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Issue 02 April 2013


Issue 02 April 2013

…to a Hamsterrific second issue!

A very good squeak to you all! Welcome to the second issue of The Hamster Mag. After our ham-tastic success with the first issue of The Hamster Mag, we’re back with more hamster antics for you all! In this issue of our beloved e-zine we’re throwing some more fun your way with our hammy quiz and Jenny’s snuggle sack tutorial, we’re also exploring Hamster dinner time, their well known Houdini tricks (Check those cage doors folks!) and getting to know the stories of some more nearest and dearest fuzzballs. We’ve rolled out the carefresh carpet for you in this issue, so put your feet up and enjoy your stay!


Issue 02 April 2013

Taming the Tail So you’ve just gotten your new hamster settled in. Now it’s time to make friends! Rhonda Stewart gives us the low down on the basics of hand-taming your Ham! On page 04 The Not-So-Great Escape It’s every pet owners worst nightmare; your furry friend flying the coop! Our featured escape artist Lucky, isn’t getting away that easily though! On page 07 It’s been a long time coming Pets can sometimes surprise us with their strength and determination. Stephanie Reesor’s Dwarf hybrid, Toothless does just that, over and over again! Read his story here. On page 10 The Hamster Quiz! Test your skills in the first Hamster quiz! On page 14 Ask the Expert! Our resident Hamster expert personally answers the queries you sent into us! On page 15 Jenny Sews Jenny’s back this issue with an easy-peasy hamstersqueesy tutorial on how to make a fleecy snuggle sack for your little furball! On page 16 Reviews and Recommendations! We’ve all had that though when shopping once; “Is this the best I can find?” Look no further! In this section we review and recommend the best bits for your Ham. On page 20

The Hamster Diaries This issue we’re putting up a tent to visit bubbly Bluebelle and her owner, Krissie Cope! On page 21 Guess who’s coming to Dinner? Expanding on Knotty’s article from issue 1, Stephanie Reesor chats to us about what snacks and treat are best for your little friend! On page 24 Health Corner Tumours are a surprisingly common issue with our Hammies, so glittergutterxx kindly volunteered to give us the scoop on the story of her hamster, Cheeto. On page 27 The Creative Corner Stories, poems, artwork, comics and other creative and crafty tidbits! You made it, so now we show it off! On page 31 Featured Article; Pet Shops VS Breeders! You’ve always been aware of breeders but sill got your Ham from a pet store, and wonder about the benefits. Worry not! GhostsInSnow is here to help you with a concise introduction. On page 32 The World According to Boo Issue 1’s Pumpkin has a buddy called Boo, who’s going to be our worldy hamster this issue, with Stephanie as his scribe of course. On page 34 Submissions? Do you want to write an article or have a photograph of your Hamster featured in The Hamster Mag? Find out how here! On page 36 Introducing… This is where can find details on The Hamster Mag staff and contributors. We offer hamster-sized cookies to all our contributors! On page 38


Issue 02 April 2013

I think we can all agree that there is nothing nicer than a tame hamster. A hamster that will come to you when called, will climb into your hand, will take treats off you, a hamster you can have a nice cuddle with. Taming a hamster can be easy or hard, it depends on the temperament of said hamster. I have had hamsters that seemed to be tame straight from the shop and others who never became fully tame. This article will give you tips to help you train your little one. Give them time. The biggest thing when taming a hamster is giving them time, you are as new to them as they are to you. Some hamsters are boisterous from the get go whereas others are very shy. There is of course inbetween. As a rule I give any new hamster at least 2 days (48 hours) to get used to their new environment. They will want to explore their cage, play with their toys and decide where they want their bed/eating area/toilet. A lot of people say older hamsters are harder to tame and while this is somewhat true this doesn’t mean they should be over looked, with a lot of time and a little patience even the oldest of hamsters can become friendly. Getting them used to your voice. This is a must in hamster taming. I find it helps a hell of a lot if you can get a hamster used to your voice. I use the “hamster cage explore time” to do this as shown below; I sit next to the cage and just simply talk to the hamster, if the hamster has a name I make sure I say it often, not only will they eventually get used to your voice, but also their name and later when you call their name you will find they will come to you. What you chat to your hamster about is entirely up to you! Getting them used to your smell. A hamster cannot see very well – especially in front of their face - so they will rely a lot on their sense of smell. This is one way (the other being voice) that they will identify you. There are two ways to get a hamster used to your smell; one is to let them smell you through the bars of their cage (but beware of biting hamsters), the second is to take a piece of kitchen roll (one without print is best) and carry it around in your pocket all day, at the end of the day place it in the hamsters cage. Your hamster will then do as he/she pleases with it, but it will have your smell on which will get the little one used to you. Both of the above things can be done during the couple of days the hamster is getting used to his/her surroundings. Associating you with food. Ever heard of the saying: don’t bite the hand that feeds you? Well, I really do think that hamsters understand this. From experience if I let a hamster see me fill their dish or put food in the food corner, it helps a lot. They look at you as the provider of food and, let’s face it, nobody wants to be aggressive to the person who’s feeding them. Feed them treats. Some hamsters will never take food off you. It’s just not in their nature. Others will love being hand fed. I had one hamster that would not pick up food, he had to be hand fed it when he was outside of his cage. There are two ways to offer food to a hamster; the first being to hold it in your fingers and wait for the hamster to come to you, the second is to have it in the palm of your hand. With the latter you may find that the 4

