Hamsters are protected by The Animal Welfare Act, it is a legal requirement to provide a safe and suitable environment

Retailers say they are responsible but they continue to ignore the welfare evidence and advice that exists. When walking into a pet store the injustices hamsters face is obvious for everyone to see. Often products are designed to appeal more to children than being suitable for a hamster.

Small cages that look like toys, coloured hamster balls, fluffy bedding etc. Hamsters have been getting a raw deal in many areas for too many years. Hamsterwelfare.com is here to bring together the advice, evidence and care information from the most reputable sources available.

Mark Diner

Following the tragic death of his hamster Poppy, Mark Diner wanted to ensure that the evidence surrounding his hamster’s death was recorded and distributed in the correct way.

 

Poppy, a Syrian hamster, suffered a slow and painful death in the care of the vets whist waiting for an operation to free a suspected blockage. After only producing one faeces in 10 days it was unclear what the cause of death was. Mark asked the vet to perform a post mortem which showed “Large intestines – hairball/fibrous material located in ascending colon approx 2cm x 1cm and total impaction” also “multiple incisions made along colon and hair present at all locations”, “rupture of colon”.

 

To ensure correct identification of the fibre Mark commissioned Cellmark Forensics who are accredited by the Ministry of Justice to forensically determine the nature of the fibre. To ensure a strict chain of custody Cellmark Forensics collected the fibre from the vets. Pamela Bauer the science lead for forensically testing fibre has produced a report showing that the fibre retrieved at Post Mortem was the fluffy bedding Rosewood Soft ‘n’ Safe.

 

It became apparent to Mark that this evidence was ground breaking in exposing the widely discussed ingestion issue surrounding fluffy bedding for hamsters, which is of course a hidden issue that is naked to the human eye. Furthermore, the evidence helps support The RSPCA advice “Don’t give hamsters nesting materials that separate into thin strands, e.g. cotton wool or similar ‘fluffy’ bedding products. They pose a serious risk to their health and welfare, due to the possibility of entanglement or ingestion”.

 

The strict chain of custody surrounding Poppy’s death has resulted in the evidence being published in a peer reviewed journal written by Vicki Baldry of The Royal Veterinary College, furthermore the evidence is being used in lectures to help educate their veterinary students.

 

Mark’s efforts of sharing his evidence and advice from reputable sources such as The RSPCA, Blue Cross and The RVC has resulted in Fluffy Bedding products being removed from many major retailers such as Amazon, Jollyes, Petstop etc.

Tiffany Key

Tiffany Key had hamsters in the past from the early 2000’s on and off. One day she went to a local pet store and saw her young daughter fall in love with Syrian hamsters. As Tiffany went to purchase a hamster (later named Barry) at the local store, an employee mentioned cage upgrades.

 

Tiffany then joined a hamster Facebook group where she started to learn more about hamsters and their care. Through her learning, Tiffany found a community of Hamster youtubers where she learned more tips for hamster care.

 

Tiffany upgraded her cage to a tank and upgraded the flying saucer to a 28cm Trixie wheel and the sawdust to paper bedding. Realising that her tank was just under the UK’s minimum of 80x50cm, Tiffany then upgraded to an Alaska cage.

 

Barry was a much loved hamster and was very spoiled, one night Tiffany accidently ordered the wrong bedding for Barry that turned out to be scented bedding. Tiffany then took to the hamster group to ask if it would be safe just for a day or two and got a response saying that it was ok to use just for the time being. The next day, Tiffany asked her partner if he had seen Barry to which he replied no. Tiffany then checked on Barry to find him cold and limp. She tried to warm him up as the vets suggested but unfortunately, Barry passed away.

 

After the passing of Barry Tiffany then went on to adopt a hamster named Yeti. Yeti’s enclosure was upgraded from the Alaska cage to the Ikea Detolf. After 2 years, Tiffany then decided to foster a hamster who was living a horrible life with no wheel and a dirty little cage. As the hamster was 2.5 years old it was unlikely he would be adopted, so Tiffany gave this hamster the life he should have had and named him Chewie. This was the point when Tiffany became more active within the hamster community, becoming the Information Admin on multiple hamster Facebook groups, and setting up her own hamster Facebook page.

 

Over the months Chewie started to decline, becoming less active. Chewie stopped grinding his teeth down making it harder for him to eat. Chewie was taken to the vet to have his teeth cut under anaesthetic and given painkillers. This worked for a while with Chewie perking back up but unfortunately, he started to decline once more. A decision was made to have him put to sleep due to his health rather than monthly visits to the vet which would have caused unnecessary stress for Chewie.

 

Tiffany then wanted to extend her platform and joined the TikTok hamster education community, where she helps educate many people young and old on hamsters on her page @TiffanyandPets and hopes one day to educate on other rodent care.

 

After yeti died (of old age), Tiffany got two gerbils from an ethical breeder and is starting her new journey, she is still helping the hamster community but would love to help the wider rodent community in the future.

Special Thanks To These Kind People for Their Assistance with Poppy's Fluffy Bedding Evidence:

Duncan Reavell

Lynwood Veterinary Group Clinical Director, Advanced Practitioner in Small Animal Medicine MA VetMB CertSAM MRCVS

About

Dr Vicki Baldrey

Royal Veterinary college BVSc BSc(Hons) DZooMed(Avian) FHEA MRCVS Lecturer in Exotics Species and Small Mammal Medicine and Surgery

About

Earls Hall Veterinary Hospital Team

About

Dr Joanna Hedley

Royal Veterinary College BVM&S DZooMed (Reptilian) DipECZM (Herpetology) MRCVS Head of RVC Exotics Service Senior Lecturer in Exotic Species and Small Mammal Medicine and Surgery

About

Samantha Gaines

RSPCA

About

Pamela Bauer

Cellmark Forensic Services

About

Dani Grego

Historical Campaign

About

Luke Dennis

Linney

About

Edie Bowles

Advocates for Animals

About

Elaine Higgins

Cellmark Forensic Services

About

Emily Stott

RSPCA

About

James Alexander

LaunchPod Studios

About

David Thomas

Advocates for Animals

About

Ciaran O’Meara

Change.org petition

About

Jonathan Lipman

Online & Media

About

Julianna Rock

Ontario Hamster Club

About