This year, we are sharing the story of each of our 2024 charity calendar stars each month so you can learn more about the hamster behind each photo. January’s calendar page features our gorgeous Bart, a beautiful hybrid dwarf hamster who was part of one of our most difficult cases as well as our first intake as a registered charity back in December 2022.

Bart and his little family were nicknamed the Bucket Babies on intake because they were being kept in travel-sized cages and makeshift containers, including a 5-litre mayonnaise bucket. Their owners had decided to breed two hamsters, who we named Marge and Homer, as a lifecycle lesson for their children. Sadly, they bred without any hamster knowledge or a plan for their ongoing care. Our Chairperson Sophie rescued all five hamsters, even though we were originally called to collect just two! Luckily, she always carries extra travel pods, and the charity had the capacity to make very quick emergency plans for all the hamsters based on the severity of this case. Marge, Maggie, Lisa, Homer, and Bart were all separated into safe foster enclosures before being sent to their temporary homes across Ireland.

The HII team decided that the two males would be fostered by one of our charity trustees, Tina, for some extra care. Bart was cohabiting with his father Homer in a tiny Rotastak cage, so the two males had been competing for resources such as food and water before rescue. Little Homer was brought to the vet by Sophie on rescue day as he was so poorly. He was suffering from severe malnourishment, dehydration, and multiple infections, and he unfortunately passed away soon after intake despite ongoing vet care and Tina’s care.

Bart was dangerously obese on intake and weighed a whopping 76g, but he was otherwise healthy. He had been guarding the food bowl from Homer – Bart had been eating a double helping of food since weaning! He also had no space, wheel, or enrichment to help him stay active, meaning he had no real form of exercise. Tina placed him on a diet where he was fed a low-carb, species-specific food from Getzoo that is designed to prevent hybrid dwarves from becoming overweight. He was also offered a comfortable 28cm wheel that could properly accommodate his size, which ended up being one of Bart’s favourite cage items.

Tina soon became smitten with Bart and eventually adopted him. Bart now lives in a 10,000cm² enclosure with plenty of activities to help him stay active, such as a 100cm racetrack, lots of deep digging boxes, and a lovely Niteangel wheel to enjoy. He lost over 76g across the span of four months, and running on his wheel is still one of his favourite activities. He is a very funny character who likes to nibble hands if he gets impatient when waiting on fresh food! Bart adores foraging from seed sprays and seems to enjoy working for his food. He has beautiful fur that changes colour throughout the year, showing he has strong Winter White genes in his hybrid line.

Bart is one of the 12 hamsters featured in our fundraiser calendar for 2024. You can still purchase this to help contribute to saving more hamsters like Bart and the Bucket Babies here.

Next month, learn about Mocha, a stunning Syrian who was part of the Barista litter intake of 10, including 4 eyeless whites.

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