Snow is at Peace

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 I found Snow curled up by his Flying Saucer. Seemingly peaceful. I hope so at least.

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Back in July 2012 I kept hearing about these “robos” on the hamster forums and elsewhere on the net during my searches to better educate myself on dwarf hamsters. I had Strawberry, my hybrid campbells dwarf but I began looking into Roborovskis and just knew I had to get a pair.

I went into Petsmart hoping to get lucky. They rarely had Robo’s there but that day I went in they had one in the front and two in the back. The two in the back had just come in and were so tiny I just could not believe my eyes. Two white boys and the only distinguishing mark between the two of them was Patch’s greyish brown patch on top of his head. I named the other Snow because he looked like a snow ball.

For the month they lived together in a 20 gallon tank they were hilarious. I loved watching their antics. They were so fast and so funny to me and so adorable. I didn’t bother forcing training on them. They truly preferred to be left alone. In my research I knew to expect them to be the species you watch but don’t touch. However, I didn’t research enough apparently. I did everything wrong. I had levels and I did not have two of everything. Eventually, Patch nearly killed Snow. I had to separate them.

Snow, my laid back Robo just crawled into my heart. Not that I didn’t love Patch for his personality but Snow continued to become more tame while Patch never has. And that i okay but there is a sense of closeness you develop when you can hold them. Snow, at he got older and older became more and more tame. To the point where I could hold him and he’d not try to run at all.

He gave me a scare when he somehow escaped his bookcase cage. But the bucket tick worked beautifully and swiftly and I got him caught in mere minutes!

He was a beautiful, beautiful, adorable, sweet, and gentle little hamster. His chip his brother put in his ear forever gave him that veteran look.

The last few months he and Patch had slowed down so much. Happy and still eating and drinking and exercising and always expecting a treat! A yogie or a piece of fruit or their favorites spinach. Snow, particularly had a thing for baked chicken. Whenever I baked a chicken I was sure to give him a tiny bite. As pictured in the collage (where he is in the yellow tube) he is munching euphorically on a bite of chicken. Of all my hams he was the most carnivorous.

Rest in peace little snow boo. You lived to be months over 2 years. A good life. Thank you for being in mine.

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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!

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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 :

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And Patch’s:

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How to catch a loose Hamster or Gerbil!

I was cleaning cages late last and realized once I got to the bookcase cages that Snow, my Roborovski had managed to push a toy against the partition and escape again! He either had just gotten loose that evening or the late night before. So I began to do a check in obvious places. Found tiny poop trails. Knew he was most likely camped out in the hamster room as that is where he smells all familiarity. By now he must be hungry and thirsty.

I heard many a time about the bucket trick and wow does it work!

I used a little plastic trash can that I had just bought from the Dollar store and hadn’t even used yet. I propped it high on my 1 year olds boot. Then placed one of their ramps against it. Placed a toy of his beside the ramp as I knew his own scent would draw him near if the scent of fresh food and treats inside the can didn’t.

I felt confident even though I never have had to do this before (always find my lost hams quickly). So I snapped a photo of my trap just for this purpose of posting and helping others who may be in this situation one day.

There was no point cleaning the rest of the cages when I had a hamster to catch and so I had turned off the light in the room and left. I curled up in my bed with a good book. Took less than 5 minutes. I could hear a slight “shroooooomp” sound and then a loud nibbling being amplified by the walls of a cylinder can. I knew immediately.

I grabbed my phone to snap the triumphant photo and headed right across the hall and of course!

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Boy was he a happy camper to be back in his home. As punishment I have removed all his escape tools. And pressed other toys to the very back of the cage. He doesn’t seem to care that some of his toys are gone. He burrowed tunnels in his bedding, ate, and drank for a half hour after I put him back.

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.

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.

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patch sand

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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!

Converting a Bookcase to Roborovski Cage

The Roborovskis get their bookshelf!

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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.

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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

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And close up of Patch’s

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The Good and the Bad of a Major Toy Haul

Well, I have nothing but good to say about the actual store Bobby’s Bunny Boutique. Great customer service and communication. For a voyage from Canada to Maryland it was pretty fast shipping. And to be extra sweet they threw in a bag of treats for my critters! Which I have to say they absolutely LOVE.

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Bob enjoying his treat from Bobby’s Bunny Boutique. Continue reading

“It’s Just a Hamster …”

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.