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An Alphabet of Hamster Facts (C)


We often say that a hamster is "carrying" a colour, eg this golden is "carrying" dark grey. What we mean is that the hamster has one dose of (or is heterozygous for) a recessive gene which it has inherited from one of its parents. Because the gene is recessive, it needs to be present in the double dose (or homozygous form), in order to reveal itself. The hamster "carries" the hidden gene, and dark grey babies will only appear if the hamster is mated to another hamster carrying dark grey, or to a dark grey hamster. If the hamster "carrying" the dark grey gene is mated to a non-carrier, then some (50% on average) of the offspring will have the dark grey gene passed on to them, but you won't be able to tell which are carrying the gene or which aren't until the offspring are mated to greys or carriers of grey.


The pink-eyed dilution of the Syrian hamster, having an orange top colour with a slate blue grey undercolour, brownish grey flashes, ivory crescents and bellyfur, medium to dark red eyes, darkening with age and brownish grey ears. When combined with other colours, can give Lilac (Cinnamon + Dark Grey), Red-Eyed Cream (Cinnamon + Black-Eyed Cream), "Albino" (Cinnamon + Dark Eared White), Honey (Cinnamon + Yellow), Dove (Cinnamon + Black) and Blonde (Cinnamon + Light Grey)


A healthy hamster, well-fed and with plenty of bedding, is unlikely to be affected by cold if it is used to being kept in unheated conditions. More elderly or ill hamsters can, as a temporary measure, hibernate to get through a cold spell. Hamsters in hibernation can appear totally stiff and unmoving, although often a very slight movement of the whiskers can be seen. You should always attempt to bring your hamster out of hibernation slowly - in a warm room using your body heat. Once reasonably alert, give warm milk with glucose if possible and then keep the hamster in warmer surroundings with more bedding and a more fattening diet.


Hamsters can catch colds from a human or as a result of their cage being placed in a cold room or in a draught. Do not get too close to your hamster if you have a cold, as a hamster with a cold can very easily develop pneumonia Symptoms of a hamster with a cold are much the same as in humans, with sneezing and a discharge from the nose and sometimes the eyes. The hamster will usually be lethargic with fluffed up fur and half closed eyes. A hamster with a cold should be placed immediately in a warm, draught free area, ideally close to a radiator - but not too close. The hamster should be given plenty of bedding material and a mixture of lukewarm milk and water with a teaspoon of honey should help the hamster to recover. If there is no improvement within a couple of days, or the condition worsens, veterinary treatment should be sought immediately, as a course of antibiotics may be needed.


Constipation can be caused by a lack of vegetables and also by lack of exercise causing muscular problems. A hamster with constipation will often walk with an arched back because of discomfort, and will also be lethargic and have a swollen belly. Sometimes the hamster can also be slightly wet around the anal region and a look at the droppings in the cage will soon indicate that this is from constipation rather than diarrhoea. If your hamster has constipation and is eating, you should feed it plenty of greens and vegetables. A small drop of olive oil or liquid paraffin (from a chemist) can also be fed using a clean eye dropper. Within a few days the hamster should recover and a small amount of greens should be fed for a further couple of days to ensure the problem does not recur.