Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Hamster Re-Gifting

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.

Click images to enlarge
rabbit outside
This poor bunny was abandoned in a suburban park to fend for itself.

Rufus the hamster
Photos Courtesy Catya
Hamster ownership is a commitment for the whole life span of our little furry friends. My hamster Rufus is really old, but he still appreciates the love and care he gets from me.

Hi, everyone! Here in Southern California, we’ve been having rainy weather this week. At the park near my house, all the ducks spend their time huddled under the trees looking cold and grumpy. But the ducks aren’t alone — there’s a pair of bunnies that live there, too!

After living at the park for about a month, the bunnies have gotten pretty much used to feral life, but I hope they can handle the rain OK. They’re obviously former pet bunnies, not wild rabbits, based on their color. Doing the math on when they were dumped at the park, I think they were Easter rabbits whose owner lost interest. Chances are good that they were given to a child as an Easter present. It’s a common story: rabbits are very popular gifts at Easter time, but a few months after Easter, the novelty wears off and the shelters are flooded with cast-off rabbits. At least some of these former pets go to shelters instead of being left to fend for themselves in parks.

My mom and I actually tried to catch these rabbits to bring them to a shelter. We brought a big bin cage, sturdy gloves, and some timothy hay, and tried to coax them out of the trees that they were hiding under. Once or twice, the rabbits got just close enough to almost reach, but we never could get them into the cage. We called several rabbit shelters in the area, and they were all full. A person at Animal Control said that they would only pick up the rabbits if someone else catches them, and the city wouldn’t do anything about them either. So the rabbits are still there at the park, hiding in among the trees. I wish they didn’t have to face the rain alone.

Thinking about the rabbits, I realized the other day that many hamsters wind up facing similar fates. While hamsters aren’t hot-ticket items at Easter time, they are very popular Christmas presents. Some parents get their children a hamster for Christmas, and it’s understandable — hamsters are obviously a lot of fun! But often, the children aren’t ready for the long-term commitment that a hamster entails, and they lose interest or stop caring for the hamsters. Sometimes that means that the parents are saddled with the hamster chores, but sometimes it means that the hamsters just get dumped — in a shelter, at a rescue or just in the wild.

Really, it comes down to this: hamsters aren’t toys. If a child falls out of love with an action figure or doll two months after Christmas, it just means one more piece of plastic in the closet. But if a hamster owner quits caring about the living being that they have in their home, it’s far worse.

My recommendation? If you know someone who is considering getting someone else a hamster for Christmas, please ask them to consider adopting a rescue hamster. Adopting a hamster from a shelter for Christmas means that you give a gift to three lucky recipients — the new hamster owner, the shelter and the hamster!

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Hamster Re-Gifting

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Reader Comments
Can you Please advise what park this is? Location
Linda Sue, Sebring, FL
Posted: 6/30/2014 9:24:22 AM
Tommy, Pocatello, ID
Posted: 12/11/2009 8:59:59 AM
i was happy with this
tom, west brookfield, MA
Posted: 12/9/2009 9:08:54 AM
i am pleased with this article.
tom, west brookfield, MA
Posted: 12/9/2009 9:01:17 AM
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