Acquired: Pet store
Texas, United States
Posted Nov 02, 2018
When my daughter was 8 years old, she begged and begged for a hamster. We decided she was old enough to take on about that much responsibility, so we headed to the local pet store. A pet store that claimed ALL of its small mammals were MALE. She picked out a grey and white Siberian Dwarf Hamster, primarily because they were smaller and cuter than the teddy bear hamsters. It didn't seem to mind being held, so we deemed it friendly enough to make a good pet, bought a cart full of necessary accessories and headed home with the critter.
Cut to: 7 days later... I am awakened by the screams of my daughter and her friend who had spent the night. "Mom! Mom! My hamster's dying! These little bloody red things are all over it!" I run upstairs and see the hamster climbing up the bars of the cage and there they are...two little red jellybean-like attachments hanging from its belly. Upon closer inspection, the jellybeans have eyes and noses and mouths and even teeny, teeny toenails.
Babies! Her 'we promise all of them are male' hamster had just given birth to nine...count them, NINE! offspring. Call the Veterinary Medical journals! It's a miracle! NOT! It was a disaster.
At first, she was a good mother. All nine babies thrived and grew. Soon it was time to find more cages, not only because they needed more space, but because I didn't want the males and females cohabitating. Hamsters are not particular about mating with siblings. Eeew.
So we took all nine babies to the store where we got the mom. I figured the least they could do would be to give me their best guess on which were boys and which were girls, since I was having trouble figuring it out myself based on photos in the hamster book. The manager was kind enough to do so and even gave us some 'take home' boxes for free so we could keep them separated. He was quite apologetic about the gender snafu, but fell short of offering to give us free food and supplies for the extra mouths we now had to feed.
My daughter and her friends did spend considerable time playing with the babies, all of which were friendlier than their mother. I can't blame her, of course. Poor thing was exhausted. However, at some point, unbeknown to us, one of the boys must have got mixed up with the girls, or vice versa, because when we came home from a week-long vacation...more jellybeans!
In the end, we had 16 hamsters in four cages, when I finally said, "Enough!" It was a full-time job, keeping the cages clean and everyone fed and watered, and it had long since become more than my 8-year-old could handle, so it was mostly me taking care of everyone.
The original hamster died less than a year after we got her and after that, my daughter agreed it would be better for her children and grandchildren to find individual homes where they could get the love and attention they deserved. I ended up donating them to a different pet store, which was only too happy to take them off our hands. I hope wherever Whats-Her-Name is, she approves.