Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Introducing my family - part 3

Hamsters

Cookie

Black eyed cream Syrian hamster youngster
Cookie the Syrian Hamster at six weeks old
Cookie is our first male pet. I don't know why I've always steered away from male animals, maybe it being 'humped' by a friend's black Labrador puppy as a teenager has mentally scarred me!

When Twinkle passed away, her empty cage made me so sad. She had been such an amazing little character and I missed her dreadfully.

We took a trip to Pets at Home on the way home from work (this is becoming a habit isn't it!), checked the Adoption section first, but there were no hamsters there. So we went round to the babies (via the guinea pigs, because...well it's me isn't it), and there was a cage of  four or five baby black eyed cream short coated Syrian hamsters. My first hamster, Biscuit, was a black eyed cream and looking at the babies took me right back to my teens.

I thought I had spotted the one I wanted, but when the assistant came and opened the cage, a much smaller little face popped up out of a pile of bedding. It was Cookie.

He settled in very quickly and loves climbing, so I bought him a Boredom Breaker Activity Assault Course from Viovet. I hide treats in different positions all over it, and it makes him use his nose to find them. he's ever so clever.

adult male black eyed cream Syrian hamster
Cookie the Syrian hamster and his tea
He does this adorable thing where he pops his head up through a hole in the platform, and looks just like Basil the rat from Fawlty Towers when he's in the biscuit tin :D

We also call him our Zombie, because he has very long front paws, and sometimes his brain stops (not literally) and he sits very still on his back legs with his long front paws dangling in front of his chest. He looks like he's straight out of a zombie film!

His new favourite treat is meal worms. I have dried ones which I feed to him; he doesn't instantly pouch them, but sits there happily crunching on one until it's all gone.

He's much sleepier than any of the female hamsters I've had before,  that's quite a common trait, and although he has a good appetite he's remained very small. Male hamsters are generally smaller than females, but thinking back to how dinky he was when we first saw him, he was possibly the runt of the litter and is naturally smaller because of this.

Sophie

Black banded female Syrian hamster
Sophie the Syrian hamster on
Boredom Breaker Assault Course
We needed some guinea pig food, so popped into Pets at Home on the way home from work (I definitely have a problem).

We picked up the nuggets and went to look at the Adoption section. We were just looking, we had no empty cages at home waiting for a new resident, so we felt quite happy and confident that we were just window shopping.

We looked at the rabbits, the gerbils, rats (no piggies this time - phew)...and there was Sophie (called Kiwi at the time) in one of the upper cages. She was a black banded Syrian hamster with the beginnings of a long coat on her hips. She was sitting at the front of the glass washing, and when I spoke to her and rubbed my fingertip on the glass she responded by pushing her forehead against the pane under my finger, just like cats do. 

Gulp!

She wombled off and I commented to MrPB that she had a little scab on her nose. I pointed at her and she wombled back over, rubbing her head against my finger through the glass again.

Double gulp!

I was lead quickly away to look at the baby rabbits and guinea pigs, but she was calling to me. We bumped into a colleague who joked that we didn't need any rabbits in our menagerie, and I said "No, but look at this little sweetheart" and lead her over to the hamster who repeated her head rubbing trick again. My colleague wandered off and MrPB came over.

The usual questions were asked by MrPB; where would we put her, what would we do about a cage etc etc, and before we knew it, Sophie was being boxed up by an assistant and we were taking her and a new Savic Ruffy 2 Rat cage plus a bowl and water bottle to the checkout. She was in the adoption section because of the scab on her nose, she had been removed from the rest of the litter to allow it to heal.

Female Black banded long haired Syrian hamster
Sophie the Syrian hamster and her fluffy tummy
The moment she was boxed Sophie started scrabbling to get out and making a dreadful pipping noise. our mild mannered sweet little friend did not like being in a dark box! The assistant suggested we transferred her straight into the cage as soon as we got out to the car. We emptied a small bag of Back to Nature small animal paper bedding into the bottom of the cage, secured the top onto the base, put her box in and let her out. She immediately calmed down, stopped making her angry noises and started exploring. Once we started driving she climbed up the bars to watch where we were going (hamsters are short sighted and so this is impossible, but it looked adorable!).

MrPB added wooden platforms for Sophie, and as she was definitely a climber (but with terrible descending skills) I purchased another Activity Assault course for her and a ladder which we have secured with chains to make a bridge. As she grows she is getting better at climbing and slightly better at descending, but she is still a really sociable little girl and always comes over to 'talk' to you. The best bit is that when she climbs her bars, you can stroke her gorgeously soft, fluffy tummy. Oh my goodness, it's amazing!

"Pip" and "Diggy"

I've hankered after Roborovski Dwarf hamsters for  almost two years. When we got Minky our Russian Dwarf hamster, I bought the Dwarf Hamsters book by Pet Friendly. I had never heard of Roborovski hamsters (aka Robos) before I opened that book, but I then began researching them on Youtube and the internet at large.

After Minky passed away, we decided that we would try to get two Robos. Her old Savic plastic cage would be perfect for such small escape artists as there are no side bars for them to squeeze through, only an opening grille set into the clear plastic upper section.

Agouti Roborovski hamster
Diggy the Roborovski hamster
At Pets at Home they had a cage with 3 baby Robos and a cage with one on it's own. All were gorgeous. We knew we wanted two, but it seemed sad to split up the three leaving one behind, so we said to the assistant that we may have all of them.

A friend had warned me that Robos are 'like water' to handle, and he was not wrong! The first baby took a minute or two, but went into the box on its own, the first box closed and popped into a secondary box for security, and put to one side while the next one was caught. The second box went in and the assistant started trying to scoop the another baby into the box. It went in, the assistant filled with confidence lifted the box and tipped it so the opening was pointing upwards and this little furball flew out of the top like it had been shot from a canon!! It fell a couple of feet onto the shop floor and between us we got it back into the cage. the assistant told us he would have to get that one checked over by a vet, so he caught the other baby for us and we had to leave it at two after all.

Agouti Roborovski hamster
Pip the Roborovski hamster
The babies have been with us for just four days now, so they are still getting used to their new surroundings. They are much more sensitive to noise and light than the Syrian or Russian hamsters, and they are much more interested in burrowing! The Syrian and Russian Dwarfs tend to gather all their bedding up into a nest, leaving a flattened scattering as substrate. The Robos, like to dig, dig, dig! They burrow under the substrate, creating warrens of tunnels from one bit of cover to the next, and sending showers of paper flakes up into the air like a snowplow digging through a ten foot drift.

Roborovski hamsters move fast
Pip the Roborovski hamster - demonstration of speed
We don't know what sex they are...yet, and we haven't really come up with names either. One has more brown on it's face than the other and for some reason I want to call it Pip. MrPB calls them both Diggy, so I'm trying to encourage that to be the paler faced one. They are absolutely minute as you can see by the egg box Diggy is sitting under in the first photo.

Next time...The chickens






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