?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A hamster by Any Other Name is Still a Rat

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Hamsters are rodents. Mice are rodents. And yet one elicits an “Aw … cute …”, while the other delivers “Eeeeeekkkkk!!!!!!!!”
I don’t get that.
It’s true that my youngest daughter, Jillian, didn’t panic over the mice that infested our house last fall. In fact, she got a big kick out of seeing one climb out of my stove and do a back flip trying to jump into a cupboard. Just the same, she agreed that the little guy had to be taken care of, in the same way a crime family takes care of its little annoyances.
And yet, after spending all that time and effort to kill off the rodents only a few months ago, now she wants to bring one into the house – on purpose? What’s wrong with this picture?
“They’re so cute! I’ll keep them clean, and feed them …” Yada yada, same old thing the kids always say when they’re getting ready to saddle parents with “their” pet.
I responded with, “Can I bring home a Victoria’s Secret model? I’ll feed her and wash her every day, I promise! I’ll even help her get dressed!”
“Sure, dad … if you can afford her.”
Ouch. The hamsters only cost ten bucks.
Still, I stuck to my guns. “We can’t afford it, you’re only here half the time, and when you’re not here I keep the thermostat set at 60 degrees! How would the ASPCA react if they found out your hamster died of hypothermia? I’d be taking care of it all the time, and I’d have to pay for food and bedding, and I’d have to pat you on the head when it dies and you finally remember you had one. No way are we going through that. It’s not gonna happen. Forget it.”
The first thing I noticed about the pet store was how loud it was. There are more animals in these stores than in most rain forests. I kept expecting a gorilla to leap down from the ceiling, but I settled for a salesman, instead.
“Which ones are male, and which ones are female?” I asked.
He waved at a big table, with a Plexiglas divider running down its middle. “Usually we divide them up, but they managed to get through this, so we’re going to have to get it fixed.”
Notice he didn’t answer the question. But I forgot that, when I saw the little things had actually eaten through the Plexiglas wall. You gotta be kidding me. I’m a firefighting instructor, and I tell my students if they’re ever faced with breaking a Plexiglas window they should cut through the wall, instead – it’s easier. And yet this little animal, which was small enough to crawl up inside my clothes, had chewed through Plexiglas. Maybe firefighters should start carrying a pair of hamsters in their coat pockets.
“Here’s a list of the items it’s suggested you get with your hamster,” the friendly salesman, who was looking at a big sale, said with a smile. It was a long list. The hamster would have more belongings than I did.
The little guy Jillian picked out was smaller than I had expected, and I realized it was a Pygmy Hamster. All the better to climb up inside my clothing.
Well, at least there was only one of them. While Jillian, assisted by cranes and a construction crew, put together the little guy’s new house, I went on the internet to research the care of Pygmy Hamsters. Hamsters, I discovered, are solitary animals, which like to live alone.
Except for Pygmy Hamsters.
Pygmy Hamsters, it seemed, were social animals, who had to have friends to run around with, or they’d curl into a depressed little ball and develop all kinds of ailments which would require time consuming, expensive visits to the veterinarian. Oh boy.
I explained this to my daughter, but warned her that she would have to simply talk to it a lot, because no way was I spending another ten bucks on another one of those things, especially since we had no idea if the one we already had was a boy or girl. No way. No how. Not gonna happen.
The first thing I noticed when we walked back into the pet store was that the hamster enclosure was empty. Cool, I thought. Maybe they ate their way through the floor and were tunneling to the center of the Earth. That was that, because under no circumstances was I chasing all over the country in search of an animal whose cousins were probably stalking the wiring in my house as we spoke. Not a chance.
The next pet store was even louder than the first. It had a display of hamsters, clearly labeled “male” and “female”. Unfortunately, we didn’t know which one we already had. But what the heck – fifty-fifty odds are better than your chances of getting through a year in Indiana without hitting a deer.
Jillian named them Ranger and Morelli, and said if one turns out to be a gal, she’ll change its name to Stephanie. That doesn’t make sense unless you read Janet Evanovich, but it’s a lot more imaginative than “Spot”, or “Fuzzball”. I wanted to name one “Snack”, which didn’t go over well at all.
I’ve learned a few things about hamsters since then:
Social animals, my eye. They fight more than my daughters.
Small teeth leave big ouches.
Running wheels squeak, especially in the wee hours. All the grease in the world won’t silence them.
It’s possible to catch hamsters when they get loose, but either you or they will have a heart attack.
Hearing my daughter say “do you want to help sex Morelli?” WILL freak me out.
No, I still have no little accidents to prove one of them is a Stephanie. And I’m not going to sex one to find out. No way, no how. Not gonna happen.
Until I’m talked into it.




Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
kazzy_cee
Jan. 20th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
Flying in - because I enjoy reading your entries! - I can't keep away from lj */whiney voice*

Anyhoo - good luck with the hamsters - they are a nightmare! You realise of course that if they do breed you are going to be overrun...?

*rushes out of the door to go to work*
ozma914
Jan. 20th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
Ah, you flew in just for me? I find that very gratifying. But I'm not getting egotistical -- my head still fits through the door, see? (BANG!) Ow!

It seems I dodged the bullet with the hamster breeding thing -- if I haven't become a hamfather by now, I'm probably safe. And the truth is, they are kind of fun ... don't tell the kids I said that, I have an image to uphold.
redwolf
Jan. 20th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC)
We don't get Hamsters here, funny little rodents.

I like rats as pets. They're cute, smart, affectionate, don't reek like mice do and have clever little hands. But as you're stuck with a hamster, perhaps you'd like to consider making the little guy earn his keep.
ozma914
Jan. 20th, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, rats
Wow -- that's a lot of work for a little light!

On the other hand, if it was my daughters running on the wheel ... we might never have to pay to run the TV and VCR again. I'll have to get a set of schematics and see if I can supersize the project ...
alltheway2reno
Jan. 20th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
Highly entertaining...highly.
ozma914
Jan. 20th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks ... oh, wait, did you mean my writing, or the hamsters? They can both bite, they can both be cute or annoying, and they're both pretty much trivial little hobbies to keep people entertained ...
(no subject) - alltheway2reno - Jan. 20th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 21st, 2006 06:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alltheway2reno - Jan. 21st, 2006 06:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 22nd, 2006 08:54 am (UTC) - Expand
pfeifferpack
Jan. 20th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
Now I only have dogs but I went through my rodent period in my 30's. Never allowed any as a child because my mother was terrified of all things rodent. I had Hamsters, mice, a bunny and rats and loved them all. My only problem was that they have a short life span. Warning....Hamsters are solitary unless very young or mating. They will fight when together otherwise. I found this out the hard way. Also if the female gets pregnant and the male is still in the same cage when the babies are born...she will eat her young. I think that may be because they are somewhat stupid and are actually trying to "protect" the babies by stuffing them in their face pouches, then forget and say to themselves "Hum....what was it I was storing here to eat later?" and bye-bye kiddies.

Anyway...Just watch the out because they easily chew through plastic (I resorted to used glass aquariums from Goodwill. They are bright enough that when put in those cute balls they will bash it into a wall to pop the thing open and escape. I resorted to taping the "door" while they were in the things. They can escape from a hole the size of a quarter!

I'd have them again if my dogs wouldn't look on them as food on the hoof though.

Kathleen
ozma914
Jan. 20th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
According to about half of the websites I visited, these particular kinds of hamsters are more social than the average ... although I did make sure to get them together right away, while still young. They fight every now and then, but usually get along except when they try to share the wheel, and the big one throws the little one all over the place.
Just to clarify, I'm talking about the hamsters, not my daughters.

We bought a cage specially designed for hamsters, but we were warned about their chewing tendency (as if the hole in the Plexglass wasn't enough!), so we're keeping an eye on them. As for the balls, whenever they're in them they head straight for my feet, for some reason. Haven't figured that one out yet ...
(no subject) - pfeifferpack - Jan. 20th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 21st, 2006 06:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pfeifferpack - Jan. 21st, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 22nd, 2006 08:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pfeifferpack - Jan. 22nd, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 23rd, 2006 05:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pfeifferpack - Jan. 23rd, 2006 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 24th, 2006 08:34 am (UTC) - Expand
cbtreks
Jan. 20th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
Awww, he's so cute! If we didn't have cats, we'd probably own some sort of small rodents - DH loves rats. (We're both a bit concerned the cats would get them no matter how safe we'd try to keep them, though.)

I'm weird about rodents - pet mice are cute and funny, wild mice in the house make me phobic. Even worse with bats - outside, not a problem, in my house and I have to leave - literally. Odd, huh?
ozma914
Jan. 21st, 2006 06:36 am (UTC)
phobias
Not so odd. It probably falls on our ancient fear of having the mice eat our food supplies, the rats spread plague, and the bats get in our hair. I have an extreme fear of spiders, which probably stems from our ancestors' ancient knowledge that spiders are evil and should be killed.