Issue 02 April 2013 hamster will even jump on to your hand and eat the treat. If your hamster is quite shy this section may take a while, but keep persevering; it will be worth it when they are literally eating out of your hand. Stroking while eating. Not all hamsters will like this, some prefer privacy when eating, but there are some who won't mind you having a cheeky little stroke. I find stroking a hamster while they are eating is the easiest because they are distracted by the tasty food they are having. Doing this will get them used to your touch and it will also get you used to stroking them, make sure you do this as gentle as possible. Stroke their sides or bum at first. Encouraging the hamster to come to you. This is the most time consuming part of hamster taming, it can also be the most frustrating, but going back to the first point in the article, giving them time is a must. Another must at this stage is clean hands. NEVER have either the smell of another hamster nor food on your hands (unless you want to find out what a hamsters bite feels like!) By this time the hamster should be pretty used to your smell and your voice, and said hamster should also be ready to want to come out of its cage and explore the outside world. There are three ways to get the hamster out of their cage: the two handed pick up, the one handed pick up and letting the hamster walk onto your hand. Picking them up. The two handed pick up - with the hamster facing you, scoop your hands under him/her. Do not lift the hamster more than 2 inches and never restrain it; if the hamster wants to walk off your hands let it. If it wants to move on your hand let it. Once the hamster has been on your hands for a couple of minutes, return it to its cage. The two handed pick up is great for children and those who are new to keeping hamsters. The one handed pick up - Once you are confident with the two handed pick up, you can try the one handed pick up. The hamsters head should be facing towards your wrist, and gently but firmly place your hand around its body, pick it up and place it on the palm of your other hand. Letting them walk onto your hand - A hamster will only do this if it really trusts you. Place your clean hand in the hamster cage palm up, and it’s just a simple matter of waiting. Hamsters are naturally curious so if there is a hand in its cage at the very least they will want to come and smell it (and see if it has food!) Exploring the surroundings. Hamsters by nature are curious creatures so there will come a time that the little one will want out of their cage and will want to explore, if you get to this stage and your hamster is still not fully tame then there are a couple of things you can do with them; one being the bath and the other being a play pen. 5

Issue 02 April 2013 The bath - in an empty, clean, dry bath, lay a towel down then get in with the hamster. You can even have toys in with you, the hamster can explore a new area and even explore you, and you will have the piece of mind that they can not fall and hurt themselves or escape. The playpen - you can pick these up on E-bay or Amazon or even shops like Pets at Home/Petco/Petsmart, they are sections of metal bars about 9 inches high which open out into a good sized play area for hamsters. You can either close the ends or sit yourself between the two ends, and you can add toys and treats, but you must watch hamsters at all times as from experience they will learn to climb the bars and when they do they will do it! Again it gives a hamster a new area to explore, and you have the piece of mind that they won’t hurt themselves or escape. The Do's and Don’ts of hamster taming Do - Give them time - Talk to them - Let them get used to your smell - Carry a piece of none printed kitchen roll around with you then put it in the hamsters cage - Let them see you putting in food - Feed them treats - Gently stroke them when they are eating - Let them come to you - Use their preferred pick-up technique if you/they are nervous - Let them explore the surroundings outside of their cage - Use the bath or play pen method - Wash hands before handling if you have the smell of food and/or another hamster

Don’t - Pick them up or stroke them when you have the smell of food and/or another hamster on your hands - Pick them up straight out of their nest, always wait until they come out - Make sudden movements or loud noises near their cage - Restrain them when using the two handed pick up method - Use the one handed pick up method until both you and the hamster are confident with each other

I hope this article helps you tame your little one into being the friendly little hamster you deserve!

Pictures by kind permission of Custard Hamstery


Issue 02 April 2013

This is my story of our hamster escaping, not once, but twice! Lucky is my daughter‘s hamster. He was nearly 9 weeks old when we got him and we really looked after him well; we got him two cages that connected together by tubes. I have always checked the tubes everyday make sure it is secure and they always held up! Until one early morning… I was about to go and wake my daughter up and as I walked across the room I noticed the cage tubes were undone and sliding down. I thought 'Oh my goodness, no!' When I checked Lucky was gone, nowhere to be seen. I had to put the tube back quietly because I didn’t want to frighten my daughter as she had school. 'I will look when I’ve taken the kids to school' I thought. I knew he would be asleep somewhere. After I took the kids to school, that was when I started to panic. I had looked everywhere in her room - under furniture, inside her bed drawers; you name it, I had looked there. The only place I thought of that he could have run to was the bathroom opposite my daughter’s room; there was a hole in the panel on the side of the bath. So I got a torch, took off the panel and looked underneath the bath. I couldn’t see him but I saw another hole in the wall, and quite a big hole at that – it connected all the bathroom taps. With nothing to do, I thought 'he might come out tonight... I hope' and got on with my day. When it was time to get my daughter Cara, I was afraid to tell her as she lost her first one last year in April, but I knew I had to; she wasn’t upset, just worried. But I told her not to worry, that Lucky would come out, and we’d be ready! I started researching online how to recapture a hamster. That first night I laid down some tin foil with flour on it in my daughter's room and on the landing. I wasn’t sure what room he’d gone to, but at least if he did come out I would see pawprints. I put one of his cage's down on the floor and made sure the cat and dog were both downstairs. (They aren't allowed upstairs anyway, but I double checked to make sure the living room door was shut, as our cat can be sneaky). I also put a trail of hamster mix down, a monkey nut, and I made a bucket trap where you put books beside a bucket to make a ramp. I put down some cucumber and peanut butter on crackers inside the bucket; trying to use all the tricks I had found on the internet. I don’t know how, but I managed to get to sleep. I got up in the night and saw the food trail had gone but he hadn’t gone into the bucket trap. Cheeky Lucky! When it was morning, I noticed he had taken the monkey nut all the way to the bathroom and left it just by the hole. He’d taken everything from the ramp but hadn’t gone inside! I thought 'you crafty little one!' But now at least I knew he was alive somewhere in the bathroom, so I shut the bathroom door for the time being. 7

