Feeder Hamsters

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jayder85
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Feeder Hamsters

Post by jayder85 » April 28th, 2014, 6:12 am

Any of you guys feed hamsters? A bird rehabilitator friend of mine breeds and raises hamsters to feed the birds. He raises them to the size he wants and then freezes them for later use. What are your guys thoughts? Will a snake that is feeding on mice pretty easily make the switch? He also said that they aren't nearly as smelly as mice.

Would appreciate thoughts and opinions!

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gbin
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by gbin » April 28th, 2014, 6:37 am

I've kept hamsters and fed their pinkies to snakes with no issues. (For some years I tried a variety of small rodent species, looking for especially tiny pinkies to feed scarlet kingsnakes.) Hamsters aren't so smelly as mice, it's true, but their reproductive potential is appreciably lower, too. Especially because they're such vicious little beasts toward each other. I came to think of them as cute killers. I couldn't really recommend them unless you just happen to have a particular interest in them.

Gerry

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jayder85
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by jayder85 » April 28th, 2014, 6:54 am

These are dwarf hamsters that my friend is wanting to give me some starter animals. I assumed that nutritional value is the same, and figured I may give them a try.

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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by VICtort » April 28th, 2014, 7:26 am

They are a fine food source, but I do not think they are as economic (less hamsters per unit of space) as house mice. However, less odor is a big plus. Not the same as mice socially, hamsters can be vicious fighters if you mix them inappropriately. A large breeder hamster is a formidable beast.

Back in the day, people would ask me to establish wild caught (reluctant feeders) ball pythons, and often a hamster would do the trick. Gerbils even better. I wonder if someone has figured out how to breed them efficiently? They have minimal odor and are well accepted by most snakes in my experience.

If you go with hamster breeding (or gerbils), let us know what tricks you learn to make it an efficient enterprise. They are kind of fun, and if you grow attached to some, provide a wheel, they will run on it every night...healthy and amusing.

Good luck, Vic

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » April 28th, 2014, 7:39 am

It doesnt make sense to me to breed dwarf hamsters when they are no where as prolific as swiss webster white mice.

If you mean the cambells dwarf hamster, they are especially quarrel some, and need much more micro management in pairs and groups than mice, unless you are going to be a keeper who ignores sores, abcesses and injuries in your feeder animal groups. There are such keepers. They arent good ones imo.

The even littler Roborovski dwarves get along in groups a little better, but other than the novelty of it there really isnt a great (real) reason to use them. And unless you have a Co2 chamber, it is not possible to euthanize them in a consistantly neat, effective physical manner.

Freezing live animals is not an option chosen by professional animal keepers.

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Joseph S.
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Joseph S. » April 28th, 2014, 10:35 am

I too have wondered about the use of gerbils and roborowski hamsters.

For those of us who only have one or two rodent eaters to feed-and who are keeping low gear snakes who do not eat frequently-I think they are a viable choice so long as you like rodents as well.

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Sam Bacchini
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Sam Bacchini » April 28th, 2014, 3:52 pm

I agree that all of the reasons described above make hamsters impractical for use as regular feeders, but I disagree that there isn't a "real reason" to use them at all. While I personally have never used them, I have heard about and read about a number of situations where they may be beneficial.

Inticing wild caught ball pythons or WC individuals of other species is one example that has already been mentioned above.

Difficult to feed hatchlings/neonates of some species may respond to the scent better than traditionally offered rodents. They could therefore serve as sort of a "gateway" to mice or rats, as it is usually easier to switch an individual that is eating SOMETHING to eating rats or mice, than to get a non-feeder feeding on them.

I have known a number of people that have maintained small Peromyscus colonies for just such a purpose, then switching them to lab mice after they have been eating for a while. Hamsters could be used in a similar way, assuming the species responded positively to the novel scent.

I read in an article about breeding emerald tree boas that the "fuzzies" of dwarf hamsters (I don't recall which one) are valuable at getting neonate ETB's feeding as they are smaller than lab mice of the same developmental stage and are much more mobile than similar sized pinkie mice, and therefore better at stimulating a feeding response.

These all are fairly specialized situations where relatively low numbers of offspring are needed, so the problems hamsters present for large scale feeder production don't really apply.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » April 28th, 2014, 5:07 pm

I can only speak from raising thousands of snakes and never needing to use them I guess.

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gbin
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by gbin » April 28th, 2014, 5:59 pm

The hamsters I tried were dwarves but they weren't Campbell's or Roborovskis, they were Siberians/Russian winter whites; I couldn't find Roborovskis when I was looking or I would have gone with them instead. (And yes, I know that Campbell's are often erroneously sold as Siberians.) My Siberians were real little monsters to each other. And although I was hopeful, they didn't produce the consistently smaller pinkies I was after.

Neither did the Peromyscus species I worked with, though I picked one of the smaller species available (oldfield mice, P. polionotus). Worse, that particular species is monogamous with biparental care, which is pretty cool if you're just into keeping these mice but pretty awful if you're regularly harvesting their young. They didn't take it too well, to put it mildly.

I really wanted to try African pygmy mice, the pinkies of which are supposedly no bigger than a pencil eraser, but though I tried hard for a long time I never found a source for them. Heck, if I were to finally come across some I might still try them just for fun even though I no longer keep herps. I'd also really like to try singing mice (Scotinomys sps.) if I ever see them available, but the only ones I've ever seen were in an academic research colony and I couldn't talk the professor into parting with any. I guess rodent keeping gets in your blood.

