Midland Hamster Club

Affiliated to the National Hamster Council

 

© Midland Hamster Club (UK) 2015

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E-mail: info@midlandhamsterclub.co.uk

Club Breeders—The Facts

 

We often get questions about how breeders who are club members operate, and where to find them. We also know that there might be some confusion over hamsteries, NHC prefixes, and what is expected of breeders. We are aware that in the past some club breeders have been mistaken for for-profit businesses, and this page aims to establish the facts.

A list of those club breeders that may have hamsters available can be seen by clicking HERE.

Click on the link to jump to the question

 

· What is a club breeder?

· What is a National Hamster Club prefix?

· What does being a club member or having a prefix mean in regard to breeding?

· How many hamsters do breeders have and breed?

· Why do exhibitors breed hamsters?

· Are hamsters bred to make money?

· Are hamsters from club breeders ‘better’?

· What laws govern who can breed and sell hamsters?

· How do I find a club breeder or buy a pedigree hamster?

 

What is a club breeder?

A hamster club breeder is someone who is a member of one of the three clubs affiliated to the National Hamster Council.  These are the Midland, Northern, and Southern Hamster Clubs. Many (but not all) hamster club members exhibit their animals at our shows throughout the year. People may choose to simply enter under their own name, or under an NHC pefix (see below). Most people who regularly exhibit their hamsters at shows are interested in increasing their stock of show  hamsters, or focussing on a particular species or colour. Because of this many club members responsibly breed their hamsters. This is a club breeder.

 

What is a National Hamster Club prefix?

When a member of a hamster club has completed one year of membership, they are eligible to apply for a ‘prefix’ from the NHC. This is a name chosen to represent your ‘hamstery’ at club events. Full details of NHC prefixes, and a list of all those currently in use can be seen at the NHC website (click HERE). Prefixes are used to enter shows, and to identify breeders/exhibitors more easily.

 

What does being a club member or having a prefix mean in regard to breeding?

When you  join one of the three hamster clubs, you agree to follow the guidelines and constitution of the club. As a club member you also agree to follow the NHC Code of Practice (a copy of which can be downloaded by clicking HERE). This outlines best practice for all aspects of hamster care, and the responsibilities that all hamster owners have in looking after their animals. A prefix holder follows all of the same guidelines, but must have been a club member for 12 months or more.

 

How many hamsters do breeders have and breed?

The number of hamsters that each member has varies greatly, and therefore also the number of litters bred. This is entirely dependent  upon the member, their resources, interest level, and ability to provide the necessary environment to every one of their animals. The NHC says that a Syrian female should have no more than three litters in her lifetime, with a break of at least six weeks between litters. Generally, most breeders will only have two litters from one female. Given these figures, it is not common for most breeders to have a large amount of pups at any one time.

 

Why do exhibitors breed hamsters?

Club breeders only breed hamsters in order to further their show stock, and to continue the bloodlines of hamsters with desirable characteristics. These characteristics include temperament and good health, as well as those such as colours and patterns desirable for shows.

 

Are hamsters bred to make money?

In a word, no. In order to sell animals you have to make sure you are following the rules regarding livestock (see below). It is also against the principles of the club to breed hamsters simply for selling. To be able to make money from the sale of hamsters you have to breed on a massive scale (as commercial breeders do to supply pet shops). The amount of food that a litter needs,  plus associated costs such as potential veterinary care, mean that breeding hamsters will always cost you money. This is why club breeders are also known as ‘hobby’ or ‘hobbyist’ breeders. It is for enjoyment only. Any money received from the sale of excess show stock goes towards supplies, but (as any breeder will tell you), it never comes close to the cost.

 

Are hamsters from club breeders ‘better’?

Because of the financial aspect, many of those in the hamster fancy take the view that in order for commercial breeders to supply the numbers they do, and still make money, the quality of the supplies they use and the lives the hamsters have may not meet those standards expected of hamster club members. The health and condition of hamsters bred by club members is generally higher than those found in commercially bred hamsters. This may be down to the quality and variety of food and supplemental foods given to the hamsters as pups, the length that pups stay with their mothers, the number of litters that female hamsters have, and the knowledge that certain colour and pattern combinations should be avoided due to the risk of genetic diseases. The practices of commercial breeders are governed by legislation, and by local councils who are empowered to issue licences to those that sell animals.

 

What laws govern who can breed and sell hamsters?

There are currently two main pieces of legislation that govern animal breeding and selling in England & Wales: The Pet Animals Act 1951; and the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Along with other laws, these set out the rules for who can sell animals, and the welfare of those animals (including hamsters).  The 1951 Act specifies that local councils can give licences (‘Pet Shop’ Licences) to allow people to sell animals, and that these animals must be looked after to the satisfaction of the authority. Those that breed pedigree animals are allowed to sell excess show stock without the need for a licence, as long as those in question were bought or bred specifically for showing, but have subsequently been deemed unsuitable.

The recent 2006 Act was drawn up to address welfare concerns, and to bring the law in line with modern standards of the ethical treatment of animals. It sets out the minimum standards of animal care that all those in the ownership of any animal must comply with.

 

How do I find a club breeder or buy a pedigree hamster?

The MHC has a page dedicated to a list of those club members who are active breeders of hamsters. Contact details can be found there. Please contact a breeder for more information, and bear in mind that they will not necessarily always have hamsters available. The majority of all indoor hamster shows, some outdoor shows, and some displays have a variety of hamsters for sale. The availability of any particular hamster species or colour may be checked with the Sales Manager prior to a show. Sales are usually only booked in a couple of days before a show, and the details of the Sales Manager can be found on the schedule for the show.  Only those who are members and have exhibited at a show can sell hamsters via a club sales table, and only healthy animals are accepted for sale.

 

By Paul Collins, Publicity Officer & Webmaster for the MHC and one half of the Hamster Mischief hamstery.