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The hamster from the dark side....
Hamster from the dark side...
My daughter wanted a pet she could call her own. We already had two cats and two dogs but she claimed that I took care of them (how come I didn't have the insight to realize that this new pet would also become part of my care taking clan?). Foolishly, and because I love all animals, I ventured with her to the local all in one store that had a pet section and the cutest little dwarf hamsters we had ever seen.
She spotted a little brown hamster she fell in love with. "Sandy", she quickly named it. I suggested she pick out one more so that Sandy wouldn't be lonely. She wanted another brown hamster but I deemed that boring having two that looked so much alike. Curled up in the corner was a unique black and white spotted ball of fur and I pointed with confidence at it while directing the store clerk attention to the corner. We can call this one Oreo since it looks like a mixed up Oreo cookie. So, my daughter and I took the two little rodents home after investing $70 in a cage, rolling exercise ball, food, cedar bedding, crawling tubes and feeding supplies. After all, these two babies needed all of the finer elements of living!
The first month together, Oreo and Sandy coexisted beautifully in their space together. Nightly, my daughter and I would retrieve them from their cage and let them roam in her room or in the bathtub while their bedding was changed. Then, one night, Oreo bit my daughter when she reached in to grab him (we assumed he was a boy; we didn't know how to tell the difference). From that point on, she was terrified to stick her little digits into the cage of death. I donned gloves to shield my fingers from his sharp little teeth and while Oreo was running around, he was friendly and amiable. The minute play time was over, he would squeal and scratch and try to attack the glove that held him tight.
My daughter asked to get rid of Oreo, and I refused. He's just growing up and maturing I guessed and it was just a phase. Sandy continued to be her favorite and we soon noticed Sandy no longer wanted to sleep next to Oreo in the cage. In fact, we even witnessed a time when Oreo attacked poor Sandy and threw her off of the ledge on the second floor of their habitat.
I questioned myself and my decision to keep that evil little thing. I knew nothing of hamster psychology but felt such immense guilt over giving away this little demon and having it wreak havoc upon some unsuspecting child somewhere. I told my daughter that we would give Oreo a week and then make a decision.
I should have listened to my gut. During dinner one night, we heard terrible screams coming from the hamster cage. We ran down and found poor Sandy limping at the bottom of the cage and I swear that Oreo's eyes changed from beady black to glowing red for a moment. My daughter and I tearfully placed Sandy in another container for the night, with me promising to find another home for Oreo the next day. It was too late. Sandy had passed in the night. I should have looked inside of Oreo's mouth for blood crusted fangs or for two little puncture holes in poor Sandy's neck. Oreo had killed Sandy and the her life escaped her human figure during the night.
My first reaction was to throw Oreo outside and let nature take care of him. As I looked into the cage, I remembered why I first suggested bringing him home. He was so darn cute. I told my daughter that we would leave Oreo in the cage and I would call pet shops to see who would take him. To my dismay, no one wanted a rabid, blood sucking, finger biting, cute little hamster that would kill another of its kind. We were stuck with him.
The ironic thing about this story is that Oreo passed two weeks after Sandy. Loneliness? I don't know. I just know that no tears were shed when this one kicked the bucket.