The Hairless Hamster

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Hairless hamster overview.

The hairless hamster is not a different hamster species, it is in fact a genetic mutation that effects the epidermis, which is more commonly seen in the Syrian hamster. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin where the hair follicles are found. The unique appearance of the hairless hamster has earned them the nickname “Alien Hamster”. They are not available in all countries and generally seem hard to come by compared to the wide variety of more aesthetically appealing coat types of the Syrian hamster. The hairless hamster's outward appearance will not appeal to everyone. They also require more tentative care because of their mutation, which consequently may make them less desirable as pets.

The hairless hamster has no protective coat of fur. They are also whisker-less, though some may have very short, curly, white whiskers that are shed as they mature. Their skin is described as being very warm and porous to the touch due to the natural oils found in the skin.

Care of the hairless hamster (a must read due to their delicate nature) Because of the hamster's lack of fur, their bodies must work hard to keep it warm. They require a much higher metabolism to constantly send heat to the surface. This means extra care must be taken to supplement their diets with higher protein food. Its is also important to keep them nice and warm during the winter months. The hairless hamster is at risk of going into hibernation, more so than a normal Syrian hamster. It is important to keep their cage above 65 degrees F. Plastic bins are recommended as a caging option, this will help contain heat and keep out drafts. Placing it in close but safe proximity to a heater can help with warmth and a heat pad outside and under the cage may be required.

Hairless hamsters are known to have short life expectancy compared to that of a normal haired Syrian, about half the life span. They also tend to have trouble keeping on weight as they get older, So it is necessary to add lots of fat and protein to their diet. They also have lowered immune systems which makes them more susceptible to disease.

Proper housing for the hairless hamster The lack of fur on the hairless hamster makes them more prone to skin injuries. Extra care must be taken to make sure the hamsters cage is suitable for their delicate nature. Unlike a regular hamster with a fur coat, the hairless hamster is at a higher risk of sustaining an injury doing normal activities a hamster would do each day. Wood shavings or sawdust as bedding should be avoided as the rough edges could easily scrape their skin. Substrates such as Carefresh are recommended, or any other bedding made of reclaimed cellulose fiber that does not contain ink, solvent or dyes found in many recycled paper products. This bedding is soft and extremely absorbent, has no scent and is hypoallergenic.

Avoid wire cages or plastic cages containing tubes. Bar gnawing and small sections of loose or un-sanded wire can easily cause injury. Because the hairless hamster lacks a protective coat they are unable to smoothly glide through the tunnels like a normal hamster could. The tube ridging can pull and damage their skin. Hairless hamsters are best kept in a tank or bin cage with dens and toys designed with large sized entrances. Other abrasive and potentially damaging things to avoid are grass huts, wooden houses, and sand toilets.

Consequences on breeding for the hairless mutation As far as reproducing the hairless mutation, female hairless hamsters do not make good breeders, as they do not lactate enough to sustain their litter, if they are able to lactate at all. Abandonment or cannibalism is common in these cases. Hairless hamsters should be produced by breeding a hairless male (homozygous) to a furred, hairless carrier female (heterozygous for hairless)

Many hairless hamsters are the result of poor breeding practice and the breeding of two satin coated hamsters. This double satinisation produces animals with very sparse to no fur. Two satin animals should never be mated. It is not fair to the resulting offspring. It is actively discouraged by many quality breeders. The proper way to get a true hairless hamster is using the method detailed above, by breeding a hairless male to a furred hairless carrier female.

Reasons why breeding for the hairless variety should be avoided is simply because it is unnatural. In the wild a hairless hamster would not survive. This mutation is really a man-made appearance though selective breeding. Another reason not to produce these hamsters is because the "market" for them is extremely poor.

Despite what some people might think, the hairless hamster doesn't not necessarily make a good pet for people with animal allergies because of their lack of fur. While people have thought the reason for the allergy was from dander, most individuals appear to be affected whether the hamster has fur or not. Allergies are more commonly associated with the animal bedding.

Conclusion Besides all the factors listed above, the hairless hamster will act just as any hamster. They will display their own likes and dislikes and mannerisms over time. Their individual personalties are just as unique as any other ham and will grow on you in time, finding its way to your heart.

I would like to again stress the amount of special care a hairless hamster needs. Do not buy one if you are not committed to the time it takes to make sure they are housed properly and comfortable. Keep in mind the points listed above. The fact that they have lower immune systems and shorter life expectancies may mean regular vet checkups and treatments for any illnesses that could arise. I would NOT recommended a hairless Syrian hamster for a first time hamster owner, so make sure you really know what you are getting into.

If you are interested in this mutation I would suggest looking for a very experienced breeder to adopt your hamster from. It is in the Syrian hamsters' welfare that we do not encourage the sale of these animals from pet stores. Many people like to purchase rodents on a whim before doing ample research and many pet store employees know little about the animals they sell. By supporting this kind of distribution of the hairless variety many of these animals will end up in situations where they suffer because lack of knowledge.

Wide and irresponsible distribution of these haired hamsters could cause an "outbreak" of hairless hamsters to appear in the future. So please make sure you know what you are getting into if you are considering adopting or breeding a hairless ham. If you see hairless hamsters in mixed-gender cages at a pet store, explain to the store-workers the importance of keeping them separated. Any hamster bred with a hairless father will carry the hairless gene so care should be taken that these hamsters are not bred unknowingly.

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