My youngest daughter and I are both highly allergic to cat dander, so there isn't much chance our hamsters will be getting stalked anytime soon. Besides, I'm the only occupant of the house about 2/3 of the time, and I'm at work during most of that period; I wouldn't want to leave any animal big enough to be outside a cage alone for all that time. The hamsters don't seem to mind that, or me talking to them when I am alone in the house!
curiouswombat
Jan. 20th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
I think pygmy hamsters and Siberian hamsters must be either the same or similar. D-d had Siberians, and we had the same problem about sexing - we ended up with one of each. Well we didn't actually end-up with them as such!
Olga had four or five litters - most of which either she or her mate ate. We sent two that survived long enough back to the petshop, who gave us a bag of hamster food in exchange, and during Olga's last pregnancy her mate Zoy died, and two of that litter survived, so we had three until Olga died. Fortunately Sacha and Nikita were both females!

They lived in a habitrail set up as big as the average holiday camp, and used to keep D-d awake at night bickering and squabbling, and running around their wheel - pity we didn't know about the Vaseline trick!

They had a wheel on the outside of the habitrail thing as well - D-d's cousin once spun it by hand until the hampster that was in it was plastered to the side as it spun around at high speed, and then plummeted to the bottom of the wheel when it slowed down!
ozma914
Jan. 21st, 2006 06:43 am (UTC)
The wheel on our cage is also outside the habitat itself -- my oldest has threatened to do that spinning thing herself, just to get under her sister's skin. But she doesn't have to -- every once in awhile they get in the wheel together and Morelli makes Ranger do a tumbling run. They're just like -- well, my kids.

I could make the obvious disgusting joke and say that if they ate their young, that would not only take care of the problem but also save food ... but I think it's safe to say nobody wants to see that. Luckily, all signs indicate they're the same sex, whatever that sex is.

Oh, and I think you're right about pygmy and siberians being the same. I guess it's too cold in Siberia for them to grow very large.
synaptikchaos
Jan. 23rd, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
you should have gotten gerbils. way cuter, much less prone to bite, and i can answer all the questions you have about them including, if they will live through cat bites....... *tear*

also, there is a great squeak-free wheel i can recommend to you. we bought two of them, they're fantastic. does your cage have any wire sections to fasten a wheel to?
ozma914
Jan. 23rd, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
Jillian was determined to have a hamster, because Stephanie Plum, the main character from Janet Evanovich's books, has a hamster named Rex. She likes the books so much that no other pet would do for her. So you see, it really wasn't up to me. At least, since we're allergic to cats, we don't have to worry about the bite issue.

There are wire sections on the cage, but there's not a whole lot of room inside. Their present wheel is actually outside the cage itself, and there are connections so we could connect another cage or another wheel later. The wheel we have doesn't really squeak that much; but during the winter we block off the upstairs, so when Jillian's here she sleeps in my bedroom (downstairs) and I sleep on the couch -- which is right by the wheel.
(no subject) - synaptikchaos - Jan. 24th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jan. 24th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC) - Expand
mygothangel
Feb. 9th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
omg I love ya! I was dead tired and now I feel all-alive
ROFL!
I will just quote the pieces I found the best (hard job, picking them, I'm telling you)

“Can I bring home a Victoria’s Secret model? I’ll feed her and wash her every day, I promise! I’ll even help her get dressed!”
“Sure, dad … if you can afford her.”

"It’s not gonna happen. Forget it.”
The first thing I noticed about the pet store was how loud it was.

Maybe firefighters should start carrying a pair of hamsters in their coat pockets.

Hamsters, I discovered, are solitary animals, which like to live alone.
Except for Pygmy Hamsters.
Pygmy Hamsters, it seemed, were social animals, who had to have friends to run around with, or they’d curl into a depressed little ball and develop all kinds of ailments which would require time consuming, expensive visits to the veterinarian. Oh boy.

No way. No how. Not gonna happen.
The first thing I noticed when we walked back into the pet store was that the hamster enclosure was empty.

It’s possible to catch hamsters when they get loose, but either you or they will have a heart attack.


*giggles and runs off to the next column*

PS seeing that I have 2.5 cats, I completely understand that you wanted to name one "Snack". In fact, it wouldn't probably last long enough to get a name at all.
ozma914
Feb. 10th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC)
half a cat
Glad you're perked up! I'm having a very un-perky week, so it's been great reading these compliments from you.

Um ... 2.5 cats?
Re: half a cat - mygothangel - Feb. 10th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: half a cat - ozma914 - Feb. 11th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

November 2019
S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow