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Old 11-19-2023, 02:11 AM   #1
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Nov 2023
Posts: 2
Question Bonded Pair Question

Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum but have owned hamsters for the past few years. Up until today I shared my home with two dwarf hybrids (housed separately) and a female Syrian. I house my hamsters in medium and large Niteangel Vistas and enjoying decorating their homes and spoiling them rotten. I have never, before yesterday, housed two dwarf hamsters together.

I brought home a bonded pair of dwarf hybrid brothers yesterday and I think I've made some rookie mistakes in setting up their enclosure. It is 3:00 am where I'm at and I am still awake, monitoring the new guys. I've never housed a pair but these two checked off all the boxes for cohabitation. They're 6-8 month old brothers who have never been separated.

Please know I understand the risks associated with cohabitation and have a spare enclosure on hand if separation is needed at any point. I will not let them hurt each other and will separate at the first sign that things are going south. I want them both happy and healthy above all, they are both very sweet boys who have found their home even if they no longer want to be roommates.

I scatter feed so no food bowls and have provided them with a water bowl on one side of their enclosure and a water bottle on the other. I did not add their wheels tonight as I wanted them to settle in before offering them items they could potentially "claim" as they adjust to their new home.

However, I made a mistake. I used a small cardboard box with two holes in it filled with hay to prop up their sand bath above bedding level and I've since learned not to do that. I heard the occasional squeak throughout the day, always from the same corner of their enclosure, but as soon as night hit the squeaking frequency increased. I determined the box had given one of them a pseudo territory and removed it along with their sandbath. In the process they both came out above bedding level and I was able to watch them for a while. I also checked them both for bites, just to be sure. There were no injuries or marks on either of them. One of the boys did squeak a few times, he seemed irked that his box was gone, but his brother was not chasing or acting aggressively to him.

They walked around, over, and next to each other all around the enclosure without incident.

As I've typed this out over the past hour, there have been no more squeaks - not a single one. The box of doom and the chaos it brought have been banished from the hamsterlands for good. I feel like I may have overreacted with this wall of text, but I'd still love to hear other's experiences with adopting bonded pairs and what to expect in the first few days as they settle in.
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Old 11-20-2023, 06:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Birmingham
Posts: 8,026
Default Re: Bonded Pair Question

Hello and welcome,

I personally wouldn't want to risk it. Even a single fight when you are asleep or out could end in serious injury so for me the benefits don't outweigh the risks.

Do you have a picture of your set up? I put my sandbath on top of the substrate to avoid any issues of trying to balance it and use a multi chamber hide. I'd perhaps offer bowl and bottle options on both sides.

I've never kept a pair so can only comment on my viewed experience...I haven't seen many that have cohabited for life.
Feel free to ask me about rat advice too
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Old 11-21-2023, 04:47 PM   #3
Newborn Pup
Join Date: Nov 2023
Posts: 2
Default Re: Bonded Pair Question

Thank you for the reply Amethyst, I truly appreciate it. I'm not convinced I'll keep them together, even if they continue to get along, but for now the boys have settled in and are doing well. Martin Braak's website has been invaluable for learning which behaviors to look for and how to identify them. The boy's enclosure is in my bedroom for the time being so that I can be instantly available if something does break out during the night.

Since the removal of the box they've settled down considerably, but don't seem quite as comfortable as they did in their previous home. Their previous enclosure was significantly smaller than their current enclosure. They are currently in a 40 gal bin with 10 inches of bedding (no hides), which is a layover stop before they move into a large Nightangel Vista. I read conflicting information on enclosure sizes for pairs, small versus large, so decided to upgrade them slowly. If I don't see improvement on their overall comfort within the week, I'm going to separate them but would like to give them time to settle in, which I don't think they have had since I ended up fiddling with so much of their space over the weekend.

I took your advice and have ordered a second water bottle for the other side of their enclosure. Currently they have a bottle on one end and a water bowl on the other, but I've only seen them use the bottle so two seems like a good idea. The "two of everything" idea is how I'm going to move forward, pending they remain together.

I will update in a week or so with pictures of their enclosure, or earlier with any new developments as they arise. Their comfort is what matters and they will be permanently separated at the first sign of discontent.
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enclosure, box, home, hamsters, bonded

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