You know the old saying 'breed like hamsters?' well not totally true. Our attempts to breed some hamster babies actually took about triple the time it took for us to have our own baby.
So a little back story.
In the nearly 6 years Ali and I have been together, we've pretty much always had hamsters. Maybe that's because it was the only pet we could get and keep in our rooms when we lived at home, or maybe because we find them so curious and funny.
Meet Vodka and Martini.
They were our spontaneous day out purchases. We carried them home from the pet shop in their little boxes and it was all very exciting. I named them based on the fact they were Russian Dwarf hamsters and I could just think of Vodka, then we went through various drink names to go well.
They were the best little hamsters and they lived in Ali's room at home. He said they were the best trained hamsters he's ever had because he had so much time to spend with them (I was away at Uni). I loved that they could live together but they soon started squeaking at each other in the night and keeping us up (maybe a foundation for LJ's night wakings), so they were separated.
The outcome of poor Vodka is not a happy one, escaped hamster + family cat = a very upset Ali. We won't dwell on the matter. Martini lived to a ripe old age of 2 and a bit and moved to her retirement village just before her passing. I won't go into the amount of cages and pieces we have! We are all set for when LJ says 'I want a pet...'.
So then along came Dexter.
Ali text me from home while I was away in Lincoln and said, i'm going to get another hamster, a really unusual one.
He came back with the most common looking hamster in the world, but we loved him.
I named this one too (In fact, I think I named them all, including our son) and it was after our beloved tv programme.
Another fun fact for you all - want to know how Ali & I met? Well aside from through working at the Photoshop together, he asked me if I wanted to come over and watch this cool tv programme about a serial killer.
ladies and gents, I was sold. Who said romance was dead?!
Dexter was one of the most friendly lovely hamsters we had, he actually had huge big ears and was nearly named Dumbo. He was a hell of a noisy hamster though. Cue the glass cage.
After watching various hammy videos on youtube, we decided the solution would be to get rid of the plastic and make a glass cage. We were lucky enough to stumble across a clearance sale in the pet shop one day of a glass cage for reptiles that should have been £80 and was reduced to £30 because it was missing the light. SOLD.
Dexter loved his new cage, however, not content with no longer making noise, he decided an escape would keep us all on our toes. Lucky for us, in a house with two cats, Dexter escaped going down the same route as poor Vodka thanks to Ali's brother Ben. Ben came running down the stairs with a cat under each arm, threw them through the window hatch to lock down and shouted - ESCAPED HAMMY. Dexter was saved and the cage was reinforced.
Next came Storm.
FYI - we love X-men too.
So I finished up at Uni and returned home to Ipswich and on one of the very rare days that Ali & I got off together (We both worked retail, it was a nightmare) we ended up coming home with Storm. Storm came to live with me, except she kept me up so much that she ended up moving downstairs to share space with my house rabbit, Baby (much to her dislike).
Storm was our 'trouble child' she was a Houdini. The funny thing is, she had many escape plans but was to this day, the only hamster never to escape. We somehow always caught her just as she was about to make her exit. Storm chewed through plastic tubes, through metal, through everything.
Storm didn't like to be held but was so fun to watch. She was crazy.
So when Ali & I found a house to rent, along came Dexter and Storm to live with us. The solution was to get Storm a glass cage like Dexter. This worked well, but her glass cage was just a little bit smaller than his and she somehow managed to get up in the roof part and nearly escape.
We often switched which hammy's lived in which cages based on their escape level, noise level and their age.
So along came the May bank holiday and for the first time in my life, I had a May bank holiday off work and so did Ali. He had recently got a new job that worked normal mon-fri and all bank holidays and weekends off. I was still stuck in the realm of retail but somehow managed to land myself this bank holiday off.
Well we must have been giddy on excitement and love because we came home with Rogue.
Ali had always wanted to own a black hamster and when we saw her in the pet shop, he just HAD to have her. (I try telling him this is how I see every purchase that I bring home, but he didn't buy it) So getting caught up in the excitement that Ali wanted to BUY something, we brought her home.
