Pet Product News Editorial Blog:
February 6, 2012
Rodent on the Run
By Elizabeth Creith
Keeping the rodents in their cages seems like a simple matter, right? In theory, if you have a cage with wires spaced too closely for the critter to squeeze through, it's in there for good. If you keep your mice and hamsters—as we do with the breeding stock in the back room—in deep tubs with screen lids, they should also be safely confined. Although I've seen them doing acrobatics on the screen tops, they don't seem to be planning an escape. It's hard to tell with hamsters. They have great poker faces.
Of course, sh…um, stuff…happens. A dedicated and lucky chewer might manage to gnaw out a corner overnight and ooze out before opening time. Once, an employee dropped a box of hamsters that had just arrived. She thought she'd caught them all, but strays kept turning up for several weeks.
And then there's Ben Gazzara.
My mother used to watch a television programme called "The Fugitive," in which a man falsely accused of killing his wife is looking for a mysterious one-armed man whom he was convinced had done the deed. She also used to watch "Run for Your Life," in which Ben Gazzara played a man with a short time left to live, trying to fit everything he wanted to do into that time. Somehow I got the two stars mixed—I was quite young at the time—and I've always thought of Ben Gazzara as the fugitive.
Ben Gazzara the hamster was once an ordinary, unnamed breeding hamster in a big plastic tub in the back room. He had food, water, chewy things and a small harem. All he was expected to do was eat, sleep and make more hamsters. Nobody nagged him to take out the garbage, do the dishes or even put the toilet seat down. Except for a teeny-tiny TV and remote, Ben Gazzara probably had everything necessary for the ideal guy life. He seemed content; it's hard to tell with hamsters.
But he wanted more. Or at least, we guess he wanted more, because one summer night he busted loose and managed to disappear—pfft! No tell-tale nibbles at dog food bags, no small reddish-brown critter streaking across the floor. No hamster in the mousetraps.
We figured him for a goner. If he was in the store, we had no idea what he could be eating. If he was outside, winter was coming and we didn't know if a Syrian hamster could tolerate a Northern Ontario winter.
Perhaps I've mentioned that David is a perennial renovator. He was rearranging the receiving-and-stock room when he came across a cockatiel nest box on a lower shelf. That wasn't unexpected—he'd put it there himself some months before. What was unexpected was that it was half-full of stolen birdseed and parrot pellets. Curled up in the corner of the stash was the missing hamster, as fat and happy as ever. Maybe happier—it's hard to tell with hamsters.
I'm not a hamster sort of a girl, and clearly I get my heroes and stories mixed up, but I named our furry fugitive Ben Gazzara and took him home. He lives in a 20-gallon tank, alone, fat and probably happy. At least he seems content, and not obsessed with a one-armed hamster.
It only occurred to me recently that he might have been looking for ol' one-arm. Maybe he needed one of his wives whacked. It's hard to tell with hamsters.
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