Happy Hammy Halloween & Etc

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My two favorite Holidays are Halloween and Christmas. I love love love those two holidays. So naturally you know how much I must adore “Nightmare before Christmas” … Ahem. I digress.

This year I had every intention of getting the special edition Carefresh “Candy Corn” bedding. But I slacked on it. And it’s all gone from the stores. One can order online but it’s too late! I am still going to troll the sites to see if it goes on sale online for super cheap to clearance it. Just to have it for next year. But otherwise, I’m S.O.L !

I did however get these super cute Halloween cookies on sale for the rodents. They are huge so I only got four and will break them up for all them to have a piece. But I wanted to take a couple photos of a couple hams with them. Bob and Penny during their time in the playpen tonight were more than happy to oblige.

photo(3)But I noticed that the special edition Christmas bedding is now out! And I am usually not one of those that starts thinking Christmas before Halloween or Thanksgiving – but I did not want to forget this time. Or for the stores to run out. The Christmas mix is not available online anywhere I could find. It was however in the local Petsmart. It’s so expensive – Carefresh bedding – so I only got the small bag and will use it as a topping over another bedding. This bedding will be the white Kaytee Clean and Cozy (like snow!). And then I ran by the Dollar Tree and picked up four small bags of this red crinkle paper that is used to decorate baskets (I guess).

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Also while at the Dollar Tree I picked up some containers for organizing the treats better. The original cute containers I have treats in – thought super cute and colorful – are too much a pain in the rear end to get open and shut. I often spill too much in the process.

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I’m really happy with the little jars with the white lids. I only got 3 as I only stock 3 lab block types. Mazuri, Kaytee Forti-Diet, and soon to receive Sunseed Critter Cubes. I want to try out the Harlan Teklad but they are just kind of pricy even in the small sample bag – due to shipping costs. So, I’ll hold off on that for now.

I’m also still using Carefresh Complete Menu with the addition of some more seeds to it – such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds and some freeze dried mealworms and rolled oats. I put the Carefresh Complete in the big container.

And the pour spout container has that “junk food” FM Browns Tropical Carnival in it for a sprinkle treat. I had a bag I got on accident awhile back. I kept it around and the expiration isn’t until next year.

The coffee scoops looked similar to what I saw on a video on youtube – used for a girl’s hamster food. She had cute clay figurines of hamsters she molded and attached. I want to try to do that myself with these two scoops. Totally ripping her off! But seriously. I’ll credit her when / if I do it.

The two pretty blue ceramic bowls were actually from Petsmart. I just need a couple more bowls for fresh vegetables to keep separate from the dry mixes.

 

Fixing the door to the Topper

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The mesh I used for my Gerbil Topper was the 1/4 inch grid. It’s not as strong as 1/2 inch. I didn’t use 1/2 as I didn’t want them to be able to get their muzzles through it and start chewing habits. However, due to the need for them not to slip through the door and sides of the entrance I use spring loaded hooks and the tightness was causing the mesh to begin bending. And the door was floppier as well. I just became unhappy with it and did not feel it was secure enough. I was always afraid the mesh would eventually break causing the hook latches to come attached and therefore come home to missing gerbils. Ugh. The thought horrifies me.

So, I bent a section of 1/2 mesh in half and put the hard plastic borders around it (Totally blanked on what those are called! – The red things around the frame) and attached it. It’s so sturdy that I only need two spring latches opposed to the four I needed with the other door. And the way I folded the piece makes it a little difficult for them to get their muzzles through. And even if they could this mesh is very strong so they couldn’t gnaw through it if that’s even possible or desirable for them to try to do. It looks cleaner to me. I’m pleased.

*Other additions – I took the two sides off the burrowing box and flipped over the little steps and turned it into just another shelf for them to climb on. In the middle is just free space with no walls. Only walls are on the sides facing and the back to stand it up.

Pen Pal Post

I have a friend who I met through hamster groups. She is from the UK and we were talking about hamsters. Duh! And what came up was our weird fascination with particular hamster chew toys. She had a thing for the cute wood cheese chews that we in the states have access to. And I told her how I was jealous of the wooden mushroom chews that they can get across the pond! Then it was obvious! We must get these items and ship them to each other! STAT! And we did!

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Can you stand the cuteness? (Well, if you LOVE mushrooms like I do of course!)

I just like how we are kindred spirits in that way! That we have weird fascinations with things like shaped wood chews! LOL

We are going to do this again! I just have to figure out what I want very much that is obviously not expensive and small and light enough not to cost an arm and leg for shipping! So, I guess that means asking for an Alaska or Alexander Cage or any of the Trixie toys is out of the question hmm?

