We have owned a hamster for four months, but not the same hamster for four months. We are on our second hamster.
We try to be conscientious pet owners. Before we bought the hamster we a got manual and read all about them. Their likes, dislikes, sleeping patterns and what kind of habitats are best for them. We even picked a name for the hamster ahead of time. We were going to call her, Penny.
After preparing a suitable habitat, we went to the pet store and picked out our new family member. It wasn’t too difficult because they all looked the same.
On the way home we noticed that Penny, in fact was different. She had red eyes. It made her look a little evil, but we were already in love with our odd little hamster.
As the days went on we noticed more weird behavior. She would finish a whole water bottle in one day and completely soak a corner of her habitat with her waste. She also was very irritable. You would have to be willing to sustain a bite from her if we wanted to pick her up.
A month later we noticed she was shaky and reclusive. We went out for the evening and when we came back she was dead.
My husband and I had already sent the kids to bed, so they had no idea. He unceremoniously wrapped her in a paper towel, put her in a box and threw her away. I didn’t want to tell the kids. I knew they were going to be really sad.
We knew this day would come. Hamsters, like goldfish, aren’t known for their longevity. My husband was going out of town the next day. I didn’t want to have to deal with the death of a family pet on my own. So we concocted a plan to replace Penny with an identical one.
I micromanaged their whole morning so the kids would not look in the habitat and notice she was gone. Then I dropped them off at my parent’s house and went to the pet store.
Finding a proper replacement was harder than I thought. Although the hamsters are similar they are not identical. I picked one whose fur I thought matched the closest.
So I took Penny No. 2 home and put her in the habitat. She ended up looking a lot different than the first one. She had more gray fur, she was fatter, and her eyes were black. My kids noticed the differences right away. I casually made the excuse that she is growing and changing just like humans do and I referenced their 13 year old cousin who is also growing and changing. They completely accepted that answer. My kids never questioned for a minute that it wasn’t the same hamster.
Fast forward three months. I leave town for the weekend and my husband decides it’s time the kids know the truth. I was up at the Glenwood Caverns with a group of my friends, about to go on the cave tour and I get a text message that says,
“I told the kids the truth about Penny.”
What?! Why in the world? He told me that he wanted them to understand how fragile hamsters are. After a day of handling and mishandling, Penny No. 2 was looking a little dazed and confused. He said they needed to know the reasons why we have so many rules to protect her. According to him they took the news about their first hamster really well and I was concerned for nothing.
To date, Penny No. 2 has outlasted Penny No.1 by three months. I am going to call Mr. Guiness, because by hamster standards, I think that might be a world record.