My name is Emma, but I more commonly go by 'Em'. I was born in August of '97, in north Dublin, Ireland and I can't remember a time of not having pets in my life. I was born to animal mad parents, and was subsequently raised with three rescued cats - and so it should be no surprise that I grew up to become the animal lover I am.
It may surprise you however to hear that I was not always a lover of all animals, specifically rodents, ironically. In fact, I was terrified of them for the first 10 years of my life, with rats being my #1 fear. I attribute this fear to my lack of exposure to rodents as a young child, with added stereotypes surrounding these species on top of this. Something changed the day my parents brought me to a library to pick out some books to keep me occupied on a plane journey; they booked a holiday to Menorca, and growing up with no access to technology, I was an avid bookworm - so giving me a book would keep me quiet. It was there that I stumbled across a book titled "The World According to Humphrey", and the bright red book accompanied with the adorable photo of a hamster on the front had my 10 year old heart captivated.
I would spend the next few weeks reading every book on hamsters available in the library, and pestering my poor parents to allow me to get a Humphrey of my own in the meantime. They agreed, but told me I had to wait until we came home from holidays. I stubbornly agreed to wait, and put half the money relatives had given me as spending money for our trip into a savings jar for my future hamster. I would then spent the next few weeks looking forward to our holiday being over, and spent the entire two weeks of our holiday in a beautiful, sunny paradise wanting to go home to dull & rainy Ireland so that I could finally get my hamster. We had an early flight at 8am, and so my parents had been up all night getting organised for the journey home - they were exhausted, and I still dragged them to the pet shop to get my hamster that same day. I picked out a female long haired honey Syrian hamster and named her the only name I deemed fitting; Humphrey.
With a brief one year period from 2012-2013, hamsters have been a part of my life ever since and have led me to keeping many other rodent, and non-rodent, species as pets over the years (yes, rats included!) and excluding hamsters, I'm currently a proud servant to a leopard gecko, a group of three rabbits, a dog, & a cat and if I'm not spending my days researching hamsters, I spend my days researching the other species I keep instead. It was in 2013 with a syrian hamster named Chester that I discovered hamster forums, and realised just how outdated care books were. While I had researched prior to getting my first hamster, I did not research in the right place. Even with Chester, it wasn't too long before I was questioning why x standards this forum encouraged were the way they were, and it quickly became apparent to me that all standards were just based on what the average person was willing to provide, and weren't necessarily a reflection of the hamsters needs. This questioning of standards only intensified as I got older, and I quickly grew frustrated with forums and their lack of willingness to change to cater more to the animals, as I felt it was misleading to owners to make them believe that the standards encouraged had really anything to do with improving the quality of their hamsters lives in captivity. So, I took my passion to instagram; where I could share info without censorship or having to be subjected to approval by an admin - but without the highlight feature being available at the time, my info posts quickly became buried and with the caption limit, just weren't as informative as I wanted them to be. Someone suggested I make a blog... and so I did.
I do not claim perfection (though I believe my hamsters to be), and I will never claim to be an expert. I am simply a proud, self-proclaimed hamster nerd with a passion for hamsters, and this is simply my place to share my findings in the hopes it makes your hamster journey easier, and helping you provide your hamster with the best life possible in captivity with standards that reflect what is most appropriate for them and with standards that reflect the 21st century, while still keeping those standards reasonable to keep them achievable by the average person. I call this blog my passion project, and it is fueled by my passion & compassion for one of the most overlooked and neglected animals in the pet trade. If you wish to share my content (such as for translating, etc.) you are more than free to do so, all I ask is that you please give credit where credit is due. This applies to educational use only. You may not use any of my content for monetary gain. Pictures of mine may also not be used without expressed permission regardless of intent.
Meet The Hamsters
When possible, I enjoy featuring my own hamsters in various posts. They can be easily spotted as they will include their names under the photos, and so if you come across a named hamster featured, you can rightly assume they have been my own pet. Unfortunately, some of the hamsters featured have since passed on - but their memory will forever live on with these posts in educating you on species appropriate care. While many of the hamsters I have featured on this site have since passed, this section will include an intro to the hamsters featured that are still with me (and will be updated as required).
