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Old 02-21-2020, 05:40 AM   #1
Petite
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Default Hybrids vs purebreds

Can anyone tell me, please, if hybrids need more care than purebred hamsters? I'm about to get a new winter white (from a garden centre, our only supplier in this neck of the woods). I understand that most shop-bought hamsters are hybrids, and wonder if they are more susceptible to various diseases / health problems? My last hybrid had to be put down at 1 year old due to a ruptured eye and the non-feasibility of surgery being successful. Do purebreds live longer?
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:49 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

No-one ever can predict how long a hamster will live. Hybrids are more prone to diabetes so a sugar free diet is best. All hamsters are susceptible to disease as they age - anything from 15 months onwards. A hybrid may have a genetic predisposition to something - but then so can most hamsters if the breeding background has not been good. Very sad that your last hammy had a ruptured eye at 1 year old. If it wasn't caused by an accident then it suggests an internal tumour may have affected the eye.

So I think the thing to bear in mind is genes are just "luck" in terms of lifespan. The main predisposition for hybrids is diabetes.

I am not exactly sure of the expected lifespan of a pedigree dwarf hamster. I know for Syrians it is supposed to be 18 months to 2.5 years generally (some live till 3). And robos are supposed to live longer and can live up to 5 years. But it doesn't always follow. Both our last Syrians lived to 2 years eight months, but our Robo got cancer at 18 months and didn't survive until he was 2.

Robos are a pure species of dwarf hamster. Russian dwarfs are a hybrid of winter white and Campbells (unless from a breeder and known to be a pure Winter white or Campbells).
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:01 AM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

Unfortunately hybrids do tend to be more prone to disease & general health problems, ethical breeders breeding pure WW or Campbells will only breed from healthy hams & try to breed out any health problems from their lines & this is often not the case with pet shop suppliers, also just being a hybrid of two species can lead to problems with hybrid hams.
Generally though I would agree with Serendipity that a lot of it is luck, you can only give your ham the best care you can whatever species & you can't really care more for a hybrid than you would a pure WW or Campbells so try not to over think things or worry too much. Hybrids like Campbells are more prone to diabetes but all you can do is feed an appropriate diet & do regular health checks just in case a problem does arise.
As for lifespan there's really no certainty, pure breds may stand a better chance of living longer but then I've had a hybrid live until well over two and a half so you can never really guess what will happen.
I just wanted to ask if you are aware that you are getting a hybrid as you say WW so I wasn't sure?
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

Purebred hamsters of one species only should have longer lifespans, give birth easier, be a more reliable weight and size, and be prone to far less health problems. It's not just diabetes in hybrids, there are neurological problems to be aware of as well as a multitude of potential very real issues even if we don't necessarily consider the ethics behind hybrid breeding.

I won't bash anyone for having hybrids or choosing to get them over any other hamster though. There are lots of happy and reasonably healthy hybrid hamsters who are able to live decent lifespans! Just getting a pure species hamster isn't a guarantee of perfect health though - especially when it comes to pet shop hamsters even with Syrians, robos, and Chinese hamsters.

Being aware of the potential issues is important though. It helps you to make important choices in terms of care that can influence the severity of some things - not prevent in terms of diabetes, which is not caused by diet itself although blood sugar can obviously be impacted by certain foods(not just fruit). It also makes you be more vigilant and as such you can keep a closer eye out for any signs of neurological problems which is much better than just seeing something out of nowhere and having no idea what it is!

Personally, I'd still be willing to take in a hybrid. It is a bit scary hearing of all the potential problems you may or may not encounter! However you have to make the choice yourself based on how willing you are to face those problems if you end up encountering them and how capable you are to handle them as well.

It's not the exact same situation, but I personally struggled for quite a while debating how willing and able I would be to handle the reality of very large dogs and certain other pets having shorter lifespans in general. I ultimately decided that however long they're with me is worth it, short or long, and no matter what the struggle ends up being I would rather go through however long making memories and then deal with the heartbreak than to never go through it at all and always wonder "what if"!
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

All been said above and I hope it helps. At the end of the day, all hamsters have fairly short lifespans and hybrids have been around for a very long time. They also need good homes and good owners. The main thing is to be aware that there may be health issues that could shorten their lifespan a bit. However this is also the case for Syrians due to breeding practices and there have been some very sad cases of Syrians dying at just a few months old - probably genetic heart defects.

Getting a pedigree from a breeder means you are more likely to have a healthy hamster who will live a good lifespan but is also not guaranteed- even then a hamster may die young for no known reason- could be a birth trauma effect or just being a runt of the litter.

So yes do be aware that hybrid dwarf hamsters are prone to genetic illness which may or may not shorten their lifespan and they are predisposed to diabetes. But they make lovely pets
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

Quote:
Originally Posted by cypher View Post
I just wanted to ask if you are aware that you are getting a hybrid as you say WW so I wasn't sure?
I was told by the shop that my last ham was a winter white, but I see now from another thread that she must have been a hybrid as she had red eyes. I have asked for a WW, but I'm assuming this can't be guaranteed just by virtue of the fact that I will be buying her from a shop. I have no idea who the suppliers are - only that they are somewhere on the UK mainland (which is why I haven't got her yet, due to the stormy weather and ferries not sailing).
To respond to an earlier post, no, the ruptured eye wasn't due to an accident. The problem with the eye appeared when she was around 7-8 months old, was thought by the vet to be glaucoma, but didn't respond to treatment. I was very attached to her when she was put to sleep, and was hoping that the new hammy might live longer, although I know there are no guarantees.
Many thanks for all the replies to my thread - I have been educated some more and am very grateful for all your knowledge!
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Old 02-22-2020, 02:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

I am very sorry about your last hammy - that is so sad and very hard when she was so young and you were so attached to her. She was very lucky to have a caring owner, but I completely understand that the heart can only take so much in one go! And it would be nice for you now to have a healthy, vigorous hamster who lives a good life span. Have you considered getting a Syrian instead of a dwarf hamster? There are often people wanting to rehome Syrians who are only a few months old (child gets bored etc) and I have a very unscientific theory that if a hamster has survived living in a rescue or to a certain age, that they are probably healthy! We adopted a 1 year old syrian last year, but I have a younger syrian as well - after we had our previous two hamsters die earlier in the year. One was a good age, the other, the robo, had cancer. My heart couldn't have coped with just the 1 year old syrian as I know his remaining lifespan will not be that long - but he's doing very well! So I like to have two hamsters - because I still have one to care for if the other dies.

Have you considered that? It can be some comfort. It may be that there aren't many hamsters privately advertising for rehoming in your area though as you sound remote!

You could also consider a roborovski hamster? Although they are very tiny and not as easily handleable. Our robo never really was hand tame but fun to watch. I had a Syrian and a robo at the same time, so had plenty of handling with the Syrian.

Generally Syrians are supposed to be fairly disease free - until they reach old age. Again if there have been some bad breeding practices, they may have a hidden genetic issue - weak heart eg. But they are not hybrids and generally they are healthy little creatures.
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

Thanks for your reply, Serendipity. I see your point about a Syrian, although it wasn't actually something I had considered; oddly, there is just something about them that doesn't attract me in the same way as a dwarf! I'd be quite happy to re-home a rescue dwarf, but there aren't any rescue places in this neck of the woods.

I had thought about a roborovski, and I do find them appealing. However, since my dwarf is already on order and MAY arrive next weekend (I hope), I have reconciled myself to thinking that maybe I was just unlucky with Theo. Having two hammies is a good idea, but it would be a case of where to put the other one. I couldn't house another detolf! Even finding a suitable space for another smaller cage might be a problem due to my work arrangements (I work from home). But I might go for a roborovski another time. Dwarves are such fascinating creatures!

Many thanks for your thoughts on this.

Last edited by Petite; 02-23-2020 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: Hybrids vs purebreds

I am looking forward to seeing your new dwarf when he/she arrives. We have no purebred dwarves in my area either, they almost all come from pet stores. It's very rare to even see one in classifieds that needs rehoming. But I feel lucky to have my guy despite his medical challenges
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