Have a Very Hammy Christmas!

10525835_497258527083621_5104344919355137482_n

Bob is not doing well. He’s old and he’s losing strength in his legs. But he is such a survivor! He keeps on trucking. Keeps himself well groomed despite it all. And still drags about the cage (took the wheel out) doing activities very slowly. He is blind now I think. He’s still keeping that robust appetite. It’s pretty much a thing where I could expect to find him crossed over to Rainbow Bridge tomorrow or a couple months from now but I cannot imagine it will be much longer. I just hope it won’t be before Christmas if it has to be soon. He’s my heart ham. I just cannot imagine him gone.

Weeks ago Patch passed. I have yet to do his memorial post. I just couldn’t do another one at the time. I’ve been going through some other personal things and that on top of it was just not priority since it seemed just another somber thing to tack to the life list. I will in time post one for him. Just not right now. He did, however, pass peacefully from his old age. He was curled up as if sleeping.

Gabriel and Bob have a very spoiled Christmas this year. Wicker balls, hay tunnels, Foraging and Sun Salads, Millet Spray and Fox Millet. And Wheat Grass which I just set up and put by the window so it will begin to grow!

I went ahead and gave Bob a couple of his presents – the wicker ball and the hay tunnel. I wanted him to enjoy them now just in case.

Because Bob has been slowing down drastically I’ve been giving him much more fruit and vegetables than normal to ensure his hydration. He gets greens everyday. Either fresh uncooked collards, kale, mustard greens, parsley, cilantro, baby spinach, turnip greens, brussel sprout, or broccoli. A carrot as a non-green sometimes. And at a separate time of the day either a small slice of Strawberry, or Kiwi, or a cranberry, blueberry, or apple slice. And then I give him some sort of soft protein. A pinch of plain scrambled egg, or baked chicken usually. A portion of egg shell as well when I boil an egg. I’ve not resorted to baby food or anything yet since he has no issues with chewing. In fact he chews a lot more than ever before on his hay mat and wood bendy bridges and loo rolls because it’s one of the few activities he can still manage to busy himself.

Gabriel in his older age has become even less skittish. He still doesn’t appreciate being handled much. Clicks and does this vibrating thing when he is picked up. A Chinese Hamster sort of thing I imagine. But comes up plenty to beg for his veggie treats. Or he’ll run about his cage in a pattern. Through every tunnel and in and out of every shelter, across every bridge, up his drift wood and then back to his paws on the window of his Tamburino staring with those big mousy eyeballs at me. He is so adorable. I feel like he and I have this very strong mutual understanding and respect thing going on.

I cannot believe I am down to two hammys. Two rodents. I will have two more gerbils but I want to build a much better topper. Wood framed and much better meshing with a nice door and plexiglass shields around the bottom sides to prevent a mess. I am also interested in possibly using plexiglass and sealants and such to make my own “tank” for the bottom. A custom shape and size. Being that in American we cannot purchase a “gerbilarium” like they have overseas I will have to just improvise. It will be a fun project for the future!

Hope you all have Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!

I’ve been terrible at responding or keeping up with things here but I’ve just been a bit buried under issues. But hopefully this will turn around!

Advertisements

Roborovski’s get a cage makeover

I needed some serious cheering up in the hammy room. I go in there and someone is noticeably missing.

So I picked up from last night when I was interrupted from cleaning the bookcase cage for the Robos due to one being AWOL as discussed in the previous post. Ahem!

20131120-000354.jpg
I am glad Snow distracted me because last night I would have done humdrum. Tonight I did color. I gave them a toy and hide out change out too. So far they seem pretty impressed. Gave them a little excitement in their life.

Snow’s up close :

20131120-000439.jpg

And Patch’s:

20131120-000519.jpg

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.

penny chews pennys cage collage

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

bob toad stools bobs cage collage

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.

strawberry space pod sb cage collage

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.

snow sand

patch sand

robos cage

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!

gerbils posinggerbils cage collage

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!

