Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First you must grasp your hamster firmly...

Yes, hamster adventures continue. Knitting does not, at least for now while work is crazy and the Khan requires special treatment.

I'll go back a bit. The other day, while showing off the Horde to a friend, I noticed one of the hamsters' butts looked weird.

OK, I'll go back a bit more. Now, being the responsible new hamster owner, the day after the Horde showed up I went out and bought what seemed to be a pretty good resource on hamster care and started reading up on basic care and what to look out for. So I knew that as long as everyone was chipper and fluffy and were eating, drinking and pooping ok, things would be alright. I also knew that the robo hamsters could be kept together, although they like to pair, and we briefly wondered if a fifth unpaired hamster would be a problem, and, if so, how would we know who was paired and who was not. And I learned that they were pretty darned hardy but could catch colds from humans if exposed. But loose poops can be a problem, and a wet tail can herald a possible fatal infection. Check.

So I've been engaging in a daily health check which is easy to do when I let them run around in their balls, because they're all separate and easy to handle and view without having to try to catch any of them (which I can't - they're just too fast). So I'm checking out the hamster butt a couple of days ago (yeah, that sounds weird) and sure enough, we have one with a dark patch where nice clean fur should be.

Is it wet? Is it time to panic? I mean, I had just seen "I Am Legend" the night before, and I could have a transformed hamster here who will shortly begin killing and possibly eating the cats! I mean, they're nocturnal already, and this one's going hairless, and ... Or maybe we have the first signs of a potentially fatal hamster disease here that I didn't even know existed 2 weeks ago. But it wasn't wet, just hairless and raw. Otherwise the hamster was completely normal. I decided to give it a day. It was late Saturday night, what could I have done anyway?

Sunday, the patch was bigger, and now it was looking rashy, as was the left hind foot. Hamster otherwise still completely normal, perky dining on seeds, no cat carcasses strewn around the cage. The plan: get a vet on Monday.

Did you know hamsters are considered exotic? I sure as hell didn't. Maybe a Hawaiian hamster that does the hula would fit my description of exotic, but hamsters are as American as moms' apple pie, so it was strange to have so much trouble finding someone who would see him. Finally I asked the Banfield people at Petsmart if they would see him. I mean, they sell the little guys (although mine came from elsewhere), so you'd think they would have a special rodent doc there or something, but they don't. However, the vet there did say that although she wasn't an exotics specialist, she'd see him and do what she could. Could we bring him in later in the afternoon and what was his name?


I really had no contingency plan for ever getting to be able to tell them apart to the point that would warrant individual names, so I don't know where it came from, but without missing a beat I answered "Genghis". And proceeded to spell it out for them.

Turns out we have identified the odd hamster out here. He, being unpaired, was getting chewed on a bit, and has a secondary bacterial infection from the bites. He got an antiseptic bath at the vets' (who were awesome) and is currently in his own habitat (for everyones' safety) and is living like, well, a Khan. We have to catch and hold him to give him his cherry flavored drop of medicine, then he returns to his posh digs. Now, the odd hamster out theory is mine, and it could be a crowding issue as well, so when he gets a clean bill of health we are going to get him a friend and eventually join the two habitats via tunnels so there's tons of room for everyone, and everyone has a buddy.

Do you have any idea how cute this has all been? OMG!


Janice in GA said...

I'll take your word for it. I just don't get rodents. Or reptiles/amphibians. Some of the pictures of them are cute, but can't really imagine having them as pets.

I just lack the hamster gene, I guess. :) I'll admire them from a distance.

The Mad Crocheter said...

Wow. I am finding this fascinating. No, that is not sarcasm. I think I have a soft spot for hamsters since they were the class pets in 4th grade.

Gotta Knit! said...

Love the name Genghis! Ok, now really how on earth could hamsters be exotic.

Glad Genghis is doing better and getting hooked up. wink, wink

Gotta Knit! said...

P.S. Best Blog title ever! Out of a long list of posts, yours leaped out at me.

Kim said...

It sounds adorable! Glad to hear the little guy is feeling better!

Happygoth said...

Oh, good. I'm happy he's not sick (or fatally so). They're all so cute, I would be sad if one was not happy.

Anonymous said...

I love pet stories. Genghis appears to have a rosy future, complete with *friend*

Kim said...

I think the little Khan might need a handknit sweater to cover the bald spot! hope he feels better!