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Old 03-16-2019, 03:58 AM   #1
Oreocookie
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: North of Germany
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Default Introducing MuShu

Hello to all Chinese hamster owners - and all other hamster lovers, too☺
I introduced myself already in the newbee section.
After many decades I decided that I wanted to have a Chinese hamster again. And I realized that it ist very difficult in Germany to find Chinese hamsters. There are only a very few private breeders, zoo shops offer them only very rarely, and since they are so hard to get hold of in the first place, rescues are hard to find. I was very lucky to find a gorgeous four months old dominant spot girl, whom I called MuShu. MuShu is of course the adorable dragon from Disney's "Mulan". But while it's also the word for a very popular Chinese dish, it means "she-rat" or "she-mouse" if one intonates the syllables differently. And Chinese hamsters with their little tails definitely look a bit like small rats or mice ☺ And she does look a bit like a crushed Oreo Cookie - thus my moniker.
I can't post a picture of MuShu, yet, because she ist still very shy, and only shows herself above ground when it's getting dark, and she is spooked by bright lights. She's not at all afraid of me or my hands, though, which is very encouraging. She accepted food from my hands from the very first day, and I can pick her up for short moments without alienating her. So, I don't think that she had any bad experiences with humans. But she likes to remain mostly under the ground in various nests she has constructed for herself. She only rarely climbs and she doesn't use her wheel at all. I have the suspicion that she has never been introduced to any toys when she was a baby.
How I can encourage her to make more use of her enviroment? She's with me for two weeks now. I know that this is not a long time, and she's still young. But I really wish she would find more things to do for herself. All my other hamsters - including my adorable Winterwhite fluff ball - gravitated immediately towards their wheels.
Do you have any suggestions? She has enough things to hide herself in her cage. So it's not likely that she ist spooked by too much open space. I try to encourage her to come out of hiding by placing her food in the open and a bit away from her nests. She needs to come out in order to get it.

Last edited by Oreocookie; 03-16-2019 at 04:12 AM. Reason: Spelling mistake
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Old 03-16-2019, 05:11 AM   #2
cypher
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

MuShu sounds really sweet, I do love dom spots & look forward to seeing her when she’s confident enough for photos.
Two weeks isn’t long at all really so she may need a little more time just to settle in before she gets a bit braver, coming to your hands & taking food is encouraging so I’m sure she’ll soon start to come out more.
I find the best way to encourage them to make full use of the cage is just to scatter feed & find places to hide treats & encourage them to forage more.
If you have a photo of your cage set up that would help to see if there is anything you might be able to change to make her feel more confident with coming out & exploring more.
I find they don’t like too much open space above them so use hammocks to make a sort of second level for them & provide more cover on the ground.
Some of it is just down to individual character I think, my current female Chinese likes to spend most of her time under the substrate & keeps very busy down there by the noise she makes! She also doesn’t use her wheel that much, my previous females were on the go all the time, ran in their wheels much more & were out & about in the cage much more too.
I'm sure she'll soon begin to get more confident & with time you'll see what she enjoys doing the most & be able to adapt things for her if need be.
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Old 03-17-2019, 03:15 PM   #3
Oreocookie
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

Hi cypher, thanks a lot for your answer☺ I looked up already all the pictures and stories of your wonderful hammies. You are really an experienced Chinese hamster owner by now.
I hope that I can supply pictures of MuShu and her terrarium soon. She became already a bit braver in the last few days. I always offer her food on my hands in the early evening when she usually wakes up. She knows that by now and shows herself when I call her name. She climbs on my hand and stuffs her cheeks, and then she returns to her various layers which she has constructed during the night. I then scatter the food which she hasn't taken from my hands in her cage. She has to come out of her tunnels and needs go out into the open to collect of. I have a sort of balcony, where I place her dish with the fresh food and her water. Since everything ist gone in the morning, she obviously must have taken has probably hidden some of it away. I need a night camera, lol! The best chance to take her picture might be when she sits in her dish with the fresh food or when she sits on my hands and collects the food. Someone else could snap a foto then. I really want to introduce her to you guys. She's tiny but gorgeous. She seems to be a bit less bothered by the light already. Maybe, the wheel will never be her favorite pastime. She seems to be dedicated to rearrange her nest and tunnel system constantly. That would be ok of course. Hamsters in the wild don't have wheels after all. It's just so different to my current winterwhite. He has several different wheels and uses them all constantly.
How is the situation in the UK re: availability of Chinese hamsters? In Germany it's very difficult to find them since there are hardly any breeders and only a very few shops which offer Chinese hamsters occasionally.

Last edited by Oreocookie; 03-17-2019 at 03:17 PM. Reason: Mistake
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Old 03-17-2019, 10:14 PM   #4
cypher
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

She really does sound as though her confidence is growing, baby steps maybe but she will continue to get braver now & I'm sure, it may just take her a little more time to come out more when it's lighter, I often wish I had one of those night cameras too!

