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Your Hamster Will Be Judged At A Hamster Show

Part of the fun of a hamster show is finding out how your pet measures up to the ideal in the standard classes, or finding out if it’s the cutest in the fun classes.

Marylou Zarbock
Posted: November 12, 2015, 7:15 p.m. EST

Syrian hamster in show pen
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing  
All hamsters that compete must be in a show pen that has a specific type of bedding.

Attending a hamster show can be all kinds of fun, especially if you have a hamster entered. The California Hamster Association held its fall show on November 7, and quite a few Syrian and dwarf hamsters competed in both the pet classes and the conformation classes.

What the hamsters might think of all this, I’m not sure. After all, the show is during the day when these semi-nocturnal cuties are usually catching their Zzzs. But all of them did amazingly well with being picked up, examined and often oohed and aahed about.

After the health checks of all hamsters, the judging began with the pet classes. These include the categories mellowest, cutest, most unusual markings and more. The three dwarf species are judged separately from the larger Syrian species.

hamsters in the pet classes
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing  
The dwarf hamsters (left photo) were judged separately from the Syrian hamsters. These photos show the judging of the pet classes.

Once the pet classes were finished, it was on to the serious business of judging conformation against the ideal standard for each species. It began with the Syrian hamsters. Show Judge Linda Price, who is president of the California Hamster Association, pointed out that hamsters who win best in show typically score in the 80s on a 100-point scale. The standard is an ideal that doesn’t exist, because all hamsters usually have some fault(s) when compared to the ideal. Watch the video to see some clips of Syrian hamsters being judged.

I had some hope of showing video of the dwarf hamsters being judged, but they are so small that it's difficult to see them when they are being held, so video didn't work well.

Three dwarf hamster species were at the show: Winter White dwarf hamsters, Campbell's dwarf hamsters and Roborovski dwarf hamsters. The Chinese dwarf hamsters are illegal to own in California, so you will never see them at a California hamster show.

Roborovski hamster on hand
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing  
The Roborovski hamster, sometimes called robo hamster, is the smallest of the dwarf hamster species.

Seeing what the different hamster species look like was fascinating, above and beyond the competition. Being at the show also gave hamster enthusiasts a chance to talk about hamsters and share stories about the antics of their pets, the habitats they've created for them and care tips. Listening to the judges during the show gave some insight into the species. At this show, there was even hamster merchandise to browse and some baby hamsters that could be reserved for later adoption. 

Winter White hamster on hand
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing  
This Winter White hamster is being judged. The length and width of its dorsal stripe is one trait that gets scored.

An interesting fact that Price shared during the show is that the different species of hamsters make different noises. She bred hamsters for years, and she can tell from the sound which species is making it.

So which Syrian hamster won Best In Show from those seen in the video? For standardized colors, third place went to the Golden Dominant Spot, second place to the Black and first place to the Cream. For unstandardized colors, there were only two winners. Second place went to an unknown Self color and first place went to the White-Banded Mink. A third entry had hydrocephalus (water on the brain), so he could not be judged for conformation.

Campbell's hamster on hand
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing  
The Campbell's species (above) can interbreed with the Winter White, so today there are many hybrids in the pet trade.

Posted: November 12, 2015, 7:15 p.m. EST

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