October 2013 Cages of the Rodents of Hammy Happenings Tour!

Alrighty! October’s Cage Tours of all my rodent babies. And of course – pictures of my rodent babies! All of these pictures were taken today and tonight except the one of Bob. The picture I took of him tonight wasn’t so great. But I had taken the one I posted a few days or so ago and love it.

OKAY THEN! So!

Let’s start with Penny. Ladies First! She had been taking a nibble at her chews.

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Penny is in a Marchioro Kevin 82cm Cage. I purchased this cage for $119 at PetStore.com but it is also available at ThatPetPlace.com. It usually ranges between $119-$134. In the United States it’s one of the best sized cages you can get for any species of hamster but especially Syrian’s. It has 7mm bar spacing so ideal for as big as Syrians to as tiny as Mice and Chinese Hamsters.

Up Next! Bob having a moment beneath the toad stools

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Bob is in the Ware Luxury Rabbit Cage. It retails a bit over $100 bucks. I got mine used for $20. It has 1” bar spacing so it needs to be meshed for hamsters. This is an awesome cage. It has casters and opens from the top and a large front door. The tray slides out for easy cleaning and then slides back in. I wish I could find another just like this for Penny. The height is much less scary than the Mamble which I had her in before. It’s long and narrower so it takes up less space without sacrificing footprint.

Now Strawberry as he lounges in his space pod.

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Strawberry is my eldest hamster (I think!). He’s a hybrid Cambells/WW or “Russian” hamster. He has slowed down. Looks great. Healthy. Eating and such. But really not very active.  I have plenty for him to do now. And I love his “retirement” cage. A Grreat Choice Pet Home for Small Animals cage from Petsmart. It’s 24 inch long, 15 inch wide, 14 inch tall. Below the RSPCA guidelines for a dwarf hamster cage. It’s suitable for a retirement cage for a dwarf and honestly, it depends on the hamster. Strawberry has never liked large cages. I’ve tried. He has been really happy in here so far. I find it easier to interact with him and get him out and check on him in this too. And it’s easier to make a jungle gym for him in there. He loves to climb though I can tell he’s struggling with it nowadays. The high base is ACE for my little digger. He has epic tunnels going on around the entire cage.

 

Gabriel’s Turn! He likes to meditate and other business in his sand box.

gabriel sand gabriels cage collageMy Chinese hamster is also older. In fact he probably is older than Strawberry but I will never know. He is adopted with barely any known history. I’m his 3rd and final home! He is in the FOP Gabbia Tamburino Linera Natura – a hybrid of a tank and cage. I had hammocks and suspension ladder toys and the like going on in here and other cages I tried putting him in – he had no interest. Today I decided to leave the top grill off (the grid lid) because he cannot climb out. This gives me better view of him from above and I don’t have to meddle with lifting it up and putting it down (it’s loud because it needs a handle). Anyway, he prefers his environment low to the ground and with plenty of hideouts. He does like to climb driftwood and such. I go with a forest floor type of habitat for him.

Finally, for the hamsters –  the Roborovski’s Snow & Patch! Having their nightly sand bath.

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The Roborovski brothers were separated due to my ignorance. I began with them together when I brought both home from the shop. I had one wheel. Multiple platforms. One house. If you are to keep your robo’s social due keep in mind – no platforms. A home and toy for each. Two Robo’s = two wheels, two food bowls, two houses. Or some will say better to have no houses but instead numerous hide outs. By the time I realized my mistake it was too late. They were drawing blood. Snow reminds me of this whenever I see the sections taken from his ear by Patch’s past nips. So, I did a DIY cage out of a book shelf that a neighbor was throwing out. It was a dollhouse style bookshelf. I simply put vinyl tiles down for the floor. Contact paper along the walls. And made a partition that is removable for clean out. It’s also vinyl and is attached from the inside with heavy duty velcro. They cannot climb out. I forgot the measurements but it’s as long as Bob’s rabbit cage and a little narrower in width compared to his. It’s the most space they’ve ever had and it’s easy to clean and fun to and easy to watch them. They’ve never been happier!

Last but not least: My Gerbil’s Mercury and Lennon! Waiting patiently for their treat. They also give me kisses!

