Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cold Feet? ....Or Paws?

It's winter! And It's finally getting cold here! (Depending on where my readers are from it may have already been cold....But I'm in Texas. It's just now getting really cold.) So with the dropping temperature, we've all dug out our warm coats and thermal shirts, but wait....What about our hamsters?!

While it is true that hamsters coats may change a little bit to compensate for the colder air, their coats do not thicken up as much as a dog or cat's will. Winter White hamsters have fur that changes white in the winter to help camouflage them in the snow (Although this will not happen to indoor Winter Whites, as the temperatures in you house won't be cold enough and the use of unnatural light masks the flow of time for the furry little things.)

So how do they keep warm?
Hamsters are complicated little balls of fluff, and believe it or not they stay warm the same ways that we do! No they don't wear jackets! (Although that would be adorable!) They hide in their little houses, and they pack on the pounds!

How can I make sure my ham ham warm enough?
The same way you keep yourself warm!
When your cold you dig out extra blankets right? Well your hammie will do the same! Put extra bedding in your hamster's habitat. They will thank you for the extra nesting materials! Also, consider putting shredded toilet paper in there home as well. Paper insulates heat and is soft and comfey. If your hamster does not have a little house to hide in you should get one.

Turn on a heater! That's how you keep yourself warm isn't it? Just make sure you do not direct the heater too close to the hamster's cage, because he or she may get too hot. If possible just move them to a warmer room in the house. Heat lamps will also work well but your hammie might not like the constant light. Many people say to place a heating pad under the cage but I do NOT recommend doing this as the bottom of the cage can get much too hot for their little feet. (And in the case of cages with plastic bases they can melt!)

Let them pack on the pounds! Give them a little extra food. Fuller tummies help us all feel warmer!

Keep them away from windows, door and drafts. The wind can cause chills. You can cover part of the cage to prevent drafts.
*Wired/plastic cages: Make sure you do not do this with a towel or blanket, as your furry little friend will pull the material in through the bars and chew it. This is unsafe as they can get caught in the threads, choke on them, or die from trying to ingest them. For this type of cage, I recommend using pieces of cardboard (This is what I do for Sasha, aside from extra nesting materials and keeping her in a warmer room).
*Tanks: Preventing drafts for a small animal in a tank is much easier. Since only the top of the tank is exposed to drafts you can easily drape a blanket or towel over half of the cage, and presto! Your done! You can use a blanket or towel this time because the openings on the wire mesh screen for the tank will be too small to pull fabric through.

Keep them in doors at all times! This should go without saying because hamsters are not outside pets! If you have to transport them somewhere, like for a vet visit, make sure their carrier is well protected from the wind and give them plenty of bedding and shredded toiled paper to nest in.

Won't they hibernate?
No! Hamsters are not bears! Although if they get too cold, they will fall into a state called Torpor. Hamsters originated in climates that were typically warm in the day, and cold in the night, so their tiny bodies can compensate for some temperature fluctuations. But if the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they may fall into a temporary state of hibernation called Torpor. A hamster in Torpor will build a warm nest, eat as much as they can, and bed down and sleep to conserve energy and stay warm. In small animals this usually only lasts a few hours (Not longer than a day). Hamsters in this state may appear lifeless, but upon close observation will have shallow breathing and twitching whiskers. They will be rather unresponsive  but should be woken up immediately, but GENTLY. To wake a hamster in Torpor you should gently nuzzle them, and warm them. Once a hamster wakes from Torpor it may be groggy and grumpy, so move him or her to a warmer area, give them plenty of food and leave them alone for a bit. If they do not resume normal activities within a day or two, you should consult a vet.

In short keep your ham hams warm! :)) I hope everyone is having a wonderful winter and keeping both themselves and their pets warm.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Puzzle Paradise!

Super Pet has a neat little invention that's been out for quite some time now that just keeps getting better and better. It's called the Puzzle Playground.

