A very Hammy Valentines

2nd post within the hour! Making up for the days in between updates.

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For Valentines I somehow dreaded a bouquet. I wasn’t always this way. I used to get that thrill before receiving flowers from my husband – especially while we were dating and both times while he was deployed. Most of all while he was deployed. I think that is understandable. New love while dating is so romantic and tends to make one yearn for the traditional and deployment is just hard anything coming to your door in person to represent your love who you miss dearly is going to be a real hit.

This year I have him home and we’re caught up in the life as parents of two young children. I don’t want something traditional for Valentines. Something generic (no offense to those who want that because I totally get it!) I wanted something different – something that said to me – hey I know you and what you would get a kick out of – because as we age we change a little! Sometimes we change a LOT and our interests might change etc. Right now I’m obviously a hamster addict!

And see what he got me for Valentines!!!

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Perfect!! Nothing says love like hamsters! Even plush ones! They won’t wilt on the window sill. They don’t even need to be watered or fed. They will also in a way immortalize Penny and Bob because I named them that. Though I also think of them as me and my husband if we were hamsters *laugh*.

This little guy is adorable too. I immortalized Strawberry by giving him that name.

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It was a sweet Valentines. What bit of it we could enjoy during the uproar of little kids. And when the little ones went down for sleep I also had special time with my little live hamsters. Giving them all extra treats and attention.

Using what’s around the house.

When I was super new to Gerbils months ago I got a lot of great advice from people from a hamster forum (Other Pets section). One of which was sand baths. Just like hamsters, gerbils also like a good dig in the sand. Probably more so in fact. So, I finally got around to giving them one a few weeks ago. I started off with a little recycled paper carton but they kept chewing through of course. I didn’t want glass because the glass hitting the glass of the tank wasn’t going to be a nice sound and I worried something would crack. Finally, it hit me – I have a vintage metal rice pot that I procured from thrift and it has just sat on my counter with it’s snug fitting lid in the kitchen as a decorative piece. It has high sides to keep substrate from being kicked inside it but not so high the gerbils would have trouble hopping in and out! It was perfect of course sans lid. And I admire it more as a decorative piece inside their tank than on my kitchen counter.

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The great thing I discovered was that the gerbils (just like my hamsters) prefer to use it as their litter place. They dig a bit then poop and wee in there. So, I find I can do a clean in there regularly and replenish their sand and I feel as though it’s much cleaner for them now. Of course this is now possible because I do the burrowing box thing. A little less than half the tank is the very high box. The rest is low level of substrate with driftwood for them to climb about. The pot doesn’t get buried and lost forever under inches of substrate with this set up.

If only I could get a much larger tank for them sometime. Oh, how I would enjoy creating this amazing layout. Detolf hacks are great in theory for the length but they aren’t very tall. I haven’t ruled it out however. I’m continuing to brainstorm.

This reminds me of a Doctor Who episode that makes me cry

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You know – the one when the 10th Doctor and Rose are separated by the walls between the alternative universe? *sob*

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I have a male and a female Syrian. Bob and Penny are pictured above. The wall that thankfully separates them is the playpen divider. I am pressed for time so I really do have to have them both out on their separate sides simultaneously. I just can NEVER walk out of that room leaving them unsupervised or else one may eventually chew through or push up and under the cardboard or foam board divider portions. The last thing I need is a litter of hamster pups.

This usually is quite a peaceful and happy arrangement for us all. My hams are super busy free ranging. Doing their own thing. Being busy and curious…

But when miss Penny is in heat – oh my. This is how I might sometimes eventually find them. This Romeo and Juliet love. Destined to never be together. So sorry!

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(spot Bob!)

This is only one side of the space that Bob gets on his portion of the room. (Excuse the baby toys. I forgot them there from the other night when my baby wouldn’t sleep so he sat and played there while Bob meandered about him.) I simply open his cage door and he can hop out and do his thing. I have various litter pans set out. Bob is a very tidy ham. He poops 95 percent of the time in his pans and 100 percent wee. Penny however is a sloppy ham. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about urine on the carpet but poop …she isn’t particular … I’ll still be steam cleaning this space before I put my infant in here when he graduates from our room to his own. (Where will the hams go? I am not sure yet but they’ll be fine.)

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(spot Penny!)

This is one side of Penny’s area. Mostly what you don’t see of Bob and Penny’s other portions is open space underneath furniture like a dresser and a chaise lounge.

This use of the entire room for their pens is really great for free ranging. Once they are moved elsewhere in the near future I’ll have to set it up all the time for them instead of leaving it this way.

When we settle down my dream is to have my own office room. A room for my art and such but also for my hamsters. They can be my muses. But with cardboard and foam-board dividers you can set up a sizable pen anywhere for your rodents. But they are never a substitute for your vigilant eyes! They can figure out a way to escape eventually and it comes about very suddenly.

Where I Just Gush Again About Hamster Cages

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I’m afraid this post will be a babble outlet for myself -pretty much discussing my love of my commercial cages and bin cages. I found a good deal on a hammocks off Amazon. It’s the Zebra print fleece by Ware and they were just under 6 dollars a piece. I have Prime so they arrived in less than two days. I am impressed by them. They are large and could cover more area but plastic shelves are behind them so they are forming a little half tunnel across the front. It didn’t take long after putting them in that I peeked into the room and was surprised to see Penny just chilling out in the one to the left. She likes it as a lookout but also a poo flinging spot. Her little zen hammock.

