We just bought our 6-year-old a hamster for her birthday. We did this knowing full well that at some point, something dreadful is going to happen to it. That’s because hamsters never end well.
The first hamster I ever met belonged to my sister and its name was Trixie Delight. My Dad named it after his favorite character from the movie “Paper Moon.” (He had taken us to see “Paper Moon,” even though we were way too young for it. I think he hoped we’d start smoking & swearing at an earlier age.) I was only 4 when I tried to pick up Trixie Delight. She must have seen the blood lust in my eyes because she took a chunk out of my finger. Blood gushed from those little tooth-holes in a way I’d never seen, so I promptly passed out. It was quite a scene.
All the bad memories of Trixie were quickly erased when I got my own hamster, Teeny. He was probably the best hamster ever because Teeny would sleep with me. Well, not like a dog or cat. If I was sick and stayed home from school, I would lay with Teeny on my stomach & pet him until he fell asleep. We would lie like that for hours. I loved that little guy like crazy, until he turned 4 and the fur started falling off his cheek…then the skin. Soon, Teeny spent most of his time oozing in the corner of his aquarium. I asked my Mom to take him to the vet, but her response was, “Julie, it’s a HAMSTER.” She never quite understood the magic of having a short-tailed rat sleep on your stomach.
It was around the same time that the gerbils in my 4th-grade class kicked the bucket. No one knew exactly what happened, but our teacher said paint probably got into their water dish by accident. She assured us that the gerbils never felt any pain and gently died in their sleep. That’s when I knew what had to be done. I dribbled some blue paint into Teeny’s water dish and cried myself to sleep that night. The damn thing didn’t die for 2 more days! Teeny was already well on his way, but no one will ever convince me that I didn’t kill my hamster.
See? Hamsters NEVER end well! Even Teeny, the Best Hamster in the World turned into a freaking TRAGEDY, so it was with a conflicted heart that I caved to my daughters requests for a birthday hamster. We brought it home today and Snowball already has bewitched us all. I’ve only held her a few times but she hasn’t tried to bite me once. Best of all, she burrows down into the cedar chips but when you call for her, Snowball greets you with a pink, wiggly nose.
My girls were laughing and saying that I was already more enchanted by this ball of fur than anyone else. Not as much as our CATS of course, who are probably calling DIBS, but I already had a private conversation with Snowball.
I promised to keep her off of any feline’s dinner menu and to keep her from the vice-like grip of our younger friends. I also promised to rule her Hamster Habitat with an iron fist, making the girls clean it bi-weekly while she tours the house in her hamster-ball. And if Snowball ever sniffs, wheezes or has even the tiniest patch of hair fall off, I AM taking her to the vet. NO ONE is eating paint in MY house. By God, this is ONE hamster that isn’t going to end badly.
Well, for as long as I can possibly help it.