My hamster: The childhood dream that finally came truePersonal Updates 4 August 2016
Who is that beautiful white ball of fluff? That’s hamster Spekkie, our new housemate who moved in last week. It wasn’t so long ago that my childhood dream finally came true, with the arrival of hamster Sniffles. What happened in the meantime, and how we went from having hamster Sniffles to having hamster Spekkie? It’s a long story. Let’s start at the beginning, the very beginning.
My childhood dream: having a hamster
The bedroom door in my parents’ house was covered with dozens of pictures of hamsters. Underneath was a note saying, “Reasons why I can have a hamster”. After repeatedly being told no, I decided to go all out and create a real hamster campaign. I would pay for everything myself, clean the cage, etc. But the main reason why I could have a hamster was because “Hamsters are cute”. Again, despite all my efforts, the answer was no. I think I didn’t talk to my parents for two days, because I was so sad…
In retrospect, I can understand why my parents said no to a 12-year-old girl who had a different hobby every week. Yet, years later, I still had that childhood dream. All those years, I wanted a hamster and never got it. When I moved out, I also didn’t get a hamster. It wasn’t very convenient when I was a student and when I moved in with my boyfriend, he was as unenthusiastic as my parents. Of course, he had his reasons. I thought cleaning the fishbowl was a terrible job. So why would I now enjoy cleaning a hamster cage every week? It was clear. No hamster. End of story.
Fifteen years later, the dream was still there
Until, a few weeks ago, I reached a point where I decided that this is my life, in which I make my own choices. While taking into account the people around me, of course. But if I’ve wanted a hamster for about 15 years, why not just make that childhood dream come true? When I brought up the idea of getting a hamster again with my boyfriend, he was suddenly a lot more supportive than before! It was no longer an impulsive choice, but a well-considered dream that could finally come true.
The first weeks with hamster Sniffles
One Sunday, we went to the pet shop. Finding a nice hamster cage was the biggest challenge – those things are so ugly! Choosing a hamster was easier. I had my eye on a light grey hamster, but when a light brown haired hamster jumped into my hand with all her enthusiasm, it was clear. We didn’t have to choose a hamster, the hamster had chosen us! That night, hamster Sniffles slept in her new home for the first time. Especially during the first few nights, I spent a lot of time on the bed with hamster Sniffles, where she would run around and take an occasional nap.
However, soon after we got hamster Sniffles, she started having problems with her stools; especially for hamsters, it’s not good as they can get dehydrated in no time. Although her diet was good and she was already getting used to her new environment, her health didn’t change a bit. Poor thing.
The hamster that slowly turned into a terror hamster
About a week later, hamster Sniffles started to get more and more noisy, especially in the evenings. Not surprising, as hamsters are nocturnal animals. What was strange though, was that she ignored all her playthings and did nothing but nibble at the bars. Every night it got worse and worse. Until one Tuesday evening, she ran around in circles from seven in the evening until twelve at night. Without a break or a moment of rest to catch her breath. She kept climbing up the bars, letting herself fall and really didn’t have any rest. Especially compared to a week ago, where she sniffed around a bit and tried to find a warm place to hide on the bed, this was a completely different animal.
At the pet shop, they advised us to try different bedding (she might be allergic) and they gave us some anti-parasite stuff. Maybe that would explain her hyperactive behaviour. You can perhaps imagine that if you have a lot of itching you slowly go crazy. On the evening we wanted to apply the anti-parasite stuff on her skin, we didn’t get around to it. Sniffles had bitten my boyfriend twice already. She had also bitten me several times so I didn’t enjoy holding her any more either. Our innocent Sniffles had slowly turned into a terror hamster… They had already informed us at the pet shop about the possibility of returning her, and in the end we decided to do so, however difficult that was…
A hamster from a pet shop or from a breeder?
As the departure of hamster Sniffles shattered my childhood dream, we decided to look for a new hamster. This time we didn’t go to a pet shop, but to a hobby breeder. Unlike pet shop hamsters, breeders pay much more attention to character and health and it showed immediately! When we bought hamster Sniffles, she was nine weeks old and very small. The hamsters from the breeder were twice as big, even though they were only five weeks old! The difference in weight was also very noticeable. They all looked much better and healthier. If you are in any doubt between a pet shop and a breeder, I would definitely choose a breeder now.
Online, we had found the address of a hobby breeder just thirty minutes away. We met a lovely family in a house full of hamsters, mice and fish. After the 6 year old daughter told us all about the hamsters and guided us through the selection process, we chose a beautiful white female. Hamster Spekkie. Because of the bacon, because of the candies, and because, compared to hamster Sniffles, she is quite a feisty little thing. She has now settled into her new home, which includes a slide, running wheel and even a coconut hut!