Monday, January 3, 2011

Hamster Shopping

Last post I mentioned we got Josie a hamster for Christmas. Sounded like a great idea. In theory.

Months ago, we found a used hamster cage, complete with a wheel, water bottle, bedding, etc. on Craigslist.  We thought, brilliantly, that we'd hide the cage, then at the last possible minute, purchase the hamster, and set it up in the garage until Santa would leave it under the tree.

Great plan, no?

Yeah, turns out that we weren't the only ones thinking so brilliantly. I was shopping Christmas Eve day, (up at 4 a.m.!!!) and left that for the very last stop.  Told the sitter Grandparents I'd be home by noon.

At 11:50, I was starting to panic. I'd been to 3 different pet stores and no hamster. Finally, called my husband, in tears, asking what I should do.  He brilliantly suggested I check the pet store 2 miles from our house, where we buy hamster-like creatures (mice) to feed our lizard.

I walk in and the owner recognizes me and greets me enthusiastically. I explain I need a hamster right away, for a PET, not for FOOD and he directs me to a cage that has approx. 10 hamster in it, all cheaper than the other 3 stores were selling theirs.

I was so relieved to not only purchase the hamster but some food for less than what we were planning on spending.  I picked out what I thought was the best looking, spunkiest (who wants a boring, non-spunky rodent?) girl hamster.  The owner scoops her up and proceeds to the check out counter.
Where she jumps out of his hands and lands with a thunk on the counter. "Ooops!" he says.

He puts her in a Chinese food take-out box (remember, he sells a lot of "food")  and then starts to scoop up the food I was purchasing, sold in bulk.  The hamster then escapes from the box and runs around on the counter.

I quickly point out the escapee and he puts her in another box, this one slightly more sturdy looking.
I pay for everything, and put it all on the passenger seat and sped drove home to put her in the cage and then go to pick up the kids. The entire time, the box was shaking and I KNEW she'd get out and I'd drive down the rode with a hamster on my head.

I did make it home, my head unscathed, set her up in her new home, out in the garage. The cage, pictured above, turned out to be a piece of ....well, something undesirable. We'll leave it at that. Opening the thing made it all fall apart. 

There I was, trying to put together the useless hamster cage, in the garage, while the Chinese food box containing the hamster was being chewed to pieces. And, I knew I was already late to pick up the kids. On Christmas Eve.  I still had tons to do and I did want to relax at some point.
I finally get the thing put back together, rush to get the kids (not too bad of a rush, Grammie and Papa live 2 blocks away) and we're all back home. Safe and sound.

The hamster is safely in her cage, on top of the fridge, in the garage, covered by a blanket. At one point, I did have to let Jayce in on Operation Hamster because he went out to the garage for some reason and was alarmed that something "alive" was out there. 

At 5 p.m. it was time to go to my SIL house's for Christmas Eve dinner. We, brilliantly, decide the hamster would probably be better off inside the house, not in the freezing garage. With the kids buckled into the van, I help my husband bring in the hamster, still in her cage.  He brings the whole thing to me and says "Uhhhhh....look?"  The hamster is sleeping very, very soundly in her cage.  Judd kind of rolls the cage to one side. The hamster rolls right along with it. Thunk.  Judd rolls it to the other side. Thunk.  
The only thing that is running through my brain is "The pet store was open until 7. The pet store was open until 7" . You see, this had to work as it was Josie's Santa gift.  Our kids get 4 presents each, TOTAL, including a Santa gift.  We didn't have a lot of wiggle room. 

Miraculously, the hamster wakes up and seems a little peeved we woke her from her sound nap. I don't blame her.

We deposit her in the bedroom, on my husband's side of the bed, covered with a blanket.

We do the family thing, come home, get the kids into bed, wait for them to fall asleep.  Get out all the presents (90% already wrapped, thankyouverymuch. THAT was something new this year) and finally we were ready to get the hamster.
That hamster had pulled not only the blanket that was covering her, but also my husband's work shirt he had left laying on the floor, into the cage. Well, that's what we think those things were, there wasn't much left to them.  She had shredded them to, well, shreds! 

(Is it just me, or can you see that this hamster ,maybe, perhaps, wasn't as brilliant of an idea as originally thought? )

We managed to get all the clothing out of the hamster cage (again, she seemed a  little peeved) and set her under the tree.
Josie was excited and surprised to find her Christmas morning.

She did have some difficulty picking out a name. 
That poor hamster was "Princess Fatty " (Judd's favorite), "Fiona", "Cupcake" and finally "Jingles" is the name that stuck. 

Since Christmas, two other cages have been bought and returned.  In our effort to "save" money and buy a used cage, we actually ended up spending more money between all the gas used in our travels back and forth between the 3 different pet stores in town (the one 2 miles from our house was not a good source for an actual cage), and the cost of the cages.  The one in the picture above, because the wheel is it's own unit,  all the hay and poop the hamster accumulates in the wheel ,ends up flying all over the room.  Not fun if you are not of fan of poop. And/or hay.

Currently, Jingles is in a 10 gallon aquarium (no water) with my baking racks and encyclopedias on top ( I knew those would come in handy!) in the living room. We did order a fancy "topper" thingy and that should be here tomorrow.  Then, with more hope, Jingles will be back in Josie's room and they will be BFFs. 

Here is some brilliant advice, from one hamster mommy to all of you:

Do. Not. Buy. A. Hamster. 

Ok. That's not entirely fair, I know. 
If  you MUST buy a hamster (really? MUST you?), do not buy a cage that is made out of any type of plastic or in any way resembles the cage in the picture at the beginning of this long , and I'm sure, boring post.


  1. So how's that hamster working out for ya?


    Lyssa occasionally asks for some sort of pet. I say yes. As soon as you have your own place, you can get any damn pet you want.

  2. We bought a couple female hamsters. A few days later we had a LOT of hamsters! Yeah, she was pregnant. I made the store buy back the babies when they were weaned!

  3. Ami--I know, I know... but I had one when I was Josie's age and it was fun. For me, but probably not for my parents, huh?
    Portia--The first thing my husband wanted to do was buy Jingles a mate, that way (he says) we wouldn't have to go to the pet store for "food" for the lizards. He's all about getting things pregnant around here. Or, at least trying. ( ;

  4. I have to say I laughed through the entire post. I've been 'there' entirely too many times over the years! And in retrospect it's funny, but not so much at the time!

    I'm glad Josie liked her, and I love Jingles' name. Hope for everyone's sake there are no little jingle bells on the way! :)


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