Issue 02 April 2013 During the second night, I set up the traps again. I was talking to my partner and thinking 'What time is he going to come out and be sneaky? We won't be able to hear him!' I was upstairs with him at the time and suddenly he said 'Shhhhh I can hear him, he's scuttering around the bathroom!' I didn’t want to remove the panel again in case Lucky ran back, so I decided to leave him, knowing he would come out when it was all quiet. My partner had the idea of setting up a video camera on the landing to catch Lucky! I stood beside him while he was setting it up, when I noticed, on the floor right by the open bathroom door, that Lucky had come out! I was shocked, but I held my breath and whispered to my partner that he was there. My Other Half looked down and tried to reach him, but Lucky was too quick and ran back to the hole under the bath. Once again we decided to leave it as we knew Lucky was alive and well, and would come back! We got to the third night. 'This is it’ I thought. ‘I'm going to catch him, the naughty little boy, even if I have to stay up all night!' I set up traps again, but instead of the bucket trap, I turned a shoe box upside down and propped it up with a bit of cardboard, attaching string to the piece of cardboard to drop the shoe box and catch him. I put some apple and cucumber in the middle under the box and tested it a few times. After moving the food to the very end of the shoe box, I was ready! It was nearing 10pm so I went upstairs to wait for him. I lay down on the floor of my bedroom after turning off all the lights – except the toilet light – and peeked out of my door. I waited patiently and about ten minutes later there he was, right by the bathroom door! I lay very still and watched him; he was sniffing all around the landing and making his was to the shoebox! He stood up and looked around; he did see me but quickly carried on – straight under the shoebox for the food! When he reached them, I pulled the string, the shoebox fell and I reached for the cage, putting it on top of the shoebox. I was so relieved I’d caught him, but I wanted to get him back in his cage as soon as possible. I had trouble with the shoebox and had to rip it in order to pull it out, but luckily my daughter woke up. She saw what I was doing and helped me by talking to Lucky and helping me put the base of his cage back together. I thought 'yes, I did it!' But our story wasn’t over yet. I knew I had to clean Lucky’s cage but being so tired that night, I simply fed Lucky some cucumber and decided to do it the next day. I went back downstairs and about ten minutes later my daughter called me upstairs to show me that he had escaped again! I set up traps again that night but in the morning he hadn’t come for the food. During the second and third nights I left food behind the panel but he still didn’t come. I hoped he hadn’t gone into hibernation but stayed positive. We had our boiler fixed that week and we all had hot baths, so the room became much warmer. I put down a cracker with peanut butter on it and when I checked in the morning it was gone! The next night I found some old egg cups and, filled it with water and put food around it. He came again that night so I decided to stay up again to try and catch him. I removed the bath panel, but he didn’t come, I thought he was being clever! Friday night I had a bath then put just a few bits of hamster mix behind the panel before putting it back on. I put down the cage in the bathroom, spread some of his wood shavings around so he could smell it, and made another bucket trap before sitting in the bath with all but the landing light on. I watched the hole and ten minutes later, there he was! 8

Issue 02 April 2013 He sniffed around went up the ramp, but he took the food and went back into the hole. I got up and switched the light on, and quickly swapped the bucket trap for the shoe box trap as it had worked before. I made it with a food tray this time, set it up and turned off the light before getting back into the bath. After waiting again, staring at the hole, I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye – it was Lucky! He’d come out the other side of the panel! He kept walking along even though he saw me and I said 'hello little boy!' He stood up, sniffed and went down to his cage but didn’t go in! I put my hand down and he sniffed it but started to walk away, so I let him carry on. He sniffed up to the shoe box and got at the apple, so I pulled the string. The string got stuck so I quickly leaned over and pushed the shoebox down. This time it was easier getting him to the cage as I could see him. The next day I started to look for new cage and found one; the Alexander cage. I should have got it the first time he escaped as the tubes were probably loosened by his bar chewing.

Tips for capturing your escaped ham: Put a trail of food and see what room they’re coming from. Try leaving the cage on the floor; the hamster may come to get food and water, and may even run on their wheel! If you have carpet, put down tin foil and sprinkle some flour on it, if you don’t hear them scuttling, you will see paw prints. It’s also a good idea to lock any other pets you have away in another room if you can. You may also see droppings that can act as a breadcrumb trail. You need patience to find out where your hamster is coming from. Because I knew my hamster was coming from the bathroom I had to change tactics, as he stayed put because he knew he would be caught if he came out. Once you know what room then you can set up some traps. You can use the bucket trick (you make a ramp out of books which lead into the bucket,) but my hamster was way too clever to go in! He grabbed the food from the book and got away! I sat in the bathroom with all the lights off, and use the shoebox trap – propping a box up on something that’s tied to a string. It’s a good idea to use a see-through ‘lunchbox’ and use one of their favourite treats to encourage them to go for it. Wait patiently and as soon as they’re nibbling on the food, pull the string to trap them. Make surethat the tray doesn’t fall on your hamster by putting the food at the back or the middle. They can be okay alone for a while. If you’re worried about the cold you can leave your heating on or do things to improve the temperature of the room – keeping curtains and blinds closed and, in this case, taking long hot baths! You're going to need a lot of patience but don't give up hope! 9

Issue 02 April 2013

Every so often, an animal makes their way into a special place in your heart. A lot of the time, this animal was the last one you would have seen coming, but looking back, you can’t think of it working out any other way. This is what happened with Toothless, my first dwarf hybrid hamster. Of course, at the time I had no idea what a hybrid was, I just knew they were called Russian dwarfs. I had just moved out of a bad student housing situation and into an apartment on my own, so my other half thought it would be a good idea to bring a new friend into my life. At the time we had Sheldon, an amazing black Syrian hamster with the personality of a human being. He had me enthralled with hamsters, so I agreed. We saw an ad on a local classifieds website from a girl who had unfortunately ended up with more than sixty of these dwarf hamsters (the images of bad inbreeding had me half expecting hamsters without main body parts), but the reason we ultimately decided to go was because she had gotten so desperate she was giving them up as snake food… and I was not having that. So we showed up at this horrid split complex (ironically it would end up being the same complex that our rescue chinchilla would come from, just a different part of the building) in the sketchiest part of our city. It certainly didn’t help that it was January and pitch black with three feet of snow everywhere. Fortunately, my other half was just as determined as I was. We had read that they were to be kept in pairs (limited resources of the time), so we figured that it would not be difficult to find two siblings out of more than sixty. We were right, it wasn’t difficult at all. As soon as we got inside the area where all the cages were set up, these two brighteyed boys scurried over and that was that. It took us all of three minutes between the time we went inside and when we were leaving once again. We had Toothless and Hiccup. Toothless and Hiccup on their first day Due to how excited we were about our new friends, neither of us had any idea just how challenging these two dollops were going to be. 10

As the first few months passed, none of our dedicated taming attempts worked, they essentially wanted to be fed and left alone. I was of course disappointed, but I decided it was perhaps for the best, as I was certain they would develop some type of problems because of their backgrounds, and I figured that would keep me slightly more detached. I was so wrong.

