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Old 08-24-2016, 10:55 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bath, UK
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Default Guide to Hamster Showing

So you've got yourself an adorable little friend and you want to take them to a show but don't know where to start then this is the place to look. In these threads you will find the answers to commonly asked questions about showing and hopefully it'll give you an idea on what to expect.

Main Show or Pets?

A most of the hamster shows operated by hamster clubs affiliated with the National Hamster Council will run a main show which judges hamsters to a standard set by the National Hamster Council.
Most people tend to prefer to have a go at entering the Pet Class on their first show as you don't have to register in advance and you will not have to be at the show for the whole day.
To find out if the show you're hoping to attend has a Pet Class you will need to look at the show schedule.

How do I enter the main show?

If you've decided to enter your hamster in the main show you will need to register them in advance by contacting the Show Secretary. Their details will be on the show schedule.
When sending in your entries the show secretary will need to know the classes you would like to enter your hamster for (which you'll find on the show schedule), whether you will need to hire any show pens and if you're showing under a NHC prefix then it's helpful to include this too. To make things as clear as possible you will need one line per hamster and it's helpful if you list the classes in numerical order.

This is an example of one of what I'd written in one of Metallica Hamstery's show entries:

Hi (Show Secretary),

I'd like to enter my two for the Cardiff Show please, to be shown under the Metallica Hamstery Prefix.

D8, D14, D15, D19, D20


D8, D14, D15, D17, D19, D20

(Your name)

If you're sending your entry by post or email then it's also helpful to title your message with the show you are entering as a Show Secretary may have entries coming in for more than one show. If you need to hire pens plese mention how man of each type you will require when you send off your entry.

Most Show Secretaries will acknowledge all entries.

Entering Pets?

Entering Pets is easy as it's done on the day by going to the Show Secretary and telling them what you'd like to enter. They will tell you how much to pay and give you a label which you will need to stick on your hamster's carrier/cage. Once you've done that you can put your hamster with all the other pets ready for judging.

The Show Schedule

I've already referred to this several times and it really is one of the most useful things to look at if you're entering a show as it will give you the details of which classes are available, who to contact, the times of the show and the location including directions.
You can find all the show schedules online at: but you'll also be sent them with your journal if you're a postal member of any of the NHC affiliated clubs.

What classes can you enter?

In the main show you will need to enter what is referred to as a ‘Straight Class’ before you are able to enter any of the duplicate classes. A straight class refers to your hamster’s colour and species and is a way of judging all the hamsters of that type against each other. Therefore in the ‘straight class’ your Normal Chinese will only be judged against other Normal Chinese.
The Duplicate Classes refer to different categories and the points that your hamster got in the straight classes are used to determine who wins each Duplicate Class.
Some example of duplicate classes include Novice (if you’re in your first year of membership of an NHC affiliated club), Small Hamstery (if you own less than 10 hamsters in either Syrian or Dwarf), Young Stock (hamsters that are aged 16 weeks or less) and Breeder (if the hamster was bred by the exhibitor). Clubs may vary as to what duplicate classes they offer so check that show schedule!

Free Members Class and Members Points Classes?

Clubs may offer their members to accrue points for each placing in this class over the year and at the end of the year a prize will be offered to the winners of the Annual Award. This prize varies from club to club.

Diploma Class?

You may occasionally see this special duplicate class on the show schedule and each NHC affiliated club should hold one per section each year. The judge will need to be an NHC judge and if your hamster wins this class they will receive a prize card and an NHC Diploma.

What are hamsters judged on?

Hamsters in the Pet Class will be judged on Tameness and Condition which can include how happy they are to be woken up, how they react to being picked up by a stranger and whether their environment is suitable.
Hamsters in the main show are judged according to standards set out by the National Hamster Council with regards to colour, type, size, condition, and eyes and ears. You will have received a copy of this if you have joined any of the NHC affiliated clubs but if not you can read it online:

Last edited by Fluffagrams; 09-13-2016 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:44 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bath, UK
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Default Re: Guide to Hamster Shows - At The Show

What can I show my hamster in?

Hamsters in Pet Class are shown in their own cages or a suitable travelling cage, however it’s worth mentioning that space during the Pet Class can be at a premium at some of the busier shows so it’s best to leave large cages at home. You will need to make sure that they have a water source such as a water bottle or a piece of moist veg and something to nibble on such as a dog biscuit. You can also provide your hamster with a source of enrichment but bear in mind that the judge will have to take your hamster out of their cage/carrier to be judged so anything that your hamster could hide in that you can’t get them out of easily is best left at home.
In the main show there are certain rules to follow about how your hamster is presented for showing to make sure that there is some anonymity during judging.
All hamsters must be shown in special show pens which are available to hire from the club if you do not have any of your own. In these pens you must use either wood shavings (short haired Syrians and Dwarfs) and wood based cat litter (long haired Syrians only) and this must be provided by the exhibitor. You can usually pick up a small pack fairly cheaply if it’s not your usual substrate.
You must also provide a piece of vegetable as a water source with cucumber being the most popular choice and a dog biscuit which is supplied by the club. Nothing else including bedding material is permitted in show pens.

How should I bring my hamster to the show?

