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Hamster Club on Radio RTK!!
Author: Patrick Cutajar
Source: www.hamster-club.com

Hamster Club Malta received an invite from Radio RTK to be the host in a very popular pet programme. Thus, on 26th August 2009, Nadia Vella represented Hamster Club on Radio RTK in a programme named "L-Annimali u l-Ambjent" (the name of the programme means "The Animals and the Environment").  A repetition of this programme was also aired on 1st September 2009.

Ms. Sonia Young presents this programme. This programme is in Maltese.

Nadia Vella, obo Hamster Club Malta gave Ms. Sonia Young a free copy of our hamster club guide book.

Below you may find a translation in English of the programme, which includes some advice and information about hamsters.

It's been a very long time that we have been looking for someone to talk to us about hamsters and lately I saw an article about you on 'il-Gens' newspaper so I got hold of you Nadia Vella from Hamster Club Malta. We welcome you Nadia on this programme.

Those who have hamsters know that they are very cute animals and that they can be easily kept everywhere. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a hamster? 

Hamster Club on radio RTKSome of the advantages of having a hamster are:

 - Hamsters are cheap to buy (in Malta prices may start from as little as e2.50) and hamsters are also inexpensive to keep.

- Hamsters don’t take a lot of space

– they are very ideal for people who cannot keep large pets. - The hamster’s cage does not get that dirty if cleaning is done regularly.

A disadvantage of having a hamster is that they are nocturnal which means they wake up late in the evening (at around 7pm) or late at night.

Hamster Club on radio RTKWhat does one has to do if during the night a hamster starts running on the hamster's wheel and this starts to squeak?

If the hamster's wheel makes noises, one can apply some olive oil to the axle and it will not squeak any more.

I would like to make reference to 'Hamster Club Guide Book'. It is a hamster book that every hamster owner should have! It really has great hamster information and has lots of cute hamster pictures in it! Tell me some more information about your hamster book.

'Hamster Club Guide Book' took lots of months of research. We decided to publish a hamster book since here in Malta one does not find any hamster books in any pet shops!  One can buy this hamster book from the site thehamsterbook.com  and may also view the first few pages from this site too. 

Are there various types of hamsters?

Yes, there are 5 types of hamsters. These are the: Syrian hamsters, Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters, Dwarf Campbell’s Hamsters, Roborovksi Hamsters and the Chinese Hamsters.

In Malta the most common hamster one finds in pet stores is the Syrian hamster  even though we also find the Dwarf Winter White Russian hamster and the Roborovksi hamster.

The least types of hamsters one finds in Malta are the Campbell’s hamsters and Chinese hamsters.

Syrian Hamsters

The Syrian hamster is solitary and thus needs to be housed alone. This type of hamster sometimes is also called ‘Golden Hamster’. One also may find long haired hamsters, which are known as ‘Teddy Bear Hamsters’. Syrian hamsters are around 12 to 16 cm long and come in various colours.

Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters

These types of hamsters change their coat from white to grey and are from 7 to 10 cm long. These hamsters prefer to live in groups of the same type – it is important that if they are housed together they are introduced at an early age i.e from the age of 2 months or less.

Dwarf Campbell’s Hamsters

Dwarf Campbell’s hamsters are very similar to the Dwarf Winter White Russian hamsters but their colour is brownish and they appear a pit fatter since their coat is thicker. These hamsters also prefer to live in groups of the same age. They are around 8 to 10 cm long. Dwarf hamsters all have a dorsal stripe on their back.

Roborovski HamstersRoborovski Hamsters

Roborovski hamsters are the smallest type of hamster. They are around 4 to 5.5 cm long and are very fast. They tend to be the most type of hamsters that take more time to become tame. It is very important that Robo hamsters are housed in a plastic cage or an aquarium cage since if they are housed in a wire cage, they can squeeze through the wires and escape.

Chinese Hamsters

Chinese hamsters are the least type of hamster that one finds in Malta. These hamsters have a longer tail than the other hamsters. Preferably Chinese hamsters should be housed alone i.e one per cage. Chinese hamsters are approximately 10 to 12 cm long.

We have 2 Roborovski hamsters that just had babies, it's really cute and fascinating how such cute creatures take care of their pups with such love. It is something really marvellous to see them developing and growing up.

Hamsters are very agile, but they say that when hamsters are asleep, they should never be awakened since if awakened they are more likely to get sick. Is this true?

Yes it is very true; hamsters should never be awakened when they are asleep since this may cause stress and the hamsters may live a shorter life. Hamsters usually wake up from 7pm onwards. Hamsters prefer the same routine and it is very important to leave hamsters asleep during the day and if one needs to clean the cage, this needs to be done once they are awake.

How much is it easy of difficult to breed hamsters?

It is and it is not easy to breed hamsters…actually it really depends on the type of hamster. The female hamster  will accept breeding every 4 days and in the case of Syrian and Chinese hamsters, it is very important that you introduce the male and female hamster in a neutral territory and not in his nor in his cage. The best age to breed hamsters is when the hamster is 5 months old. In the case of Roborovski hamsters, normally they breed at the age of 8 months. The approximate gestation period of a hamster is from16 to 18 days, while in the case of Roborovski hamsters the gestation period is that of 30 days. Roborovski hamsters also have the least number of babies (approximately from 2 to 4 babies).

What does one need to prepare before bringing a new hamster home?