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My gerbils have sampled many a layout/aquarium. I had them originally in a tall 28 gallon. Then 20 long. Then a 110 qt Bin cage. And finally a 40 long. Then I DIY’d a topper to put on top. I change around their set up every time I clean out. I have large pieces of drift wood I trade out each time to keep it fresh. Various tunnels and bridges and such they bury down into the bedding. You can barely see the current drift wood I put in there. It was a smaller piece than usual. In the topper they have water bottles, a sand pot where they do all their business. A Gnawsome hut to chew on and they prefer to snack within with the treats I give them. The topper has 2 floors. Or two separate “lofts” where I put their food dish. Or just for a perch and look out. They are pretty spoiled methinks. They are worth it. My little daytime buddies!

And that is the October 2013 cage tour of the Rodent’s of Hammy Happenings!

Penny’s custom Hammocks and Cage Tour

So, as many of you have noticed I cannot get enough of Rittles N Bittles custom made quilted hammocks. Holly makes the most awesome, beautiful hammocks EVER. Seriously, wish I could afford for her to quilt me a queen sized comforter for my bed! Or my own quilted hammock to hang somewhere in the house. You have to also check out her PRECIOUS blog of her Rats and of her quilting projects and etc. Rittles and Bittles. GAH. I don’t know how I don’t have a mischief of Rats already in my home after following her blog for so long now.

Penny’s hammocks are a total honor for this little girl. As you all have come to see Penny is a wild and crazy girl. Sure, she’s slowing down and calmer with maturity. She’s a lady now. But no one will ever forget her youth. She was Lady Gaga of Syrian Hamsters! And so, she got her wild and crazy art deco like hammocks made. And they are amazing. In fact in person they are 10 times more beautiful and amazing. Sturdy! For my chewer – she made these thicker. There is fleece in the inside with the zebra fabric over it as an underside. This is something she doesn’t normally do but since Penny has a thing about fleece and digging (and I mean She really loves to dig the heck out of fleece) Holly came up with this idea. And so far she hasn’t been gnawing, digging, roughing up the hammocks at all. Not like those cheap hammocks I was getting from Amazon and such before. I’ve checked in on her already several times tonight and she’s always found on one of her two hammocks.

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I could flip the hammocks over and use just straight zebra pattern if I wanted. It’s tempting as I love zebra. But I just love the crazy pattern too much. The zebra underside is very noticeable as I have her cage on a shelf that is to my chest height. When I walk into the room I catch the underside of the hammocks with my eye.

Penny when she first checked out the hammock and gave her seal of approval by stretching comfortably within it.

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And an updated tour of her cage set up.  The log thing is an edible log from Walmart. It is a stool for her to get into her sand box (icecream container) and also she can go underneath it like a tunnel. Her igloo house is in the back corner behind the platforms.

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Can you find Penny in this picture below? She has two wooden platforms that are covered in contact paper. A Wodent Wheel and Flying Saucer both 12 ”. A hanging plastic tube and Space Pod (Sputnik in the UK) her two quilted hammocks, her woven grass hammock, And her wooden 3 tiered hearts platform I made her.

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And I have a few dangling toys. One of which isn’t pictured as I just put it in tonight. It’s the woodies flower garland that was in the Gerbil’s cage. They never bothered to play with it or chew it so it’s in Penny’s for her to play and chew or at least look cute hanging in there since they are pink and purple flowers. Matches.

Strawberry’s Retirement Cage.

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Strawberry is in his “retirement” cage. Yup. Disturbing him daily to be sure he hasn’t died and having to deal with all his jungle gym equipment dangling from his bin cage lid was driving me nuts. He isn’t coming out at night. He IS coming out during the day more. I know he’s barely active at night because I have had a lot of opportunity at night at all hours to check on him. I have a teething 1 year old. Enough said. I am not getting much sleep.

I was having to go upstairs during the day and in the middle of the night go in the hammy room – lift up the lid. Lift up his house. And make sure he was alive as I otherwise wasn’t seeing him. The bin cage isn’t very great for visibility either.

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I got him a 24” long, 12” wide, 14” tall Grreat Choice cage from Petsmart. SUPER deep base. Which I will be adding much more substrate too. I dumped in there what I had left of the Kaytee Cozy stuff. I need to wait to get my hubby’s help to take the crinkle bedding storage bin down from a high shelf and once I do I will put that in to deepen it.

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And I have to tell you – I actually love this cage. It’s so simple. Yet sturdy. And with the multitude of stuff I have to put in it from collecting…I am pleased. I have to recommend this cage for people with lazy dwarfs. Not Chinese or Roborovskis as they are too small and could possibly squeeze through the half inch bar spacing. Baby Russian dwarfs are a no no. But for a full grown, older, lazy dwarf I cannot see how he could slip out. I did have to bend a couple bars back that were slightly bent to be too wide. Easy enough to squeeze them back in shape. The door area where it presses in to “lock” will widen the bars a bit over a half inch but I screwed in an edible branch perch thing in there which blocks the gap made when the door is pushed in. I mean, with a bit of ingenuity you can adjust it to be escape proof for an adult dwarf.