Whether we say yay or nay to the hamsters, jayder, you can always try them (especially if you'll be getting free starter animals from your friend) and see what you think of them, yourself. I'd just advise you to stay on top of any aggression problems that appear (and maybe your friend has good ideas about dealing with that, as well).

Gerry

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » April 28th, 2014, 6:21 pm

Wild rodents self groom constantly and effectively. And they eat seeds, plants, and insects. Many mice from captive colonies have Novel Scents of their own. Heavy ammonia from urine, pine shavings, and fecal pellet residue of cultured lab formula foods. Usually it is not of consequence, and CB animals esp habituate to the scents from the beginning.

But not always. Heavy scents can derail the feeding response in more sensitive taxa, especially arboreals and small crypic taxa, and WCs. Sometimes even more typical colubrids there will be an individual sensitive to heavy rodent husbandry scents.

So it isn't the novel scent necessarily, but the absence of them that encourages the take.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » April 28th, 2014, 9:51 pm

This has been an invaluable tool. It partners best with a front or side opening enclosure, and with it I can reach right through an environment, into an ambush spot, or righr beneath a branch, without disruption or moving anything i dont want. Clean, fresh PK pink or a flawless thwd frz, as a struggling live one limits the control of presentation. These alligators are one of the most important possessions i own.

Image

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » April 28th, 2014, 11:36 pm

The ones up there are Storz Alligators. I have a longer pair of Jorvets that are good for frogs in top opening enclosures, and others with a broader feeding response. I can feed them what i want, when i want, cleanly.

But the thinner Storz are indespensable for small defensive taxa that lose cue easily. Usually my ordinary forceps do fine but for some eclectics like well sighted arboreals the more discreet Alligators work better.

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jayder85
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by jayder85 » April 29th, 2014, 5:13 am

I appreciate the feedback everyone. I may give them a try small scale and see what happens. I should have some baby Corns born this year and if nothing else maybe they will provide a good starter pinky source to get them going. If worse comes to worse I can throw them in the garbage disposals ( Florida King and Common Snapping Turtle) and revamp with mice.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » May 1st, 2014, 10:06 pm

In case anyones interested, here are my Jorvets. They are only a couple inconsequential mm wider, but work the same in allowing greater distal precision with very small food items than conventional forceps.

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Scott Waters
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Scott Waters » May 3rd, 2014, 7:43 am

Awesome stuff in an awesome thread. Lots of different views and experiences.

scott
gila-91 wrote:I agree that all of the reasons described above make hamsters impractical for use as regular feeders, but I disagree that there isn't a "real reason" to use them at all. While I personally have never used them, I have heard about and read about a number of situations where they may be beneficial.

Inticing wild caught ball pythons or WC individuals of other species is one example that has already been mentioned above.

Difficult to feed hatchlings/neonates of some species may respond to the scent better than traditionally offered rodents. They could therefore serve as sort of a "gateway" to mice or rats, as it is usually easier to switch an individual that is eating SOMETHING to eating rats or mice, than to get a non-feeder feeding on them.

I have known a number of people that have maintained small Peromyscus colonies for just such a purpose, then switching them to lab mice after they have been eating for a while. Hamsters could be used in a similar way, assuming the species responded positively to the novel scent.

I read in an article about breeding emerald tree boas that the "fuzzies" of dwarf hamsters (I don't recall which one) are valuable at getting neonate ETB's feeding as they are smaller than lab mice of the same developmental stage and are much more mobile than similar sized pinkie mice, and therefore better at stimulating a feeding response.

These all are fairly specialized situations where relatively low numbers of offspring are needed, so the problems hamsters present for large scale feeder production don't really apply.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by Kelly Mc » May 3rd, 2014, 5:57 pm

My multifasciata wont eat the last few mice left in the plastc bag (frozn) they end up as turtle food. This might not happen if they remained vaccume packed, but the home versions of those vacuume kits are too time consumptive more me, and i have turtles to feed the ones that are refused because of oxidation, which if even too slight to detect by my sight, he seems to detect through his sense of smell as unfavorable.

Both mice and hamsters are Novel Prey, if we are actually comparing the prey we have to offer with the species of animals snakes would be feeding on in their ecological niche. In captivity food presentation and favor often comes down to what is threatening, and what is non threatening. It is often on a scale overlooked. If distinctive, ie; novel smells are not present, or removed from animals and a little rupture to expose tissue at the snout to replicate petechial hemmohage it makes a difference. All frozens are not identical,or managed identically. Heavily purged on euthanized prey during processing, husbandry env standards of colonies, and freezer burn can affect the way it is percieved by a touchy snake. No matter what it "looks" like to Us. It is possible some food items are not percieved as prey at all.

The owner of the Dumerils who was subject of IBD research needed help with getting the animal to accept frozen thawed. It would only take HD. I shared with her a method I have used of cleansing the rat and rupturing the pelt at the snout. I prepared one or two for her, and she took over using same method and a snake whom only took HD for perhaps a decade now accepts frozen thawed. This was same thing I have done for ball python reticents, and I have shared also with breeders of chondros.

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Re: Feeder Hamsters

Post by justinm » May 6th, 2014, 7:42 am

In my experience Hamsters can be difficult to get breeding, and are the meanest next to Soft Furred Rats that I've encountered. I've had good luck with Gerbils, and Zebra Mice have really small pinks and they breed well if you leave them alone. Gerbils seem to be a good food item for finicky eaters, and I've had luck using them for Ball Pythons that go off feed. Cool thread for sure.

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