Roborovski’s get a cage makeover

I needed some serious cheering up in the hammy room. I go in there and someone is noticeably missing.

So I picked up from last night when I was interrupted from cleaning the bookcase cage for the Robos due to one being AWOL as discussed in the previous post. Ahem!

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I am glad Snow distracted me because last night I would have done humdrum. Tonight I did color. I gave them a toy and hide out change out too. So far they seem pretty impressed. Gave them a little excitement in their life.

Snow’s up close :

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And Patch’s:

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How to catch a loose Hamster or Gerbil!

I was cleaning cages late last and realized once I got to the bookcase cages that Snow, my Roborovski had managed to push a toy against the partition and escape again! He either had just gotten loose that evening or the late night before. So I began to do a check in obvious places. Found tiny poop trails. Knew he was most likely camped out in the hamster room as that is where he smells all familiarity. By now he must be hungry and thirsty.

I heard many a time about the bucket trick and wow does it work!

I used a little plastic trash can that I had just bought from the Dollar store and hadn’t even used yet. I propped it high on my 1 year olds boot. Then placed one of their ramps against it. Placed a toy of his beside the ramp as I knew his own scent would draw him near if the scent of fresh food and treats inside the can didn’t.

I felt confident even though I never have had to do this before (always find my lost hams quickly). So I snapped a photo of my trap just for this purpose of posting and helping others who may be in this situation one day.

There was no point cleaning the rest of the cages when I had a hamster to catch and so I had turned off the light in the room and left. I curled up in my bed with a good book. Took less than 5 minutes. I could hear a slight “shroooooomp” sound and then a loud nibbling being amplified by the walls of a cylinder can. I knew immediately.

I grabbed my phone to snap the triumphant photo and headed right across the hall and of course!

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Boy was he a happy camper to be back in his home. As punishment I have removed all his escape tools. And pressed other toys to the very back of the cage. He doesn’t seem to care that some of his toys are gone. He burrowed tunnels in his bedding, ate, and drank for a half hour after I put him back.

Kabobs always a hit with the gerbils

It’s been too long since I showed off my gerbil boys! Lennon and Mercury. Or made a post about them in general. I am around them the most of my rodents and yet I post the least about them!

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My gerbils are often bored. I seem to not take enough time coming up with new enrichment for them. But let me tell you! I cannot find a decent gerbil forum to save my life. One that actually talks about set ups and toy making. Ideas!!! I need ideas! Gerbil communities seem to focus on breeding. There seems to be less discrimination in these forums and groups I find for most matters. They aren’t as concerned about gerbil nutrition either. Pretty much they love their gerbils. This is very obvious. But it doesn’t make for much of an educational, inspirational or helpful group. It’s another “hey look at my cute gerbil babies” group.

SO I really have to google long and hard on images to get ideas for gerbil enrichment other than toilet paper/loo rolls. Find nothing! So I just stick to the kabob toy as a standby. I made an assortment of chews for them. And last minute cut a cup out of an egg carton and put Cheerios and yogies inside it for them to work to get to. It was a hit! I like how polite my boys are. They always take turns.

The Day After.

Today was a less dark day. When I say dark – death hovers over me like a ghost. I don’t believe in actual ghosts as an independent spiritual entity that follows one about but more like a mood that feels outside of yourself. Hovering behind your shoulder. Some mood you try to throw away from inside but it just follows you everywhere you go. Yeah, that feeling …was gone today. I only thought of Penny in memory of her antics and not how I last found her. That was a start.

I cleaned items yesterday and a few more today. Her damask print food bowl and her custom quilted hammocks today were hard because I looked at them and think – how could I put these in a future Syrian’s cage one day? They are Penny’s!

As much time passes I think I won’t feel so possessive on behalf of Penny. In fact I’m sure Penny could care less! Alive or gone. But still I have these thoughts!

Yesterday, was one of those days when I wasn’t sure if I would really say anything about her passing. But then I just did it. I was in a blur of mania yesterday. Pretty much I was trying to remain busy in the mind. Writing up and posting pictures and the status update on my Facebook and such – the responses here and there on FB were very, very helpful. Very comforting. Just knowing that people cared about me and also others that ALSO cared about Penny despite not having met her in person – was such a good warm fuzzy.

