My Personal Petting Zoo

When I was a boy I loved my pets. Dogs, chickens, and fish were all on my list. Some of my dogs were pedigreed and others were mutts. The chickens could be 4H projects in the summer and dinner in the fall. But they were all my pets and I named each one. Ralph was a dog. Harry was a chicken. Midnight was a cat. Dristan was a pony. Sheba was a horse and Tahoo was a sheep. They were each special in their own way.

But my favorite pets were my hamsters.

To understand my love of hamsters you need to know a little about them. Hamsters are fuzzy. They are warm. They only bite occasionally. They run non-stop on their little hamster wheel. They eat seeds and drink from a bottle. They take up very little space. They are nearly the perfect pet.

But a word of warning: For all their cute, cuddly, fuzzy, lovability, they have one fatal flaw. They breed like rabbits.

Now, many people say that many things “breed like rabbits”. I’m not convinced that these people have ever seen rabbits breeding. I owned pet rabbits (Fluffy and Hoppy to name a few) so I am somewhat of an authority. And the truth is that rabbits and hamsters, while both rodents, are not exactly the same. For example, rabbits’ ears are longer. But hamsters DO breed like rabbits. If there are any questions, I would be happy to take them at the end of class.

Back to the pet stories:

So you start your collection with two hamsters. If they are both males, you will wake up to a bloody scene in their cage and one will be dead. They are very territorial. If they are both females, they will choose separate sides of their cage, glare for a while, and then meet in the middle to compare make-up tips. But if you get a male and a female together you can set your clock for three weeks to the day and prepare to experience Baby Hamster Day.

Please understand, if you have Baby Hamster Day in your house it is no blessed event. You start with two cute, fuzzy, cuddly, lovable hamsters and in a matter of 21 days you have a dozen. At the end of 3 months you are up to 432 hamsters. By the end of your first year you will be the proud owner of over 559,000 little rats. I know. I’ve done the math.

The truth is that even with my love of the tiny fury creatures, I’m unsure exactly what to do with that many rodents.

You can’t eat them. Well, you can but they taste like chicken with fur.

You can’t sell them. Pet stores won’t pay a penny. Why would they? They can’t sell all the hamsters they’re producing in-house.

You can’t give them away. Any mother with any experience will see you coming and stop you before you get to her eight year old.

You can’t set them free; at least in Indiana. Hamsters aren’t known to do very well in the wilds of north-central Indiana during December. Hamster-pops come to mind.

So the best option is to keep the little buggers apart. No conjugal visits for these little guys. Let’s be honest, you will never be able to come up with half-a-million names, anyway.

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