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I’ve been tasked to write for a blog that chronicles the lives of pet owners, and they wanted me to write about the hamsters I’ve adopted. That gave me an excuse to go through my truckload of pictures (note to self: be more discerning when uploading pictures) to find a picture for each of the hamsters who have been a part of my life. A trip down memory lane is always fun 🙂
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I adore animals. I’m the kind of kid who would pester my parents with an endless stream of pleas for a pet. Being young and ignorant, I would naturally plead them for a puppy. Lucky for me, my parents knew better. They wouldn’t budge, and I never got a pet, not until I was much much older and had finished my studies in junior college.
My first hamster came to me as a gift. My friend and I had gone to the pet shop and picked out two hamsters, and they were given to me as a birthday present (read on to find out how I soon regretted my choice to buy hamsters). I named one ‘Mighty’ and the other ‘Mouse’. That same day, I found out what a huge mistake it was to get two hamsters and keep them in the same cage.
The two hamsters started fighting after a few hours in the same cage. I found out the hard way that when hamsters fight, they really go at each other. Mouse actively sought Mighty out, even after I tried separating them with a divider down the middle of the cage (because ignorant me only had one cage at that moment). It was a stressful night, breaking them up every time they got in a scuffle. Eventually, I had to get Mouse into the carrier I had brought the hamsters home in (risking my own fingers in the process). She stayed in the box for the night. The next day, I passed Mouse to my friend who had bought me the hamsters. She kept Mouse with her.
Great start to keeping my first hamster eh?
I kept Mighty, perhaps the spunkiest hamster I’ve ever met. She didn’t like to be carried. As she grew older, we couldn’t even take her out of her cage without being hissed at. Still, we loved her, because she was so full of character and attitude 🙂 She lived a good three years with us, and we buried her under a tree near our home when she passed.
A year or two after getting Mighty, I started volunteering with the SPCA. That was when I realised what an ignorant person I was. I bought a pet when there were so many perfectly good ones waiting for homes in animal shelters. I’m glad to say I’ve wised up since. While volunteering with the SPCA, I fell in love with another hamster and decided to adopt her. Of course, I had learnt my lesson. This time, I kept my hamsters separate – one in one cage!
Enter Tiny, possibly the best hamster in the world. At only two weeks old when I saw her in the shelter, Tiny was truly tiny. But what an outgoing personality she had. She was the only hamster I’ve had (I’ve since kept seven hamsters) who would stay still in my palm, scuttle around on my bed without taking off, and pose for the camera. Needless to say, many of my friends who visited also fell in love with her. Once, she injured her leg on the cage (a distressing experience). The funny thing was, when we brought her to the vet clinic, even the vet was amazed at how tame she was – “Wah, this is the tamest hamster I’ve ever seen.”
She was a great hamster, and I was devastated when she eventually passed away a year after her leg injury due to a lung infection. The vet put her on oxygen supply to keep her going, but she didn’t make it. She died young, at one and a half years. I learnt then that awesome as hamsters are, it’s heartbreaking when they fall ill because their bodies are too small to withstand most procedures/medication. Still, Tiny was my first adopted hamster, and she showed me how great it felt to adopt and save a life.
Volunteering in an animal shelter has its perks – I get to see, on a regular basis, all the animals available for adoption. I had the pleasure of meeting many great hamsters after Tiny, each one special in their own way.
Bunny, my first Syrian hamster! I had read so much about them, and always wanted to keep one. When I saw Bunny in the shelter, I adopted him right away. He was also the first boy hamster after my three girls. Not that I mind, they’re all equally awesome 🙂
Bear, so named because he really looked like one (doesn’t he?). He loved his weekly treat of a small slice of carrot. This cuddly one was a Syrian like Bunny, and because of his size (Syrians are much bigger as compared to Dwarfs), we kept him in a huge fish tank, fitted with all sorts of hamster accessories and fun things. He was one happy hamster 😀
Clearly, I have a soft spot for Syrians. When I saw Trip in the shelter, I just had to adopt him. This little black baby remained wary of people and was the only hamster I had who would fly out of our palms when we tried to pick him up. Hamsters, being prey animals, don’t like to be carried or touched (which, again, is why Tiny was so special). Nevertheless, we were happy just having him around. We made sure he had everything he needed and cleaned his tank once a week. One day, his fur started shedding and scabs appeared all over his tiny body. He began to lose a lot of weight. Several trips to the vet proved futile – he was treated for mites just in case that was the problem, and a sample of his fur was taken to ascertain if it was anything else. The tests were negative, and the conclusion was that it was hormonal – there was nothing much the vet could do for him. We kept his environment clean and peaceful for the last of his days. He died after a long and hard fight with Cushings, a rare disease that’s often fatal in hamsters.
Having had the pleasure of keeping three Syrians, I fell in love with a Dwarf once again. Trey was sitting in his cage in the shelter when I saw him. I adopted him and brought him home, and he’s been with us since.
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Having kept so many hamsters (we had four hamster cages at one time in the house), I learnt that hamsters make great first pets. Easy to maintain, they are very self-sufficient, apart from me having to change their food and water supply everyday and washing their cages once a week. Rather than getting a puppy (who could live up to 16 years) or a kitten (who could live up to 20 years) as a pet for a child, a hamster is the best pet to start children off with, to instil in them a sense of responsibility towards another living being. As they have much shorter lifespans (up to three years), hamsters are also a better test to see if the child who insists on getting a pet will grow tired of it after the novelty wears off.
Trey is now a big boy. The last of our hamsters. I’ve since adopted many other animals (gerbils, guinea pigs, a cat and a dog), and I can’t thank the many hamsters who have passed through my life enough, for teaching me responsibility, patience and lots of lots of love 🙂
Happy Source: Animals + Adoption