If you’ve never had a hamster for a pet, you just don’t know what you are missing. I thought I had graduated from befriending rodents when my children grew up and left home. At last, I thought, no more hamsters.
Wrong! I forgot about grandchildren. On a trip to the pet store, my grandson discovered the hamster cage. I don’t know what it is about hamsters that appeals so much to kids. They look like mice without tails to me. But something about their beady little eyes and their playful antics appeals to kids.
After several trips that involved prying my grandson off the hamster cage and dragging him out of the store, I finally relented in a moment of grandmotherly weakness and agreed that he really needed a hamster and that it could live at my house.
He was ecstatic, of course, and named the hamster Buddy. One of the reasons he picked Buddy out from the other hamsters was that he was so active. However, when Buddy moved to his new digs, he had a drastic change of personality.
Buddy spent most of his time trying to crack out of his cage and became very adept at it, which resulted in several horrible episodes of nights spent in the furnace vent. Finally, we learned to keep paper clips on the cage door and that put an end to his jail breaks.
Buddy then turned his attention to homebuilding. He moved nearly every bit of the litter in his cage into his exercise ball, which became his new bachelor pad. If we emptied the ball, he simply spent the next night moving back in. Finally, we gave up.
We decided that what he needed was an exercise wheel to keep him occupied since his exercise ball was now his penthouse. We made a special trip to the pet store to purchase a hamster wheel for the cage and waited for him to discover it. We waited, waited, and waited some more.
Buddy ignored the wheel entirely. His favorite pastimes were eating and sleeping. Except for the times when my grandson took him out of the cage to play, he was totally inactive. He soon grew fat and lazy. I thought all hamsters liked wheels. Who ever heard of a hamster being a couch potato?
Then one night I heard a noise that I thought was rain — but next morning I found that it had not rained. The following night, I again heard a strange noise and wondered if there was something wrong with the furnace. I got up to investigate and found the strange noise was Buddy gleefully running his wheel – at last!
Hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means they are most active at night. “Active” hardly describes Buddy anymore. He runs his wheel all night like a long-distance trucker. Night after night he runs for hundreds of miles, the wheel rolling and squeaking every inch of the way.
My grandson sleeps through it all and the noise doesn’t bother him a bit. In fact, he wants us to wake him up so he can watch Buddy truckin’. My grandson and Buddy have bonded, and his Buddy is really his “good buddy” now.
Buddy has trimmed down and lost some of the excess weight since he went on the road. Night after night, Buddy wheels into oblivion. If he was running his wheel in a straight line instead of round and round, he would probably have made several cross-country runs to the West Coast by now.
I can’t help thinking that I should have left well enough alone. Maybe a hamster that is a couch potato is not such a bad thing after all. Next thing you know he will want a CB radio.