Running in wheel, messes<br>part of hamster heaven<br>

Walking through the pet store in Flagstaff, the idea of purchasing a hamster for my son seemed harmless. The cute, little furry animal just might provide some entertainment for myself as well.

I started by getting a look at just how much this might cost me. The cage ran about $20, it’s a cheaper model with a wheel, platform and ramp. But then the accessories began to add up.

A water bottle, bedding for the bottom of the cage, a big bag of hamster food and even some treats for the little furball. To make life more interesting, I even purchased one of those balls for the hamster to be placed into so she can get around the house.

Heading over to the hamsters, Brandon was extremely excited. My girlfriend seemed to know about these things and we looked at regular and dwarf hamsters. But the dwarf hamsters liked to bite and I decided against that.

There were three or four hamsters available to choose from, all of them curled up in the corner of a cage. Stacey reached in and picked one up, the cutest one in the bunch.

We asked if it was a boy or girl, so the attendant turned the hamster upside down and blew on its lower region area. From what she could tell, it was a girl.

Stacey said girls stink less, so that’s what we wanted. Of course, I asked if this was in any way a reference to my hygiene habits, but she promised me it was not.

When we placed the hamster in its new cage right there in the pet store, Brandon let out an excited laugh I haven’t heard in some time.

Brandon has been wanting a pet for a few years now, a dog being his No. 1 choice. But I’m not ready to invest in a dog, they can be quite the responsibility. Thankfully, Stacey has two dogs, Sugar and Cinnamon, and they give Brandon his fill of puppy love.

Still, he wanted a pet he could have in his own home. So I thought and thought and hamster seemed to be the answer. It requires little maintenance and they sleep all day.

After living with this furball for about a month now, I’ve realized I may be a little off the mark on those opinions. We named her, “Furball” and she’s the most active hamster I’ve ever seen.

Furball loves to run in her wheel. You can hear in turning just about anytime during the night. In fact, I had to relocate her cage to the kitchen so she wouldn’t keep me awake. I thought hamsters slept all the time and would be boring to watch.

Our little member of the family also loves to make a mess, which requires a little more cleanup that I had planned. I’ll give her some food, and she will dig in it like a puppy dog looking for its lost bone. The food goes flying outside the cage and all over my house.

Furball also produces waste and that also finds itself outside the cage.

But Furball seems to be a happy camper. As I’ve said, she loves to run. Her ball is a favorite activity; she enjoys exploring the house. She started slow the first time out, but now she cruises all over the place, even getting used to maneuvering around the furniture.

Early last week, I left Furball’s cage open while I was giving her some food. Then I went to a school board meeting. When I got home, I realized the cage door was open.

A pit formed in my stomach and I hoped Furball would be OK. Brandon got scared. So I got down on all fours and tried to think like a hamster. Where would I go? What would I want to do?

I figured she wanted to eat, so I headed to Brandon’s room. He’s messy and the area under his bed could be seen as heaven for a hamster.

Brandon spotted her first. Sure enough, she was under his bed sniffing around. But she wanted to play and we had a difficult time catching her.

Finally, we cornered her behind Brandon’s desk and got her back home in the cage. I was relieved.

Playing with the cage hours after we had it home, Brandon actually broke Furball’s wheel. Since then, it’s been held in place by trash bag twist ties.

Since she loves the wheel and makes a mess, I’m looking into buying a new cage, one of those enclosed ones with tubes and such. Oh well, it’s only money.

(Brad Fuqua is editor of the Grand Canyon News).

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