As the weather has gotten colder, the mice have started to make their way in. The boys think they're cute, so that's why we don't let them see the traps. Annoying little suckers, and noisy too.
Keeping my kid's love of rodents in mind, hubby went to the pet store. Turns out he could get them a cute, fuzzy hamster for free if he payed $18 for a cage the size of a raisin. No, thank you. The very next day, I was at work and a customer came in. She was on her way to the pet store to unload some of her rapidly multiplying hamsters. Did I want one? For free? I couldn't dial hubby's phone fast enough.
In the box, were 11 dwarf hamsters. Yeah, the ones the pet shop wants $18 for and they were ours for the taking. We selected the older 6 and my sister adopted the younger 5. This was a Friday night. They were all brought to us in one container, so until we could get home, this is how they stayed. Once we got them home, they each went into an individual temporary container. Walmart only had 3 water bottles on the shelf, so that left us with 2 and my sister 1. We rotated every few hours until we could get to the pet shop Saturday.
By Sunday, we had began to move them all to glass aquariums. Two to an aquarium with plexiglass to keep them separated. As we observed them, Matthew said something that made my jaw drop. "I see babies". No you don't, son, it's just bedding. He pokes his finger into the cage and says "there, see that little pink thing MOVING?" Oh no. Quickly Googling the gestation period of hamsters, we learned it was 2 weeks. Since we'd kept them separated from the beginning, it didn't happen on our watch. As we looked at our 5 remaining hamsters, we began to wonder how many more came to us with child. One week later, we'd have our answer. We had just 2 mommies in our midst. Between the two of them, we've doubled our hamster population. Plus one. Six hamsters, seven babies.
Being the little rodent loving kids that they are, the boys are thrilled to see the babies. Matthew likes to take a look every so often, but Brandon has turned into quite the little zoo keeper. When hubby was young, he had hamsters for a very long time. He raised them, bred them, and knows quite a bit about them. To see him and Brandon bonding over hamsters is wonderful! Brandon cannot go to bed until he's checked them out. On weekend nights, we let him stay up to help change bedding, refill water bottles and feed them. Once, we told him it didn't need to be done that night and he cried out "you did it without me?" I had to explain that they had plenty of food and water and just didn't need tending that day. He checked on them anyway.
Brandon delights in putting in tunnels made of toilet paper rolls in their cages and watching them run through them. He adjusts their wheels so they can run. And he calls them his "hamstees". While at Walmart this weekend, he sobbed because we could not buy the hamstees one of those giant plastic environments with tunnels and add ons. At $35 a pop, I am satisfied with letting them run through toilet paper tunnels. They don't know the difference! Brandon said the hamstees need something special. Maybe Santa will consider one.
Our babies are now one week and two weeks old. The two week old litter is leaving the nest to eat and have their eyes open. Brandon has declared they have grown eyes. At 4 weeks, they will be ready to leave mama and be on their own. Just in time for Christmas. I'm putting up a flier at work to find some of the babies new homes. Not that they're expensive to take care of, or even a lot of work. I'm just happen to be running out of room for cages.
I have been comparing notes with my sister who adopted the smaller hamsters. Against my advice, she has kept them all in one cage. Should be another week before she's observing little naked pink hamsters herself. She's started hunting down individual cages. Time will tell how many she needs!