A news report out of Portland, Oregon, revealed that a hamster residing at the local Humane Society (OHS) has received a hand-knit sweater to keep her warm. Silky, the one-year-old hamster born hairless due to a genetic mutation (except for short curly whiskers on her snout), needs to be kept in a heated environment, especially in winter, according to Diana Gabaldon of Portland’s OHS. That’s why an obliging staff member of the facility came to her rescue and knit a sweater to keep the adorably odd little creature toasty over the coming winter months.
Silky the Hairless Hamster
As the story goes, Silky's previous owners left her in the care of the Humane Society when they were moving and realized they could no longer care for her properly. According to the Oregon Human Society’s website, Silky spends most of her time in a "warm, clean habitat, with fresh bedding, food and water, and a wheel to run on." They added that at this time she wears the sweater for special occasions, but that could be changing soon, with winter on its way. "She does need to be kept in a heated environment," Gabaldon said from the OHS. "While she isn't fluffy like a normal hamster, she is just as cuddly and playful as any other hamster.”
Hamsters as Pets
Most hamsters are covered in downy soft fur ranging in color from a tawny honey color to a whitish blonde. With or without fur, they can make excellent starter pets for children. Hamsters are easy to care for and require no special treatment. Their dietary needs are fairly simple and their cages are just as simple to clean. The one drawback to the fuzzy little rodents in regards to children is they are nocturnal creatures that prefer to nap during the day and come out at night for activity. If a child is insistent on waking them up to play, there is a risk their fuzzy friend could bite in an effort to show their displeasure. Sounds like a lot of adults I know.
Mammalian Hairless (Hr) Gene
At first glance Silky hardly resembles a hamster. Her ears look larger and more rat-like, but this is in all likelihood due to the lack of fur that she would normally be covered in to give her a fuller look and diminish the appearance of her ears. The hr gene plays a critical role in the maintenance of hair growth. It was first recognized in mice back in 1926. Oftentimes genetic mutations can arise from breeding practices. It’s not clear from the limited information on the OHS website exactly what Silky’s hairlessness stems from, or if they even know for sure themselves.
What is known is that Silky is still an adorable little thing that needs a loving home where she’ll be treasured for her uniqueness and cared for by a responsible pet owner that will keep her safe and warm. It’s assumed she’ll come with her new sweater, too, so if you’re not a knitter you can still get in line to adopt her, if you’re interested. Currently, Silky is being treated for an eye infection, but she will be available for adoption soon. For more information, check out this link to the OHS website where Silky’s profile is proudly on display for all to see. She’s so darn cute she’ll probably get snatched up quickly, but it’s still worth a look.