of me. To be used to me. And they always have been pretty oblivious to my hand and such. Never afraid – just indifferent. But lately something has come over them both! And I love it! Wild little things. Maybe – as it did with Bob – driftwood has brought the Tarzan out of them! It’s making me really see the beauty and benefit in making a natural looking habitat for hamsters. Perhaps, it’s just coincidence but it seems to really make them happy.
This is the same story with the Gerbils. As I’ve written before – they were kept in the back store room of Petsmart and never out front. So they were absolutely terrified of people. Which isn’t normal for gerbils in general. I treated them as if they were abuse cases. Not trying to rush it. Just trying to get them used to our movement around the house (so they wouldn’t run and hide everytime we walked up to their tank etc) and only feed them by hand – pretty much forcing them to trust my hand as the bringer of good treats (I’d leave the rest of their food under my hand on the substrate but the good stuff (seeds etc) in my palm. This worked in getting them to trust my hand. Also, making a show of putting treats in there such as the Yogies (also a Gerb fav) and different types of hays and new things for them to chew on. I stopped attempted to pick them up. All of this was well and good but still not really aiding great results. Until I got the 40 gallon tank. Put them in there with deep layers of substrate and large pieces of driftwood.
Now they are like different gerbils. They are bolder. More active. They don’t run and hide even when my 3 year old pokes the glass and screeches “Look at the Gerbils mommy!” (Since he’s used to them hiding and not just standing there staring right back at him).
I cannot tell you how this has melted my heart. To see them trust us. Dropping my expectations to ever hold them and just giving them the best possible habitat possible has really paid off. Just having them not run from us …to stare right back at us as if watching us as much as we watch them – is more than I could ask for at this point. I fell in love with them when I saw them in that tiny, pathetic plastic box taken from the back of the pet store. Unconditionally. So, seeing them really grow in this way has really touched me. They are now at the level a normal pet store gerbil would be when first brought home. Curious. Interested. But still not about to let you handle them …for these gerbils that is a giant leap to be at least to that stage. It gives me hope that in a few more months maybe they’ll be climbing up my arm. But even if not …well, they have it good and I enjoy them as I do the Robos – for entertainment like a favorite TV Show.
Strawberry! Well, I decided that it was time to remove his shelf because he didn’t care for it. He used to when I first brought him home. He was into higher levels and sleeping in houses. But since putting him in the Gabbia Tamburino Natura with very deep deep layer of substrate I have seen a change in him. He was spending no time “upstairs” and instead was building elaborate tunnels in the substrate. Instead of all the Critter Trail tubes I was using that I kept having to take out (because he peed so MUCH inside them it would stink so fast) he’s doing a more natural tunneling and all the happier for it. But when I put a big piece of driftwood in his cage I noticed one night he was climbing all over it like a mountain goat. (Driftwood is a huge hit and definitely a theme I have going on here). So, I have disliked how all the hams and gerbils have so much going on for their habitats but Strawberry was left with just a wheel and wood so I ordered a few things I think he’s going to enjoy and I’m very excited about it.
A fellow Hammy friend pointed me in the direction of a quilter on Etsy who for the love of rodents – makes beautiful quilted hammocks. I purchased this one from her and it’s being mailed out tomorrow!
And a wooden and rope ladder and Coconut hideout (different than Bob’s but just as cool) from Doctor Foster and Smith.
I got the small ladder which after seeing a picture of it in action in a friend’s bin cage I now know is more than enough in length.
I think it’s a nice addition of enrichment for Strawberry.
The Syrians, Bob and Penny, are enjoying my ever expanding DIY play pen. The foam board was getting expensive so I am expanding with cardboard from the boxes coming to my door with online orders. Used cardboard like that from boxes is beat up and more vulnerable to being chewed through for escape but as I only have them in their pens when I’m right there watching them (they are always in separate pens/places of course) it’s not a concern. I enjoy that time with them free ranging. Since Penny came into our lives, Bob is so much more active and inquisitive. He’s friendlier. It’s like Penny – the unattainable goal – has given him something to live for. The endless quest to mate! Oh Bob – he believes with every fiber of his being he’ll reach her one day. NO WAY – not on my watch!
So, life with the hams is great. I just wish I had more time. By the time I do it is getting pretty late and even with my insomnia I can only spend but so much time. But I know all my critters are very happy and healthy and I certainly love the feeling of looking forward to something that is just for me.
To think I got my first ham, Strawberry, just for my 2 year old’s first pet. Wow. At that point had you told me I’d have 5 hamsters and 2 gerbils I would have laughed at the absurdity!
Another hammy friend is parting with some shelving for me to put in Bob’s Kevin and Penny’s Mamble cages to give them more levels. What is great is one is pink and the other red!! The last order of business and I hope that I can finally stop spending so much on these critters – is I need a Wodent Wheel for Penny. I took the ratty Comfort Wheel out because it was just becoming slightly small for her. She sticks her head out as she runs even though she’s not really arching. And I just love Wodent Wheels. The 11 inch is just so great. Now if only I could make up my mind about color combinations of the panels and track! It’s ridiculous I’m mulling over something that has nothing to do with the function of it! But I am a visual person and I just love to LOVE accessories!