Friday, October 8, 2010

The Great, Hamster, Escape

Everyone who has ever owned a hamster knows that, while they might not be the most intellectually gifted of all pets, they do have an uncommon savvy when it comes to being able to escape from their holding cells. Whether it’s through a loose bar, small gap, easy to climb box or seizing the moment when you try to seize them, if there’s a way to escape a hamster will find it!

Case in point was my hamster this week. I was cleaning out his home and ended up moving his wheel too close to the edge of the tank wall. Now for a sleepy fat little grey thing I must say he has some moves on him. Because it didn’t take longer then ten minutes for him to climb the wheel, fall off the side of his tank, then plummet down the crate (Hamsters seem to take falling down things in their stride) and to disappear off into the nooks and crannies of the cottage!

Now there are boxes and tiles and blankets and lord knows what else scattered all about the cottage, thus ensuring that my AWOL pet had plenty of places to hide in. Even picking a place to start looking is a Russian roulette of guess work and inevitable disappointment. The evil little rodent had me out foxed!

And I had to worry about him. As a small, friendly, fat little dwarf hamster, his main purpose in life, when not doubling as a pet, is to pretty much to get eaten by some larger, craftier animal. Should the hamster have gotten outside he would have met with a whole medley of wild cats, opportunistic dogs, rats, hawks, snakes and many other new, short term friends. Not only that but I also have a cat who, while not the worlds best hunter, would probably still make a meal of him given half the chance.

The little marauder stayed missing for 1.5 days. Any noise or scuffling in the cottage was immediately investigated and I can now say that I didn’t realize how much noise a gold fish can actually make when it’s playing with the stones in its aquarium!

The break through came the next morning when I was getting ready to get up and face the world. (I was about 90% awake; it was just my brain that wanted another 5 minutes.)
But I noticed the cat on the edge of the bed, staring intently at the crack between the bed and the wall and moving along at a pace that suggested something interesting was moving down below.

My first thought was, “Yay, maybe it’s the hamster!” My second thought was, “please let it be the hamster!” considering what else might be crawling along there! (My cat is a fan of hunting spiders and a large spider down the side of the bed is not seen as any sort of blessing by me!)
Crawling to the edge of the bed and craning my neck at an odd unnatural angle I managed to see down the crack.
And there he was, charging this way and that, showing a hamster’s classic lack ability to get lost in a small space and yet be too proud to ask directions!

I was quiet thrilled, not just that I’d found the hamster, but also because this meant he would be easy to catch. I’ve found from past experiences that locating the run away hamster is only half the battle. Trying to capture and contain them can prove mighty difficult! They run under things, maneuver out your grasp, some bite or go hysterical on you… it really builds character and patience! One of the must have traumas of any kids life should be the attempt to catch a hamster without hurting it!

But this time it was a piece of cake. With one arm snaking down behind the critter, and another in front of him, he made a dash for it but got scooped up like a warm fluffy ball of hamster ice cream! (At this point may I say how glad I am that he is a dwarf hamster and not a large golden hamster – the difference being that the one doesn’t bite and the other tries to surgically remove your fingers!)

I took the very surprised looking fur ball and quickly returned him to his cage. Less then 3 minutes later the sounds of scuffling and cracking sunflower seeds could be heard once more. (I suspect hamster’s memories not to be of the rock iron sort.)

But I’m glad he’s back home. If I’d lost him through my own negligence I would have felt very awful. I made a point of giving him an extra cornflake so that he would have a bit more motivation to hang around next time. (Though I know deep down in his hammie heart he’ll still make a break for it given half the chance)

I also gave the cat a small thank you present.
I think she would have preferred the hamster.