Welcome

Welcome to Dashing Hamsters. I created this website back in 2005, initially to have a place to share my love of hamsters. Throughout the years I have come across a lot of information that just often doesn't match up. Care standards and information are outdated, and these little creatures are misunderstood by many. So I decided to make this website as more than just a hamster lover's website, but a hamster website for modern owners who are looking for up to date advice on how to care for and understand their beloved hamsters. On DH you can learn about hamsters, see some cute pictures and read through a hamster filled blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Closer Look at Breeding

If you are considering breeding your hamsters, then read on.


Just Hamsters
Breeding hamsters, or any animal for that matter, is not a decision that should be taken lightly and without serious consideration and research before making any decisions. By breeding animals you become solely responsible for their very life, this is no minor responsibility. For those thinking “it’s just a hamster”, please take a second to look at your own opinion. Why would you even consider breeding hamsters if they are “just hamsters”, breeding is hard work, it is time consuming, can be emotionally draining and also quite costly. If you don’t truly have a passion to work with hamsters and consider them “just hamsters” than you might want to put this idea out of your head for the time being.


Reasons for Wanting to Breeding
If you truly want to breed then consider the reasons why you want to breed. There may be multiple reasons, but it is certainly worthwhile to take the time to consider your reasons and then write them down. If your reason(s) are along these following lines:
o I want to get the experience of breeding hamsters.
o I want to see cute babies
o I want to see the miracle of life
o My friends/family want hamsters or I want more hamsters
o I want to make money
o I want my hamsters to live on in their children
o I read that hamsters should breed at least once in their life
o My hamsters are in love, it would be cruel to not let them breed
o I want more hamsters of the same colour
Then there might be some issues. Some of these reasons aren’t absolutely negative, however the bottom six points are not good reasons at all, but if any of these points are the driving force for you wanting to breed then I highly recommend that you step back in reconsider breeding. Wanting to experience breeding hamsters, seeing babies, experiencing the miracle of life, etc. are not good enough reasons to want to breed. There are too many hamsters that need homes in the world for such reasons to be valid. While some of these reasons may be reasons to want to breed the ultimate reason for wanting to breed should be something along of the lines of this:
o To better the species as a whole.
This implies that are goals are to breed quality animals with the intention of improving health, temperament and overall improving the species. Many breeders breed for the wrong reasons and it shows in their knowledge of hamsters and in the quality of their animals. Breeders that breed for the wrong reasons are often referred to as ‘Back Yard Breeders’, they are sadly a common phenomenon throughout the world.


A Closer Look at Invalid Reasons for Wanting to Breed
1. I want to get the experience of breeding hamsters: This isn’t exactly a poor reason to want to breed, however it should not be your ultimate reason to want to breed. Adopting hamsters is quite the worthwhile experience, and at the same time you give hamster’s a second chance at a forever home.
2. I want to see cute babies: That’s nice; I would like to introduce you to Google. On Google you can search up all sorts of things, including videos and images of baby hamsters. This is just not a good reason to want to breed, sure they are cute, but breeding is serious.
3. I want to see the miracle of life: there are many videos and books on this subject, why not take the easy route and go for one of those options, they are much less work, money, time and effort. And in the end the message is the same.
4. My friends/family want hamsters or I want more hamsters: This is wonderful, truly it is. If you have people interested in hamsters or you yourself want more hamsters, than help your friends look for hamsters to adopt, or if it’s you than look for hamsters to adopt yourself. Why bring more hamsters into this world when there are so many that need homes already?
5. I want to make money: If this is your reason to breed than you need to look outside of breeding animals. Being a quality breeder means that it’s probably going to cost more than you will make.
6. I want my hamsters to live on in their children: This is a nice thought, but it isn’t a good reason to breed. You could end up with hamsters that end up with genetic issues or other problems if you don’t know their genetic history. Instead taking pictures, spending time with them and enjoying their time with you is the best way to help them live on after death, because then they live on in your memories. Instead of breeding, adopting another hamster in memory of your past hamster is a good way to honour their life.
7. I read that hamsters should breed at least once in their life: This too is not a valid reason to breed for it is simply not true. Hamsters do not need to breed in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Not to mention, some people have found that breeding can shorten the life of a hamster (females in particular).
8. My hamsters are in love, it would be cruel to not let them breed: hamsters do not mate for life the way that humans and some other animals do. They will not feel love the same way we do for a mate, in the wild there is a chance that they might never even see each other again. If you do have a male and a female living together then I highly recommend that they are separated for their well-being.
9. I want more hamsters of the same colour: This too is not a valid reason to breed. Genetics are not simple and they do not always work the way one might expect, you could get a whole litter with pups that don’t have the same colour as their parents. Besides colour doesn’t matter to hamsters and it shouldn’t matter to you. Fur colour doesn’t make the hamsters, it’s what’s underneath the fur that counts.