What is it?
The Puzzle Playground is just what it sounds like: a playground made of puzzle pieces. These amazing playgrounds are expandable and connectable jungle gyms for hamsters, gerbils and mice! You can make your own configurations and they will always snap into place with each other. The sets generally include square hard-plastic pieces and triangular ones. They also come with round openings that are more resistant to chewing but can also be connected to any Super Pet tubes. Certain sets also come with tubes and ramps.

New VS Old:
The older sets were different colors although they are the same thing. The older sets were red, dark green, yellow, and purple with clear windows and red ramps. As far as I know, none of these sets came with tubes. The newer sets are neon green, blue, yellow, and purple, with colored transparent windows, and purple ramps. The tubes that come with these sets are green and blue.

Super Pet currently only has two of these Puzzle Playground sets on their website, but there are more than just two!
+20 Piece Puzzle Playground
+42 Piece Puzzle Playground
+60 Piece Puzzle Playground
+38 Piece Puzzle See Saw
+20 Piece Puzzle Ferris Wheel
42 Pc. Puzzle Playground
The most common set
Why I love them:
Could you imagine living your life in a box with the same furniture and toys over and over? I can't! And no one wants their small pet to have to live such a miserable fate. So you switch out their toys and houses every once in awhile, but eventually they get bored of the same thing. So you go to buy new things but (1) that gets expensive and (2) where do you store all that stuff?!

This is where the genius of the Puzzle Playground comes in! You can buy one or two sets and your good to go! You set up a simple design and your furry friend plays in it awhile and then when it's time to switch out furniture, you can just redesign the house! You save money and storage space and both you and your furry little friend have something fun to do!

Ever buy something for your pet that they didn't like? With Puzzle Playgrounds, if they don't like it you can just rebuild it until you find a way they do like it! Ever buy a house that was too big or too small? Rebuild! Ever scour the globe for the perfect home for your pet to no avail? Build it!

Oh, well you and your friend are tired of the Puzzle Playground and you decide your gonna take a break from it. Oh no! Now where are you gonna put it?! Pop the pieces apart and throw them in a box. Simple!

Where can I buy these?
Usually pet stores sell them. Petco and Petsmart do. You can also find them online. I know for sure and sell them. The Puzzle playgrounds are usually easy to come by, but the hard ones to get are the Ferris wheel and see saw.

Bad Reviews:
I always hear and see a lot of bad reviews from people. I personally haven't had a problem with them and I've been using them since my first two hamsters. And I was in middle school then!

They don't stay together: This is probably the biggest complaint from everyone. But the thing is you have to make sure the pieces are locking into place right. If they don't then of course there not going to stay together. Personally I've never had this problem. I've been using them for years. I still have the same set from when I was in middle school and they still work fine.

There only good for dwarf hamsters: Not true! Sasha is my first dwarf hamster. Before her I had Syrian ham hams and they all fit in the playgrounds just fine! But that is part of the playground: build it the way your hamster (or gerbil or mouse) will like it.

My gerbils ate them: Well that's gerbils for ya! Small animals have teeth that are continuously growing and they need to chew to keep them from getting over grown-gerbils especially. While it's true that these aren't completely chew proof, they are somewhat resistant, and as long as you provide your pets with other chewing materials they should last a while.

They get dirty: Everything in an animal's cage gets dirty! And in my opinion these are super easy to clean because you can completely demolish them!

So there! I LOVE the puzzle playgrounds! (I'm sorry I know I sound like I'm trying to sell this to you but I'm not. I just really like this product.) Currently I have an old set and the 60 Piece Puzzle Playground. (I've also got the 42 Piece Puzzle Playground in the mail, but that's part of Sasha's Christmas present.)

I'm going to start a segment where I post photos and videos of puzzle playgrounds that I have built or that have been sent to me from ham fans! It will be called Puzzle Paradise! Feel free to email your designs to me at! Happy Building!