Surrendering your hamsters
I was going to start the week with a post about hedge fund managers. Or more dubious technology from CES. Or a possible cure for the bedbug epidemic. A new theme park in France. But then I saw the article about the poor man in Lawrence, Massachusetts who:
…turned over 94 hamsters to a local animal shelter, telling officials he was running out of room in his apartment. (Source: Boston.com.)
The man had been keeping hamsters for pets for about 5 years, so my first thought was, only94? Surely, with sexual maturity reached at a couple of months, a gestation period of a few weeks, and litter sizes that can run up to 18, a number in the billions might not have been unimaginable over the course of 5 years.
But what do I know from hamsters?
The answer: nothing, other than having vivid and fond childhood memories of the book , Hamid of Aleppo. I was so taken with Hamid that I copied most of the illustrations using tracing paper and had a collection – with some sort of feeble story line - that I called “My Hamid.”
Fortunately,when I wanted to know more about hamsters, there was Jimmy Wales to the rescue! From Wikipedia, I learned that hamsters are solitary little folks, and when housed with a fellow hamster often fight to the death. Plus hamster mothers have been known to cannibalize a few tasty morsels from their large litters. So this would keep something of a lid on exponential rodent begatting.
While I have no hamster experience, I have some second-hand gerbil history. (No, not that.)
For a number of years, my husband and I lived in an apartment in the home of a family that had two small kids, with whom we became very close. This was quite some time ago – those two small kids are now 34 and 30 – but I remember how excited Soph and Sam were when their father brought home what he was told were two male gerbils. The kids named them David and Scamp.
It is, apparently, not all that easy to tell the difference between a boy gerbil and a girl gerbil. No blue for boys, no pink for girls. Within a few days, when a dozen or so little hairless thing-ies appeared in the cage, it was clear that either David or Scamp was a female of the species.
We paid a call on the new parents, and I asked which one was David and which one was Scamp.
Before the words were out of my mouth, gerbil number one – paying no attention to the nicety of a bit of a post-partum lay-off – was mounting gerbil number two’s back.
Never mind, I told the kids. I think I figured it out.
Anyway, whether through gerbil parent intervention of the cannibalistic order, or through human parent intervention of the flush it down the toilet variety, the baby gerbils were soon gone from the cage. As I recall, Scamp and David didn’t last much longer, either.
They were, however, quite cute.
They were also the first in a string of pet mishaps in this family: Persephone, the dog who died; Chico Marx, the bird who died.
Definitely bad pet karma going on downstairs.
As for the Lawrence hamsters, they were:
… well cared for kept in aquariums, buckets and Tupperware containers (Source: Lawrence Eagle Tribune.)
The hamster-meister just got overwhelmed, and went to a local MSPCA shelter for small animals and asked it they could take his furry friends out of their Tupperware containers and off of his hands. The surrendered hamsters will be put up for adoption. Originally, the man was going to keep a couple, then decided to let the entire lot go.
In addition to reclaiming his home, I’m guessing he’ll be in the money now. Even though they’re little mouths to feed, it can’t be cheap when there are 94 of them. And I’m guessing the house will smell a bit better, once the weather gets warm enough to crack open a few windows.
Despite the benefits of de-hamstering your life, I can’t help but thinking: this poor man!
All he wanted 5 years back was a little something to keep him company, a little someone to care for. The solitary hamster that he adopted turned out to be, as the Irish might have it, up the pole. So one hamster just naturally led to another.
I kind of wish he’d kept a few, but it might have been just too hard to pick his favorites. Or maybe he just needed to make a clean break.
Whatever the case, let’s hear it for a man who knew his limits, and let’s hope all those hamsters find good new homes.