Aiko is a male Syrian hamster; I have no idea what colour he is, just
that he is a very odd example of a broken banded. He is estimated to
be born around April of 2020, and I rescued him on June 28th, 2020
after a 6 hour road trip there & back. His owners did not give a reason for
rehoming him, but upon collecting him, they had a couple terrier dogs who
were madly circling his enclosure - and so I have no doubt that possibly
played a part. Aiko is a very young Syrian, and was both housed
inappropriately and severely mishandled in his previous home. Because of
this, is very scared of anything touching him - be it hands, or stationary items
in his enclosure - but this is something that will lessen with time. Aiko is still
very new to me, so he is still learning to be confident again, but is already
making steady progress.
Sherpa is female sapphire Winter White hybrid. She is estimated to be
born around March 2020 and I rescued her on July 20th, 2020. A common
case of just some not realising what they were getting into with owning a
hamster, and quickly deciding it wasn't for them. Sherpa is a very friendly,
outgoing hamster who is almost always awake at some period during the day.
She is very handable, but can't sit still for a second, which makes
photographing her an interesting task!
Pigeon is a female hybrid dwarf hamster (I suspect she's possibly a red eyed
mandarin variation) that I rescued on August 6th, 2020 and is the most
heartbreaking rescue case I have ever been involved with. She was being
housed outdoors for at least a few days (in Ireland!) and evidently hadn't
had her cage cleaned in months. Her cage was not only tiny, but it was
saturated in urine and was so foul smelling that it had attracted flies, with
dead flies littering her enclosure floor. Upon collecting Pigeon, it quickly
became apparent to me that she was in much dire need of rescuing than I
had initially realised, as she was not only completely blind but has a
neurological condition known as 'star gazing' where she spins in very
tight circles. This is unfortunately a problem often associated with very poorly
bred hamsters (i.e. hybrids) and is a prime example for why you should never
buy an animal from a pet store (everyone has the option not to - if you can't
source them ethically, then don't buy one!). Pigeon is already 1 year old,
but despite everything she has been through is still a very sweet, loveable
hamster & regardless of how much time she has with us, has already made a
lasting impact on my life forever.
Jimmy Joe 'JJ' is a male pied Roborovski dwarf hamster that I rescued on
November 16th, 2020. He was being housed in a tiny enclosure about
the size of an average hamster carrier, with nothing other than a plastic hide,
with no nesting material, a bowl of pelleted food, water bottle, and 4 inch
wheel that didn't even spin. He was so greasy that his face was
unrecognisable, with his coat so saturated in grease from having no sand bath
it was black. I have no idea what age JJ was, and was told nothing other
than his owners had him a few months, before the kids lost interest and didn't
want him anymore. Based on his size, we know that JJ is an adult and
estimate him to be at least 6-8 months old at the time of adoption. JJ is
making steady progress, his gaining weight, and Looking less greasy every
day! He is a very sweet ham, who is like a typical Robo: ever so curious,
Kuma is a male chocolate Syrian hamster that I rescued on December 15th,
2020. He was a surprise Christmas present someone had purchased for their
friend just two days previously, but when the intended recipient broke the news
that they were moving country, it left Kuma with nowhere to go. A perfect
example of why pets make terrible surprise gift! As Kuma has never really
faced neglect, he is a very confident and outgoing guy who I am excited to
get to know more!
While I have owned many hamsters over the years, I thought I would dedicate a space to the hamsters featured on this account who have since passed, as a tribute of sorts, and so you can get to know the story behind them.
Keiko was a male heterozygous silver grey dominant spot long haired
Syrian (say that 10 times over!). He was my first rescue hamster, and is
the reason for why I am so passionate about #thinkadoptionfirst for
hamsters today. I rescued Keiko in September of 2016, after his owners were
gifted him as a present & decided they no longer wanted him after getting a new
kitten (a prime example of why pets make terrible surprise gifts!). He was
estimated to be 6-8 months old at the time, and was being housed completely
inappropriately in a tiny 200 square inch enclosure, and 5 inch
wheel he couldn't run on even if he wanted to. I named him 'Keiko' after
the orca, and he became my own freedom project. While I could never
give him the wild, I gave him my best & built him a 8ft x 2ft x 2ft
enclosure that has since been enjoyed by many rescued & adopted hamsters
over the years. Keiko started as a trembling ball of nerves, and blossomed
into one of the sweetest & trusting hamsters I have ever had the pleasure
of working with, and he will forever hold a special place in my heart.
He passed in August of 2018, at 28 months old.