This cage is marketed for rats. Yuck. You have to be kidding me. It’s WAY too tiny for even a single Rat. I’d not put a Syrian hamster in this other than for travel or a hospital cage. Even if the bar spacing was 7mm I’d not put mice or Roborovskis in this. Roborovskis are super active. They need the same if not more space as a Syrian from my experience. I don’t have really great experience with Russian dwarfs. “Hybrids”. I just have Strawberry and he’s always been lazy, antisocial, and moody. He has never been very active and now that he’s getting feeble lately he’s hardly ever surfacing from his house but to eat and drink. He’s gotten clumsy too. I noted that when I did see him out once in his hammock. He fell from it …on purpose seemingly. Scared me.

So far he has taken to this cage well. He has made it his with his manic rushing around over everything in there. I have him downstairs now so we can see him more since he is more day time lately than night time. He is coming out a lot more and climbing around. He *SEEMS* quite content. He’s most definitely not unhappy. He seems to be feistier than he has been for so long.

I loved the bin cages but I must be losing my mind because suddenly I am tired of them. I am throwing out the double decker I made Penny. I’ve been cleaning out the house to get ready for our moving in the spring. It’s a slow process of sorting and giving away and tossing away. I am minimizing our STUFF.

And I just feel like tossing the bins to the curb. I got really turned off when Penny’s bin was overwhelmingly stinky from the lack of ventilation. I’ve never had that problem with a singular bin cage with plenty of ventilation meshed windows. But still – the issue with a good working door in the front and having to lift from the top to reach down in – that was one of the main reasons I hated Tanks. I don’t like reaching down. I also didn’t like the lack of ability to hang and connect stuff. I much prefer a lot of bars to hang things and connect things.

And I just have to downsize. Strawberry is old now. He’s got to be 2 years old. I’ve had him a year and a half and he was not a baby when I brought him home. I wasn’t given his true story but he was full grown when they pushed him on me. He looks old. Is acting old. (So is Gabriel but I know he’s older too due to me being his 3rd owner). I’m pretty content with having him in a “retirement” cage. Especially, now that I have easier access to him inside. I can fit him downstairs to be among us more often so he’ll get more attention.

If only they made this same cage but bigger. They DO but it’s a rabbit cage and the bar spacing is inch spacing. If they could make a rabbit sized one with this half inch bar spacing this brand Grreat Choice would be on the top list for USA Hamster owners because it’s such a sturdy well made SIMPLE cage. The door could shut better. But that is really minor to me. This was on the inexpensive side for a cage and for its size.

I put a shelf in there that came with the Kevin 82. It connects to tubes so he has his tubes back which he loves – you can’t see them from the bottom but they connect to the shelf from below and he comes out of the curved periscope like tube at the top. I put his Silent Spinner in there which he was strangely excited to have back. He liked his Wodent Wheel and his Flying Saucer as well but both took up too much room. Under the shelf is his sand bath and a loo roll. And in the other corner of the cage his igloo and wooden bridge and wooden tunnel. That bendy bridge I made connects him from the floor to the shelf. Also helps him climb out of the front door when I open it. His hanging coconut, food dish, chews, and SS is on the shelf. His hammock and hanging wooden suspension ladder is dangling from the other side.

I’ll take better pictures later. I took these tonight in the dim lighting with my cell phone. I wished I had thought to take pictures earlier today when he was running around everything.

In closing – this cage doesn’t meet minimum requirements for space for a Dwarf according to the RSPCA guidelines which most of us knowledgeable USA hamster people follow as our law. I wouldn’t recommend going below the minimum for a young, active Dwarf hamster. It’s half inch bar spacing which is not safe for a Chinese or Roborovski or baby Russian dwarf hamster. They can slip through if they are determined. For a lazy, old, adult size dwarf – just be sure all the bars are not bent wider than they should be. I cannot even fathom how Strawberry could fit through these bars.

Grreat Choice – I’ll be contacting you guys with some suggestions. You guys make a great cage but please consider making them longer as you do the rabbit cages but with the same or even smaller bar spacing as this one! For a retirement home for my dwarf  I feel this cage is ace. But it could have been a few inches longer to make a more affordable yet suitable sized hamster cage.

Hamsters Versus Rats.

