10 SEPTEMBER 2013
The Growing Squat Family:
Both our presidential and vice-presidential hamsters are now married with grown children. How times flies!
Diddley married his lovely bride Cree on the 10th of March, 2013, and later honeymooned and had a litter of eleven babies born the 13th of May. That litter includes Rupert, Linus, and Tiddly Tadpole, three sons who remain as permanent residents at the HFP Colorado headquarters.
And on the 19th of July, Squit married his young sweetheart Bassey, daughter of Rocky and Middy. A honeymoon the same night produced nine offspring, two daughters and seven sons born the fourth of August.
Bassey is the only daughter of Rocco ("Rocky") and wife MidDiv. MidDiv, now a youthful and energetic grandmother, is pictured at right.
Hamster babies grow up fast, going through three basic stages before emerging as tiny but perfectly-proportioned hamsters.
At birth, hamsters are incredibly small. It takes fifteen of them to measure an ounce. They double in size in their first two days of life. By the fourth day, their skin colors are visible so that light colored infants look very different from their darker siblings. They get shiny new fur by the time they're a week old. And between eight and eleven days after birth, they begin to emerge from the nest. They start tasting little bits of food at this age, but won't be weaned until the fourth week.
The babies are shown (in photo at right) in their nest at age 12 days. Their fur color can already be seen. At this stage in their young lives, they enjoy a baby cereal mix made of goat milk and packaged baby cereal - oatmeal, barley, mixed grain, or rice.
By two weeks old, they're up and about with their eyes open. They run around the cage with awkwardly long legs. They will be eating seeds and most adult food at this age, though we tend to feed them meals that are easily digested - apples and bananas, for instance, as well as rice, pasta and tofu.
The picture on the right shows Bassey with two 12-day-old babies who are nibbling at their cereal, served in a metal lid like you'd get from a jar of pickles.
The next photo, below, shows the litter in a freshly-cleaned cage a week later, 19 days after birth. They're getting their first taste of tomatoes, another good food for young hamsters. All nine babies can be seen, with Bassey peering over the corner of the cage at the lower right.
Once the picture was taken, of course, they were given back their nest-house, their cereal, and the basics, seeds and blocks.
It is possible to determine their gender at this age, as well, but not necessary as they won't be separated from their mother and sex-segregated for another two weeks or more.
The next two pictures show the youngsters at three weeks of age (left) and a day before their four-week birthday.
In the photo at right, the young hamsters eat from a bowl of fresh cooked rice. The second photo shows them trying avocado for the first time. It's another healthy food that's loved by all hamsters
Soon after the four-weeks photo was taken, the youngsters were separated by gender. There are just two girls, both black, who moved in with their mother, while their seven brothers occupied a separate cage. Bassey and the two girls parted ways less than a week later. As is often the case, the mother is tired of sharing with children that are too grown up and she starts to lose patience, a sign that the children and mother need to be separated right away. The males and females can and should live together in their respective cages for a little longer before each must live in his or her own solitary space.
In the meantime, their cousins, the children of Diddley and Cree, are almost four months old and well integrated into the HFP community. Two of Bassey and Squit's children will also join the campaign, while others will go to loving homes in Colorado, Ohio, and possibly beyond.
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