Nala was a female agouti roborovski dwarf hamster. She was the
product of an accidental litter, after her old owner was sold a pair
of robos marketed as two boys, but who ended up being a male/female
pair - this situation happens more often than you would think, and is
a mistake that can happen to even an experienced owner. She was born
in February of 2017, and passed in January of 2019 - just a month before
her 2nd birthday. I named her Nala, after someone commented that robos
reminded them somewhat of lions - though tiny, they are fierce. Like a
typical robo, Nala was brave, yet skittish. She preferred to keep to
herself, but could be tempted by insects. She was a very sweet robo,
and I still miss her terribly to this day.
Shasta was a female black eyed cream Syrian hamster. She was one of
my most heartbreaking rescue case that I have personally been involved
with. I had Keiko (though he was very old) at the time, and had a
one-syrian-at-a-time rule, but when I saw Shasta's ad, I couldn't not do
anything. She was being housed in a 'Crittertrail 360', with nothing but
a water bottle, tiny igloo, and food bowl filled with mouldy carrots. I moved
her into a detolf, and then after Keiko passed, she got to enjoy the 8ft
enclosure for the remaining 9 months of her life, living the life she deserved
to live from the beginning. Shasta was a true character, and forever getting
up to mischief. She had an obsession with wanting to play in the wardrobe,
which quickly earned her the nickname 'narnia'. I adopted her in February
of 2018, when she was estimated to be 8 months old at the time. She
passed in April of 2019, at around 22 months old.
Sterling was a female sapphire Winter White hybrid dwarf hamster. She
was adopted as part of an accidental litter in August 2017, and was
perhaps one of the most uniquely tempered hamsters I have ever owned.
She developed a habit, that was not trained, of jumping into my hands
every time I opened her enclosure, which quickly gained her the nickname
'Sterling the Supaham'. She was a very special hamster, on a whole other level
of crazy, and is the hamster featured in many posts. She unfortunately passed away in
July of 2019, at the ripe old age of 26 months.
Reuben was a female argente Campbells hybrid dwarf hamster, who I
adopted a couple weeks after I got Sterling in September of 2017. Her
old owner was a young teenage girl, who bought her home without their
parents permission. She was being housed appropriately in a medium living
world eco habitat, but the girls parents were not impressed by the size of the
enclosure accompanied by the fact she had brought a hamster without their
permission. So, they gave her the ultimatum: the hamster gets rehomed, or
she agreed to downgrade her to a smaller enclosure. While the girl made an
irresponsible decision by bringing home an animal without the homeowners
permission, she corrected that by choosing to rehome Reuben instead of
downgrading her, which wouldn't have been fair to the hamster. After bringing
her home, it quickly became apparent to me that Reuben was blind but, she
didn't let that get in her way. Reubs was a very sassy, outgoing hamster with
an obsession for crickets & human fingers. She was a character, but passed
suddenly & unexpectedly almost a exactly a year to the day I brought her
home. She was estimated to be 16 months at the time.
Siggi was a male dominant spot Chinese dwarf hamster, who was bought from
a pet shop by my sister in December of 2016. Like a typical Chinese hamster,
he was very reclusive and you would almost never see him if the lights were on,
but sometimes he could be tempted with food. Siggi was originally sold
to me as a female, which if you're familiar with male Chinese hamsters (they
are usually VERY obviously male), may seem impossible - but he had us
all fooled, until he took "new year, new me" to an entire new level and
was unmistakingly male. His "original" name was Sakara, but while I loved
the name, it never quite suited him. So, I decided to give him an new name
and so 'Siggi' it was. He was a very sweet hamster, but just preferred to keep
to himself & spent a lot of his time digging impressive burrow systems &
playing in peat moss. He passed in July of 2018, at around 20 months old.
Sochi was a female mandarin pearl Winter White hybrid, who was bought
from a pet shop in March of 2015. She had a cut on her eye from being
co-habbed in a pet shop that mixed multiple litters of various ages together. I
don't regret purchasing Sochi, but I wasn't as educated on what I was
supporting by purchasing her at the time. I don't typically have favourites, but
I would by lying if I said Sochi wasn't a very special hamster to me. She started
my obsession with Winter Whites, and is the reason for why I don't think I
could ever be without one. She was perhaps the most chilled out hamster I have
ever owned: you could do anything to Sochi, so long as she had a snack, she
was happy to let you do it. She passed in November of 2016, and was around
22 months old at the time.