Issue 02 April 2013 My favourite photo of them, winter 2011

Around six months after we adopted them, I came home from work to find Toothless absolutely covered in blood. It took me no time to figure out that there had been a massive falling out, and fortunately we had a spare cage ready for such an occasion. I always assumed that sad day would cement Toothless’ timid behaviour, as it appeared to permanently affect his brother. Hiccup stayed mean for some reason, we concluded it had to have been a stroke, as it was such a sudden change. However, Toothless had other ideas. While he was always timid after that, he started to not mind getting held while he ate treats, or sniffed around, and my heart just soared. Unfortunately for both of us, Toothless’ road of difficulties was only just beginning. It didn’t take us long to figure out that he had gone blind around the time he turned one. The cause is unknown, and it never slowed him down, but the timid behaviour was back tenfold. Not that I would blame him, but it was certainly difficult for us to adjust to each other and his new hardship, as the vets in our area had very little to offer, so it was very trial and error. Eventually he got used to my voice and would take treats from my hand but that was as far as he wanted to take it for the most part, and he looked to be losing steam fairly quickly, so we didn’t want to stress him, as we thought he was near his final days. Please note that this was in the early months of 2012.

Winter faded into spring, and Toothless started looking better, and I initially thought I was tricking myself, but as spring became summer, it was very obvious that he was a rejuvenated hamster. I thought maybe the breeding issues weren’t going to affect my little ones after all.

Toothless adjusted to his blindness like a warrior


Then one day I came home to find Hiccup forever asleep in the sleeping bag I’d made for him. Losing his brother for some reason strengthened the bond I had with Toothless, as he had somehow outlasted both his brother and my dear Sheldon, after always being the sickly underdog.

Issue 02 April 2013 Hiccup really was an individual his entire life

As we got ready to go back to university, I really didn’t imagine that I would be bringing him home with me ever again, as he was two, and I was more than happy with the time I had with him (or so I tried telling myself.)

Three words: Over. The. Moon. Last fall was a season of change for Toothless, his fur got beautiful again, he put some weight back on, and he was running on his wheel like I hadn’t seen him in ages. On top of that, he was letting me hold him for the first time since he had gone blind a year before, which essentially made all our hard work worthwhile. There was no doubt about it, Toothless was a champion in the smallest of packages, and I was learning more from him every day. I have learned now not to worry about Toothless until the day comes that he no longer wants his dog bone And then the night came when I thought it was goodbye. He had been completely fine all day…until he suddenly wasn’t. I got that horrible gut feeling that pet owners get when they think the worst is coming, and I was at a complete loss. He was barely breathing, not eating, and when he moved he was dragging himself. We got him baby food and I stayed up with him all night, needing him to know I was there when his time came. Except by no small miracle, that night wasn’t his night. He pulled through and in the morning I saw his tumours. There were three of them, and I just completely broke down. All I had hoped for with him was that he would go peacefully and painlessly, and I knew looking at him, that would never happen. We took him to the vet, who told us that while the tumours (and extremely likely strokes) would hinder his movements, there was no real reason to put him to rest yet. The vets one recommendation; remove his wheel as it would just take up space. So we did, and little by little, we watched him get better. The day came when I was cleaning out his tank, and without thinking, I put his wheel back in (two years with the same habit, it was like clockwork.) 12

Issue 02 April 2013

My miracle man

And the most amazing thing happened. He started walking on his wheel. Every day he went faster, and I was lucky enough to get another Christmas with him, and then another New Years. As if fate just enjoyed toying with him, on the two year anniversary of his arrival into my life, he showed signs of a respiratory infection, as well as another stroke. The same vet advised me to make him comfortable, as there was no point putting him on medication at this point in his life.

We put the heating pad under his tank, fed him his favourite baby food and yogurt, and hoped we had done our best. This happened on January 15th, 2013. It is now the end of February and Toothless has celebrated his third January with us. He is back to using his wheel full time, eating his precious dog bones and solid food (along with his baby food, as it’s his favourite,) and loving life. He is a constant reminder of just how wrong people can be when you have the willpower and the right people backing you up. Every single day I wake up to him coming to greet the sound of my voice and I am grateful. I had no intention of getting attached to him this way, as I originally just wanted to provide him and his brother with a safe home. Instead, he has taught me so many valuable lessons, and is the greatest motivation when I struggle with my Type 1 Diabetes, as he fought through every hardship and came out on top. Our wins are simple, but they are significant, because we are always going to be in each other’s corner. 13

Issue 02 April 2013

Test your knowledge! Do you think you are hamster savvy? Answer the questions, check the answers on page 37, add up your score and see how much you really know! Q1. Which of the following is not a species of hamster? a. Chinese b. Russian c. Polish Q2. Hamsters should not be fed..... a. Green vegetables b. Citrus fruits c. Fruits with seeds or pips

Q3. A banded hamster is..... a. A hamster with specific markings b. A hamster bought from a pet shop c. A hamster with long fur

Q4. Which one of the following is normal behaviour? a. Leaving food around the cage b. Screaming c. Going without water for several days Q5. A Syrian hamster's gestation period is....... a. 14 days b. 16 days c. 21 days

Q6. Which of the following insects do hamsters not eat? a. Mealworms b. Crickets c. Slugs

Q7. How many grams of food will a Syrian roughly eat a day? a. 10-12g b. 5-8g c. 15-20g Q8. The hamster with the longest tail is the....... a. Chinese b. Roborovski c. Campbell's

How did you do? 0 Oh dear! Might need to do some more research before getting that hammy! 1-3 You might need to brush up on your hamster knowledge a little! 4-5 Not bad! Just a few things to find out! 5-7 Nearly there! Well done! 8 All correct! Hammy expert!


Issue 02 April 2013

Our secret Hamster expert answers the questions you send! If you’ve a question you can’t find the answer to, or if everyone’s saying different things, worry not! Our hamster expert gives advice based on experience of what has really worked for people, so you know you are getting the right information. Q1. How much fresh fruit and veg can my hamster have? Can I give him one piece a day? A. One piece a day, even though a very small amount, is still too much for a hamster. Hamsters should have a maximum of three pieces a week, and these pieces should be about thumb-sized and have some variety. Giving more than this can cause wet tail, and tummy upsets. Be careful not to give them soggy fruit or veg too!

