Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Hamster Species – The Roborovskis
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.
|Click images to enlarge|
Vespa, a white-faced Roborovski hamster and her daughters enjoy a treat together.
Photos Courtesy Catya
Catya's brother, Kevin, makes friends with Molly by offering her a sunflower seed.
Hello again! Last time, I wrote about all the kinds of hamsters that my family has owned, except for the Roborovskis, which I’ll tell you about today. One of you asked if there were any kinds of hamsters that we haven’t owned. The answer is yes. We haven’t had the Chinese hamster, for a very good reason: they’re restricted in our home state, California.
Why? Well, before a species can become legal in a state, biologists have to find out if that species would throw the ecosystem out of whack, should it get loose. It can take a long time to do the required tests to determine this, and finding out if pet owners can have a certain kind of hamster isn’t exactly high on most states’ “To-do” list. This means that some species are prohibited because they would be harmful to the ecosystem, and some are prohibited simply because the state isn’t yet convinced that they wouldn’t.
For now, I’m more than content with my current hamster species, the Roborovski. The Roborovskis, named after their discoverer Lieutenant Vsevolod Roborovski, are relatively new to the pet world. As a result, not as much is known about them as about the other hamster species. However, the basics are known, and more is being found out almost every day.
Roborovskis are the smallest and speediest kind of hamster. Their speed means that they’re not at all cuddly, and not good pets for kids. But it also means that their antics are the funniest to watch. I’ve spent many happy hours watching my Roborovskis running, digging, running, grooming, running, running some more…
I first became interested in Roborovskis after my first few dwarf hamsters. I was saddened by the short life span of hamsters, and had heard it said that Roborovskis could live as long as five years. I’ve since seen that this is not quite true, but I’m still glad that I went through the effort of searching for a local Roborovski breeder and learning about the hamster species. I was about 12 years old at the time, which is just barely old enough to own Roborovskis – they are much, much too fast for children.
In the course of my research, I found out that Roborovskis are social, like the other dwarves, living in groups of two or three, if they’re introduced to each other when they’re young enough. Many of mine still live with their mothers, even though they are fully grown now. I also learned that unlike the other hamster species, there are only two known colors so far: normal (brown with white belly and white eyebrows) and white-faced (like the normal, but the whole face is white). My first pair of Roborovskis, Molly and Clare, were normal and white-faced, respectively.
Because of how much time I spent with them (plenty of it in the bathtub) Molly and Clare ended up being some of the tamest Roborovskis in Southern California, and they won the ribbons and medals to prove it at California Hamster Association shows. But no matter how tame they were, Molly and Clare were always moving at light speed. That’s just the nature of the Roborovski – when they’re scared, they’re fast; when they’re sleepy, they’re fast; when they’re happy, they’re fast; if they’re a Roborovski, they’re fast.
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Hamster Species – The Roborovskis