Poor Phil the hamster snuffed it a couple of weeks ago – he was already more than middle aged when adopted 6 months ago so I suppose it was his time to go.
I’ll remember the little bastard fondly though, as the tiny little peanut who kept escaping from his cage and wandering around the house at odd hours of the morning. I’ll also recall the one time he spent an afternoon hiding in the piano.
The house was a little too quiet and empty without his snuffling noises in the evenings, so I went out and made one of the silliest decisions of my life.
Note I say ‘silliest’, not ‘stupidest’ – I’ve done far stupider things than what I’m about to tell you.
I went out and bought Betty.
I thought, hey, Syrian hamsters are cute, friendly and easier to handle than wee dwarf beasties. I should get one of those.
So, with that in mind I saw this little soul calling to me from behind a glass window in the pet shop and thought ‘that’s the one!’
Look how sleepy and cute she looks! Surely the fact that the staff in the shop call her ‘Werewolf’ means nothing – she’s just fluffy!
Yes, she’s almost twice the size of the other Syrians there…. but…. FLUFFY!
So, a £7 donation and a big bag o’ hamster feed later, she’s in a box, within a box, within a box, within a plastic crate and ready for the 20 minute drive home. Within that length of time, I can hear paws scrabbling on plastic… I drive a little faster.
We’re home and she hasn’t got loose in my car… success! Now to get her into the beautiful habitat that awaits her, complete with spiral tubes and loads of different pods for her to investigate.
This is where we encounter the first significant problem:
She’s too fucking big.
There’s no way she’s going to stay in this cage overnight. She’s been described as ‘a chewer’ and Hamzilla here is going to have no problems chewing her way out of this house.
So, the whole set up goes into the (empty!) bathtub while I run out for another cage, the rodent equivalent of Alcatraz to keep her safely contained.
I get back home and offer a quick prayer of thanks up to whatever pantheon of gods has my back right now because Betty is still in the tub, set it all up and pop her in.
She looks a little perplexed but oh. so. cute.
Everything’s fine now…. right?
About 4 hours later, the screaming starts. Not mine, though that’ll come later when she bites into my thumb and various other extremities I carelessly leave anywhere near the outside of her cage.
She opens her jaws as wide as she possibly can, gnaws on the bars of the cage and shrieks as loud as she can for ages. The internet tells me she’s frightened, my heart tell me she’s been possessed by some ancient evil and is now intent on devouring the souls of all that encounter her.
To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure who’s right – her tantrums are fewer and farther between now but she also has a £40 cage, her own room and room service from her terrified acolyte so she doesn’t have much to complain about.
I’m working on taming her by sitting with her and talking to her as much as I can, feeding her fresh vegetables through the bars of her cage and making the odd blood sacrifice when I get too close. All that said, standard cage cleaning protocol requires a pair of fitted garden gloves and some heavy duty work gloves on top…. just in case.
Anyone had any experience working with aggressive hamsters? I know the internet says there’s no such thing as an aggressive hamster, only frightened ones, but when she’s having a tantrum (I’m still trying to figure out what sets her off) she’ll deliberately attack the part of the cage closest to you and growl/shriek. She may be scared, but she definitely responds to fear with aggression!
On a serious note – I leave her alone most of the time to settle in to her new surroundings, keep everything nice, calm and quiet for her, never bother her when she’s sleeping and make sure she’s well fed and watered.
I’m sure as crap not putting my hands in with her at the moment, she’s an escape artist and very aggressive. Any tips on how to chill out a hamster?