Time
Breeding hamsters is time consuming, it will eat up much of your free time and may impose on other aspects of your life. Consider the following in regard to time:
1. Breeders need to do research beforehand and throughout their venture in breeding. Many breeders spend years researching: how to properly breed hamsters, how to pick quality animals, genetics of hamsters, etc. They must also spend time researching and understanding general hamster care and ailments as they gain experience as a normal hamster owner. Not days of research, not months of research, but years. Not only must the research and learn before breeding, but they must also continue to keep up with new information even while breeding hamsters.
2. Breeders must also put a lot of time into a breeding plan. This plan helps to keep the genetic history of every hamster organized, to keep records in order, to help plan out what a breeder’s goals are, etc. An important factor to consider, and one that might take more than a few minutes.
3. Breeders need to look for homes for their litters. This isn’t as easy as posting an ad and selling them to the first person to respond. Breeders often make up contracts to ensure that their animals will go to a good home, will be returned to them if the owner can no longer keep them, to ensure that the owner will stay in contact and in some cases to ensure that the owner does not breed the hamster. When looking for potential owners, the breeder must look for quality homes with owners that have and will continue to research and understand proper and up to date hamster care, will stay in contact with the breeder, will take the hamster to the vet if required and will over all be a good owner. This is no easy task, good owners are not always available and quality owners in a breeder’s area may disappear with each litter, which is why lining up homes prior to breeding is important. Selling hamsters to a pet store is not a viable option either. A good breeder must be aware of their lines so that they know if genetic issues pop up down the road, selling them to a pet store cuts off contact with owners. Not to mention the breeder then has no control over who purchases their hamsters.
4. If homes cannot be found for the litter than it is up to the breeder to keep and care for all of the hamsters. Hamsters can have large litters, some even being upward of 20 pups, though the average is closer to 10-12 pups. Depending on the species they may need to live separately, dwarf hamsters can live in same-sex groups but the chances for fights breaking out are always possible. That could mean a cage (recommended bare minimum is 360 square inches of floor space) for every single hamster from the litter, including the parents on top of any other hamsters the breeder has. That is time required for cleaning the cages, for feeding the hamsters, performing health checks, administering medication for any ill hamsters and for spending individual time with each hamster. This is time consuming.
5. Breeders must take responsibility for the litter if the mother dies or rejects the pups. This means spending over two weeks constantly feeding and caring for helpless pups. They must be fed every hour and care must be taken to ensure that they are never too cold and that they defecate properly. This can mean missing school, work or other obligations that the breeder may have.
6. The breeder must make time to care for ill hamsters. Caring for a sick hamster can take up quite a bit of a breeder’s time, even if the time spent worrying about the hamster(s) is subtracted from the equation.
7. Breeders must take time to stay in contact with owners that have adopted from them. Breeders need to keep in contact with people that have adopted from them in order to keep tabs on their lines. If health issues pop up that could be caused from genetic issues than the breeder must be aware of this so that effort can be put into putting a stop to that line to prevent further ill hamsters.
8. Breeders need to keep up with general care of their hamsters. Breeders cannot forget that time must be put aside to clean cages, feed the hamsters, care for them and spend time with them individually. They will also need to put aside time to spend time with litters that are old enough to be handled in order to ensure that the hamsters are sociable.


Space
Even consideration about space in your home for all of these hamsters must be thought of.
1. Breeders need plenty of room for their hamsters. They need room for the various supplies required for hamsters, they need room for adequately sized cages (recommended bare minimum is 360 square inches of floor space) and room to move around in general.
2. Breeders must consider the optimal place for where to ‘set up shop’. The room must be quiet, free from disturbances, temperature controlled and large enough to provide enough room for everything.
3. If homes cannot be found for the litter than it is up to the breeder to keep and care for all of the hamsters. This means the breeder needs cages for every single hamster. Considering the average litter is about 10-12 pups that is 10-12 cages that a breeder must provide space for on top of all the room needed for other hamsters and their supplies.