The wood house is from Strawberry’s Tamburino Natura. It’s meant for Guinea Pigs but works well as a platform and a house for a big Syrian hamster. She has a sand bath (I use Aragonite Sand) and Swheat Scoop for her litter. A 12 inch wheel and a couple of pieces of small driftwood to climb on as well the bendy logs hideaway. Two shelves with multiple ledges that you cannot see behind the hammocks that lead to the shelves and a rat sized tube connecting her from one corner shelf to the other. And then a few more ledges that she can choose to exit the hammocks to get down if she doesn’t want to go back the way of the shelves. She seems to like to have multiple ways to exit everywhere.

I can’t say enough good about this cage. The only thing you have to be careful about is the height because hamsters aren’t the greatest climbers even though they can and will climb. They often are clumsy and take a misstep and fall. And you have to be mindful of it when you set up. With Penny – she is so all over the place there was a need for all these levels and hammocks and ledges. I even put dangle toys on the sides to discourage her from climbing those spots – not that it worked mind you.

 

I’ve also been refocusing on my bin cages. I have only two but have plans to make another to put on top of Snow’s bin to convert into a double-decker. This time I plan to connect them from bottom of one and lid of the other and with tubes. I don’t feel that Snow needs the extra space and I don’t think that Snow could climb up the tubes at this point in his life. I wouldn’t leave it connected once made. I just am thinking to the future. In the future I plan to have a Detolf hack for Robo’s. And a double-decker bin for a Chinese hamster. This bin! (Which I redecorated with new tape a friend pointed me in the direction of! It’s retro like – floral yellow on green).

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The great thing about bin cages is that not only are they a great personal accomplishment – you made a wonderful sized home for your hamster – tender loving care – but you can fashion it how you want it to look. With decorative tape or whatever you can come up with creatively to make it personalized and pleasing to your individual eye. I had been so unhappy with this bin because unlike this bin  I loved my first bin which has the Zebra tape – wouldn’t change that tape for the world. But didn’t want two just the same. I wanted another that was different. But I couldn’t find tape that looked right to me. Until THIS tape (I also changed out the multi-color thicker cable ties with yellow skinnier cable ties). And suddenly I have this beautiful bin for me and for my hammy. Snow doesn’t care about how it looks of course. But he does care about the wonderful amount of space he has in there. Bin cages don’t have to look ugly! They might possibly be your favorite.

As my friend (who pointed out the tape) said – she looks at bins everywhere and thinks – that would make a great cage for my hamster! It’s so true. Once you’ve made a bin cage you become addicted to the ideas of how to make another and another.

Penny – a little less Diva, a little more Maternal

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Penny is growing up! She is less a Diva suddenly. I suppose it’s been a little bit gradual but I really notice a change in her of late. Perhaps, getting into her full maturity as one of the few ladies in this house of mostly boys.

Often my infant – being an infant – is awake at late hours. Together we will sit in the hamster room – he with a toy and I keeping a sharp eye on him as well the delicate little fuzz butt running about the hamster play area. Penny is always very curious about the children. She likes to sniff them. Put her front paws upon them to look into their eyes. And even scent mark (rub against them like a cat does) to claim them as her own. She is not one to be held still by anyone but apparently my 3 year old.

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He often begs to hold one and for such a rough and tumble creature as my 3 year old son – he is very gentle with the hamsters. Although, as a young child I still keep an eye on the situation and never take for granted out delicate our little friends are. Or how unpredictable their actions could be (such as bolting and taking a plunge from a little human’s hands). But Penny, she has absolute trust within his grip and is often quite still for him. Only him. And seemingly quite at ease.

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I also learned recently she is actually a Long Haired Syrian and not Short Haired as was stated on her tank at the pet store. I noticed when I first picked her out she was fuzzy. I mentioned to the shop assistant that she didn’t seem short haired to me. He wasn’t so sure either but she was in the one marked as such and so she was rung up as SH and from there I just began to assume it was so. But lately as she gets older I’ve noticed her hair growing longer. Tufts are showing up all about her. And though she’ll never have the lovely mane like coat that Bob has (females only have fuzzy, fluffy coats but not luxuriously long strands like the males) she is certainly not smooth like the Short Hair I expected her to be. Which though I went into the shop wanting a SH specifically, I am not disappointed in my choice. She is lovely and sweet and I adore her.

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Unlike Bob she isn’t Satin. Satin describes a coat type. Satin coats are a recessive gene I believe and the coat is so silky and shiny that sometimes they appear slick. The hair is very fine and soft. Her hair instead is a little more coarse.

My favorite bit about her? Her eye ringlets. They give her a slight raccoon like appearance.

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I finally got the blue Wodent Wheel for Bob so now soaked and scrubbed and clean and good as new the Pink Wodent Wheel is now hers and inside her cage. She seems much more pleased with a wheel than she was the Flying Saucer.

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She really is calming down now. Becoming more trusting. More interested in her humans. And maternal like almost with the boys. She certainly takes much more interest in them than she ever has of me! She really has stolen our hearts!

Hamster Magazine

Some folks who belong to the same forum I frequent (for those interested it’s Hamster Central and I’m Strawberrysmom on there)  got together and worked tirelessly on creating a beautiful digital magazine about Hamsters. I was flattered to be asked to contribute a few photos of my tank set ups for an article. Issue one is now out: http://thehamstermag.webs.com/issues !

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I’m going to try my best to be more of a part of it. Very exciting!