Entering the Main Show

During the main show your hamster will be judged according to standard set by the National Hamster Council and you will probably find yourself up against hamsters from some of the top hamsteries in the UK. However don’t let that put you off of entering because hamsters are judged anonymously so it really is a case of the best hamster on the day will win!

How to Enter

To enter the Main Show you will need to refer to your show schedule which will either be sent to you or you can find it online. You will also need to know what species your hamster is, their coat type (long or short haired) and their colour. This is because hamsters in the main show will be judged against others of their species, colour and type. If it’s your first show and you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to ask the Show Secretary for advice. It’s his or her job to record all the entries in advance of the show and it’ll be them that you’ll need to send your entry to. The Show Secretary’s details are at the top of every show schedule but it will vary from show to show so make sure you’re contacting the right person.

Once you know what you’d like to enter you’ll need to send your entries off to the Show Secretary by the date given on the Show Schedule. Most will accept entries via email but some may give a telephone number or a postal address as an alternate option. When you contact the show secretary you will need to tell them:

  • The Class Numbers for every hamster you’d like to enter, written on a separate line if entering in writing.
  • What show you’re entering – this is because some show secretaries will be accepting entries for more than one show.
  • Whether you need to hire any show pens.
  • Whether you’re showing under a NHC Prefix or as your own name.

Most Show Secretaries will acknowledge all entries so you can be sure that your entry has been received.

About Show Pens

To maintain anonymity during judging, all hamsters in the Main Show have to be shown in approved show pens and they must only contain approved substrates, food and sources of moisture. No other items will be allowed.

If you do not own any Show Pens then you may hire them from the club at a cost of £1 per pen. You will need to order these in advance when you send your entry to the show secretary so that they can make sure that they arrange for sufficient to be brought to the show.

On the day

When you arrive at your first show it can all look a bit confusing with people rushing around to get everything ready for judging to begin so as a newcomer, you will need to look for the show secretary who will be able to point you in the right direction. You will usually find them sat at a desk surrounded by paperwork and they’re often near the entrance of the hall or some other prominent location such as on the stage in some venues.


Benching refers to putting your hamster in their show pen and on to the show bench ready for judging. At most shows, you will find that the pen labels have been put somewhere on a table ready for you to collect and if you have hired a show pen you will need to collect that from the show secretary. You will need to make sure that you have put the correct substrate in your show pen as well as a piece of vegetable for moisture and a dog biscuit which will the club will supply and will often be put near the labels for you to collect yourself. Once you’ve got everything ready you can check your hamster over and pop them in the show pen. You will need to attach the pen label to the top left of your show pen and you can take it over to the bench. Don’t forget to make a note of your pen number so you can find your hamster later! If you’re not sure on anything, don’t be afraid to ask. Our club members are always happy to help newcomers find their feet.

If you’ve arrived at the show fairly early you can just put your show pen anywhere on the bench as the Pen Steward probably won’t have sorted them yet but if you’re a little bit later, you’ll probably see the Pen Steward sorting the pens so just ask them where they would like you to put your pen.

During Judging

Once your hamster is on the bench you will not be allowed to remove them or identify them as yours within the Judge’s hearing until the end of the show when the Show Secretary will announce that hamsters can be removed from the bench. This is the perfect opportunity to get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and have a look around the show. Many experienced breeders and exhibitors will be milling around the show so do not hesitate to approach them to ask for advice if they’re not busy with another job. A good opening question to start with is to ask them if they’ve got any hamsters in the main show. Alternatively if you wanted to go for a walk or something then you are free to leave and return later – just make sure that you’re back before the end of the show.

At the end of the show there will be a delay after judging has finished whilst the Show Secretary confirms all the paperwork is present and correct but once this is complete they will announce that hamsters may be lifted from the bench and you can go and collect your hamster. You will notice that the show pens will be in a different order than they were at the start of the show, this is because they will have been sorted into points order with the highest scoring hamsters at one end and the hamsters with less points at the other so this is where the pen number you wrote down at benching will come in handy.

Once you’ve got your hamster settled into their carrier for the journey home it’s time to clear up and if you’ve hired a show pen you will need to return it clean to the Show Secretary. You can use something like cage cleaning wipes or some cage cleaning spray and kitchen roll will suffice.

Collecting your prizes

If your hamster has a coloured spot on his or her pen label then congratulations, your hamster has placed in his or her straight class. A red spot means that they have come first, blue for second, yellow for third and green for reserve. Placings for duplicate classes are not indicated on the show pens so make sure you check the table with the prize cards to see if there’s any for you!

Rosettes are given for every first placing in the main show so if your hamster has a red spot on their pen label, then it’s worth waiting around until the very end of the show for the presentation. Presentations usually take place after all the cleaning up is done.

Article by Jenna Gray of Metallica Hamstery