Q2. I see lots of hamster vitamin drops in the pet shops. Are they beneficial for my hamster? A. A hamster that already has a nice, balanced diet and a few bits of fresh fruit along with fresh water will not need vitamins or supplements. They won't add anything extra, so you should focus on giving your hamster a good diet, making sure there is no need for supplements. Though hamsters still need access to something hard to gnaw on, and sick or recovering hamsters may benefit from vitamins - just don't mix them with other medicines.

Q3. I got my daughter a hamster a few days ago. Now her sister wants one, is it ok to keep two together? A. It depends on what type of hamster your hamster is. Larger hamsters, called Syrian hamsters, also known has Teddy Bear hamsters, Panda hamsters, Golden hamsters, must be kept alone. If put with another, they will fight - most likely to the death. If your hamster is a dwarf hamster, they can be kept in pairs, but some still prefer to live alone. Generally speaking however, it’s not advised to keep two hamsters together unless they’re from the same litter, and even then, keeping a spare cage is essential in case you need to separate a fighting pair of hams! The best thing to do is get another with its own cage, eliminating the risk when you don't know what kind your hamster is.

Q4. I want to breed my hamsters, are there certain types to avoid? A. Two Satin hamsters must not be bred, nor must two hamsters with the 'White Bellied Gene' or hamsters with neurological disorders or kinked tails. Really, you need to do a lot of research before you even consider it. Get some up to date books, talk to hamster breeders near you and make sure you get reliable information. You need to be sure your hamsters do not suffer from any of these things, and you should know their backgrounds and that they come from a responsible breeder to rule out disorders.

Q5. My hamster has long nails! How do I clip them? A. To clip a hamsters nails, make sure you do not cut the 'quick' which is the blood vessel in their nail. Hamsters aren’t often fond of sitting still, so if you can manage to distract them – with a helping of food for instance – you may be able to try cutting their nails with a small pair of nail clippers or scissors. But it’s much easier to put an untreated brick or some stones in their cage that they can climb on. It will wear their nails down, free of charge, and it is a new climbing toy! To send a question to our resident expert, visit our website! 15

Issue 02 April 2013

This snuggle sack is very easy to make even if you’ve never sewn before! If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can successfully hand sew your Snuggle Sack using a small back stitch, instructions for which can be found online. As with any fabric items for your hamster, if your pet shows any sign of chewing it’s new snuggle sack, please remove immediately for health and safety reasons. What you’ll need: 30cm x 40cm Fleece Sewing supplies (needle, thread, pins) Scissors and of course, a Hamster!

1. Cut out a rectangle of fleece, 40cm x 30cm.

2. Fold in half from top to bottom, with the right sides (the sides you want on the outside) of the fabric together so you have a rectangle 20cmx 30cm. Use pins to secure the fabric. Sew along the longest side, one short end and halfway up the other short end.


Issue 02 April 2013

3. Snip across the corners diagonally, this helps with turning out.

4. Turn the fleece inside out and tuck in the open end so it’s neat.

5. Hand stitch the opening you left before closed. (I use a ladder stitch!)


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6. Tuck the hand stitched end inside so you’re doubling the fabric.

7. You’ve made a snuggle sack!

8. I like to fold the top over, this helps to hold the entrance open.


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9. Apply Hamster to gauge reaction.

10. Apply another Hamster; second opinions are always welcome!

For ready made hamster goodies, pop along to! 19

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Supreme's Hamster Food, known as Harry Hamster (UK) and Hazel Hamster (US and other places). Our product testing hamster Charlie has been fed on Harry Hamster and tells us what she thinks: "Officially the first and only food to be approved by the National Hamster Council, my Harry Hamster mix is much better than all the other pet shop mixes I have tried! While some mixes contain lots of foods that aren't particularly healthy for hams, are too high in sugar, or just don't have a good enough range of ingredients, Harry Hamster is a perfect mix for Syrians. It is a range of biscuits (made up of soybean meal, and extruded locust beans among other things), flaked peas, maize, heat, aalfa, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and soya flakes and oil. I much prefer it over other commercial mixes! I never leave any of it in my bowl! It has plenty of hard nuts and biscuits in it to help keep my teeth trim. I recommend it to my Syrian friends everywhere, but Dwarfies or hams with diabetes may want something with a little less sugar. Syrian Slaves everywhere, give this wonderful mix a try and see what your hammy thinks!" Where to buy: It is available in most pet shops, and you can visit to find your nearest retailer!

Hamsterlopaedia is the ultimate book. No reading a ton of conflicting books with answers and methods that don't match up, because Hamsterlopaedia is written by a qualified veterinarian (Kate Hovers) and experienced hamster keepers(Chris and Peter Logsdail). They give advice that is easy to follow and understand, yet explain things in a great deal of detail. It includes a complete A-Z of hamster ailments and illnesses, complete guide to hamster care, housing, and taming. It explains how to correctly breed all species of hamsters, as well as a whole chapter on foods and nutrition. Learn the anatomy and physiology of the hamster, and all about showing your hamster. You’ll never need to read another hamster care book again once you have Hamsterlopaedia (but you should continue reading The Hamster Mag!) There is no better informed owner than one with this amazing book. Where to buy: Hamsterlopaedia is unfortunately not available in many shops – it has recently been spotted in Pets at Home in the UK! - but is easily ordered off sites like Amazon (UK or US), cheaply off eBay and sites alike. In the UK, it is usually about £10, and in the US $30. Despite the prices, it is worth it! Next Issue we will be having a look at Twisty Nest, the swirly bedding for hamsters, along with the Silent Spinner wheel for hamsters! 20

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This issue, The Hamster Mag visits Krissie Cope and BlueBelle! MONDAY My evening usually starts with mummies BIG smiling face peering down at me snuggled up in my bedding! *sigh* I wish she would realise that ladies need their beauty sleep, although mummy does say I am already very beautiful so don’t really need it *blushes*! Mummy gently lifts me out of my cage, kisses my nose and speaks to me in a weird baby sort of language, she doesn't realise that I CAN understand everything she says... She then plonks me down in my playground and this is where the FUN starts! You see I only have 3 legs, I lost my front left paw due to being attacked by my sisters - that was VERY scary. But mummy adopted me and since then I have had such a lovely life. She made me a playground because she didn’t know if I’d be able to run round in a hamster ball properly, or if I’d struggle with it, she is the BEST mummy ever! Anyway... where was I? Oh yes, my playground; it’s filled with so many toys and mummy often changes them so I don’t get bored. My all time fave toy is my little ferris wheel that spins round and round when I run inside it- I can stay on that for aggggges! Then when I get sleepy I go into my little grass house for a bit and then mummy or daddy come and lifts me out and my nap continues cuddled up on them (they say that I am the only hamster that mummy’s had that does this, so I guess I am very special!)


