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Welcome to Grantabrugge Hamstery

Book Reviews

Cook, Jean Edison, 1961, Care of hamsters: Choosing a pet, housing, management, feeding and breeding (Pets and hobbies series)

Ragland, Kay, 1963, "All About Hamsters"

There seem to be two versions of this book...

Mackerness, I. L. and Radford, R., 1964, "Hamsters"

Part of a series describing different pets (Budgeriars, Hamsters, Goldfish and Tame Mice). Initially printed by Basil Blackwell & Mott, Republished in 1969, this is the 1969 edition.

Parslow, Percy, 1967, Hamster in Colour, Publisher Unknown

Parslow, Percy, 1967, "Practical Hamster Keeping for Breeders, Exhibitors, Pet Owners", Parslow's Hamster Farm

This book was approved by the National Hamster Council when Percy was President

Snow, 1969 (first printed 1955/58), "Foyles Hamsters"

An article on hamster care written by the author in the "Boy's Own Paper" at the time that this book was first published (November 1955) can be read here.

Parslow, 1969, "Hamsters" (Pet Fancy), Cassal Co Ltd. London

This 74 page book sold for 8/- (40p) and several thousand copies sold throughout the 1970's onwards.

Percy Parslow was one of the most influential figures in British hamster keeping and also possibly the only hamster breeder to ever have a song written about him and performed in the Royal Albert Hall! Here are links to a short biography and the lyrics (about 3/4 of the way down the page) and a recording of the song 'Percy Parslow's Hamster Farm' by Liverpool Scene (which starts playing as soon as you follow the link).

Hearne, Tina, 1970, "Pouchy the Golden Hamster (Animal Care Series), Frederick Warne & Co in association with the RSPCA"

1 star - I have only given this book one star because it contains very little explicit hamster care information, but that is really quite unfair to it because it is aimed at quite young children and sits exactly between being a hamster care book and being a storybook about a particular hamster and what it eats and likes to do. If this book wasn't published in the 'Animal Care Series' I would probably have taken it as a storybook alone, similar in concept to Carry-Along Pets (although for a child rather than a toddler).

There has obviously been a lot of care taken over accuracy and detail when creating this book - for example in the illustration showing the descent of all hamsters from one litter the hamsters at each stage show coat colour mutations coming in in the order in which they actually occurred, even though no mention is made of this in the text at all (so this book beats several more detailed later hamster care books in this respect!). The advice which is given is all accurate and still stands up today, and the story promotes good hamster care. The illustrations are frequent and charming. It is a tribute to it that over 40 years after being published this would still be a perfectly reasonable book to read with a young child today in preparation for a new family hamster (the one thing that may have changed is that it features a classroom hamster, which could raise expectations of pets at school unduly).

1972, "Your Hamster (A Colourmaster publication)"

Robinson, Roy, 1973, "Right Way to Keep Hamsters (Paperfronts)"

This book has been republished after being updated by another author, Baglin.

A meeting with the the author of this book at his hamstery is described in "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes, who was interested in genetic study of the Syrian hamster as part of his research into the transmission of mitochondrial (eg: female-line) DNA in humans.

Roy Robinson was an expert in several types of small animal and has written many other animal husbandry books, including a still-definitive scientific textbook on the genetics of colour inheritance in small animals.

Everett, Eileen, 1973, "The Hamster (Keeping Pets)"

Roberts, Mervin, F., 1974, "Teddy Bear Hamsters"

3 stars - Whilst this is a perfectly reasonable hamster care book, it is based on quite a contrived concept, as longhaired Syrian hamsters (the "Teddy Bear" variety of the title) do not need any different care to shorthaired ones other than two sentences about keeping them tangle-free and not letting their skirts get caught up in toys and wheels...

On the one hand, to write a book merely about the longhaired variety of a species seems to be contributing to misleading people into believing that the 'Teddy Bear' is a unique and distinct animal, but on the other hand, possibly there is/was a useful niche in selling this book to people who already think that, whereupon it can re-educate them that what they have is just a standard Syrian hamster that has a gene for extra fluffiness. I am not personally a fan of the 'Teddy Bear' branding as to me it implies that the hamster is being promoted and thought of as a toy rather than a living creature, and combined with the fairly average general hamster care contents of the book this overall fails to impress me as much as it might otherwise have done.

Silverstein, Alvin and Virginia, 1974, "Hamsters: All About Them". 126 pages, hardback, with photographs by Frederick Breda. American.

4 stars - a lot more depth than most hamster books, with a several facts and details not commonly found elsewhere (but rather unclear about the source of some of these 'facts' as a result).

A general-information book written by a hamster-raising couple for interested children. Contains all the usual subjects (Aleppo origin, care of pets, breeding, colours etc) plus anecdotes and information on other hamster species and the use of hamsters in laboratories (a large section, one of three). Unique points: description of the First Hamsters including extremely blow-by-blow descriptions of how the first siblings were lost and recaptured etc. Reference to "Pink Woolly" hamsters as a standard variety alongside piebald, cream, albino etc (with photo). Discussion of a theory of possible origin of Mesocricetus through chromosome doubling between Common and Grey hamsters, as a hybrid of the two. Discussion of hamster use in memory and ESP experiments. Photograph of a dwarf hamster "street circus".

Simister, W, 1976, "Hamsters"

Snow, C. F., 1977, Hamsters (A Foyles handbook)

This is a reprint of the 1955 Foyles Handbook by Snow. It was reprinted in 1971, 72, 76 and 77 after an intitial publication in 1955 and 1958.

Smith, K. W., 1976, "Hamsters and Gerbils (Pet Care Guides)"

"Exhibition and Pet Hamsters and Gerbils"

Pond, T. W., 1970s, "The Golden Hamster" (Ditchfields Little Wonder books)

The exact date of this booklet is unknown but it is thought to date from the 1970s It is a replacement/update for the earlier (1940s) verison of the same title in the Ditchfields Little Wonder series, the former copy was written by Jean Cook. The author of this booklet was one of the two co-authors of 'The Hamster Handbook' in 1956.