It’s safer for a hamster to travel in a carrier rather than their own cage and it’s important to provide them with a source of food and water on the journey to the show as well as during it. Water bottles are not advised during travelling because they are very likely to leak and you don’t want a soggy hamster!

What should I do when I arrive at the show?

Regardless of whether you’re entering the main show or the pet class, you will need to book in with the Show Secretary who will take any payment due and issue you with a pen label which you will need to stick on to your pet’s carrier/show pen. This contains an individual pen number so that the Show Secretary is able to tell who won after judging is complete plus the details of any duplicate classes. Please stick your pen label to the top left of your show pen if showing in the main show.

What is benching and how to you bench your hamster?

Benching refers to putting your hamster on the tables surrounding the judge ready for the Pen Steward to bring to the judge during the show.
During benching you will need to remove your hamster from their carrier and give them a check over to make sure that they’re still in tip-top condition. Once you’re happy you can put them in their show pen with their piece of vegetable and dog biscuit and then pop them on the table with the other syrians/dwarfs. The Pen Steward will arrange these pens in their correct order for the judging so don’t worry too much if they’re not with the other hamsters of their straight class.
Once you have benched your hamster you are not permitted to return to them or identify them in the judges hearing until the show is over and the Show Secretary has given permission for the hamsters to be lifted from the bench.

What can I do whilst my hamster is being judged?

Once your hamster has been benched you are free to look around the rest of the show, have a go at the tombola and get yourself a tea/coffee or snack from the show kitchen. At the show there will be experienced breeders and exhibitors to talk to and providing that they’re not busy with a task they’re usually very happy to share tips with you and chat about hamsters. You’re free to go for a little walk or something during the show but you will need to make sure that you’re back in time for the end of the show.

What happens after the show?

The main show may still be going on when the Pet Class judging is complete so there will be a presentation for the entrants of the Pet Class. If you’ve entered the Pet Class you are free to take your hamster home after this presentation or you can stay to watch the rest of the Main Show.
At the end of the Main Show hamsters must remain in position on the bench until the Show Secretary has given permission for hamsters to be lifted off of the bench. This is in case there are any queries about the duplicate classes an exhibitor has entered and the placing needs reviewing. Once the paperwork has been completed and the hamsters can be lifted from the bench then you are able to get your hamster prepared for their journey home. Presentations don’t often take place until most of the clearing up has been done so please help out with the clearing up where you can.

What do I win?

In the Pet Class the following places are awarded: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Reserve (4th), Very Highly Commended (5th), Highly Commended (6th) and Commnded (7th) and entrants achieving these placings will receive a prize card, rosette and all entrants will receive a certificate of entry.
In the Main Show rosettes are only awarded to the first placing hamster in each class with prize cards awarded to other placings.
The Best in Show and the Reserve Best in Show are awarded at the end of each section.

What is a Certificate of Merit?

A Certificate of Merit is awarded to a hamster that the judge determines to be an excellent example of their species. To be eligible you mush have entered the Grand Challenge class in the main show and if your hamster is lucky enough to attain three CoMs during their show career from at least two different judges then they qualify for the title of Champion and will receive a special certificate and rosette. If that hamster then goes on to win a further two CoMs then they will qualify for the title of Grand Champion and will recieve another certificate and an even bigger rosette.

Last edited by Fluffagrams; 08-27-2016 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Guide to Hamster Shows - Other Questions

Where can I get a show pen?

Show pens are available to hire at shows if you do not have your own by adding a note when you submit your entry to the Show Secretary. Most regular exhibitors will eventually look to purchasing their own however it is worth mentioning that they are made by one member of the club in his free time so there may be a wait on these. You may be lucky enough to find second hand pens for sale from another exhibitor and these are usually advertised on the Facebook pages for each hamster club.

Can I volunteer to help out at a show?

Without helpers the shows couldn't go ahead so the clubs will always welcome those who wish to help out. Roles can include helping out in the kitchen or tombola to stewarding. If you're interested you can speak to someone who is already doing the job and ask them about what their job involves or you can speak to one of the other experienced members that are milling around at the shows and they'll be happy to point you in the right direction.

What is a Prefix?

A prefix is a name that the National Hamster Council have granted to a particular exhibitor under which they can show. To be eligible for a prefix you will have to have been a member of an NHC affiliated club for one year, have chosen a unique name and sent off the correct paperwork and payment to the National Secretary.

How do I prepare my hamster for a show?

As hamsters in the main show will have to spend most of their day in a show pen which is substantially smaller than a normal cage, you will need to be sure that they're going to be happy enough in a small environment. Quite often their behaviour in a carrier will give you some idea on this. If you own a show pen you can always put your hamster in one whilst you clean their cage to get a good idea of how they might react.
The judges of both the Pet Class and the Main Show will look at your hamster's condition and they will look at things like the length of their nails and how their fur is looking. In the days in the run up to a show, check your hamsters nails and give them a trim if they're looking a little bit long and keep your long haired hamster's coat brushed. With short haired hamsters you can polish them with a piece of silk to help their fur lie nicely.

Last edited by Fluffagrams; 08-25-2016 at 10:02 AM.
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