I have some good news to announce this month (for our family, anyway): we finally managed to get rid of all but one of the hamsters. In case you’ve forgotten about - or missed – my previous columns regarding said hamsters, allow me to refresh your memory…
Last year, my evil sister-in-law gave our kids a couple of hamsters - a male and a female – complete with a little hamster “love grotto”. Before long, there were baby hamsters. Unfortunately, one of the parents must have stuck them in the food bowl without mentioning it to the other one and, well, let’s just say the first litter is now running on the big hamster wheel in the sky.
A few weeks passed during which time we were tormented with the incessant squeaking of the wheel, the chewing of the cage and, of course the smell. Fortunately, with only two hamsters it took a while before the smell became bad enough to warrant cleaning the cage.
Eventually, though, another round of baby hamsters appeared. This time, the mother stuck them in a safe place and they all managed to survive. I guess practice makes perfect.
We now had 6 hamsters jammed in a cage designed for two or three. As you can imagine, it needed cleaning on an hourly basis so we tried to get rid of them. The first thing we learned in this effort is that pet shops don’t want hamsters even if you offer to PAY THEM to take them. (It’s times like this when I wish I knew more people with pet snakes.)
We did, finally, manage to unload one of the little beasts (a male) on one of our son’s teachers as sort of a class pet or something. (I think she has snakes, but I could be wrong.) The remaining 5 continued soiling their cage, running around on the wheel at all hours of the night, chewing anything they could get their teeth on all day and doing other “hamster activities.” We knew we had to do something to prevent any more baby hamsters so we got another cage and stuck what we thought was the last male in it.
A month or so passed and one day our daughter was playing with the girls and all of a sudden screamed “Mommy! There’s a BOY hamster in with the girls!” A quick evaluation of the situation revealed that she was, indeed, correct so we removed him and threw him in with the other male. This turned out to be a “not so good” idea and it was only a matter of minutes before they were fighting. We quickly removed the second one and threw him back in with the females. “Oh, well” we said.
Which brings us to this past weekend… We were celebrating our daughter’s birthday and had a house full of 5th graders having a grand old time. As the party was winding down, our daughter said “Who would like a SPECIAL prize?” “Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!” came the response. Since we didn’t have enough “prizes” to go around, our daughter quickly organized a raffle and soon enough we were saying goodbye to our guests. They all had a goodie bag full of party favors in one hand but a lucky few also had a cardboard box clutched in the other.
And thus, dear readers, we have reached the end of the “Hamster Saga”. But don’t worry. If I know my sister-in-law, it’s just a matter of time before something else shows up at our house.
In closing this month, I have three words of inspiration for the parents of the kids that were fortunate enough to win one of the adorable, loving, furry hamsters that I’m sure will bring many years of joy and meaning to your child’s life as they learn to care for and nurture their new pet: “No tags back.”
PS. Since the party, we have heard tales of hamsters being able to chew through cardboard boxes with relative ease so I don’t recommend this method of transport for anyone attempting to try this themselves.
Feel free to send in your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions. If you’re writing to ask about returning a hamster, forget it.