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TUESDAY Today mummy put a sand bath in my playground...I LOVES IT! It makes my coat so soft and shiny! After my bath mummy sent me to the post box to post off some letters she had written to her pen-pals, I felt all grown up! Feeling very sleepy after going out to post mummy’s letters, so I am off to snuggle up in my bed! X WEDNESDAY Today mummy made me a very special treat! She does this every few weeks for me and my brothers and sisters, but because I am so small, mummy has to break the treats up into smaller pieces as sometimes they’re bigger than I am! After my yummy treat, mummy let me go for a spin in my brand new little jeep... WOW, it was sooooo fast, I had a great time... Feeling tired after all the excitement, so I will see you all tomorrow! THURSDAY Today I had a game of snooker with mummy (she bought a mini snooker table so we could play together)... Don’t tell anyone but I BEAT HER!!!!! Mummy is a VERY sore loser, she got her own back by taking a picture of me while I was having a wee-wee... How rude! Yes, I am toilet trained.


Issue 02 April 2013 FRIDAY Today we had a lazy day; we cuddled and mummy gave me some baby food off a spoon. I really enjoy the baby food, she says it’s only a “once in a while treat” because I am a bit porky! The cheek! After my lovely treat mummy told me I had to climb up a very TALL bridge to burn some little hammy calories! “I AM NOT FAT, I AM FLUFFY!"



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Everyone who has pets knows that dietary needs are one of the most important things for a healthy and happy life. Every pet has safe foods and dangerous foods; my Chinchilla, Merlin, for example. He is essentially the bubble baby of the pet world. He gets his pellets, hay, the occasional rosehip or plain cheerio, and that is essentially it. However, my Hamsters are a different story. A Syrian hamster’s diverse diet is one of the things which make them so much fun. I often buy my groceries with them in mind, so I can easily share my food. This article is to highlight some of my favourite experiences with hamster foods that weren’t designed specifically for hamsters. It will hopefully help you save a bit of money, and give your hamster the diverse diet that can make their life more interesting. Please keep in mind that not all hamsters like the same things, and these are from my experiences after consulting what was safe and going through lots of trial and error with my three fuzzy humans. Many of these treats are also safe for dwarf hamsters, but if your species of hamster is prone to diabetes, you must be aware of the ingredients. So, upon adopting Boo this past July, I learned that hamsters could have dog treats! This was news to me, and I was very intrigued. I soon learned that she absolutely loved the mini Milk Bones the best, as well as pieces of kibble which had no onions or spices in it. My dwarf loves his Milk Bones so much that he has one that he never eats, he just cuddles it, and then he has one that he chews on for days at a time. He’s a real ham.


Issue 02 April 2013 Moving forward to the fall, I discovered a new dog chew (newly available in Canada, that is,) called Paragon dog chews. These chews are available in different sizes and shapes, and I’ve found that thus far, the mini toothbrushes, the small alligator, and the medium hedgehogs have been the biggest hits. Each hamster gets one once every few weeks, because they do have a lot of sugar, but they are hard for them to destroy, so they take a lot of effort to ruin. One of the best ways to give them to your hamsters is by making it into a hanging toy, so it gets them working for a reward.

You needn’t stop at dog treats when you’re in your local pet store. There are also a variety of bird and even reptile foods which your pets will find very satisfying. The weirdest, but most successful, reptile food I have ever tried has been mealworms. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too, but if the idea of feeding live bugs to your pet creeps you out like it did me, they have freeze dried ones easily available!

I would recommend those by Flukers, as you can get them in a tall container with no liquid, so they won’t go mouldy as mine did the first time. (What’s worse than mealworms, you ask? Mealworms growing mould.) They gobble them up so quickly, and they’re high in protein which is great for your hamsters. My dwarf loves these treats as well. In the bird isle, millet is something that can’t really fail you. I give this stuff to my hamsters and Degu’s with great success. Be careful with the amount you give 25

Issue 02 April 2013 your Dwarfs because of fat content, but otherwise, this is a great treat. Out of my three Syrians, Boo likes it the most. The next stop is your refrigerator and pantry. Hamsters can be great inspirations to get you to eat healthier, or if you already do, you now have someone to share your food with. There are many fruits and vegetables hamsters can have and here are some of the ones I’ve had success with: beans, little carrots, banana, strawberry, cucumber, kernel of corn, and some sweet potato. Do not give your Hams citrus fruits! Another thing to be weary of is soft foods like banana, in case your hamster pouches it and has difficulty removing it later. The list grows all of the time, but thus far, these have been successful across the board. My hamsters also LOVE scrambled eggs, unsalted peanuts, plain cheerios, unsalted crackers, pasta, and bits of rice, plain porridge, cooked turkey, ham, chicken and unsweetened apple sauce. These foods are all given in very small portions, because even though their stomachs seem bottomless, they’re still little. The last thing I would recommend is baby food. I have a dwarf hamster who is over two and a half who essentially lives on it now, and you can imagine the stares I get at the grocery store every few days when I come in to buy one jar (I think they think I’m starving my child… If they only knew.) This means my other rascals get it as a treat. The brand I use is Heinz, and the favourites are very specific. They like the Chicken and Broth, sweet potato, and the banana; they seem a little picky about these. However, they devour the three favourite flavours. This list is something which is constantly changing, and evolving, but it will hopefully provide you with a few starter points if you aren’t sure where to begin. Happy snacking!


