Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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R.I.P. Hamster

Our hamster died yesterday. She was running on her hamster wheel as energetically as ever the night before, but yesterday when I noticed the water level in her bottle was a little low and I went to refill it, I was surprised that she didn't wake up as she usually does during that process. So I petted her, and she still didn't move, and then I discovered that she was dead. All curled up like usual on the tall pile of hamster bedding that she always arranged for herself in the front left corner of her cage, but stiff. Her eyes were open, but dried out, not moist like when she was alive. They were the one thing about her that was most obviously, visibly dead.

She had a name before we got her, but we were never quite sure how to spell it - Cujie or Kuji or something along those lines - so I'm not sure which spelling to commemorate her with. We don't know how old she was either, although she was full grown (and quite large for a hamster) at the beginning of last summer. The average life expectancy of a hamster is only two to three years, so she may have been rather old. She had belonged to a classroom full of emotionally disturbed elementary school children who weren't particularly good at handling hamsters, and to a teacher who abandoned her when the school year ended. We took her in as a foster hamster because no one was giving her food or water over summer vacation. But she ended up as a permanent hamster.

The dogs (especially Boston) were obsessed with her and wanted to eat her. The cat seemed a little afraid of her (because Stardust is a failure at cathood), although they only ever spent a few extremely closely supervised minutes together. The hamster took no notice of any of them; she just ran around and around on her hamster wheel for twelve hours every day, and slept the other twelve hours on the tall pile of hamster bedding she had put in the front left corner of her cage. She had rainbow-colored wooden chew toys to gnaw on, and a hamster nest that she was supposed to sleep in but chose to gnaw on instead. She had a little green food dish that she took all the food out of and hid in other parts of the cage. She had a purple plastic water bottle she drank from, and a purple plastic hamster ball to walk around in when we took her out of the cage and shut her in a bedroom where the dogs couldn't get her.

We don't know whether she was happy. Susan always worried that she wasn't. But she had food and water and toys, and she got to explore the world outside her cage every few weeks, without being attacked by animals or small children. She died a nonviolent death after no outward signs of illness. So I think she had a reasonably good life, as hamster lives go.

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