The National Hamster
Council and affiliated clubs
The National Hamster Council is a governing body of the hamster fancy
in the United Kingdom, representing the interests of all concerned with
the keeping, exhibiting and /or breeding of all species of hamsters.
Established in 1949, the National Hamster Council is the oldest such
organisation in the world, and it's member clubs cover the whole of the
United Kingdom, with members throughout the world.
With an established network of experienced and knowledgeable officers
and advisors, the National Hamster Council and it's affiliated clubs
offer benefits to everyone interested in all breeds of hamsters. The
clubs organise regular shows in all areas of the country, where
everyone is welcome.
The National Hamster Council has a wealth of experience and expertise
within the organisation, with many members having kept, bread and
exhibited hamsters for over thirty years. This unique pool of knowledge
is made available to every member, through the monthly journal,
information sheets and by personal contact.
Midland Hamster Club
Secretary Mrs Sue Carter
Northern Hamster Club
www.northernhamsterclub.co.uk Club Secretary
Mrs Sue Kilburn.
Southern Hamster Club
Secretary Wendy Barry
The first and most important thing to remember about Syrian hamsters is
ONE HAMSTER PER CAGE
. Although a hamster
will almost always be gentle and loving with you, well meaning people
think they get lonely. However, if two Syrian hamsters are caged
together before long they will begin fighting, resulting in
serious injury or even death.
A useful cage and one used by many breeders, is the type comprising a
"cat litter" tray with a wire top clipped to it. The NHC recommendation
for syrian hamsters cage is a minimum of 1000 cm squared usable floor
space x 19 cm high. If you can afford a slightly bigger cage of the
same type, perhaps
with two or three levels so much better, but do ensure that any young
cannot fall the total height of the cage. A piece of cardboard slipped
any opening will prevent this. Hamster love to climb and will get
of exercise in a cage of this type.
There are also on the market the all or nearly all plastic cages,
comprising a number of compartments linked by tubes. These look
attractive and will stop draughts, although expensive to buy if a
suitable size is used. These cages do however come into their own if
you also own a cat or dog as the hamster is protected against claws.
Glass or plastic aquariums can also be used but a lid made with 1 cm x
1 cm wire mess is required, as a standard lid has little or no
ventilation, and so condensation can form. The lid can be made by
making a wooden frame that fits just outside the tank and fixing the
wire to this. But
please ensure that the hamster cannot climb and push the lid up if it
not secured and remember that hamsters teeth never stop growing and
something hard to chew to keep their teeth the right length.
Setting up the cage
Once you have decided and purchased a suitable cage it will need to be
set up ready for your hamster. A good layer of sawdust or woodshavings
should be spread on the floor of the cage to absorb the urine. Sawdust
is the most absorbent of the two but it's personal choice. If you are
keeping a long haired hamster then sawdust is preferred as shavings
tend to tangle the long hair. Please NEVER NEVER
as suggested in some books, put newspaper under the sawdust, as chewing
this could lead to poisoning.
You now need to provide your hamster with a nest and for this shredded
paper bedding is much the best. There are a variety of different types
on the market, once again this is personal choice. However, some types
of fluffy bedding may cause intestinal problems if swallowed and
hamsters always pouch the material when making their beds.
The next step is to ensure your hamster has a water supply, the best
way to do this is with a conventional commercially made water bottle,
although dishes can be used they tend to get full of sawdust very
The water supply must be changed regularly.
Food dishes can be bought and used but normally the hamster will pouch
it's food and then put it in it's store, so food can just be put in the
sawdust. As this does not look tidy many people prefer to use dishes.
However, since hamsters must chew, a plastic dish can gradually
disappear. A useful substitute is the plastic top of a coffee jar, this
will still be chewable but can be replaced if necessary from the
next jar of coffee. Chewing the plastic does not appear to harm the
hamster but if you want to be very
careful you could buy stainless steel or pottery dishes.
Care should be taken when positioning the cage as this is most
important. Do not place the cage in direct sunlight and ensure it is
out of drafts. The cage can be kept in the house or in a frost free
shed or garage, if
it is kept in the latter then provide the hamster with more bedding
you would indoors. If the hamster is kept indoors do not put the cage
radiators or fires as extremes of temperature are harmful. As long as
is no sudden change in temperature the hamster will be safe.
Wheels will always be a controversial subject when it comes to "toys"
in a hamster cage but a young hamster does enjoy a wheel. The
types with spokes can lead to problems with legs slipping and breaking
and the plastic spoked wheels do tend to be chewed and then drop off
the spindle. The solid plastic type is safer, the larger and wider the
better (this is the type we at Golden Hams choose to use for our
hamsters). Wheels can be a problem for long haired hamsters, as the
hair can catch around the spindle and be pulled out. Keep an eye on
your hamster and it's wheel, if there
is any evidence of loss of fur or the hamsters back is really bent when
running tie the wheel to prevent it moving or remove it from the
Many toys can be purchased for you hamster including seesaws, tunnels,
climbing blocks and ladders, but a lot you can make yourself. Cardboard
rolls can be hung on wires in the cage or a plastic squash bottle with
the top and bottom cut off can be hung up. A wooden shelf can be put in
cages and hamsters love to climb on these to groom themselves.
Play balls can be used for exercise or to place your hamster in
while you are cleaning the cage, but do not leave them for more than a
few minutes at a time. Cages should be cleaned once a week to ensure
your hamster is healthy and happy. In the end, whatever cage you decide
on and whatever type of toys you choose please remember to handle your
hamster and above all enjoy you pet.