The situation here is much the same as with you, there are some good breeders but not very many & very few pet shops sell them any more so finding one is quite a challenge!
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Old 05-02-2019, 12:46 AM   #5
Oreocookie
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

Hello, everybody, who's reading this thread.
MuShu takes her her sweet time, but things are getting better. Her confidence is growing and I can pick her up and hold her easily now. She doesn't panic when I pet her - she even seems to enjoy to be stroked softly. And I introduced a flying saucer type exercise disk which she accepted and uses regularly now.
I managed to get a few pictures of her and I hope that I can post some of them soon. The biggest problem ist that she never seems to sit quietly for a moment at one place. She moves around so fast that it is very hard to keep track of her. She is a real Speedy Gonzales Therefore most pictures I managed to take, are a bit blurry and don't show how sweet and beautiful she really is. She also prefers to come out when it's fairly dark which makes it even more difficult to take good pictures. I will try to put the flying saucer saucer disk into a protected corner so that she can feel more protected and less out in the open. She still spends a fair amount of time rummaging and digging underground and has a tendency to re-arrange her cage at night. There's no point in creating elaborate theme cages for her since she has her very own ideas about how a suitable terrarium should be set up. And that's fine with me. Digging is a good activity after all and I have to accept that I can only see the results of her overnight construction efforts ☺ Since she so obviously likes to be underground I'm surprised that she accepts so easily to get picked up and seems to like being softly stroked. I try to pick her up every day if possible in order to get her completely used and comfortable with this situation. So far this seems to work very well. Which is surprising if one considers that she was a leftover from a pet shop where the hamsters were kept clean but in a very boring enviroment which was fairly small and offered only substrate and a house. This less than ideal upbringing has one advantage, though: she is used to a busy enviroment and isn't easily spooked by loud noises and the presence of other animals. Therefore she's not bothered at all by my cats and my dog, when they are in the same room with her now and then (the cats are never allowed to be in that room without supervision), since she is used to be in the same room with many other animals and people.
Normally I don't like to get living animals from a pet shop. Good private breeders or rescues are IMO a much better option. But in Germany it's very hard to find any Chinese hamsters. And while MuShu's early months weren't ideal, she's not from a rodent puppy mill. The wife of the pet shop owner breeds the Chinese hamsters herself, and since MuShu trusted me immediately and accepted food from me, she obviously never had any bad experiences with humans. I did talk to the pet shop owner about the best diet for hamsters but I doubt that this will lead to any drastic changes
How is the availability situation re: Chinese hamsters in the UK or other European countries? Is it very difficult to find them? Other hamsters like Syrians, Winterwhites, Campbells and even Roborowskis are not hard to find, and there are many private breeders and also plenty of rescues available. But you have to be prepared to get on a waiting list and drive long distances if you want to get a Chinese hamster.

Last edited by Oreocookie; 05-02-2019 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:36 AM   #6
Oreocookie
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

@Cypher, MuShu looks very much like the little hamster of your avatar ☺. She's tiny, though, and I don't expect her to get bigger. She's smaller than my cute Winterwhite, who is a perfectly round fluff ball.
It's great, though, that MuShu eats well. When I got her, she was on a diet with far too many carbs and she had never been introduced to fresh veggies. I was a bit worried how she would respond to a total overhaul of her diet and was prepared to proceed gradually. But it didn't take her long to discover that healthy food can be tasty, too!

Last edited by Oreocookie; 05-02-2019 at 02:42 AM.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:04 AM   #7
Oreocookie
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Default Re: Introducing MuShu

MuShu has become quite confident now, and I can pick her up easily without stressing her out - as long as I offer her a favorite snack☺. I also see her a lot more, since she has taken quite a fancy to her large wooden wheel now, and she is not afraid to come out of her house and her burrows more often.
The behavioral changes came fairly quickly after I reduced temporarily the debth of her burrowing substrate. I had noticed that she was mostly living underground because she was apparently afraid to be aboveground. I heard quite often from disenchanted Chinese hamster owners that they have a phantom or ghost hamster which comes out in order to collect food, but then immediately vanishes again and doesn't show itself for days on end. I really didn't want this state of affairs forever with MuShu. By reducing the substrate debth considerably I forced her to come out more often in order to entertain herself in her cork tunnels and with her twigs and toys. She learned that nothing terrible happens to her when she moves around aboveground. That's when she finally discovered her flying saucer and her big wheel. When I noticed that she had started to exercise regularly, I restored the original substrate debth. She became very creative with her moves in the wheel and on the flying saucer and learned quickly how to use both without getting thrown off. She still loves to burrow, but she didn't go back to her earlier underground existence. She moves around aboveground without fear now, and it's a lot of fun to watch her. The movement of Chinese hamsters is soo different from all other hamster breeds.
I contemplate to introduce living food like crickets for extra stimulation. Since she lives in a large wooden terrarium with sliding glass doors, where only the roof is open for ventilation purposes, it should be possible to close the roof for a while, so that the crickets can't escape.
The only thing which is still very difficult, is taking good pictures. She doesn't like bright lights and she never sits still for more than a few seconds. My cellphone camera is simply not good enough for capturing more than a few blurry images. This is a pity because she is tiny, but absolutely beautiful ☺ Maybe, I should get a night light camera...

Last edited by Oreocookie; 05-18-2019 at 04:15 AM.
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