Converting a Bookcase to Roborovski Cage

The Roborovskis get their bookshelf!

20130821-084252.jpg

As some may remember I found a bookcase style dollhouse out on someone’s trash curb for bulk pick up. I am big on recycling things so I snatch it up. The bottom portion I found to be unstable. There was a crack in the stilt. So I cut it down to just the two shelves and it proved to be quite sturdy.

My son didn’t care for it. I had hoped to make it into his Ninja Turtle lair/ sewer but he prefers the smaller shelf set up I made him for his Transformers so I decided to make use of this for the Roborovskis.

They are the tiniest of the hamster species and aren’t really great at climbing. DIY cages for Robos have a half partition usually for better visual as they most likely aren’t going to become super hams and fly over. So with that in mind I used the spare vinyl tiling I used to waterproof their floor to also make a portion. Also I used contact paper for the walls.

20130821-084754.jpg

The measurements are 38 inches in length and 13 inches in width. Pretty much perfect for Roborovskis. I do love my Robos but find they aren’t my type of hamster so after these guys I doubt I’d have more of this species. What I like about this bookcase cage is I can get different materials like acrylic sheets and mesh and vents and convert this to a Chinese hamster set up in the future. Or make the two shelves connect for a two floor cage.

I plan to do more for their set up inside. Not sure how long that will take me. It’s nothing fancy right now. But they seem pleased.

Here is a close up of Snow’s

20130821-085342.jpg

20130821-085352.jpg

And close up of Patch’s

20130821-085432.jpg

20130821-085438.jpg

20130821-085455.jpg

 

“It’s Just a Hamster …”

Bob when we brought him home as a young’un August 2012.

bob baby

bobbest pic

Bob last month, February 2013

I’ve had a very dark, hard week emotionally. So, this post is going to be one of those type of things where I’m tired, and weird, and need to let out something good even if it’s half-arsed. Just because this is a safe place where I can put it. You know – what my hamsters mean to me.

Tonight in the hamster/play room I watched Bob scurry about. He climbed Penny’s cage as she’s in heat and the antics of the two of them crack me up. I’m not sure if it stresses them out. By appearances they seem to be excited and pepped up. She goes mad around her cage marking things and does these dances and then attacks her hammock and then she’ll stand in heat stance waiting for the Romeo who isn’t going to get in her cage! I feel sorry for them. Bob who is all bothered and Penny who is waiting for the man who isn’t going to find a way to break in the Mamble! Bob makes his way down the cage and at the end he does a cartwheel onto a cushion I have beside her cage. And he’s absolutely fine. It was almost like slow motion and a very cushioned landing. But it was also completely intentional the clown! And I chuckled. And I scoop him up and kiss his head. And he’s so patient and still and sweet.

Penny when she was very young and we first brought her home, December 2012

image-1_zpsc4514a20

PENNY

Penny as of March 2013

People who will look at you and say or think to themselves silently – “It’s just a hamster!” – just have NO clue how delightful it is to be owned by a hamster. How much they can light up your life.

I’ve discussed with a fellow hamster friend – how hamsters are therapy pets. That with anxiety and depression sometimes there is nothing to look forward to. Oh, sure I have children and I would die a thousand deaths for them to be safe if that is what it took. I adore and love them. But they are my children. My little independent humans. They can try  my patience. One of them is old enough to talk back and press my limits. At the end of the day he is an individual and as much as I love him he can make me angry! And when I’m having a stressed out day he isn’t always going to cheer me up (and I will never expect him to). I do not look to my kids for happiness. A lot of my stress is from motherhood. I was the woman who didn’t want children but then suddenly I was nearing 30 and I did. Just like that. A switch. So, with prior anxiety issues (one of which is called Social Anxiety) which can get so overwhelming sometimes that I get depressed – and being moody in nature – having children at a time when I’m set in my ways and NEED a decent amount of alone time – really taxes me.

