Apr 23, 2014

Dwarf Hamsters

A Complete Pet Owner's Manual
by Sharon Vanderlip

More on hamsters. Best book I've read about them yet. Focus on the dwarf hamsters, and the book goes into detail on what differentiates the four dwarf species commonly kept as pets. They may look the same at a glance, but the physical and behavioral differences are enough that the species will usually not interbreed. This book has a lot more on the history of hamsters than previous reads, clearing up some of the confusion I've had. Makes a note of all the different names hamster species have had- most have several common names, and even the scientific names have changed over the years (in 1700's the siberian or winter white hamster was classified as a mus (mouse) species!

A few more things I learned: most hamsters eat insects in the wild, as a source of protein and moisture. You can feed a pet hamster crickets or mealworms from the pet store. Once again difference of opinion on exercise equipment: this author recommends use of the exercise wheel but emphatically states that hamster balls are unsafe. The book has all the usual information on properly caring for a hamster, but includes a lot more on their biology, dietary needs and health care than I've read before. There's a useful list of the types of questions a veterinarian might ask, so you can be prepared for the visit if you need to get your hamster treated. Also a helpful checksheet of symptoms that could indicate a health problem, and what to do about it (including what not to do). The last few chapters of the book discuss breeding hamsters, raising and caring for the pups. If you feel so inclined. Which I wouldn't. I knew hamsters were prolific breeders, but not that they have the fastest reproduction cycle of all mammals on the planet! They are mature at just a few months old, females are pregnant for only 18-25 days (depending on the species) and the young are weaned at about three weeks. In addition to all that, some females can have up to four litters a year, and can be pregnant with their next litter while still nursing the first one. Yikes. Easy to see how this can get out of control.

This is another one of the Barron's educational series. Found at the public library.
I found an article written by the author here!

Rating: 4/5        112 pages, 1999

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