Chloë’s column        Motherhood, matrimony and me 

Hammy the Happy Hamster 

Let me introduce you to my furry pocket-sized pal... Ok, so he might technically be my daughter’s pet, but I honestly adore the little critter more than is probably normal for a grown woman. 

I had numerous hamster friends growing up, and I’d spend hours making mazes for them with various household objects or putting them in my dolls house, shutting the doors and peeping at them through the tiny windows. In my head I was liberating them from the prison like nature of their cage and had ideas of relocating them to the beautifully furnished mock Edwardian dolls house, where they could live a refined life. But this backfired as they were unruly house guests who peed on the miniature upholstered sofas or viciously gnawed the legs off the plastic family who resided there. Nature can be brutal. 

My first ever hamster was also called Hammy (as is tradition), but we had many spanning my youth, including: Bonnie, Fifi, Pongo, Max and Clive. They were extremely good at escaping, or perhaps I was extremely bad at closing the cage door properly, but luckily, we always got our hamsters from Leeds Market where they bred a tough, hard-as-nails lineage of rodent, adept at survival. The type that could neck a pint of Black Sheep and walk the Three Peaks before wrestling a Yorkshire terrier. They were sturdy little things, nothing like the modern pet shop waifs and we generally managed to find them after their frequent escapes. In fact, Bonnie was missing for ages before our neighbour turned up carrying her in an empty tissue box, saying they’d found her underneath their dishwasher. I could only imagine the adventure she had. 

Pongo spent three days in the sewers beneath our house
(don’t ask me how), until my brother managed to lay a trap and snatch him out of an access grate. Needless to say - he needed
an immediate bath.

Our current Hammy though is quite unlike any hamster I’ve ever come across. He’s very tame, slow and doesn’t mind being held at all. He will sit for ages without desperately trying to escape which is the standard hamster mindset and will actually climb into your hand when you open the cage door. Unless one of my girls has accidentally dropped him and his placid nature is the result of a minor head injury... but he seems healthy enough and is content with a bowl of oats and a snooze in my pocket. 

We got him at the very start of the first lockdown last year. He wasn’t a planned addition to the family, one of my eldest daughter’s school friends went to play with her new hamster and found a pile of babies in the bed nest! She was understandably disturbed by the appearance of these bald and blind newborns, and her poor parents had inadvertently become hamster breeders overnight. While the country was in the grip of the pandemic, they managed to rear and rehome all eight babies. It’s just a shame the asking price for hamsters never reached the lofty heights of puppies, in fact they kindly gifted us Hammy for free. 

Hammy has been something of a therapy pet during the past year and kept us entertained over the various lockdowns, so I felt it right to dedicate some space to his whiskery little self. As you can tell, hamsters make superb little pets. I hope this has inspired you to consider one for your family. After all, it’ll cost you a lot less than a Cockapoo!