Dec. 20, 2004

A Hamster called Houdini

Here's another post-by-demand, triggered by my recent list of three "fears". No, I'm not really frightened of hamsters. But the sound of tiny claws in the night does get your attention!

Last Christmas I bought my son a hamster. After a bit of to-and-fro, the name "Honey" was assigned to her, as she was sweet natured with soft golden brown fur. Very cute and pet-able. She lived in our spare bedroom in a little Habitrail cage. After a series of escapes I started calling her Houdini. Of course each escape was our fault as careless owners.

The first time I forgot to close the cage door. At 3:00 AM I awoke to the sound of skittering under my bed. Honey had been out for a few hours before wandering into my room... I scooped her up and returned her to her cage.

The second time we had added some tubes and extra rooms to her little world, but Honey was still discontented. C was at his mother's and after cleaning Honey's cage I failed to notice that an uncovered tube end remained. This was the worst escape. I noticed at around midnight that Honey was missing, but couldn't find any sign of her. I even turned off the furnace to quiet the fan noise so I could listen better for the pitter patter of tiny feet. No luck. I went to bed hoping to find her in the morning and wondering what I would tell my son. While I was having a bowl of cereal in the morning I heard a skittering sound... from the basement! Down I went. Now the sound was coming from upstairs... Honey was in the heating ducts. Good thing I had turned the furnace off. She had fallen down a duct from the second floor all the way to the basement. Poor little thing. She had also burned her ears from the heat of the furnace. How to get her out became the problem. Fortunately there was a small inspection hatch on the ducts. I unscrewed the cover and could see Honey running back and forth but couldn't catch her through the small opening. A bit of thinking led me to hold a few seeds in the palm of my hand below the opening. Next time Honey ran past she stopped and jumped straight down for a snack.

The third time Honey got out my son had fed her and played with her before dinner. This time he was the one who failed to close the cage door. I went upstairs a few minutes later to find Honey already sitting in the middle of the hall at the top of the stairs. A quick scoop returned her to captivity, and I had the satisfaction of not being the only one to have let her slip. :-)

Now we let Honey out on purpose, but only in her special rolling hamster ball so she can't get into nooks and crannies. And we double-check the cage!

Listening to: R.E.M.'s cover of Draggin' the Line by Tommy James & The Shondells from the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack. A one hit wonder for Tommy...


  1. lol @ that little ball. I had a hamster get into the heating ducts when I was little. Sadly, the story does not end so well. RIP "Awesome" ...... sigh

  2. Mary: I'm sorry to hear about your unhappy version of Honey's adventure. That was just what I was afraid might happen. I hope it wasn't too traumatic for you... How old were you?

    Retro Girl: Honey is a soft and cuddly thing. And our neighbours took good care of her while we were out of town over Christmas.

  3. Ahhhh my hamster when I was young, he escaped more than a dozen times. He was a wanderer. Yet he always found his way home!

    Then my new hamster, a university pet, escaped last year. And he didn't come back, it was very tragic. But our house was old and had too many nooks and crannies, not good for a hamster who could open his own cage door. :(

  4. Paige: I guess the moral of the story is to never let hamsters go to university... All that book learnin' just gets them in trouble! I think the real value of first pets like hamsters is the lesson in mortality.

    When I was at university a dorm-mate had a pet ginuea pig that escaped. We found it a few hours later but it had been chewing drywall, with dire consequences. We had a pre-med student with lots of lab animal experience with us, but we were unable to help it... :-(