If there’s one thing being a breeder has taught me, it is that hamsters will throw a spanner in your carefully thought out plans to the point where you couldn’t be any further from your original plans.
In the case of Metallica Hamstery, the original plan was to breed James and Victoria, my first show hamsters. James had a lovely type and a good colour, as did Victoria who also had a beautifully soft fur. I felt she’d compliment James beautifully but Victoria did not have size on her size and I felt that the risk of mating Victoria to a male that was much larger than she was carried a large risk for her. So I changed my plans and brought Nobby in from Vectis Hamstery to be paired with Victoria and then I would pair James and Victoria at a later date. Victoria dutifully delivered six babies but when Victoria failed to accept James in a later mating, I had to change my plans again and decided that I would find a new partner for James and eventually mate a daughter of James’s to Victoria’s son Matthew. Unfortunately the events of the summer of 2017 would have a knock on effect on every single breeding plan I had in reserve.
James was paired to Luna, a sweet girl with a reasonably good type and colour. She had size on her side and fell pregnant with ease. Tragedy struck seven days after the birth of Luna’s pups and upon returning from a show in Emley found that she had passed away. Prior to her death she culled her pups. I was depending on these pups for not only the future of the show team but also for the breeding plans.
Meanwhile, Juno the other female I had brought in to be paired to James had failed to develop after an illness at a young age. In addition to her small stature, Juno also had a cough, caused by scarring due to her earlier illness. I could not breed Juno knowing that the toll of pregnancy alone could kill her.
At a similar time to this I became aware of issues with The Nobrias, the offspring of Victoria and Nobby. Three failed to reach their first birthday after dying suddenly of unknown causes. Victoria and Matthew then went on to develop skin splits that would inevitably bring an end to their days as reliable members of the show team. By January 2018, it became clear to me that there could be an issue on that line and I decided that breeding Matthew was not worth the risk it could have on future generations. By the time Victoria died in April 2018, there were only two of her six children still alive.
After the death of Luna and The Janas pups, the pressure was on to find another female to bear Lord James’s pups. James himself was getting on a bit and I wondered how much time I’d have left. Vectis Hamstery came to the rescue again and loaned me one of her females but the couple were not compatible so I was offered another female, who had been born in a colony. She would hopefully have fertility on her side and sure enough Cora Josephine did what she was brought to Metallica Hamstery to do. She produced seven pups and to start with I kept three of them whilst I decided who would be the most promising option. It took until April 2018 for me to realise that the girl, who would be next up in my breeding plans was not suited for breeding or showing. She remains at Metallica Hamstery for now whilst a new home is sought for her, where I hope she will become someone’s much loved pet.
So what now? Plans have changed again but I haven’t lost sight of what I am hoping to work towards. I will be seeking a new Female Normal to hopefully be bred in the Autumn of 2018.
The Show Team continues to be led by Matthew C. Nobria for the meantime but within the next few months, I am hopeful that Jack and Alexander Cormes will begin to show their potential and I can retire Matthew knowing that I have faith in the hamsters that I am putting on the show bench.