Yesterday, on a local pets group that I follow on Facebook, someone asked: “Rats or Hamsters?” She acknowledged they were completely different pets but that she would like to hear opinions on which makes a better pet.

Now, I think we hamster people (And I’m sure Rat people) will know what was unanimously the answer.

Rat was voted over 10 times. The only person who stuck up for Hamsters was yours truly. And the only person who “liked” my answer was the OP herself.

In my comment I took it as an opportunity to express why I felt hamsters were viewed less favorably to their larger “cousins”. For starters the tiny cages they are “supposed” to be put in limit the appeal that is the hamster. It limits their happiness therefore their personality. People are under the misguided notion that hamsters only need a wheel for enrichment. That they do not deserve or are intelligent enough to enjoy other toys. In fact hamsters do enjoy the same toys Rats do. Maybe with some not with the same gusto but definitely they appreciate climbing. Hammocks, tubes, and platforms.

I stated that given a decent sized cage one would be surprised by how entertaining and sweet these creatures can become. Comments against hamsters stated they were not affectionate. Not social. And pretty  much it was implied they are stupid.

Seriously, what the heck? I felt offended.

I think Rats are awesome! I completely understand that they are known to be highly intelligent and sociable and affectionate. But to favor Rats because of the belief that hamsters have none of those attributes is upsetting to me. What do they know? And what gave them that idea? Hamster ownership was so dismal to them? How come? What is it they did not do for their hamster’s health and happiness for it to hate them so much they formed a horrible opinion of them.

Because when I was a little girl my memory of my hamsters is quite fond. And this was in the 80s when we thought that a 10 gallon tank, a metal spoke wheel, pine shavings, a toilet paper tube and food and water was all they really needed for a good life. And even then I remember fondly playing for hours in the evening with my hamsters. On my bed usually where I could sit with them (I only had one hamster at a time) and cuddle when they tired. I had hamsters fall asleep on me they were so comfortable with me.

So even with the idea I have that they have negative views because they didn’t see hamsters at their fullest potential – due to tiny cramped cages with little enrichment – that doesn’t excuse their false idea they are not affectionate. Not cuddly.

Then it bothers me – the OP herself. Asking between rats and hamsters. Despite both being rodents and hamsters having admirable qualities like a rat as well – they are still distinctly different species. Pets. It’s not really fair to compare them. And if you are at a loss of which to pick I think it’s time to really do more research before choosing.

I feel like I should have not just made my answer in defense and education about hamsters to the masses but I also should have said “What are you looking for in a pet?”  I think Rats are going to need a lot more attention. Do you have the time for that? Hamsters need a good deal more attention than most people think (but probably not nearly as much as rats) and at later hours. Are you a night owl? Do you want a pet more laid back?

I just don’t appreciate it being some sort of contest of Rats versus hamsters. I think it’s unfair. Perhaps had the answers been more fair – that would be one thing.

Only a few of the answers people left were actually helpful. Such as mentioned that Rats need to be in at least pairs. And for the most parts hamsters were solitary. And needed to be alone. Though why that would be why one chose one or the other boggles me. I don’t know why I’d be less inclined to get a Syrian Hamster over a rat because one likes to have friends with them and the other likes to be a hermit. I wonder what that says about us when we are motivated by simply something like that. (Not being judgmental or critical there – I truly wonder what it says (positive or negative or neutral).

At this point I’m just babbling. We have our favorites. At this point I’d probably never get dwarf hamsters again. Only Syrians. I truly am more inclined to have Syrians and many of them. I also am very drawn to Gerbils. Which was much to my surprise as before I suddenly wanted a pair I hadn’t had much interest in them ever before.

Some people definitely prefer their Rats to any other rodents or pets in general. And I can understand why. I do understand Rats are much more intelligent. And if they are ANYTHING at all like mice (don’t hate me for comparing – please bear with me) then I can see how they are super affectionate. Mice are incredibly affectionate when they are fully trained. I should know. I had many of them in my teenage years and I loved everything about them but all the peeing haha) .

And to be clear – I wasn’t offended by people favoring Rats over hamsters if only they gave better reasons. But to dis hamsters in general for such ridiculous reasons! Well, if I view it in a positive light perhaps what I wrote was truly taken into consideration by even just ONE or maybe 10 people or more. Maybe people who read my comment had hamsters and will rethink the tiny cages they keep them in. Maybe…just maybe I made a positive difference for hamsters out there. Not in promoting them over rats (which I was in no way doing) but that I took the opportunity where it arose to educate a local community on how to make a hamster a happier and more affectionate and enjoyable pet.