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Trichoblastomas are thin-tissue-layered tumours consisting mostly of small sacs of cells that can grow. They are benign tumours, with very rare occurrences of becoming malignant, which appear in hamsters and other animals. Appearance and Presentation • Elevated mass • May vary in size up to 5 centimeters in diameter • Overlying symptoms can include loss of fur and weight • May cause or appear to cause ulcers • Often consists of multiple ‘lumps’ • Well separated from surrounding tissue • May stand out due to colour • Can appear as a cyst

Treatment The only – and preferred - treatment is complete removal of the tumour from the surrounding tissue in order to prevent spreading and regeneration, as they can cause mobility problems depending on the location of the tumour. In small animals such as hamsters, removing some tumours can be very difficult or impossible due to their size, but this depends on the nature, location and the size of the tumour itself. Removing tumours is recommended before the tumour is allowed to spread too much and hamster parents are encouraged to monitor their hamsters for regeneration. My Princess Cheeto Over the past 6 months, my furry friend Cheeto has undergone 2 surgeries (1 on each paw) for trichoblastoma tumours. Cheeto is a (almost) 15 month old female, short-haired, ruby-eyed, dove tortoiseshell Syrian hamster. August 12, 2012- I noticed some discolouration on Cheeto’s right forepaw. Her third finger appeared to be slightly darker than the others. August 27, 2012- Discolouration turned into a visible, raised lump. August 28, 2012- Vet diagnosed Cheeto with a likely abscess. She was given oral antibiotics for the infection and Metacam for any possible discomfort. While the vet acknowledges it could be something else, she does not want to straight into draining it as it can be quite painful for my little one.


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September 4, 2012- After taking the medications for a week, there was little to no improvement in the appearance of the lump. Vet decided to perform a lancing on Cheeto’s finger. She was put under anesthesia and had her finger drained. The wound was cauterized to allow for further healing. She continued antibiotics and Metacam for a week. Over the next couple weeks, she appeared to improve. The lump seemed to get smaller and less discoloured. But those improvements were short-lived.

September 24, 2012- I sent a picture of what Cheeto’s finger looked like to my vet. Upon seeing that it looked much like it did in the weeks prior, she decided that surgery and biopsy are the best course of action to make sure we weren’t dealing with cancer.

October 3, 2012- Cheeto had a full excision of her lump with intention to biopsy. She was given oral pain medication and sent home with Metacam. She perked up very quickly after surgery, and despite the ugly appearance of her paw she seemed to be in no pain at all. She was given Metacam for 4 days post-surgery.


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October 4, 2012- The vet contacted me to tell me that Cheeto’s biopsy revealed a trichoblastoma. She explained to me that if there was any left on her paw, it may continue to regenerate. While it is usually benign, spreading needs to be contained to prevent further complications. She told me to keep an eye on my baby and let her know if there appeared to be any signs of the lump reappearing.

December 9 through December 16, 2012- I noticed what appeared to be the same type of lump on her left front paw, in almost the same location. This one appeared to be slightly higher on her hand though. I sent a picture of the lump to my vet, who agreed that it looked like another trichoblastoma. She told me to keep an eye on it, make sure it didn’t grow excessively, and that we would operate after Christmas.

December 27, 2012- Surgery performed on her left front paw to remove tumour. She did very well through the surgery and after a few days of Metacam, she was good as new… Again. 29

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January 5, 2013- She returned to the vet for a follow- up visit and was told her paw looked great. The vet told me she was able to get an even better chunk of that tumour removed than the first one. To this day, there has been no obvious regeneration of the tumours on either of Cheeto’s paws. I do wish we could have performed the surgery on the first paw sooner than we did and bypassed the meds and first painful procedure, but I am just happy to have her healthy and beautiful as ever. Both her paws look great and I look forward to many snuggles yet to come.


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Welcome to the Creative Corner where we feature the creative creations you send us! Hamster Poetry! My Baby Is small and fast My Baby Is as fragile as glass My Baby Has eyes so Black My Baby Uses her teeth to attack My Baby Has a tail so short My Baby Uses her cheeks to transport My Baby Is the best thing I ever had My Baby Bit my dad

Cream, dove, Gold, and many more Long haired, satin, and rex Solid, banded, and tortishell But, no matter what colour, pattern, or type you chose, Your hamster is always your furry friend forever Sent in by: Mermaid

Sent in by: Linford

And, Jeff has sent us in this fab mini comic strip he made himself! You can visit his blog at:

Got a drawing, poem, knitted hamster, or other creative creation you want to be here? Just email


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So you’ve got your cage set up nicely, full to the brim with as many toys as possible and enough treats to feed a small army of furries, and you’re finally ready for the last thing to complete your set-up: Your hamster! For most people the first place to go is the pet shop because after all, isn’t that where most people get their hamsters from? And how irresistible are those little balls of fluff, all squished up together in a big bundle of adorable hammie-ness? Surely the pet shop is the perfect place, with plenty of hamsters to choose from and, whilst you’re there, an opportunity to pick up any other bits you might have forgotten in the excitement of preparing for your new fluffy baby. But is it really the best place to get your hamster from? In this article I’ll outline the difference between Pet Shops and Breeders, and the pros and cons to each. As I said earlier, when you walk into a pet shop, it instantly seems the perfect place if you're wanting to get a hamster (or any other small furry) as you can usually get a cage, toys, food, bowls, bottles, treats and the hamster all in one go, and there is usually always a member of staff willing to help or offer advice. Another thing with pet shops is that there never seems to be a shortage of hamsters, and if there aren’t many or any in there one day, it is almost guaranteed that there will be more within a day or two. So where do these seemingly infinite hamster babies come from? If it’s a small family run pet shop then they may well breed their own hamsters or get them from reputable breeders in the area, but with the bigger chain pet shops, there is no way just local breeders would be able to keep up with the demand for hamsters. This is where rodent farms come into it. Many of the big pet shops will get their animals from rodent farms, such as Simons Rodents, who mass breed in order to supply the demand for lots of small furries at a time, but these aren’t like your local breeders and these hamsters aren’t bred for anything other than to make money and supply the demand. The hamsters you find in pet shops are just as worthy of love and attention as a hamster you would find in the house of a local breeder, but you may not be getting what you expect. 32

Issue 02 April 2013 When you go to a pet shop for a hamster, you expect to bring it home and it to be a picture of health and for it to live to that life expectancy age that is printed on the little card stuck to the tank. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. When hamsters are bred on mass rather than more thorough and carefully, you can get all sorts of complications ranging from health issues to defective genes. One of the most common issues is Diabetes in Dwarf hamster hybrids. All of these can impact on a hamster’s health and life expectancy, and can be the cause of early deaths in hamsters. Now, not all pet shop hamsters are prone to health problems and early death, I have a Syrian Hamster from Pets At Home myself who will be a year old in April and has had no health issues so far, but it really is a bit like a lottery when you pick your hamster out. Of course it all depends on what you’re looking for in a hamster and with some people there is a strong urge to “rescue” these animals from those tiny tanks but the sad reality is that there is always another hamster waiting in the back ready to take its place and this is what pet shops rely on. It’s important to consider whether you’d rather get your new furry friend from a store or a breeder, but the most important thing is picking the hamster that’s right for you, and loving it and caring for it as best as you can.


