Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Hamsters, like goldfish, are not known for their longevity."

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.


  1. Here's what you need to do to ensure long life of a pet - want it to die. If you want the thing to live, it die as soon as possible. But, if you want it to die, it will live forever.
    Case in point: when I was a kid we had a hamster that we nicknames "Houdini" because the darn thing could get out of ANY CAGE. Don't know how he did it. Anyway, my mom HATED that thing! She was always finding him in the storage room or the kitchen nibbling on our food. It lived for 3 YEARS! And I think it did it just to spite my mom...

  2. Sounds like our experience with our hamsters--first one lived about 3 months, second one lived 2 1/2 years. I was devastated when both of them died. The first one our son named Kolob--don't ask me why. I still think of him every time we sing "If You Could Hie to Kolob". When Bashful died I was more attached to him than my son was and happy I was home alone so I could have a good cry.

  3. We lost a hamster once when my little sisters left the top of the habitat open, and it fell into the adjoining fish tank and drowned.
    I can still remember my sister's shriek or "Caaaaarrrroooottttts!" When she found it floating in the aquarium...and the memory of it still makes me laugh. (I know, I am had to be at the hamster funeral complete with hymn singing and wailing to understand.

  4. We currently have no pets. We haven't had much luck with the ones we have had in the past.

    2 cats - One disappered, the other got hit by a car
    1 miniature frog - I somehow tortured it to death unknowingly. It died a slow, painful death. I thought it was molting, it wasn't.
    1 beta fish - My killing streak continued, it was belly up one morning.

    We've decided to stop and not take any more chances.

  5. That's why we have a snake. She should live about 20 years unless we don't take care of her. But considering she can go months without eating...
    We had a goldfish that lived for 2 years. It was really weird.

  6. I was afraid this post was going to go a different directions (as in Penny #2 was no more). I'm glad she's still hamstering and stuff.
    I don't know why, but I still get sad about my very first hamster's demise, I had to put her down after she got a cold from my stupid idiot boyfriend. Oh that was tough :(
    Hamsters are realy cool creatures.

  7. How did the kids handle that news? At least Penny #2 has a chance at a longer life now!

    Poor Penny #1!

  8. Great News About Penny! I'm Doing The Hamster Dance in celebracion!

    Now I'm intensely curious as to how NCS's boyfriend passed a cold to the hamster...... I promised, long time ago, that I would never bring up Richard Gere and gerbils ever again. I promised!

  9. Are you sad he told them to handle her gently:> We had one hamster get loose and be gone 8 months and survive in my growing up home and then when we had one we wanted to keep had babies and chewed them all up and chewed her own feet off we were scarred for life---I think insanity runs deep in the hamster line

  10. Penny #1's red eyes were creepy. It looked like a little satan hamster. Penny #2 is much cuter and sweeter. I'm just sayin'.

  11. I had two hamsters as a child. I remember having to leave for camp without knowing where the darn thing was or even if it would be alive when I got home. It was crazy good at escaping it's cage thingy.

    I think my mom was a bit sad to find the silly thing the next day lol.

    Needless to say, we are yet to purchase a pet. The kids keep reminding me that I "promised" so I will have to cave at some point. I still have a couple of excuses up my sleeve though;-)

  12. We had our first hamster for 11 months. Tinkerbell was so smart. We had luggage locks on her cage and books on top. It was fun to watch her figure out how to get out. She got out one to many times. Then we go Smokey. She lasted 9 months. I talked about her in my February 2007 archives. (I tried to be fancy like EWBL, but I'm not bright enough:()

    I am done with hamsters. I hate the mourning twice a year.

  13. Great job keeping Penny 2 alive. Penny one sounded like she had acute hamster PMS! LOL! We've only ever had Beta fish and they last forever! :)

  14. After reading everyone's comments about hamsters being escape artists I am definitely never owning a hampster.

    I neglected to mention our most recent pet. Jordan had an ant farm earlier this year. It was kind of neat to watch them, until I found them outside of the farm. Goodbye ants! Good thing I didn't let him keep them in his room!

  15. I love you even more now that I know you bought a book and learned about hamster sleep patterns before you got a hamster. I don't think I read that much before I got a baby.

    Thank you so much for the blogroll shout-out!


  16. If I didn't have a strict no-rodent pet policy this would be very good information. However, I do.

    I think you should just be grateful that Penny 1 and 2 are not escapees looking for a couch to live inside. Watching a scary movie becomes a whole lot scarier when something really bites you on the butt. Just trust me on that.

  17. LOL, I now am giving second thoughts on the turtle we keep thinking we are going to get our son. We had hamsters, not thinking of how quick they can multiply we ended up with enough to sell back to the pet store. Some I believe were related to Melissa's Houdini, as they seem to get out of any cage we put them in. I haveing had enough decided to get rid of them all. Except a couple got out, never to be found before we moved out of the home. So now in this nice home in Sunny CA there are wild hamsters running around.

  18. We have a rule that is no animals with fur.
    Did SAM sing the Circle of Life song as he gave the lecture?


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