It is very important to prepare the cage before bringing a new hamster home. The bigger the cage, the better. The best hamster cage size is approximately 30 by 30 cm. The cage should also be furnished with toys and essential things including hamster wheels, tubes, hamster houses, hamster food bowl, hamster food, hamster water bottle etc. One can also make tubes himself by using empty toilet paper rolls.

How much is it important that hamsters have fresh water at all times?

Hamsters don't drink water that much but having fresh water always available is very important, water should be changed at least daily.

I was reading from your hamster book 'Hamster Club Guide Book', (one can also buy this book from your TheHamsterBook.com  site), that one can train his/her hamster potty training. Is it possible?

Yes it is. Hamsters are very clean, one does not need to bath a hamster. Hamsters usually always pee in the same area. One can use a glass jar and put it in the place where the hamster usually pees. Eventually the hamster will start peeing in the jar. The size of the jar depends on the size of the hamster.

Cedar and pine wood shavings always have to be put at the bottom of the cage or are there any other alternatives?

No, I would really recommend not to use cedar and pine wood shavings as hamster bedding, some hamsters might suffer from allergic reactions due to these types of shavings. At the base of the cage one has to put sheets of paper, preferably without any ink and then as bedding one can use toilet paper or tissue paper. One can also use 'Carefresh' bedding, which may be bought from most pet stores.

Is it difficult to distinguish male and female hamsters and how do you distinguish them?
  
At first it may be difficult to distinguish male and female hamsters, but with experience one can distinguish the differences between the two sexes. The male hamsters will have a more 'rounded' bottom and only female hamsters have nipples.
 

How much is it important to have a hamster cage that is safe?

It is very important to have a safe hamster cage, with good ventilation and in the case of Roborovski hamsters it is very important that their cage is made of plastic, since they can escape from a wire cage by passing through the gaps of wire!

Are illnesses very common in hamsters?

No, hamsters rarely suffer from any illnesses, various illnesses are outlined on our website or on our hamster book. The most common are hamster colds, a hamster may catch a cold even from his owner! But the owner does not catch a cold from a hamster.. A hamster with a cold will eat less, be less active and will also start sneezing. A natural remedy is to fill his water bottle with warm milk (at least 3 times daily for 3 days). Alternatively one can put some honey into the hamster's bottle 3 times daily for 3 days. Eventually the hamster will feel much better after this procedure.

Like every animal and after all, like us humans, it is important that we have a balanced diet. What do hamsters eat?

Hamsters eat ‘hamster food mix’ which may be bought from a pet store. The hamster food mix includes:

- Sunflower seeds

- Corn

- Wheat

- Green peas

- Alfalfa rings

- Grains

Hamsters may be given small amounts of vegetables and fruits like apples, banana. It is very important that these are given in very small quantities or else the hamster will suffer from diarrhoea.

On page 20 of this hamster book, I am seeing a cute hamster with long fur. What are they called?

These are called long haired hamsters, they fall under the same category of the Syrian hamsters but have a longer coat. Their coat can be brushed with a small brush bought from a pet store or else one can use a clean tooth brush to brush the hamster. Eventually once tamed, the hamster will let its owner brushing it.

How much is it important to keep the hamster's environment clean since if not this will affect the hamster's coat like for example if one uses newspapers or wood shavings as bedding?

It is very important since a wrong bedding can affect a hamster's coat. Wood shavings can make a hamster's coat look dry and newspapers are not good since they have ink on them. It is very important to use the right bedding like 'Carefresh', toilet paper or tissue paper.

What does one have to do if his/her hamster is constipated?

If a hamster is constipated one can give the hamster more fruit and vegetables to stop constipation.

And what does one have to do if the hamster has diarrhoea?

If a hamster has diarrhoea one has to give his hamster chamomile tea 3 times daily for at least 3 days and avoid giving the hamster any fruit or vegetables. One can give the hamster some dry bread and boiled rice.

Do hamsters suffer from skin mites?

It depends on the type of bedding used. If wood shavings are used then hamsters tend to suffer from skin mites. Applying an anti-mite spray intended for hamsters should treat skin mites. Disinfect the whole cage and apply some anti-mite spray. Do not apply the spray directly on the hamster but apply 2 to 3 puffs on a small brush - you can use a clean tooth brush, comb the brush on the hamster and then use a small cloth or tissue paper to dry off the hamster. Apply 2-3 puffs on the hamster's clean bedding. Follow the instructions written on the anti-mite spray.

What are the best temperatures for hamsters?

Hamsters are most comfortable at temperatures between 65 ° F / 18° C and 80°F / 26°C. Sudden temperature drops may lead to hibernation.

Do hamsters suffer from ear mange?

Rarely, but if they suffer from it, the mange if untreated will grow. It is very important to bring a hamster to a vet and the vet will give the hamster a cream to apply on the affected area. An alternative to the cream is tea tree cream, rosemary oil and lavender oil.

Tell us something about Hamster Club Malta.

We decided to create a club here in Malta since there is no exposure on these cute pets and thus we thought that it would be a great idea to have a club that specialises on hamsters. After 1.5 years we decided to launch our hamster book, which will help all hamster owners with any hamster advice.

We receive approximately 700 online visits daily and respond to our emails regularly. Our mission statement is to provide the best hamster advice to all hamster owners.

We would like to thank Ms. Sonia Young and all the staff at RTK Radio for such a great programme.

Thanks

Hamster Club Malta.

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