Just watched this rather amusing and somewhat familiar feeling youtube video, “The Story of My Hamster” where a gentleman recounts his experience with his very first pet of his very own.
It inspired me to comment on it, as my experience with hamsters is probably why I am a dog person:
(And before continuing I should note, this story doesn’t end well, so fair warning if you are faint of heart…)
I think his is a reincarnation of my hamster, Nibbles- same kind, orange-y brown fur just like that ( I think they are called Golden Hamsters) and she too was highly intelligent, and I only had her for a much too short while due to her tendency to do some very convincing Houdini impressions. She must be designed to bring young tweens to their coming of age through heartache of loss! She was also my first pet of my very own, and I got her shortly after turning 12, I think maybe even for my birthday as a present. She was very tame and I loved her so much I took it with me when we went to visit my aunt in Cupertino for a week. Of course, she escaped and we couldn’t find her for a few days and I was heartbroken because we were about to leave to go back home and she hadn’t turned up.
SO my mom tried to console me by buying me another one. He was uninspiring, so I just called him Ham,. That one was not nearly as cute and rather mean and nippy and tried to bite, where my Nibbles was so sweet and tame and let me handle her all the time, but I was so miserable that they had to try something. That night was the last one we would be there, but around 2am my mother heard scratching noises coming from beneath the sink in the bathroom and we knew she was under the cabinet there, but it seemed that she had crawled into a hole that was too high to reach from the other side of the floorboard and we couldn’t figure how to get her back out. My mom finally got some chopsticks and shoved them into the crack where the floorboard met the wall, and made a sort of ladder for her to climb up on the other side and we got her out and took her home and I was happy…
Then when the two hamsters were together in the tank when we got home, as we now had another one as well, they got into a horrible fight and I had to separate the two of them and didn’t put the books and stuff back on the top of the cage after doing that. She got out AGAIN that night, despite me thinking she was too injured from fighting with the other hamster. But this time was tragedy, as she had crawled again up something that she couldn’t get out of – after climbing up the wicker trash basket next to the toilet, she had apparently fallen in and drowned only to be discovered by my mother floating there in the morning. I got my lesson on death way sooner than I wanted to as she was only with me for a few months overall.
I cried for months, longer than I had her, I think.( I’ve never been sadder to lose another pet, I don’t think. Not even my beloved Frankie-dog who I had for 14 years of best-pal-ness like Shaggy and Scooby. At least he got a full life, and died of old age while she was taken by a thief in the night by bizarre accident so unexpectedly and after just having gotten her back… ) I wasn’t the only one who was very sad though, because she was really a sweet hamster. Still makes me a little sad when I think of the tragic end she met. We buried her in the garden – several times, actually, because the dog insisted on removing her from her place of rest over and over again until we finally put her under some screen as well to prevent him digging her up.
The OTHER hamster didn’t fare well either, having gotten a small wound in that fight. Nibbles got her vengeance though, in a spectacular way for his being the instrument of her escape and undoing that night, because at some point shortly after that a housefly laid eggs in that wound on the other one. THAT was a whole ‘nother traumatic lesson in death I got when they hatched and began to consume the beast from inside while it still lived. I awoke to feed him before school one morning and it looked like all the fur and some skin was gone from about a quarter sized ring on his side, which looked like a bunch of fat cells or something instead.
Well, we thought we ought to put some disinfectant on it, only to discover that what we thought was a lower layer of dermis on the hamster was actually like looking at a handful of dry spaghetti noodles lengthwise (so that from one end there might be only a square inch of area when looking at the ends next to each other, but from sideways you can see that they are spaghetti) where each dot or “fat bubble” turned out to be the ass end of a maggot that was eating its way into the hamster. They were stacked on top of each other and packed tightly together enough to make it look like a solid flesh until we put disinfectant on it and they all abandoned their meal to escape the alcohol.
Wormy maggots each one maybe a little less than a centimeter in length, hundreds of them now wriggling out of that wound, and now no more abdominal wall since they had eaten through it, once the worms evacuated, so did the hamsters innards, now bursting through the hole in his side. I couldn’t fathom how horrible it must have been for the poor thing to still be alive, although it didn’t really seem much different until we tried to help it. I thought it was terrible to leave it to suffer with its guts out, so I tried to break its neck, only causing it to squeal in pain and fright and it was still amazingly strong…TOO strong for my little pre-teen hands to have much effect, actually, so I think I ended up wrapping it in some newspaper and putting it in the garbage still alive – I don’t really remember much after trying unsuccessfully to kill it though… Consequently, to this day, there is no insect I hate more than a housefly.
I got one more hamster after that, and it was still the same year as the first. It was a golden hamster with the same kind of markings as my beloved Nibbles, but I didn’t get to bond with this one much, because he hadn’t even been to my house. I had only acquired him through the science project of my friends, which they each also had one hamster and experimented with training all three of them to find food in a maze, and I would get to keep him after the science fair was judged because their project had made it to the finals and the money round. They spent a lot of time on display with the project in the school library, along with all the other candidates for the science fair, such as my other friends project on the density of mercury. Her project included samples which she had ordered from industrial supply and many children and adults alike were fascinated with the quicksilver and the way it pooled a the bottom of every liquid in the various vials, even dish soap, and how it could roll around in the tray breaking up into tiny balls and gathering back into one again, and how it did that in the palm of ones hand as well! …
Yes, the kids were playing with elemental Mercury. In their hands, in the library at the school, where the science projects were on display and where they also enjoyed playing with the hamsters from the maze. In their hands. Where the Mercury would roll around so delightfully…
At some point men came to the school from the EPA with their buzzing detector wands and their Hazmat suits on and started pulling people out of class to wave wands over their belongings and their persons and some students had to forfeit their backpacks, textbooks or sweaters, some shoes… The library was closed for a while, and my pal’s parents were none too pleased with her project in science that cost them carpets and drapes and furniture when the men in the suits went to their house with the wands too… Oh and the hamsters, being handled by the same kids who were playing with the Mercury and who had all had belongings confiscated due to contamination, well, they had to go with the men too, so for me that was hamster #3 gone in less than a year. I hadn’t even gotten to name that one yet.
The universe was clearly trying to tell me something. Apparently, I was not meant to have hamster companionship. I decided I would not try to have any more pet hamsters. Ever. It was too traumatic and clearly not safe for hamsters to be in my care. I have never met another as sweet as my first Nibbles anyway, to this day.
And on my thirteenth birthday, I was given a puppy instead.
Yep. Definitely a dog person
I do intend to steal my mother’s chinchillas from her though since I have already been taking care of them pretty much since she got them on a whim off of Craigslist a few years ago. They are totally awesome and don’t seem to be as death prone as hamsters – in fact, we sort of had the opposite problem since the pair she got were supposed to be both male. I was housesitting for her and made a mental note to tell her we should change their diet or cut out the treats because one of them, Max, was looking rather overweight to the point of not even exercising much and just laying there looking huge, but when mom got home from her trip she called me to tell me the news that Max, apparently, was not fat, and apparently probably should have been named Maxine. Instead of the two Chins she started with, we now had four! Two little carbon copies of Max and Peanut ! To be fair, it IS really difficult to sex them and I wasn’t sure if we weren’t going to end up with more if we kept more than one, but we gave Max away a few years ago and still only have three left… But we DO still have those three, so I don’t think the hamster curse extends to the whole rodent family….