This is Part 4 of The Hamster Chronicles, part of Glenn's Hamster Page, by Glenn G. Chappell.

The Hamster Chronicles
Part 4

Wednesday, November 23, 1994

Some background for the uninformed: a little less than two weeks ago, Paul started getting a swelling on his hind end. By a week ago, it was about 3/4 inch long, purple and covered with scab-like stuff. Wednesday evening I took him to the vet. (When I got him out of the box he was in, he promptly ran into my coat, zipped up my sleeve and peed. I suppose I can be happy that he feels safe inside my coat.) The vet said it was either a tumor or an ulcerated abscess; in either case, it should be removed. Paul spent Wednesday night there and was operated on Thursday morning.

The problem turned out to be an abscess: an infected testicle to be precise. It was removed Thursday morning. They stitched it up and put in a drainage tube. I suppose an abscess is better than cancer, although neither is really a huge problem for an animal who only has a year or so of life span left, anyway. We took him home Thursday evening, tube and all (so the question of whether we got to visit turned out not to matter). He was as happy and playful as ever, even with the tube sticking out.

Saturday morning, we took him in to get the tube removed. The stitches come out early next week. We have an antibiotic to give him for a while.

So, how do you give an antibiotic to a hamster? It's an oral liquid. They gave us a syringe to administer it with. I think it's a hypodermic needle without the needle. They showed us how to hold him so that he opens his mouth, but can't bite you (not that he ever has -- not on purpose, anyway -- once he thought my finger was part of a peanut). Then you squirt the antibiotic into his mouth. But when we first tried this, we got a surprise: he loves it. It took him a couple of days to get the idea that he could expect the syringe to be full of good stuff, but ever since Saturday night, all we have to do is fill the syringe and hold it in front of his face. He immediately grabs it and starts licking the end, while we push in the plunger.

Other news: a month or two ago, Paul finally decided to start acting sensibly. Before, whenever we cleaned his cage, he would spend 2 or 3 days going wacko, rushing around like crazy with his cheeks full of seeds and paper, and sleeping in odd places. Now he just more-or-less calmly begins dragging paper strips into his bottle on the first day. He's also been separating his living space from his food hoard. He still keeps them both in the bottle, but you won't find him sleeping on a pile of sunflower seeds any more.

Recently we started giving him all of his food by hand. It's done wonders for our relationship. Now he actually looks glad to see us, which makes sense, because he doesn't get to eat otherwise. Or rather, he doesn't get to eat anything good. We keep a dish of vitamin-packed pellets in his cage, just to make sure he doesn't starve. He hates the pellets, and will only eat them if there's nothing else available.

His favorite foods seem to be almonds and sunflower seeds, followed closely by other nuts, the "kibbled corn" in his food mix, "Milk Bone" dog biscuits, and some kinds of grain. He'll also eat crunchy vegetables and fruits (broccoli, beets, plums, carrots), but we don't give him very much of those, since they contain too much water. Joanne put some colored corn on one of our end tables as a decoration. Whenever he finds his way over there he attacks one of the cobs and eats a few kernels. He also eats some of our plants, when he can.

Recently, Paul vocalized for the second time (that I know of). The first time was when we tried to get him into an early version of his leash. He does make other noises. Once he was sitting on our bed making a high- pitched squeak every few seconds. We decided he had the hiccups. Anyway, a few weeks ago, he was crawling around inside my sweater and somehow made it inside my shirt. This was quite unpleasant for me, and my attempts to get him out just scared him and made him run around more. So we were both having a terrible time. Finally he ran into my sleeve, I swung my arm and he came flying out. Then he, quite understandably, screeched at me.

Copyright 1994, 1997 Glenn G. Chappell. "The Hamster Chronicles, Part 4" 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:

Next comes Part 5. Or go back to the Table of Contents.

The Hamster Chronicles, Part 4 / Last update: 25 Jan 2001 / Glenn G. Chappell /