A little disappointing to Ali, she actually turned into a lovely chocolate brown colour as she grew out of being a baby. It was at this point that I realised i'd asked for a baby a few times and now owned one rabbit, 3 hamsters and had previously had a further 2 hamsters.
We had already decided to try and breed some hamsters by this point. We had Dexter and Storm and thought this is perfect. Dexter and Storm had other ideas however. He was too smart to end up with millions of babies and she didn't dig his ear licking.
Like I said, breeding hamsters was hard work.
So we decided when Rogue was old enough, we would see if she would get on with Dexter instead. Turns out, Dexter just wasn't interested.
Then came along Mooney.
Intended to just to be an overnight stop over while his crazy youth owners had a house inspection, my brother's households hammy came to stay.
He turned up at our door needing a clean out and with just a name and no other info.
He stayed for a month.
So Mooney turned out to be a man and ended up having the time of his life on what can only be described as I would only imagine a trip to Kavos would be if you'd be so silly to forget to use protection.
Cue two weeks later.
Yes folks, two weeks. A hamster is pregnant for 2 weeks and she can get pregnant every 4 days. It took us about 7 months to get hamster babies, tell me how that works.
By the way, I know it may appear we were pimping out our hamsters, but it was all done lovely and romantic and they even had some Barry White on to set the mood. It wasn't anything like an episode of Hollyoaks, don't panic.
As you can see from the video, she started off with many babies and we ended up with just 4. I'm not sure what happened in the first few days, another fun fact, if a new hamster mum feels she cannot provide for all her hamster babies, she will kill off the weaker ones. yep, lovely.
So for a long time she had 5 babies, but the 5th baby was very small and had a little pot belly and pretty much had no chance against the big fat babies. We buried him out in the garden when we saw he hadn't made it.
Obviously we didn't go into this without making sure we would have homes for the hamster babies afterwards. We had a list of people lined up for them and then we only ended up with 4 babies, we had to let some people down!
I was faced with the difficult task of sexing the genders of the hamster babies. I've never felt so challenged!
So Phoebe was the only girl.
She was crazy like her auntie Storm.
It was lovely having the hamster babies and i'd be excited to get home from work and see what they were up too. I videoed them everyday for 2 weeks and then videoed them when they were pottering about. If you search 'HamsterCity8' in Youtube you will find the channel that I uploaded all the videos too.
I'll never complain about my one baby taking up room in the bed again...
One of my favourite stills from the video was when we gave them their first cucumber and they loved it and lined up!
They were the spitting image of their mum. We were hoping for some long haired like Mooney but they were all short hair.
The 3 boys...
Shown here in their sweat pod, which I can only imagine resembles a teenage boy bedroom were named Hiro, Barney and Sonic.
I have no idea which one is which in this photo. I *think* the one on the left is Sonic, given to my cousins who loved Sonic the hedgehog at the time, their Sonic was anything but fast, he was properly the most chilled of the hamsters. The top hammy is Barney, he went to our friends Ash & Jemma, who also kindly took in Phoebe from my other cousins when she became too much of a handful. They followed suite naming him after their favourite tv show of how I met your mother. Barney is the only remaining hamster baby, he is currently just over two and a half years old. The hamster at the bottom was the one we kept, Hiro, named after our other favourite tv show, Heroes.
We remember our lovely Hiro this week as he finally passed after going from being laid back, to crazy to finally passing. It was a sad time as we had him from birth and LJ loved him! We will have another hamster in the future but for now, we will enjoy our bunnies (i'll do a post of them another time!) and wait until LJ asks for a pet!
I'll leave you with some throw backs to a 5 month old LJ and his hammy Hiro. He would get so excited when we showed him Hiro, his wrists and ankles would rotate and he'd make excited noises.
I'm not sure how Hiro would have coped much longer with LJ chasing after him! Especially when he was on the move! This video is LJ at 5 months, enjoying some tummy time with his hamster.
Rest In Peace Hiro.