The Hamster Chronicles
Tuesday, August 22, 1995
This morning, a little after 3 a.m., I awoke to find that some sort of creature was crawling on me. I sat bolt upright and looked around. Joanne figured I had a case of industrial-strength insomnia, until I surprised her (and, to some extent, myself) by producing our family rodent from the foot of the bed. No, we don't know how he got there. Joanne commented, "This goes in The Hamster Chronicles." And so it has.
Backing up a little: late in May we found a cute little six-week-old, one-and-a-half ounce, gray and white banded male hamster in Kansas City. For a week or two we had been searching with no success for that exact sort in the Champaign area. So we bought him, and he became "Persistence" ("Percy" for short).
When we first put him in the cage we had gotten, he let us know how intolerable he felt the situation was, producing more noise in the first minute than Paul had his entire life. He made sort of a raspy screech, which I have concluded was his "Here-I-am-Mom-come-rescue-me" call. We wisely decided to leave him alone for a couple of days. Within an hour he had discovered what his new wheel was for and had become an expert in running on it. Hamsters seem to have an instinctive knowledge of how to handle such devices -- probably due to the preponderance of hamster wheels in the wilds of Syria.
Shortly, we brought Percy home, and he took to his new environment quickly. He likes to run in the ball as much as Paul did, and I think he's better at it. Of course, it took some getting used to. When we first put him in, he rolled over to the edge of the carpet, then off the edge. Surprised, he tried to stop, but the ball had other ideas, which Percy, weighing only two ounces, was powerless to stand in the way of. He did several somersaults during that first session. Other times, the ball would hit an object, and Percy would bounce -- nose first -- off the side of the ball. This was rather like running into a brick wall at high speed, and Percy was not fond of it. Soon he learned to stop the ball himself.
What he didn't take to very well was being picked up. Strangely, he was always very friendly after we picked him up, but he avoided being picked up any way he could. At first he would screech at us and run away. Then he tried hiding or struggling. Finally, he would back into a corner, flip upside down and shut his eyes, as if to say, "If you must kill me, let it be quick!"
We embarked on an ambitious program to convince him that being picked up was good. We began by feeding him whenever we picked him up. Then we tried giving him his favorite foods only by hand. At last we took away his food dish entirely, so that contact with us is the only way he gets to eat. This last idea seems to be working well. My next goal is to get him to walk up his wheel, while I hold it steady, to get his breakfast.
As you might have guessed from the episode of last night, Percy has become quite an escape artist. After a frenzied first week of escape efforts, Paul seems to have convinced himself that his cage was escape- proof when it was closed. He never again escaped when the lid was on, even if it wasn't latched, in which case escape would have been easy. But Percy has different ideas. A few weeks ago, he learned to grab the cage lid in his teeth, and, true to his name, wiggle it back and forth for several minutes until the latches twisted open. At that point, he usually jumped into a sack we keep by his cage, in which he was happy to sit until we got him out. Several times I have been sitting in the living room and heard a "plop", at which point I looked down into the sack to see two little eyes staring back at me out of the depths. Now, having a hamster who likes sitting in a sack is not a huge problem; still, escape didn't strike us as a good thing, and so we began duct- taping the cage closed at night. Somehow, last night, Percy got the tape off. We don't know how. We also don't know exactly how he got on the bed; I suppose he climbed the blankets. What we do know is that, at 3:15 this morning, he was charging around on our bed, having a great time -- until he got caught. I suspect he had been out of his cage for some time, since he was rather thirsty when I put him back.
Stay tuned for more Percy anecdotes ....
Copyright 1995, 1997 Glenn G. Chappell. "The Hamster Chronicles, Part 7" 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: email@example.com
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