As of today all my other hams are healthy and happy. Acting like their normal selves. Bob is a WEE bit more withdrawn than usual but I think it’s because he no longer smells a female hamster nearby. He wasn’t nearly as active until I brought home Penny. Much of his energy I think was the maleness in him figuring out how to find his lady love. He must wonder why the scent is no longer there so abruptly. 😦

I have to fight off the temptation of bringing home a new Syrian. This is because at this time I am over capacity to begin with. With all these pets I realize I’ve over extended myself a bit. That I have plenty of hams left. So, there isn’t really a need to stretch my affections and time even more taut. And I would like to find a breeder. A legit one. I would like to try to veer away from Pet shop pets. I cannot help but believe her ill health is directly resulted from bad and inhumane breeding. This isn’t a promise. I might never find a breeder in my area that is educated on genetics and has pure blood lines they are working with. But it is something that being such I have more time on my hands ..that I have time to wait …I can begin looking out for that.

Also, I want a rabbit. And not building up my hamster population again would be smart because I want a lot of time to devote to a rabbit!

So, yes, a rush to fill the hole that Penny  left is something I fight. For all the logical reasons. And really, another hamster just to love is wonderful. But a hamster so quickly ONLY to replace her? That is a road to disappointment and regret. I could never replace her. She was too different and unique. Leaving big paw prints to fill.

My blog will be taking a new direction for awhile I think. I have come here since yesterday with change on the mind. I made a few more tactful changes to what I have to say about some things on my pages. And saw this cute layout for Christmas. I immediately had to be festive and cheerful with the layout. But yes …some new direction would be prudent because her death has changed a bit of my view as a hammy mom. No longer the completely rose-tinted-glasses of a “new” hamster owner. I feel like I’ve gone through a rite of passage. Not the kid one – losing a hamster as a child and losing on as an adult for me are two different events. The change will be subtle.

For one I have been slowly but surely researching and planning ahead for a rabbit. I’m still in the “awwwww bunnies” mindset and not as serious as one needs to be to really be about to undertake rabbit-parenthood. I have awhile yet on that. I do not want to have a rabbit while we live in this small space and without a decent yard area to make an outdoor play pen (my bunny would be living inside of course but outdoor play area I feel is a MUST!) and such. But it would be nice to begin putting some focus on that a little here and there on this blog.

One day it will be “Hammy Happenings & Gerbilations …and it’s all just Rabbitacular!” …Hmm…too corny yes? I’ll have to think about that one too for awhile.

Penny at Rainbow Bridge

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Penny at Rainbow Bridge Penny Lane is watching down from Rainbow Bridge. This was a picture I made to explain to my 4 year old what has happened to her. I keep looking at it. It’s my MOST favorite picture of Penny. It encompasses her completely. Her personality and beauty. She was always so robust and so full of personality. I will be thinking about her a lot for a long time. I am on and off feeling normal and distracting myself and being upbeat and then feeling dark and disturbed at other moments. There is a closure and yet a feeling of being haunted right now that makes it hard to be completely at peace.

The Christmas Ham, Penny Lane

I wanted a girl hamster. My local stores only carried males. I only had males. And my only two children are males. I only have one female pet, my elderly dog Chloe. I wanted to tip the scales in this home! When I was visiting my parents for the holidays I knew I would be heading to their Petsmart before we left to return to Maryland. I knew I’d bring with us a girl Syrian hamster.

So, on Christmas Day, it rained. It was absolutely dreary. Later in the evening there would be a gale. My husband and myself took the kids and we headed to Petsmart before the storm and because we knew it was open and we planned to leave early the very next day to return home. This was my Christmas gift to myself. I was SO excited I could hardly contain myself.

We arrived and the sale in the store had wiped the place out. It was unexpectedly busy. I made a straight line to the back where the hamsters were housed. I peered in an igloo for the Syrian hamster cage and I saw a lot of white. I was excited! I hadn’t gone in there with any colors in mind. Only that since I had a long hair I’d like to have a short hair. The container stated it was Short hair (But they were certainly incorrect! She was long haired!). An employee was right there and asked if I wanted to see them. I felt my voice catch!

He lifted the igloo and I saw 3 hamsters. ALL that was left for Syrians. They were all sleeping in a huddle on their backs. That was why I saw all white. When they stirred to life Penny was the first I saw. She was alert and ready to go. She was gorgeous – a sable banded, eye rings and all. She was the most vibrant and vivacious of them all. I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even think I noticed the other two sadly as that sounds. “That one,” I said.

As soon as she was in her temporary travel bin at my parents home she was full of life. A wheel of her OWN! (I had brought a spare wheel with us on the trip down as I had planned for her). And she backed right into her sand box and wee wee’d like she had been litter trained all her life. She was active and rambunctious and just so easy to fall in love with.

