RIP Mr Hamster: my finest parenting moment to date.

 

Image: Flickr/Oopsilon

One of the benefits of having pets, along with adding a cute companion to the family, is that they provide an opportunity for children to learn, first hand, about the cycle of life. Things are born, they live, they die. And in the case of hamsters, it can be a tragically short circle.

Mr Hamster was a present for Flea’s six birthday last autumn, and Flea fell in love at first sight. Now, from a parent's perspective, I'd have to say hamsters aren't great pets. They sleep all day, they don’t like being touched, or held, and they have a remarkably efficient bowel system. 

But Flea loved Mr Hamster. 

So much so that, on Friday, when her best friend came for a sleepover on Friday, they headed straight fo the utility room to give him some treats. “Mummy, he won’t come out of his cage,” Flea complained.

"I'm sure he's fine. I fed him this morning, he's probably just sleeping," I called from the kitchen. 

The girls dropped some chocolate drops into the cage, outside Mr Hamster's bed. Which is where they still were today when I woke up and realised Mr Hamster hadn't been out of his sleeping hole since Friday morning. 

I rattled the cage gently. I tipped it up to look inside the bedding area to see if the bedding was moving. Nope. Sometimes he snores, so I put my ear next to the cage. Dead silence. 

Bugger. Mr Hamster is dead.

Obviously, I did what all modern, independent women do in such situations. I rang my ex-husband.

“The bloody hamster’s dead.”

A plan was hatched that when my ex brought Flea home this evening, he would go into the kitchen and dispose of the corpse (touching a dead hamster not being on my list of things to do before I die) and I would take Flea upstairs and break the news to her.

Fast forward to 6pm and I sat down on Flea’s bed. “I have some sad news, darling,” I began.

There followed an absolute textbook breaking of the news moment where I reassured Flea that Mr Hamster had a very happy life, and was probably in Hamster Heaven, and yes, we'd buy a new hamster next week, to live at Daddy's house. 

"Can we go and see how Mr Hamster is doing?" Flea whispered, tears on her cheeks. 

"Well, no, poppet, because he's dead," I replied, thinking: Also, your Dad is probably popping him in the outside bin as we speak. 

Flea shed a few tears, we had a lovely cuddle and I congratulated myself on another textbook parenting moment – with the added bonus of transferring future hamster ownership to the ex. Bonus! 

We headed downstairs to find my ex standing in the dining room, a look of smug triumph on his face. "Not going to be applying for a job as a CSI any time soon, are you?" he sniggered. 

All I can say is someone could have WARNED me that hamsters can sleep for three days at a time. Who knew? 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

40 Comments

  1. Nicki Cawood
    29th January 2012 / 7:45 pm

    Not exactly the post I thought it was when I saw a new one in my inbox 🙂
    Great stuff!

  2. 29th January 2012 / 7:47 pm

    OMG that is too funny…of course because he is still alive! Now to explain reincarnation?! On a serious note, glad to hear he is OK!

  3. 29th January 2012 / 7:47 pm

    So Flea can learn both about death and the fact her mother is fallible. That is what they call an educational “double whammy”. Well done Mr Hamster. No wonder he’s tired.

  4. 29th January 2012 / 7:58 pm

    Oh my how I have just laughed so hard! I also have a hamster so thanks for the pre warning! I have a funny story about my hamster too…Well sort of, I thought he had unfortunetly developed cancer because the lumps at his back end were enormous (no joke lol) however, and ill leave the rest to the imagination it was only his gonads! Ruddy hamsters!!

  5. 29th January 2012 / 8:02 pm

    I probably shouldn’t giggle, but I did. That was not the ending I was expecting at all. They can sleep for THREE DAYS?! Really? Wow, that must put them right up there with tortoises as “most boring pet”. Glad it all worked out in the end though – did you manage to get your ex to take the hamster away to live at his house, or do you have to keep him?

  6. 29th January 2012 / 8:04 pm

    Me being dumb, it took me a few seconds to realise that the final sentence means Mr Hamster was NOT dead. How did you break that to Flea? She now thinks Mr Hamster is Jesus? LOL xxx

  7. 29th January 2012 / 9:08 pm

    I didn’t know that hamsters can sleep for three days either. Nor am I likely to find out because I am never knowingly going to allow an animal into my home. Ever. So I guess we’ll just have to wait until great uncle Albert dies in order to talk about the cycle of life.

  8. 29th January 2012 / 11:05 pm

    I’ve had two hamsters go to Hamster Heaven on me. The first I held in my hand and dripped honey onto its lips, on the advice of a vet who thought it might be in a diabetic coma. The second I took to the vet with an unsightly tumour (the hamster, not the vet), to be helped on his way humanely. I tell you this to prepare you for what might be ahead…
    According to the vet, hamsters are unsociable and like living alone. So they won’t be frolicking happily with lots of other friendly hamsters in Hamster Heaven. They will be living solitary lives, happily removed from the need to relate to other furry creatures. Maybe they’ll all have computers, and will be playing on the Webkinz site.

  9. Catherine Burden
    29th January 2012 / 11:06 pm

    Priceless!

  10. 29th January 2012 / 11:12 pm

    hilarious! Makes me more determined not to have hamsters at Chez Rollercoaster!

  11. 29th January 2012 / 11:14 pm

    Ah yes, you see I knew. Hamsters can indeed go into a very deep hibernation and many a hamster has been thought to have passed over to the other side when in reality is just fast, fast asleep. I only know has we have one or two hamster books here and reason being we have our own little Mr Hamster, bought about the same time as Flea’s. Won’t do any harm to go have a little check…. actually I haven’t seen him scurrying around his cage for a day or two….

  12. 29th January 2012 / 11:17 pm

    Mr Hamster is heading to live with the ex. Thank God.

  13. 29th January 2012 / 11:17 pm

    Glad you liked it. You didn’t think I’d *really* write about a dead hamster?

  14. 29th January 2012 / 11:18 pm

    I’m not really sure how I’ll explain it if she asks HOW I got it so wrong…

  15. 29th January 2012 / 11:18 pm

    I think that whole “fallible” lesson was learned some time ago.

  16. 29th January 2012 / 11:19 pm

    The ex took him. Which is good because I think maybe he was hibernating because my kitchen is so cold.

  17. 29th January 2012 / 11:19 pm

    Who knows what dodgy lesson this has taught her about death.

  18. 29th January 2012 / 11:20 pm

    We only have the one hamster as we have the anti-social breed. And now it lives with my ex. Hurrah!

  19. 29th January 2012 / 11:21 pm

    My life is basically one long comedy episode.

  20. 29th January 2012 / 11:21 pm

    Possibly should have done more research. Cough.

  21. 29th January 2012 / 11:21 pm

    With hindsight, I agree! I could have cried at the time!

  22. 30th January 2012 / 8:27 am

    On the other hand, I’m sure Your Ex will gladly help you out on THIS one. They tend to like helping out with explaining how you got it wrong. for years and years and years to come. *sympathetic*

  23. 30th January 2012 / 8:30 am

    Dunno… if he does, maybe you should wait three days before letting anybody know that he’s dead. just in case….. (darn. I have VERY crooked sense of humor, if any…)

  24. 30th January 2012 / 10:49 am

    A happy ending, I had no idea either. My question is: Do they smell? Isabelle wants an animal too, but with the new baby arriving soon…I don’t know…

  25. 30th January 2012 / 11:15 am

    Think positive a) you didn’t throw him out / bury him on Friday and b) you now have been relieved of hamster care!

  26. TheBoyandMe
    30th January 2012 / 12:50 pm

    I’ve just read another story about a hamster looking like it was deas bt I can’t think on whose blog it was. Turned out it was too cold and had gone into a hypothermic coma and had to be brought back to life in the heat very slowly.
    Hope Mr. Hamster has a long and happy life.

  27. 30th January 2012 / 2:53 pm

    Yeah, Hamsters are tricky like mites. Glad he was ok in the end.

  28. 30th January 2012 / 5:48 pm

    Not such a strange suggestion Yemi, old men do tend to sleep a lot. Actually I don’t have a Great Uncle Albert, I just thought it wouldn’t be very reverrand to write the name of a real relative.

  29. 30th January 2012 / 8:02 pm

    oooh this so took me back – when i was little i binned two hybernating hamsters (thinking they were dead). but to be truthful i was never really into them.
    glad all turned out ok 🙂

  30. 30th January 2012 / 10:47 pm

    oh christ,
    Up until 5 minutes ago I have never even considered that I may have buried two hamsters alive…….
    3 days…..

  31. 31st January 2012 / 9:05 am

    We once had twelve hamsters. We didn’t plan to have twelve hamsters but it turned out that Harry was a girl, and not fat but pregnant. To add to the drama he was Harry the second. We had secretly replaced Harry the first after he died after we’d had him a day. Although having read this I wonder if the poor fellow was actually dead when we buried him.

  32. 31st January 2012 / 12:15 pm

    Thank goodness you guys found out before he went into the bin! I was reading half way and was wondering, could he be hibernating?! ROFL
    They normally last for at least 3 years and don’t die that peacefully (ehum) if anytime earlier.
    At least you have rehearsed the whole thing, so 2 years later you’ll know what to do 😉 I’m dreading the moment for ours to be honest, I think our hamster is already 2 years old!

  33. 6th February 2012 / 9:05 am

    I had no idea they could sleep for three days !!!!!!!! Maybe I buried mine alive !!!!!???????

  34. Paula
    25th February 2012 / 9:15 pm

    Lol love it! I am so glad you found out before he went in the bin!

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