The Hamster Chronicles
Friday, February 18, 1994
These little reports seem to be getting less frequent. I guess that's partially because an animal with a brain the size of a grape can hardly be capable of much variety ....
Anyway, I said I'd tell y'all about Paul's sky-diving. I've been in the habit of setting him on my shoulder and then walking around and doing whatever I need to do (anything but cooking anyway). Eventually Paul's strong inclination to be somewhere besides where he is now takes over, and he jumps. It's strange how fearless he is about it. If I set him on the edge of his cage, he'll walk around for half a minute trying to find a good safe place from which to jump in, but he'll launch himself off my shoulder with little warning or thought. This is probably for two reasons: because he can slide down my sweater on the way down, and so keep a little control over where he's going, and because he knows I'll try to catch him.
Sometimes I fail, though. On one memorable occasion he bounced off a book, thumped against another book, and then hit the floor. He is very small, and the floor is carpeted, so he didn't get hurt. Once, though, about a month ago, he jumped and hit his head on the tile floor in the kitchen. He lay on his back for about 10 seconds without moving a muscle, and I figured we had a dead hamster, but then he got up and seemed fine. A few days later, though, he acted very sluggish. He still had a great desire to escape from wherever he happened to be, but he would do it in slow motion. Our book says they are often sluggish when they are sick, so we let him rest.
A couple of days later, we found he had a broken tooth. As far as I know, he broke it in the fall. It's difficult to get a good look in his mouth, but it seems he has four teeth: two short ones on top and two long ones on the bottom. One of the long ones was about half the size of the other. We called a few experts and were told that, far from short teeth being a problem, the main concern was teeth growing too long. In fact, only two weeks later, his bottom teeth were the same size, so I estimate that his teeth are completely replaced every four weeks.
To prevent problems with overgrown teeth, we bought Paul a box of Milk Bones (dog biscuits) to chew on. He likes them a lot. Still, even though they are for small dogs, and he is a large hamster, to him they are huge, and he only goes through about one biscuit per week, which leads right in to my next story.
Normally Paul sleeps in the two liter bottle attached to his cage. Last week he started using it as a toilet as well. I decided to quit fighting him and just let him set up his house the way he wants. The last time I cleaned out his cage I put cedar chips in the bottle as a deodorant. Evidently, this thoroughly freaked him out. As usual, when we put him in his newly-cleaned cage, he sniffed everywhere, then went to get his sunflower seeds. He likes sunflower seeds a lot and seems to think that if he doesn't grab all the sunflower seeds in each new batch of food right away, someone else will get them. So he sat at the food bowl and loaded his left cheek pouch with as many sunflower seeds as it could hold. Then he went into the bottle to store them in his hoard, but the bottle was different -- it smelled like cedar. He ran in and out a few times, seeming to think, "Oh, there's the entrance to my room -- I'll go in ... wait a minute this is wrong, I'd better leave ... oh, there's the entrance to my room ...."
He usually makes his bed out of newspaper strips we put in his cage. Evidently he decided it was time to do this now. But instead of dragging the strips in, he stuffed one in his right cheek pouch. With his newly-enormous head he ran in and out of the bottle a couple of times again. Then he decided it was time to get a dog biscuit. Compared to him, the biscuits are huge, being about the size of his head, but he can just barely carry one in his jaws. This is funny enough by itself, but when he already has a mouth full of sunflower seeds and newspaper, it looks hilarious. So, he picked up the biscuit, and ran in and out of the bottle again a few times. Finally, we decided he wanted to stick the whole dog biscuit in his mouth. He stuck one end in and tried to push the rest in -- and Joanne and I were rolling on the floor laughing.
It didn't work, though, so, completely stressed-out, he dropped the biscuit, crawled into his can, and, evidently, went to sleep with a mouth full of sunflower seeds and newspaper.
Copyright 1994, 1997 Glenn G. Chappell. "The Hamster Chronicles, Part 3" may be freely copied and distributed provided that the text is unchanged, this notice is retained, and no fee is charged for said distribution. Distribution for a fee may only be done with express written permission of the author. While it is not strictly required, the author would also appreciate being notified if The Hamster Chronicles are made available to the public free of charge. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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