Cost
Breeding hamsters is not cheap, nor will it be a thriving business. Breeders must expect this hobby to cost them money, rather than make them money. That means that the reason to breed to make money is not only a poor reason to breed, but one laden in false hope.
1. Breeders must purchase quality breeding stock. Most hamsters are not up to standard to be a quality animal to be bred. This does not make them any less valuable than a well-bred hamster, but these are not the hamsters that a breeder should be breeding. A breeder cannot simply go to a pet store for breeding stock nor should they purchase from the nearest breeder without putting much research into that breeder’s program. In order to find quality stock a breeder may need to travel a great distance to find a quality breeder from which to get their breeding hamsters from. This can be costly not only for the hamsters themselves but for the travel required to actually obtain the hamsters. Breeding poorly-bred hamsters is not an option for a good breeder.
2. Breeders need to purchase food, substrate and nesting materials. Breeders have many hamsters to care for and so things such as food, substrate and nesting materials do not last as long as they do when caring for one or two hamsters. This alone is a costly part of breeding and quality of the products cannot be substituted for a cheaper price,
3. Breeders must purchase cages, wheels, toys and other cage accessories. With many hamsters comes a need for many cages and supplies for the cages. Some breeders even have cages set up for pregnant/nursing mother hamsters, special cages where mating will take place, etc. Supplies for hamsters are not always cheap and yet a breeder still needs to consider the cost.
4. If homes cannot be found for the litter than it is up to the breeder to keep and care for all of the hamsters. This means that all of the associated cost of keeping all of these hamsters fall upon the breeder, along with the cost to care for any other hamsters. Including possible vet bills that could crop up.
5. Breeders must have money out aside when a vet is required. With so many hamsters it should not be a surprise that a vet will likely be required at least once each year, especially as hamsters grow older or if the entire hamstery falls ill for whatever reason.
6. If a breeder wishes to show their hamsters than they will likely be required to pay a club membership. Most hamster clubs, if not all require a membership fee in order to help pay for the costs associated with keeping a club going. Many quality breeders are encouraged to join, yet it is another cost to be considered.


Emotion
Breeding can take a large toll on a breeder’s emotions, often it is explained as an emotional roller-coaster. The happiness found at seeing young hamsters nursing form their mother can be quickly crushed when disaster strikes. While this does not mean that the breeder be cold-hearted or emotionless, this does require the breeder to not let their emotions hinder their responsibility.
1. Breeders must be able to deal with the death of a mother hamster emotionally. It is going to hurt, but not everyone is able to emotionally handle the death of the mother-hamster from delivery or birth complications when had the breeding not been done, she would still be healthy and alive.
2. If the mother dies or rejects her litter, the breeder must be strong enough to take on the care of the pups. Loss of sleep for the next two and half weeks can also cause emotions to run higher, and yet the breeder must be capable of enduring it for the sake of the pups, even if often times the pups do not survive, which again can be emotionally gruelling.
3. The breeder must be able to handle the emotional strain of the mother culling pups. Sometimes when pups are born with birth defects or if the litter is too large or if the whole situation is too stressful, than the mother will cull (kill) some or all of her pups and will also likely consume them, as in the wild dead animals attract predators.
4. The breeder must be able to accept that there may be genetic issues with their lines. Hiding the fact that there are genetic issues with a breeder’s line, even if it seems embarrassing or if it upsets them, is not an option. Honesty is the best policy, even if it is difficult for the breeder to realize that they have brought lives into the world that may be suffering from genetics issues.


Conclusion
Breeding hamsters is no small thing; it is time consuming, expensive, emotionally draining and all around not an easy task. Breeding hamsters should not be taken lightly, it is a serious thing to consider and only if you are prepared to take on full responsibility and do the required research in order to become a quality breeder intent on bettering the species should one attempt to breed hamsters.

2 comments:

  1. Wow... you're way too serious about hamster breeding. They're just rodents that will mate with anything for survival. They aren't even a native species here. And Syrian hamsters are pretty much screwed genetically anyway, so I doubt selective breeding is really going to help. You must have no life to sit around and breed hamsters all day. I could understand if you were a scientist using them for experiments, but gosh, they really aren't that interesting of creatures. In most cases, people buy them thinking 'oh sure they'll be so much fun.' A few days later you're already bored, and you've wasted $50 on some little rodent that doesn't even have any concept of time or money and is incapable of complex thought. Mine just keep me up all night.

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  2. I don't breed. And yes I expect responsible breeders to work this hard for any animal. We have domesticated so many animals and we are now responsible for them. Just because others in the past and people now are not up to doing the right thing does not mean that it shouldn't be strived for. So native species or not we are responsible. When you go around and spread nonsense like this it only works to do harm to more animals. If you don't enjoy hamsters why do you have them? They aren't the right pet for everyone after all. Perhaps more research into what pet you want in the future will result in you getting the right pet for you. ;) I've been keeping hamsters for almost 8 years now and I'm still not bored. Have a nice day, and remember keep your mind open!

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