Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Hamster Houdinis

By Catya
Catya is a judge with the California Hamster Association. She shares her experiences in hamster ownership from a high school student's perspective.

hamster and girl
Demitasse the hamster seems to want to go to college with Angela; she could major in architecture!
hamster in bedding
Photos Courtesy Catya
Oneida the hamster is the daughter of the two escape artist hamsters, Spoon and Demitasse. Catya keeps a close eye on her!

My favorite part of writing this blog is hearing from my readers. Recently, one of my faithful readers, who always has great comments, asked me what I do when my hamsters escape.

Hamsters are infamous for being escape artists. I’d bet that the second most popular hamster name is Houdini (second to Hammy). I’ve heard countless stories of escaped hamsters, and witnessed quite a few hamster escapes myself! In a previous blog, I told you about Spoon, a hamster that was an expert at getting out of his cage and into mischief. But Spoon was by no means the only hamster we’ve had who was fond of going on unauthorized outings.

Demitasse was Spoon’s sweetheart, and even before they met, she shared his love of freedom. My parents and I returned from dropping off my sister at college in Indiana (she is graduating this weekend, congrats, Angela!), only to find that Demitasse had escaped from under my brothers’ noses. Her bin cage would normally be impervious to escape, but the lid had been left off! She took advantage of this and built a ramp out of bedding, topped with her igloo to make an escape route. (I sometimes think that hamsters could have built the pyramids.)

Demitasse was probably out for a couple of days on her own. With two messy boys house-sitting, she obviously found plenty to eat!

The night that we came home, I discovered one of the advantages of giving out treats around the same time every night — the hamsters know when it's chow time. I was making my rounds when who should waddle up to me but Demitasse! I was so relieved to find her. I had been prepared to use all the techniques I knew for finding escaped hamsters — setting out nonlethal traps (Spoon was caught munching a Cheerio in one of these once); putting out piles of raisins in each room and then counting them the next morning to see where the hamster is hiding; etc.

We got to use all of these hamster-capture tricks once when Cinderella, Kevin’s hamster, got out for a few days. We started by looking for her everywhere, then we put out seeds in each room to see which one she was in. What we didn’t know was that she had no interest in the seeds we set out, because she had a rather nice stash and a luxurious nest inside the couch!

We found Cindy when Mom swept under the couch and noticed the bottom of it moving strangely. In an instant, we were all on our stomachs in the living room, armed with carrots and flashlights, trying to convince Cinderella that her house was nicer than the couch.

We are lucky that none of our escaped hamster ever got hurt. We do hamster-proof our home, even though we don’t plan on loose hamsters! But when you’re living with hamsters, you have to expect a certain amount of Houdini behavior. Escape artistry is just a part of their inquisitive and lively nature.

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Mike, Columbia, TN
Posted: 6/18/2009 12:46:13 PM
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