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Archive for the ‘hamsters’ Category

Last night our hamster was scrambling all over his cage while E was feeding and petting him. The cat monitored every last movement. Once the cage was closed, the cat climbed up on top of the hamster cage and crouched there, trying to push aside the pillowcase we keep on the lid of the cage, so he could watch the hamster directly. (Unfortunately for the cat, the pillowcase was pinned in place.)

As the cat crouched, straining to monitor movement down below, E reached up from behind him and quickly touched his tail. The cat instantly spun around. “What was that? Who touched my tail? Has that rodent figured out how to get out of the cage and he’s up here where I could get him after all?”

As the cat intently scrutinized that side of the cage top, looking for the hamster, E again reached up unseen behind him and touched his tail. He spun around again, looking even more vexed at the idea that the rodent was up here somewhere messing with his tail, but he just couldn’t find it.

E tapped his tail a couple more times, before we decided the cat had gotten enough stimulation for one day and we were out of breath from laughing so hard. The cat never did figure out exactly what happened.

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On Friday, Peachy passed away after a couple weeks of suffering a rapidly spreading brain tumor. It was sad to say goodbye, but it was clearly time for her to go.

And then on Monday, Snowy died very unexpectedly. She’d been perfectly healthy, and we think she choked to death.

Two hamster funerals in less than a week just sucks. The cat is currently peering into one of the empty hamster cages, as if wondering where the little buddy he liked to watch has gone.

In the grand scheme of things, especially the disaster in Haiti, two little hamsters are barely a blip… but add up Haiti, and deaths and serious health problems among friends/family/coworkers, and the hamsters seem like the last straw. January better not be an indication of how all of 2010 is going to go.

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The cat was used to watching The Hamster Channel through a metal cage-within-a-cage. All those metal bars made for a rather grainy picture. But now that we have moved one hamster into a glass tank, the cat can watch The Hamster Channel in high-def. As you can see, he’s loving it. (And despite how it looks in these pictures, in general the hamster is completely oblivious.)

hamchan

Even after we moved the humidifier back to its usual spot farther away, the cat still had a comfortable spot to watch his show.

hamchan

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Peace through partition

No, this isn’t about Iraq, or Pakistan, or Vietnam, or Germany. It’s about the rodent members of our household.

Peachy and Snowy are dwarf hamsters, which means they should be happy living together as a pair. However, either they didn’t get the memo, or else the pet shop was wrong in labeling them as dwarf hamsters. (They’re definitely the largest dwarf hamsters I’ve ever seen.) After 3 months of mostly-peaceful coexistence, they started fighting a few times each day. Snowy would go after Peachy, and then Peachy would screech really loudly. A few times their fight turned out to be sex –and don’t they look annoyed when we interrupt that! — but overall, the relationship was definitely turning more abusive than loving.

So I put a wall in, straight down the middle of their cage. I think it’s like the Berlin Wall, but E prefers the idea that they went from sharing a one-bedroom apartment to each having their own small studio apartments. Since this was a trial separation, we went with a temporary wall of cardboard. Interestingly enough, neither hamster has shown any inclination to gnaw through the wall. They both seem to have settled down very happily into life on their separate sides. I’m hoping to rig up a second story for each of them, so they have a bit more room to scramble around, but for now this seems to be working out very well. Given our need for a cage-within-a-cage to protect them from the cat, moving them into separate full-size cages is a logistical problem.

In other pet news, for the first time we let the hamsters use the roller ball while the cat was in the house and could watch them. Don’t worry, the cat was heavily supervised. And as you can see, he’s not much of an aggressor.

In fact, you might even argue it’s the cat who has to watch out for the hamster.

UPDATE: A coworker that used to have pet gerbils has offered me the glass tank with metal lid that he used for the gerbils. It should be cat-proof without an outer cage. So, in one of the fastest real-estate upgrades in history, the hamsters should be moving from their studio apartments into separate one-bedroom units sometime next week.

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He knows when you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
He’s the cat above your cage!

Luckily the hamsters are not at all perturbed by the large hairy beast who we finally caught lurking over their heads.

And see the little white paper next to the cat? That’s the Christmas card E gave to M. On the front is a picture of a cat in a Santa hat licking his lips. On the inside, it says, “Due to circumstances beyond our control, there will be no partridge in a pear tree this year.” Thankfully, our hamsters’ cage-within-a-cage is serving admirably to save them from a similar fate.

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Saturday night while we were all eating dinner, I realized the hamsters would probably appreciate a bit of the fresh salad we were having.  As far as I knew, they’d spent the whole day holed up sleeping in their little plastic coconut, so I commented that I hadn’t seen them lately.

“They were out drinking earlier,” E told me.  And all 3 of us instantly cracked up.  Never mind coming out of the coconut to get a few sips from the water bottle; these hamsters sounded like they had a social life that had involved cadging a ride down to the local bar when I went out to get the pizza.

I gave them a bit of fresh lettuce.  It’s not the typical post-drinking munchie, but hey, they’re hamsters.

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Hamster update

We’ve named the second hamster Peachy.  Between the pale almost-pinkish-brown fur, the pink eyes, and the fact that she* is so fat as to be nearly round, it seems to fit.  M’s best friend thinks we should name the hamster Cocoa, and M wants to stick up for his friend, so occasionally the critter gets called Cocoa as well.  But not often.

E is concerned that we not hurt Peachy’s feelings by referring to her* as fat.  “She’s a big girl,” E said.  “She’s just big-boned.”  Then one day as Snowy, who’s gotten slimmer with all her wheel-running, frisked around, Peachy waddled out of the plastic coconut, and E blurted out, “She’s huge.”  We’re starting to suspect Peachy is not actually a dwarf hamster after all, in which case we’re not sure what the ramifications are of continuing to house her with Snowy.  If Peachy does decide to go on the attack, at least Snowy should be able to outrun her.

*E also thinks that since the hamsters really are female, they deserve to be referred to as she, her, sisters, etc.  She, he, sisters, brothers, Peachy, Cocoa — it’s a good thing hamsters don’t go through identity crises very easily.

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