Friday, October 7, 2011

In Which Hamsters Run Amok*

One uneventful day, Audrey and I walked into Centinella Pet Supplies to buy some hamster food.

No, let me back up.

When Melinda was 9 1/2, we--by which I mean I--bought her a hamster.  A small furry little Roborovski Hamster who was subsequently named Candy.

Candy lived a happy little life, for what hamster lucky enough to be owned by an adoring child would not live in bliss?  At a ripe old age of almost 2, she keeled over and breathed her last.  It was a difficult time for Melinda, but was helped when we brought home a new pet a few days later.  This time, we (ahem, I) with amazing argument-avoidance-foresight, bought two hamsters: one for Melinda and one for Audrey.  Two little female Robo hamsters that were used to each other, and no risk of being suckered into buying a different pet later on that required more cages and different supplies--perfect!
Contrary to what you may think, this is not a photo of a
 dead hamster.  One of them simply enjoys
looking dead whilst sleeping.
Thus Rosy and Snoozy joined our household.  They got on so well, and were such adorable things to watch.  For about a month or so.  At which point they started "fighting" (quotes necessary as you soon shall see--or may have already guessed.)  Fighting hamsters plus out of town trip equals very worried girls, and therefore more cages and different supplies.  Sigh.  Foresight not so foresightful after all, perhaps.

Everything seemed to be moving along quite nicely, and we went on our second out of town trip, leaving Chris and Timothy to take care of the house and all it holds.  One morning I awoke to a text:
*slaps forehead*
Quick research told me that Robo Hamsters usually have 4-6 babies.  We were blessed with 7, and Rosy was soon re-dubbed Peter.  We found a website that gave us the necessary information to become quasi-experts in rodent rearing.  A good friend took one of the babies, a teacher took another two, and now we have 6 hamsters total: 3 boys and 3 girls.  In our early baby-raising-phase we happened across an interesting scientific phenomena: how is that a small creature who can barely walk and whose eyes aren't even all the way open can somehow find a wheel and know that it would be a good thing to run on?  It is all very perplexing.  What did hamsters do before wheels??

Which brings us to the beginning of the story: One uneventful day, Audrey and I walked into Centinella Pet Supplies to buy some hamster food.  To Audrey's delight, we discovered that the store would soon be hosting Hamster Races!  We could enter as many hamsters as we wanted (for free!) and each would receive a free ball to race in.  Oh the anticipation!

It was quite a bit of fun to watch, actually.  Some hamsters just wouldn't move.  Some hamsters were about 800times as big as ours combined.  We ended up entering the boys: Peter, Cotton, and Fang.
A brag on my Linnie:  While we were there, Melinda noticed a boy and his dad next to us who were enjoying the races.  Something they said led her to inquire, "Are you just spectating?"  The dad looked at her for a few seconds and then said, "What?"  Melinda rephrased, "Are you just here to watch?"  Recognition dawned and the man nodded, answering, "Yes," with a smile.  (Aren't vocabulary/smarty stories the best? Who said eavesdropping is bad?  Eavesdropping on that conversation was delightful.)
Anyhow, Fang won 2nd place and brought home a fancy princess carriage for his sisters and momma to run in.  They've enjoyed learning how to run in their big huge orbs--something Shasta (Ana & Jack's dog) has greatly enjoyed as well.

But the story doesn't end there.  With all the excitement, the cages must have gotten bumped around because the next morning as Ana was leaving the house, she saw a hamster dart across the entryway floor.  Forget trying to catch it, those things scamper like nobody's business.  Sure enough, the girl's cage (which, by coincidence, is not the pink one--the boys get that pleasure) was housing only two furballs.  We figured she was gone for good, because the part of the house she was seen in the lowest portion, with insurmountable stairs.

There is, however, one section of the baseboards that had a moderately-sized hole drilled in it.  I had assumed that the hole dropped directly underneath the house, but started to get skeptical when two days later I saw a shredded Nerf dart in the adjoining room.  Sure enough, the next morning as I was stumbling back from my alarm clock duties, I saw a little hamster sitting outside the two hamster cages.  Hungry, I assume, the little one was caught without too much fuss and now we are back at full hamster capacity.

Anyone up for a little furry pet?

* (As an aside, the title of my post alerted me to the fact that amok is yet another English word in which one is allowed to choose whether to spell it amok or amuck.  Ah, the freedom of spelling choice--what fun!  Both variants derive from the Malay work amoq: "a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder".  Thank you, that was fun!)


  1. I love hamsters. It's always fun when one escapes, too. We had one that could Houdini his way out of anything. He'd always show up inside the back of the sofa. INSIDE.

  2. Such an awesome need to submit it to a magazine that includes short stories. I loved reading every word....suspenseful.
    I was shocked at the full meaning of amuck. I always thought it was confused disturbance....never "depression followed by a manic urge to murder"!!!!

  3. I was hoping, ever since the asterisk at the beginning of the blog post, that you were going to include a short comment on the word Amok. The disorder actually has a paragraph at the very end of the DSM. It's totally interesting to me that a psychiatric/homicidal disorder from another country made it here into our parlance. Also; glad to know your little hamsters are not only athletic, but also intelligent enough to know where to get fed. And it is delightful to know your 10yr old fetches a deeper vocabulary than the grown-up.

  4. Robin, I have no idea how they do it. And, beyond that, if they can Houdini their way out, why on earth can't they Houdini their way back in??

    Mom, you're too nice (and totally biased.) ;) The full meaning of the word surprised me too. Sounded like Balderdash to me!

    Matthew, fascinating that! Amok made it past the dictionary and into psychiatry! Very surprising. Also: asterisks can be so suspenseful. I hate it when they don't lead anywhere and I'm left in eternal anticipation.