Hamsters in My Home
by Doogiedoog
Last Edited: Thursday, October 04, 2001

My son Ibarra, aged 6, and his sister Sam, age 13, have 18 hamsters between them. At least the last time we counted. The 3 cuties we started out with turned out to be - in the words of Britney Spears - not that innocent. Hamsters are cute, and apparently, they think so too.

As a young couple, my wife and I didn't have pets (a couple of hundred African Cichlids of various species hardly count as proper pets, I say). No, the interest in having pets came at the onset of the 40s, when my son suddenly seemed so incomplete without some sort of living breathing creature to pour his not-so-tender attentions on. Visions of my kids growing up emotionally impaired for having been deprived of pets in their childhood haunted the edges of my mind. That we lived in a typically cramped apartment seemed a paltry excuse.

The same time this feeling was stewing at the back of my head, some cunning young shyster posted a friendly hamster-for-sale ad with a picture of a friendly hamster on the bulletin board of the U.P. Shopping Center. Not only was he selling way below the price of the nearest Bioresearch pet shop, he also offered free delivery. We had 3 hamsters in no time.

Let me tell you about hamsters. One, hamsters are basically mobile balls of fur. On one end they have quivery whiskers and bright round eyes. It is impossible to resist their charms as these animated powder puffs sit quietly on your palm, warming it with their tiny warm feet and soft bellies. My son who comes home from school around noon (which corresponds to the nocturnal hamster's midnight) regularly grabs a victim from deep sleep. The boy succumbs to hamster charms by squeezing the groggy beastie to his cheek with his palm.

Unlike rats or mice, hamsters haven't got a nasty long tail. They come with a short sausage-like stub. If hamsters were dogs, we'd call them 'putut' (Tagalog) which is Stubby in English.
Hamsters aren't nimble. According to sources on the Internet, hamsters aren't rodents. I believe this. While mice and rats have a feral speed and agility, hamsters are gymnastically-challenged. Hamsters will often fall off an inch-high perch and roll over haplessly on their backs. When this happens, you pick up the hamster, dust off the wood shavings, and comfort it by putting it to your cheek. Yes, again. Makes the hamster feel better.

Next, hamsters are flat, their ground clearance an inspiration to race car drivers the world over. Released on a study desk, they will move around low on the table like four-legged amoebas nosing under your papers, notebooks, and around coffee mugs. Observing this feat of flatness is also great way taking much needed breaks late at night, especially when trying to beat paper submission deadlines in morning.

Hamsters have speed tufts. These are swept-back tufts of fur on their sides. Shaped like shark fins, racy-looking and all, what the tufts actually do for otherwise speed-challenged hamsters is a mystery. Until Discovery Channel tells us, my kids and I are convinced the tufts make hamsters go faster. At the very least, LOOK faster. Reasoning thus, they are properly called 'speed tufts.'

Finally, hamsters have cheek pockets. You discover this the day your 3-inch hamster packs away 2-inch long stems of Kang Kong (swamp cabbage) or string beans. Hamsters give 'stuffing your face' a whole new meaning, besides which you also learn how cheaply you are entertained by that otherwise disgusting little trick (sgain, again, again! Here hamster, have another piece!). As the food quickly disappears, your hamster will transform before your very eyes into a chimera: rattlesnake's flat head in front; hamster hindquarters at the rear. What you do at this point is you gingerly pick up the furry changeling, put it back in its box, then vigorously leap about while smoothing the waves of crawly goose bumps on your arms.

According to the Internet, we had Syrian hamsters. When mature, they are said to be solitary. That they will fight, fiercely, when kept together. This piece of information goes entirely against the grain of our training with pets. We buy birds and fish in pairs, don't we? Despite many instances when the darkness in our living room was pierced with sounds of scuffling and angry screams, their misleadingly cute appearance had the kids putting them together frequently, regardless. On some such occasions, come morning, smaller hamsters have inexplicably disappeared. One can hardly ask the remaining well-fed cute furball what happened to her missing companion.

I was having dinner one evening when my son Ibarra ran past me to call his big sister from upstairs, "Ate! Ate! The hamsters are fighting again! Look! Look! "
Dragged downstairs and away from the comforts of her reading, the somewhat jaded young lady bellowed, "Yeah, yeah, I KNOW! They're fighting…so what?" They went past the dinner table and disappeared into the study. I could hear my son's excited "Look! Loook! He's smelling her butt! They're fighting!" Normally, such colorful language isn't expected in a home setting but no thanks to 'Cow and Chicken,' not to mention prominently red-tushied character 'I R Baboon,' on Cable TVs Cartoon Channel, I quickly quelled the impulse to protest.

My curiosity got the best of me and I followed in time to hear my daughter say "They're NOT fighting!" in BIG SISTER tones, dripping thickly of condescension and all-knowing. Being her dad, I also detected a note of confusion. I looked at the hamsters. Oh, they weren't fighting alright. Looked more like a hamster rodeo. Never losing a beat, my 6-yr old son went in for the kill,: "So WHAT are they doing?"

Nanoseconds passed. Full seconds, for sure. Eternity quite possibly. Samantha, my darling daughter of the filly years, had by then turned a bright crimson. She answered in measured deadpan, "They're fighting." Then she fled back upstairs.
One last thing about hamsters: they can also be very educational.
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AAh, good day, doogiedoog,
I see that you and all your family you love hamsters. I love a giunea pig that is call Justine and she is all pink and fluffy. That is not the same, but i like ask you a question? is it that your hamsters they bite you a little? Because that my Justine she has begin to eat crude saucige and now she bite me a little?
Thank you.
Oh yes, they'll bite! The trick is to get your hamster used to handling as soon as you can pick it up. It'll be frisky at first, but as it gets used to you it'll calm down. Hamsters that bite the most are those that grow up without handling and then are suddenly subjected to handling. Individual hamsters can also have different temperaments.
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Ooh but Justine is very well handled! i handled her all the day
In that case Justine just wants to show you how much she likes you.Emotion: wink
Yes but it is hurt, and now i am bondaged everywhere.
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Hello Doogiedoog

I enjoyed your piece – thank you!

I recently found a webpage that suggested giving hamsters small quantities of egg, meat (cooked or raw), etc as an occasional dietary supplement.

This surprised me – I thought they were strictly vegetarian.

What are your findings?

MrP
my hammy bite me can you tell me what i should and shoudn't do if she bites me again please
A clawhammer works wonders.
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