Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shoeboxes & Duffel Bags

Happy Easter everyone! An Easter photo shoot will be coming tomorrow, but today I have a strange story for you:

A young woman showed up at the shelter on Good Friday. She had a large duffel bag with a sports logo on the side. She was surrendering hamsters.

As the staff at the front desk tried to decipher exactly how many she had, she would pull different hamsters out of the bag and wave them around, laughing. It was like a movie where the bag has no bottom. Inside the bag were shoeboxes,and inside the shoeboxes were hamsters. 
It was impossible to get a straight answer out of her. 
My favourite part was when we asked her if the females could be pregnant, and she replied that no, they were too young - and they were separated from the boys "most of the time". The girls are 8 weeks old - 4 weeks past sexual maturity.
When they asked her why she was surrendering them, she said her Dad was making her give them up.
Honestly, I can't really say I blame him.

The final count revealed a total of 16 hamsters in that bag - 3 adults in shoeboxes, and a mom with babies in a cage.
 This is the male, Legolas, a big handsome cream Teddy Bear with a chunk out of his ear. Yes, that Legolas - he has long blond hair, I couldn't help it. The Lord of the Rings theme continues!
This is Merry, named after the hobbit. She's sort of a half-hearted Teddy Bear - long fur, but not that long. Since we don't know the last time she 'might' have been with a male, we are forced to put her on pregnancy watch/no-adopt for 2 weeks.
This is Millie, the second female (the one she was waving around in the first place). Also on pregnancy watch! The good thing is that they're all very gentle and social. The bad thing is that the two girls are on pregnancy watch.
Oh, and then we get to the babies:
The mom is also a Teddy Bear, and now named Arwen. She and her twelve (yes, twelve) little ones were in a tiny cage, about 10-15 cm on each side. There was no nesting material, and the cage was packed with rotten food - mouldy pieces of bread, rotted pieces of chicken. It smelled disgusting. The water bottle was dry, and that wasn't new - it was dusty.
Hamster mothers eat their young if they are stressed, or feel they can't provide for them. This mother had 12 babies, even after 6 days of living in filth without proper water or nutrition. As soon as I placed her in a new cage and gave her some ripped up toilet paper, she made a magnificent nest and moved them all inside. I've never seen a hamster so determined to keep her pups.
Here they are, just yesterday. They went to my house immediately for foster. As of yesterday, I was still absolutely sure there were 11,and I could've easily missed one under the pile of wriggling pups.
I don't mind when hamsters eat their pups - it's just a part of fostering hamster families. But Arwen is super-mom. She seems so determined to provide for these little ones, I can't help pulling for her. I hope they all make it.

Also, shoebox/duffel bag lady? Please don't ever buy a hamster again.

5 comments:

Caroline said...

what a heartwarming story of the mama hamster, she's lucky you're looking after her.

Anonymous said...

Mistakes happen. At least she brought the hamsters to the shelter where they will get wonderful care and new homes. It is better than getting dumped in a park! I adopted two girl baby hamsters from a couple of weeks before Christmas. I never expected one to be pregnant. A Christmas miracle happened... 5 baby hamsters! Happily all found homes outside of the shelter, two are still with their aunt and mom. One big hamster family!

Anonymous said...

The unexpected Christmas hamsters from TAS: Santa = boy. Bella & Angel = 2 girls, Holly & Star are with mom Dancer, and aunt Prancer. Responsible Pet Ownership is very important. But if you find yourself overwelmed or with unexpected extra pets, please bring them to an animal shelter rather than dumping them. There are many loving homes out there willig to adopt. I have adopted 2 cats, hamsters, mouse, rabbit from TAS over the last 10 years.

Laura HP said...

Glad to hear the Christmas hammies are doing well! Love the names!

I think this is a very different situation though. That was clearly a mistake - I've never seen a hamster get pregnant so young, it was impossible to predict.
With this woman, she bought too many, she allowed them to breed, she didn't do any research, and she kept the mother and babies in a filthy cage with rotten food and no water. She only brought them to the shelter because she was forced to - I don't think that was a mistake, I think that was willful negligence.

Laura HP said...
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