A small hamstery based in the West Midlands on the South Staffordshire border, Willow Tree Hamstery specialises in the breeding and exhibiting of Chinese Hamsters.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

Chinese Hamsters are Dwarf Hamsters

Although they are small in size, Chinese hamsters are not actually classed as dwarf hamsters and, much like Syrians, have their own genus. All true dwarf hamsters are of the Phodopus genus, whereas the genus for Chinese hamsters is Cricetulus.

A hamsters hips fuse at 6 months

This is a common misconception that surfaces from time to time and, although true for some species (i.e. Guinea Pigs), is completely untrue with regards to hamsters. The NHC guidelines state that a female hamster should not be bred from before 4 months old and should not have their first litter any older than 8 months old. A second litter can safely be bred after 8 months, however, this should be before they are a year old in order to prevent complications.

If my hamster is eating fine, I don't need to check its teeth

A very, very common misconception is that a hamster will stop eating if it’s teeth become too long/overgrown. Whilst this is often the case, there have been many instances of hamsters continuing to act normally and eat normally despite having teeth that are very overgrown. You should check your hamsters teeth regularly to ensure they aren’t overgrown or broken and, if they are, seek veterinary advice.

My store bought hamster is a 'pure' Winter White/campbells

A lot of people think that, just because a pet store says a hamster is a pure Campbells or Winter White, then this must be true. Many pet shops label them simply as “Russian Dwarfs”. These a generally a hybrid/crossbreed of a Campbells and Winter White and, although they do make lovely pets, are prone to a whole host of health issues which is one of the reasons that the breeding of them is discouraged. Unless your Russian hamster has come directly from an ethical, registered breeder and comes with a pedigree, it is always best to assume that your Russian is a hybrid.

All hamsters are vicious

A common one that we’ve all seen and heard is that all hamsters are bitey, evil, vicious creatures that make horrible pets. On the contrary, hamsters make very loving and affectionate pets if, like any other pet, they are given time to settle in, handled gently and with respect and are having all of their needs met. Generally a hamster will only bite if they feel threatened/stressed or if they are unwell/in pain.

All dwarf hamsters must live alone/in pairs or groups

This is a double edged myth as both can be right and both can be wrong, it very much depends on the individual hamster and it’s circumstances. If you have purchased a dwarf hamster on it’s own then it should be kept alone, attempts to introduce a new hamster might be successful but it’s also very risky so it’s best to just keep the hamster on it’s own like it is used to. If you purchase a pair or group of dwarf hamsters then the first thing you should do is sex them and ensure they are either all male or all female because even the best and most experienced people can make the occasional mistake. Just because you bought them as a pair or group, however, doesn’t mean they’ll remain content together. All pairs/groups should have a wheel, water bottle and hide per hamster, houses should have multiple exits to prevent anyone from being cornered or trapped and you should avoid having levels in your cage to help prevent hamsters from becoming territorial over a particular level or shelf. It is also best to scatter-feed your pair or group to prevent hamsters claiming a particular bowl.
You should ensure you have spare cages on hand in case your pair or group fall out as, if this happens, they will need to be separated. All groups and pairs can have little squabbles, much like human siblings however, if blood is drawn then the hamsters should be separated immediately and kept separately.
Obviously, with them not being dwarf hamsters, Syrians are strictly solitary and should never be kept in pairs or groups once they’ve reached maturity and Chinese are also starting to be considered solitary so it’s best to keep them as single hamsters

It's 'just a hamster' the vets can't do much

To a certain extent, there is only so much a vet can do, given the tiny size of our hamster friends, however, research and veterinary treatment is getting more and more advanced as time goes on, with many vets now willing to operate on Hamsters to remove tumours, Cysts and even to spay/neuter if a health problem means it is needed. Regardless of what species or size your hamster is, you should always seek veterinary treatment if it becomes unwell. Failing to get treatment for a sick animal, regardless of size and species, is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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