Hamster shows are a lovely way to meet other people who are interested in hamsters. You can speak to breeders and exhibitors, and see all the show hamsters. Usually all 5 species of hamster are represented in many different colour, pattern and coat varieties. Many people are surprised at how different show hamsters are from pet shop hamsters, especially the Syrians!
What happens at a show?
A good place to start with showing is the pet class. Hamsters can be shown in their cage or a suitable carrier.
Space at shows is limited so very large cages are best left at home. The carrier/cage should be secure so cardboard boxes should be avoided.
The class is usually judged at 2pm and costs £1 to enter (this may be subject to change so each show has information about pet class on the show schedule). Often there are classes for other small pets, like rabbits, mice or rats.
The show secretary gives the owner a label to place on the cage/carrier which is placed in the pet class area while awaiting judging.
No matter where your hamster comes in the class, you know you always take home the best hamster in the world!
It can seem daunting to know which classes to choose when entering your first main show. The show secretary can help if you are stuck - you will need to know your hamster's species, colour, pattern, fur type (long/short haired, rex, satin), and gender.
An example of a Vectis entry email:
D8 D18 D19
2 x D8 D16 D18 D19
D9 D17 D18 D19
D10 D16 D17 D18 D!9
The show secretary is a good person to contact if you have a question about entering a show and their contact details are on the top of the show schedule. The show manager of the hamster club can also answer questions about showing and contacts can be found on the website for each hamster club.
Hamsters in the main show are entered in special show pens. These can be hired if you do not own any by asking the show secretary when you enter.
The hamster club provides a dog biscuit for each show pen, and the exhibitor needs to put in some vegetable as a moisture source plus some substrate (wood shavings for dwarves and short-haired Syrians, and wood-based cat litter for long-haired Syrians).
On the day of the show, exhibitors collect their pen labels from the show secretary plus a dog biscuit per pen.
The hamsters are put in their pens and placed on the show bench. This is referred to as 'benching' your hamster. There are plenty of people around to help if you are not sure how to bench your hamster.
Once the hamster has been put on the show bench, you are not allowed to touch the pen or hamster, and you should not identify which hamster is yours so that the judge can hear. This is so that the judging is fair for all.
Points are awarded out of 100 and the highest scoring hamster wins the class.
The highest scoring Syrian wins Syrian Best in Show, and the highest scoring dwarf hamster wins Dwarf Best in Show. Prize cards and trophies are awarded to all class winners, and Certificates of Merit can be given to the best hamsters if the judge feels it appropriate.
When all the judging has finished, the show secretary or show manager will announce that the hamsters may be lifted from the show bench by their owners.