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Hello slaves and fellow hams! My friend Pumpkin and I have been talking, and we decided that even though they’re busy, a hamster’s word should be heard in every issue….so here I am, filling in for darling Pumpkin! You’re welcome. My name is Boo, and I am a fellow Syrian hamster. So, I live with my mum and five brothers and sisters in this place called….Ontario….Canada. It’s not as popular for ham slaves to be on this side of the pond, mum says, which doesn’t make any sense to me, because ponds are like, hamster oceans. Slaves shouldn’t have troubles crossing those. Anyways, because I am filling in, I wanted to talk about some of the things in my house. My brothers and sisters all have very different things (my brother Merlin is this weird squirrel-rabbit thing called a chinchilla and all his things are massive!), but I think mine are the coolest, and I’m going to tell you why. My mum says Syrians bums are not made for “hamster supplies”, so apparently you slaves need to be creative with our decorations, because we’re worth it. Obviously. Here is my house, my mum says it’s a big tank, and I think it’s cool. I want to talk to you about the “reptile supplies” she uses for me because I think you guys should use them too! This should be especially helpful to slaves in this country or the country below us, some place called the States where Mickey Mouse and movies live I think. I keep telling mum I want to go and she just keeps telling me “soon”…and now I am off topic. So, here are my accessories, which I am so kindly modeling for you, so you can see that we fit just right. These pieces are the fake logs that are hollowed out for climbing, exploring, and stashing important things in. (hamster hint: if you stash all your food, most mums are silly and feed you more because they think you’ve eaten it already! Silly slaves). Mum says that these accessories go well with my sleep house and help add to the natural theme of my house…whatever that’s supposed to mean.


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This is my “cork round”, which my grandmum gave me for Christmas! It’s just the bee’s knees! It’s good for my nails, and great for climbing! My mum said that it is always important to wash cork before giving it to us to make sure it is totally safe!

This is my half log, I’m still waiting for the other half, but it has been months now. This is also really great for my nails, so I don’t scratch mum every night! Together with my amazing Wodent Wheel and precious plum, these things make up my house, which is just the best! Mum says that most of these things can be found at chain pet stores, so you slaves should not have any trouble finding them.

With this, I am going back to bed. I hope Pumpkin is ready to do next month’s update, because I am truly exhausted.


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Do you want to write an article or have a photograph of your Hamster featured in The Hamster Mag? Find out how here! The Hamster Mag staff are looking for volunteers to write articles! How-to and DIY articles, health and physiology articles, diary-style articles, short stories, informative articles that cover topics such as hamster cages, food and accessories and many more! We are also looking for high-quality images of hamsters to feature in future The Hamster Mag issues – ALL breeds are accepted for submissions; if it’s a Hamster and you have a high quality image of it, we want to hear from you! We’re currently looking high and low for more works for the Creative Corner and for more images of Dwarf Hamsters for the Hamster Gallery to be started in Issue 3! Would you like to write an article for us but aren’t sure about a topic? No problem! Pop over to our website or send us an email at with “Ham Mag” as the subject and we’ll give you some suggestions! PLEASE NOTE. All articles and images you send to us MUST be of your creation, or you must obtain the express permission of the original creator to use them. The Hamster Mag will not feature anything that is stolen.


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Answers: 1. C 2. B 3. A 4. C 5. B 6.C 7. A 8. A


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All names given herein are a mixture of real names and forum pseudonyms dependent on the Staff Contributors preference. If you wish to know more about the team and meet them, pop over to our website; or just send us an e-mail!

The Staff The dedicated few who are committed to working on every issue of The Hamster Mag!


Laura Jacques


The head honcho of The Hamster Mag. Chief Editor Linford27 is a South-West-England dweller who is a long established member of Hamster Central. She and her new baby Syrian Bilbo keep everyone working on The Hamster Mag in check as well as being lovely to boot!

This North-West-England dweller is the proud owner of Syrian hamster Timi. Laura, known as “Penn” on Hamster Central, is an editor and writer for The Hamster Mag’s. She’s also the content and graphics editor; organising the pages and design of the magazine when her sleeping pattern isn’t matching Timi’s!

The owner and photographer of The Hamster Mag's first two cover models, who designs the layout of The Hamster Mag’s front covers. She is a hobbyist breeder of Syrians and has kept hamsters on and off for the past 20 years. She loves to design and create, and is also a signature artist on a couple of popular hamster forums.

The Contributors The contributors who we thank for being AMAZING and being part of The Hamster Mag. We can’t praise or thank them enough! Custard Hamstery, GhostsInSnow, gutterglitterxx, Jenny Jones aka Sparrowarms , Happy_Hamster, HforHammy, Kiah Tulloch, Kittendrumstick of tumblr, Krissie Cope, Mermaid, psl, Rhonda Stewart, and Stephanie Reesor . On the cover Name: Brian Owner: LeedsGurl Species: Syrian Colour: Long haired REC satin Lived: 29/09/2008 – 04/08/2011

Named after: A character from the cartoon ‘Family Guy’ Most remembered for: His lovely long silky soft coat Brothers and sisters: Was one of 10 babies in LeedsGurls first ever litter

IMPORTANT NOTICE The Hamster Mag exists for the purpose of providing support and information to anyone caring for or owning a hamster. The Hamster Mag is written by a team of volunteers who share a love of hamsters, many of whom are not vets/medically qualified. You are strongly advised to consult your vet if you are concerned about your hamster's health or wellbeing. All advice in this magazine is widely used by our writers, but makes no guarantees and does not substitute for veterinary expertise. 38

The Hamster Mag - Issue Two  

Issue two of the hamster magazine! Visit our website: