Breeding hamsters as a hobby and Hamsteries
From Hamster Central WIKI
Generally hamsters are not hard to breed; in fact they breed pretty readily especially the Syrian hamster. A few of the dwarf species like the Roborovski are a bit pickier but if given the appropriate conditions will flourish. There are many issues that one should look over before trying to breed any animal. Hamsters can reproduce very rapidly so it is imperative that you know about proper breeding and hamster owning husbandry.
What is a Hamstery?
There is some debate on the issue, while some people claim this is a term generally used for breeders it can also be refer to as the "collector" or "shower"
In terms of numbers there really seems to be no definitive consensus from a few hamsters to over a hundred. I have also heard reference to it in relation to someone who doesn�t breed but purely rescues. I feel however, that it is important to set down a proper notion with the term, and I feel a hamstery is an operation in which there are several to many hamsters involved, that are well taken care of and who�s caretaker(s) are quite knowledgeable in the species with ample experience.
Know the responsibilities before hand
It is important that one knows all the responsibilities in keeping a hamstery and breeding as a hobby. Dwarfs and Syrians have different needs, while dwarf species are communal and can live easily in same sexed groupings the Syrian hamster is a solitary animal and must be separated into different enclosures before they reach sexual maturity. This is something you should consider when choosing what species you would like to get into breeding. How much space is available to you to accommodate these creatures?
A hamstery has to have enough cages to be able to deal with a litter of hamsters that does not get rehomed as quickly as one might have expected, many cages are needed even if you are only breeding one or two hamsters.
Another issue is time. How much time do you have to care for your hamster community? There are other tasks involved. Keeping cages clean is important and must be done at lest once or twice a week. Breeding as a hobby means you will have quite a few enclosures (cages) to take care of. Are you willing and fit enough to handle something like this and do you have ample time to do a thorough job?
All the hamsters need to be fed a proper diet; this will cost money especially when feeding a group of adult hamster and youngsters. You will need to do research to determine what is the best diet for breeding hamsters. And you must be willing to travel to get these needed supplies.
When breeding as a hobby you have the responsibility to supervise all matings in the hamstery. In Syrian hamsters fighting is a high probability and males and females need supervision incase they need to be separated quickly.
Other responsibilities in breeding are providing expected mothers with a quiet location as where they can peacefully give birth. Cannibalism is often caused by over stressed and bothered parents.
Hamsters should be kept in a good temperature range, neither too cold in the winter nor too hot in the summer.
You will need a quarantined area for all new hamsters to be kept in before introducing to the rest of the population, especially if the hamster(s) are brought in from unreliable sources (such as pet shops) to ensure there is no spread of infection such as bacterial, fungal, parasitic infections, papova or other viruses.
A sound knowledge and understanding of genetics is very important as well. Do your research, attend hamster shows, talk to other established breeders on the subject. Get to know what you�re looking for as far as a "quality" hamster goes, have a good grasp on how genetics and genes work to help produce this.
Vet treatment is very important, this certainly isn't a subject to be taken lightly - the importance of finding a good vet who is happy and able to diagnose and treat rodents BEFORE leaping into having many animals is very important. Vet bills can be expensive so make sure you are financially able to handle a situation that requires a vet visit. To give you an idea it costs around $35.00 to $55.00 USD and 8.50 to 12.50 just to get in for the initial examination and whatever extra it costs for treatments or surgeries. And bear in mind hamsters don't always fall ill within normal working hours so you need to be prepared to pay out-of-hours emergency fees and be able to get to the surgery quickly, possibly necessitating the use of taxis etc. A personal knowledge of basic health problems is essential before beginning a hamstery. People will expect you to be able to advise them well, and they will listen to your advice, so it's important you do actually know what you're talking about and know when to say a vet is required.
What makes a good hamstery?
See above under "Know the responsibilities before hand" all of that of course applies. A good hamstery provides safe and comfortable housing as well as care, nutrition and stimulation for its hamsters. Good Stimulation means that the hamsters are treated as pets. They are not stuffed into to small or overcrowded cages, they are given toys, wheels and other necessary cage accessories like chew toys and toilet paper rolls and things of that nature.
It's important to start slowly when staring a hamstery, try and build up experience before rushing in. Having a hamstery is long term so take the time to gain the knowledge and a little experience from talking with other breeders before rushing out to start your own. Start out slowly by joining hamster clubs, attending shows, learning, owning single hamsters then with a single breeding pair rather than shooting into buying stock in double figures. Don't be mesmerized by the miriad of colours out there pick one or two and concentrate.
A good hamstery is about breeding for the well being of the breed, strengthening genetics and temperament and health as well as creating aesthetically pleasing specimens. A hamstery is about quality over quantity.
If you are interested in starting your own hamstery then be sure that you are prepared to put all your hamsters needs above all else. Remember these are living creatures that you have claimed responsibility over.
Breeding For Money�
The idea of breeding hamsters may come off as a very easy way to make a bit of money, but breeding hamsters can cost money and unless you are breeding champion show hamsters any money earned will probably equal out in the end after the cost of bedding and food supplies, housing, vet bills and whatever other accessories are needed. Prize monies are not huge, if given at all usually, tokens such as rosettes and certificates are more common.
Most larges pet store suppliers that sell animals have large suppliers for an entire chain or franchise, and will not take any second hand animals nor will they purchase them off you to resell in their stores no matter if you claim to have good quality healthy animals. If they ever do they will give you a tiny fraction of the cost they sell them on for.
Local pet store generally get all their animals from local suppliers and breeders. Or they may take them from people who no longer wish to keep their animals any longer, or from people who's hamster had a "surprise" litter. The quality of animals and care in local pet shops is usually the minim requirements, do you really want to leave your hamsters with someone you don't know, and just hope they have good judge in character in who they sell your hamsters to, or if your hamster turns into snake food?
Don't think about posting up flyers on bulletin boards either, they usually go unnoticed. So as you can see breeding should not be taken lightly, there are a many homeless hamster in your local shelters. Just give them a call or pop along for a look.
Bottomline, if you intend to breed and start your own hobby hamstery, do it for the love of the hamster, to enjoy them and to improve the quality of hamsters in your area.
The only way one could make money is to cut corners by provided the most inexpensive and smallest cages available, feeding the minimum requirements for a healthy diet and not spending money on stimulant toys such as exercise wheels. This would now make you a mill breeder and is very much unacceptable.
What sorts of cages and accessories are appropriate for a hamstery?
Good quality escape proof cages or enclosures that are easy to clean and to store. This means you would be best off to stay away from the colorful habbitrail tube like cages, or any wood cages. The enclosures must a good size for the species, not too small. Some of the most used enclosure by hamster breeders are large, affordable and durable storage bins.
Give the hamsters something to do in the enclosures. Provide exercise wheels; chew toys etc in their cages daily. Quality water bottles that are kept clean and leak free. Good quality hamster mixes with a high amount of protein. Good bedding substrates (no cedar or pine). It�s important that the enclosures and hamstery room are appropriately ventilated to minimize spreading of disease and smell. Also natural lighting; don�t stick them in a depressing damp basement or closet, allow them some natural daylight. This is particularly important for breeding dwarf species like the Roborovski who breed seasonally.
Have a good storage system to keep the cages on and for storing beddings and food supplies.
Is showing your hamsters apart of owning a good hamstery?
Depending on where you live may make showing and attending hamster shows a bit difficult. The popularity's of hamsters is a bit a different between the US and UK. It seems that there are few places to show in the US but in the UK it would be very surprising if you couldn't find a hamster show close to your area.
One does not necessarily need to show in order to be a good hamstery owner, so long as all the needs are provided and the hamsters are well looked after. However if you are planning to start one then the main issue is breeding good healthy stock. In which case it may be best to visit a hamster show or two to get a better a feel for what makes an aesthetically pleasing hamster and talk with other breeders.
You will want to also start off your hamstery with good quality stock by purchasing your first breeding pairs from an established and well recognized breeder with positive feedback on their own hamstery. In visiting shows you can make contacts and deals as well as purchasing pleasing specimens.
Showing will make your hamsters more desirable and you may find yourself easily finding homes for future pups. You will also establish yourself as good a hobbyist breeder. Showing is a good way to create more interest in the breed and is a good public relations tool.
Look into creating a fellowship with other breeder to increase your knowledge.
Where do I find quality stock?
It's important to start off your hamstery with good quality stock. The point of a hamstery of course is to breed to improve the species in some way. So it�s very important that you know where your hamsters come from and know a bit about their health and genetic lineage. The best place to purchasing your first breeding pairs is from an established and well-recognized breeder with positive feedback on their own hamstery.
Do not breed any rescue hamsters or pet store purchased hamsters. Hamsters from pet shops even large franchise chains cannot tell you about your hamster background. These hamsters are also bred in quantity and more often then not are very stressed and most likely prone to disease, particularly wet tail which is usually fatal.
Please see �Is showing your hamsters apart of owning a good hamstery? for more information about showing hamsters and breeders.
How do I find local breeders?
Check your local community newsletters, check on the internet (especially if in the USA) Do searches on search engines such as "google" and "yahoo" for the species you are interested in and see what comes up. Search key words such as hobbyist hamster breeder, Hamstery, Hamster Forum, Hamster Club, Hamster breeders USA (UK)� and so on.
Email local hamster breeders even if they don�t have the species you are particularly interested in, ask them if they know of anyone they might be able to refer you to. Often times breeders know each other or are aware or acquainted with other hobbyist breeders.
Enquire (and hopefully join) your relevant hamster club in UK or Europe. Look into joining some forums like Hamster Central Forum and post in classified sections.
Note to the Reader:
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We are also looking for pictures of hamsteries to display!
"Acknowledgments to the moderators on the HC forum for over viewing this information. Also to the many hamstery owners who have kindly answered our hamstery survey for this information. And to Faerietailshamsters.com and Babyboos Hamstery for providing images of their hamsteries! "