When Momma Fin and her tiny brood flew the coop, I’ll admit, I missed them. A week or two later, I found myself flipping back to review the pet policy section of my lease.
No dogs. No cats. Four options accepted: a fish, a bird, a gerbil, or a hamster. No exceptions.
Having cleaned my fair share of classroom fish tanks growing-up, I’d say an aquatic companion didn’t quite have the return on investment I was looking for. There’s just something about a bird in a cage that hurts my heart, so that option was automatically out. When I think of gerbils, my mind jumps straight to Miss Magoo – my childhood gerbil. My cousin Kevin gave her to us because she kept attacking her cage companion. My only real concrete memory of her was that she'd bite me every time I tried to touch her. Needless to say, one Miss Magoo was enough gerbil for a lifetime!
That left me with only one other option on the table … a hamster.
Now, I’ve never had a hamster before, so I started researching them and what their care entailed. Countless YouTube videos later, I was convinced and excited – a shorthaired Syrian hamster was the way to go!
Hamsters are leaps and bounds cuter then fish. They are solitary creatures, so I wouldn’t have to worry about my hamster needing a companion or getting lonely. They're also nocturnal, so I'd know exactly what my hamster was up to while I was at work (snoozin'!). And even though I have no concrete evidence that a hamster is nicer then a gerbil, Miss Magoo didn't exactly leave behind a legacy of kindness.
Heart-set on a hamster, the first step was finding a means of confinement that was suitable and spacious – turns out hamsters need a lot more space then most people think! At least 450 sq. in! Since I didn’t want my hamster grinding his teeth on metal bars or playing Houdini in my apartment, I scored a giant aquarium on craigslist and just made sure my cover for it had really good, but inescapable, ventilation. After that, I also made sure there was a wheel for miles of running (ironically, this critter and owner share a common interest!), a couple of chews and hideouts, substrate for burrowing, food and of course a water bottle.
Once the hamster habitat was ready to go, the only thing left to do was to get the hamster! I like to think I rescued my hamster from the pet shop. The display cages are intended to be temporary, so they’re super small. And even though hamsters can be kept together when they’re little, the more they mature, the more territorial they become and really shouldn’t be kept together.
It's been over 6 months now since I picked Milo up at the pet shop and have no regrets. He's friendly, fun to care for, curious and oh so cute! And he hasn’t bitten me once... RIP Miss Magoo.