I never thought of hamsters as intelligent but she was. She was incredibly bright. It’s difficult to explain how I know this. But I did. Intelligence shined in her eyes.

And feline-like she would prance about and rubbed against things and us. I’m starting to lose steam here as I just get emotionally exhausted.

The most touching aspect of this ham’s spirit was the maternal spirit. Immediately she was drawn to and trusting of and affection to my children. She did not shy away from curious hands. Even my infant. She claimed them as her own. She crawled on them and rubbed against them and gave them kisses. She wiggled when I held her but she was still and patient when my 3-year-old at the time – would hold her.

She chirped happily to greet me. She was very vocal though until the end I never heard vocal for negatives. Until the very end she didn’t want to be touched and screeched quite a bit when I touched her. So, I gave her my gentle voice instead and touched her much less.

She was the bravest hamster I’ve ever had so far. The most spirited. The most rambunctious and outgoing. She was an acrobat and gymnast. She was robust and intelligent and a big eater. She could be destructive but never in any way that was unsafe or a real issue or that ever made me cross. And it wasn’t always. But she had the ability. Her strength and stamina could be revered.

As I am not sure how old hamsters are when they are for sell at Petsmart I could only guess. I guessed at the higher end and surmised she would have turned about a year old around now. That she would have been born sometime in November to be able to be sold by Christmas.

Of all the hamsters I looked most forward to decorating her cage for Christmas as she was my true Christmas ham. All the festive bedding I recently purchased was with her mostly in mind. She was the hamster I bought the cardboard climber Christmas tree for.

I just buried her in the flower bed right outside my  kitchen window. I can think of her every time I set my coffee pot. Or wash my dishes. It was a sunny spot so warm in the cold 20 degree weather we are having today. I placed her inside her magenta floral patterned tissue box. I placed lovely shimmering stones on top of her grave. It was a solitary gesture. I could have made this a life lesson for my now 4-year-old. But instead I decided to just have that moment for me and her.

You broke the mold Penny Lane. There will never be a hamster exactly like you. I never felt like you were MY hamster but instead that WE were YOUR people. Thank you for having us darling.

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Rant from my misery.

I tell you… I have joined all sorts of hamster forums and communities and the only one worth a damn so far has been Hamster Hideout. Even the Facebook groups it’s just “post a million photos of our cute hamsters” and let me bully you about your minimum space cage and I am human but let’s post a bunch of photos of myself in a rainbow colored suit because I am depressed and all of you seeing my pictures in a hamster community will make me feel tops.

BUT someone posts with concerns about their ill hamster and it’s ignored. It’s like high school in these communities. If you aren’t part of the “in” crowd you and your hamster aren’t worth a lick of salt.

Yes I am livid. And upset. My hamster is dying and my vet can do nothing but euthanize her. And I just wanted some encouragement and advice and suggestion (with some people owning over 20 hamsters and many having died from various illnesses you’d expect they had SOME feedback).

These people who are decidedly silent and I can not help but be surprised when I feel I’ve been emotionally supportive to them in the past.

I don’t say a lot when I am sad.

I watched my daddy die. My sister died. My favorite uncle died. When my cat Fiona died (after losing my Malti-poo Fonzie and never finding him again) and I found her dead it was before any really close family had ever died yet while as an adult. I was so depressed I didn’t shower for weeks. I had to go onto antidepressants to function. After that I have reacted to major deaths in a shutdown mode. Even human deaths.

I have two little boys who I have to be strong for so I especially have to keep most feelings inside to my self. It’s a dark place to deal with death. And just because someone doesn’t talk about it a lot doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings they are dealing with in their own way and couldn’t use some encouragement or sympathy. In this case for their hamster who is dying today but not quickly. She is breathing but not moving otherwise. Has been on fast decline since the vet visit. Making me suspect I never should have taken her there to begin with as it apparently sent over over edge stress wise and didn’t help her in the least.

I just cannot believe how selfish people are. People in these communities with their claims of being different and not being popular in school and having dealt with so much ill treatment by peers because they are homebodies… They go online and form cliques and become exactly the type of people they were bothered by.

Hamstercentral and SHuk and the rest are closed off and holier than thou. Pretty much should just be called “Post Your Hamster Pic Spam and then get the Hell Out”.

If you want any rise out of them just post a picture of a small cage. A big cage is all these people give a damn about. Post about your sick hamster that a vet can’t figure out what’s wrong with it and be ignored. Misplaced values anyone? It’s unreal.