Mishka (left) was a male opal platinum Campbell's hybrid, who was adopted from
a pet shop in December of 2014 along with his brother, Moki. I kept them
as a bonded pair, and they were very sweet boys. Mishka was the more
outgoing brother, with a passion for food like no other. Unfortunately he
developed diabetes, and subsequently passed from the complications such a
diagnosis brings. He was only 15 months old at the time.
Moki (right) was a male black platinum Campbell's hybrid, and the other half of
Mishka. He had a very close bond with his brother, but coped well after his
passing. He was the more reclusive of the pair, but was a very sweet hamster
who just preferred to keep to himself. I do not condone keeping hybridised
hamsters in normal circumstances: I got Mishka & Moki not knowing any better,
and I was simply lucky that it worked in my favour. Moki was also the longest
lived hamster I have owned during my most recent years of hamster keeping, and
passed in Marchof 2017 at the age of 32 months.
Oshie was a female Sapphire Winter White hybrid. She was born on
July 8th, 2018 and I adopted her on September 8th, 2018 as part of an
accidental litter; an all too common occurence of missexed pairs. Oshie
was a very outgoing, active hamster who loved nothing more than exploring
anywhere she can - and if it was somewhere she was not allowed, it made her all
the more determined. Oshie passed on November 22nd 2020 at the age of
29 months old, and was her typical sassy Oshie self up until the very end.
She was perhaps one of my favourite hamsters to date, and is the hamster who
re-sparked my passion for educating others on proper hamster care.
Akira was a female Pearl Winter White hybrid. She was estimated to be born
around September of 2018, and I rescued her on
January 29th, 2019. She is the sister of Nanook, and they were
co-habbed at their previous home, in inappropriate housing conditions.
When they started fighting and had to be separated, their owner lost
interest and decided to rehome them. While living with me, Akira
enjoyed a solitary lifestyle (as Winter Whites should!), and despite being
almost identical to her sister in appearance, their personalities were
complete opposites. Akira was a very outgoing, active hamster who loved
exploring out of her enclosure, and almost always came to say hi to
whoever entered the room. Her perhaps most prized possession was her wheel,
and so she is rightly the hamster I chose to feature on our wheel sizing guide.
Akira passed away on December 22nd, 2020 at the age of 27 months
Nanook was a female Pearl Winter White hybrid. She was estimated to be
born around September of 2018, and I rescued her on
January 29th, 2019. She was the sister of Akira, and is one half of the first
pair adoption I have ever done. I typically do not adopt two hamsters at
the same time, for the simple reason being space frequently doesn't allow
me to. But my roborovski, Nala, had recently passed away so I had a
spare enclosure, and figured I could find the space for another -
so I did, and brought Nanook & her sister home. Nanook was partially
blind due to a cataract on her left eye, and from day 1 she had
preferred to keep to herself. She was a much more reserved compared to
her sister, but was equally as sweet. While she didn't care to be around
humans too much, she would quickly become your best friend if you offered
her one of her most beloved snacks of all times; mealworms. Nanook was truly
a wise little soul in a hamsters body, and I frequently joked that with how relaxed
she was, she was going to live forever. She was one of the longest living
hamsters we've had the pleasure of having around, and passed peacefully
in her sleep on March 9th 2021, at the age of 30 months old.
'Coco' was a algerian grey snowflake pinto African Pygmy Hedgehog I
rescued in November, 2018. Her old owners kept her in a 30cm x 30cm
glass tank in front of a radiator, with nothing more than a hide and some food and water dishes. When they decided to move, they no longer had time for her and I offered to take her in. She came to me at the age of 7 months old, and enjoyed a free range lifestyle where she had a 3 x 2 'C&C' cage with a doorway cut out of the base for her to come and go as she pleased (this was to give her her own space with her supplies, including heat lamp, that was free for any other animals scent, i.e. the hamsters), and lived a life perhaps some humans would be envious of; accompanying us on various hiking trips all over Ireland. Coco was my writing companion, and sat snuggled in my neck while I wrote the majority of these blog posts. She was my adored study buddy, best blog supervisor (albeit a major distraction), and ultimately my most treasured spikey potato in the whole world. Her life was tragically cut short upon a cancer diagnosis in October of 2019 and despite multiple surgeries and treatment, after fighting recurrence after recurrence, had to be peacefully put to sleep after a bravely fought battle shortly before her 3rd birthday on April 9th 2021.
Many of these blog posts were written in Coco's company, and I feel it is only right to acknowledge perhaps the best supervisor I have ever had.
Rest easy, Co. I will love and miss you forever.