Snow as a new wee one, July 2012

snow snowll

Snow as of February 2013

A hamster in my life (make that 5) is like this sunshine. I come into the room and I will hold one for a moment and the simplicity and gentleness and comedy that is a hamster (as well each having different personalities) will make my blood pressure level and I feel this calm come over me. All they want is food, water, safe shelter, and some play time. They don’t want to argue. Or talk my ear off. They do not judge me. They do not question me. They are gosh darn CUTE. And so soft and fluffy.

They love their toys and I love getting and making them toys. I love prettifying their cages and cleaning them and setting them up and as mundane as it is I enjoy refilling their food bowls and water bottles (Not really keen on scooping out their litter pans but it can’t all be perfect).

I enjoy typing away on my computer – posting about them as I am now – while I hear Penny scratching something behind her cage or earlier when Bob was out – scratching at one of the 6 little sand boxes I have under all the furniture in the room. Watching one scurry across the room randomly.

Patch a newbie July 2012DSC_2218patchkk

Patch as of February 2012

Meanwhile the Roborovskis are awaking and are nibbling at their fresh food and beginning to do their somewhat stereotypical behavior (usually a term applied to gerbils but works with Robo’s as well IMO) and hopping on their saucers and having a go around and around. Strawberry is doing his strange run the wheel a few times then stop and peer out at me then back to the wheel to run a lap or two then to peer out at me again then back into his hideaway to not resurface until after 1am.

Strawberry our first hamster June 2012

photo(18) photo(33)

January or February 2012

I find a peace in this routine as well. It’s consistent. I know them. And that I am guaranteed peace when I go into that room with them. That I will feel better after a rough day. Or better even after a good day. And I will get a chuckle out of some antic.

I dread the day when they begin to leave me one by one. Right now they are all still reasonably young (as far as I know Strawberry too). But with fragile creatures like hamsters sometimes it can come without warning or obvious reason.

If I get into what the Gerbils do for my soul as well I’ll be typing all night.

I just felt compelled to write emotionally tonight. Something I don’t do all that often. People who think: “They are just hamsters” just don’t get it. And I wish they did. I wish there was more hamster lovers out there. More homes for those that need them. Better care for those who won’t just get them only as throwaway pets for their children. Who knows, a hamster may save someone’s life one day. Just their gentle, non-judgemental and non-invasive presence can be everything to a lonely person. Their ease of care and few demands may be the only pet a busy person can even imagine.

Have a night with a screaming, sick infant? I have them. A night where I just cannot make the time to play with my hamsters? They aren’t dogs who need that walk. That HAVE to have that walk. Or have to be let outside to wee. They aren’t going to take it personal if you don’t play with them that night (like cats lol).

They are wonderful, wonderful pets. Give them the best you can and they will give it back to you tenfold. I promise.

Updates & Hammy Hauls

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!

hammock

And a wooden and rope ladder and Coconut hideout (different than Bob’s but just as cool) from Doctor Foster and Smith.

coconutladders

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!

Split Cage Method

So I have hated having my Robo hams separated. They have been separated since late August when the fighting got dangerous. I was naive and did major no-no’s with a Robo cage. You shouldn’t have levels/platforms and there must be 2 of everything and a house if you risk using one at all should have multiple openings. Well, I did opposite of all that having had no idea and I feel I might have more success this time.

So I set up a split-cage using the 110qt bin cage and left over play pen fencing and so far it has gone well. But I feel the one who was bullied the most (Snow) is the one most interested in his brother while the bully (Patch) is seemingly the least interested. So it all rests on Patch and how he takes to his brother again.

20121201-203323.jpg

20121201-203353.jpg

I will leave them this way for a week or two and in that time I swap sides so they get used to each others scents as their own so this will heighten the chances of a smooth reintroduction. Wish us luck!!