Mystery of the Dead Hamsters

I didn’t want to blog about it when it happened because it was too disturbing an event to blog about.

But a month has passed since Picnic and Pixie died, and I’ve kind of accepted the situation already.

I guess it’s alright to talk about it now.

First of all, I don’t know why and how. One day I woke up and they were dead.

We buried them in the garden.

Later in the night, the Goonfather asked me, “DO YOU THINK THEY WERE MERELY HIBERNATING?”

I stared at him, bug-eyed, and declared unconvincingly, “NO.”

We rushed down to the garden to dig them back up.

We had wrapped them individually in white Ikea table napkins. We didn’t have fancy hamster coffins at our disposal.

So we dug the napkins back up and got into a sort of a argument.

“You open it.”

“No, you open it.”

“No, you open it.”

“No, YOU open it.”


It was late at night and dark in the garden. Only the dim, yellow glow of a torchlight illuminated the lumps of napkins laid out before us.

The napkins were unmoving. Damp. Flattened. Little stain dotting a corner that looked suspiciously like blood but could be mud.

We went through a few more cycles of the “You open it” argument. We rationalised the situation. We looked at each other helplessly. We stared at the napkins for minutes, willing them to move.

Finally, we said, “they’re dead,” and buried them back.

I don’t know why and how they died.

We googled it. We considered hibernation because their bodies were relatively soft when we found them. (Dead hamsters are supposed to be stiff.) But we don’t get winter in Singapore so it’s not that possible. Picnic and Pixie lived in our air-conditioned room where the temperature never goes below 18 degrees celcius. Hamsters go into hibernation (or, more accurately, a state resembling hibernation) only around 10 degrees celcius or lower. And dwarf hamsters aren’t known to hibernate.

The Goonfather said Picnic’s cage had smelled bad. Even though I washed it and changed the bedding less than a week before.

So, my babies are dead.

But that isn’t the entire reason why I haven’t published a Hamster Tale in ages.

I do have a few more stories archived in my mind, pictures archived in my hard disk. I just need to write the stories but I haven’t had time to tackle them.

But I will get to them eventually.

In the meantime, I’m deliberating whether to get more hamsters.

I have $300 worth of hamster housing and supplies sitting in a corner of my room.

I miss my naughty, tyrannical Picnic and my sweet, innocent, timid Pixie.

But I don’t want to kill another pair of hamsters. I don’t know how Picnic and Pixie died but they did die under my care.

Picnic died buried under wood shavings. I couldn’t find her at first and thought she’d escaped her cage.

Pixie died in her favourite tube connector, next to the door that’s supposed to open into Picnic’s cage.

I’m moving house next month so I can’t get new hamsters right now.

I guess I will think about it after the move.

Squabbling Sisters

[Hamster Tales Part 3]

Day 3
Friday, 28 Dec 2007

My babies sleep through the day again, mostly, although one of them wakes up to use the wheel briefly a couple of times.

I’m naming them Picnic and Pixie.

Picnic is the larger of the two, which makes her look fat by comparison.

But, of course, she’s really tiny. Roborovskis are the smallest hamsters in the world.

But because she’s bigger, it must mean she eats more than her sister. She also seems to sleep more (but this is largely conjecture since I am still having trouble telling them apart).

So I call her Picnic because picnics are associated with eating and sleeping (idling), lol.

The other one is Pixie because she’s smaller (slightly) and she’s cute as a pixie.

They’re both equally cute, really, but I can’t name them both Pixie, can I?

I can’t really tell them apart when they’re alone because they look exactly alike in terms of facial features and colouring. I need to study them when they’re together to discern distinguishable differences, but they’re seldom together unless they’re sleeping, and when they sleep they roll up in little balls in the basement and I can’t see them.

People at the hamster forum advise that my cage is too small. Roborovski hamsters need really large spaces.

So I go out and buy a giant plastic container.

The Goonfather says he will help me link the Pink Princess Castle to it so I don’t have to throw the castle away.

It’s past midnight, around 1 am. Picnic and Pixie wake up and scramble to the wheel once again.

But tonight is different. Tonight, they’re squabbling. They squeal at each other, chase each other around, claw at each other and refuse to share the wheel.

I check with people at the forum and they say that Roborovskis are very territorial, therefore need a really large cage with two of everything.

Such a pity, since they were perfectly fine sharing the wheel last night. And they still sleep together in the same bed.

They have this routine tonight.

1. Picnic runs on the wheel while Pixie hides in bed.
2. Pixie gets up and walks into the wheel.
3. They fight. Picnic chases Pixie out. They play catch around the cage.
4. Pixie hides in bed and Picnic returns to the wheel.
5. Picnic gets tired and goes to bed.
6. They fight. Pixie chases Picnic out. They play catch around the cage.
7. Picnic hides in bed while Pixie goes play on the wheel.
8. Rinse and repeat alternating hamsters.

They kind of take turns antagonising each other.

I go insane with worry because there’s a lot of squealing and paw fights. I’m afraid they will hurt each other.

But I don’t want to separate them yet because the new cage is not ready and I don’t want to deprive either of the wheel for the night.

According to experts from, the use of Clomid in combination with coumarin-type anticoagulants can cause a significant increase in the anticoagulant effect. In case of simultaneous use of these drugs, close monitoring of the patient is recommended.

I shall have to buy a new wheel tomorrow and set up the new cage real quick.

Next Chapter: Kiss and Make Up

Two Hamsters and a Wheel

[Hamster Tales Part 2]

Day 2
Thursday, 27 Dec 2007

They sleep through the whole day.

They sleep through the whole evening.

It’s worrying. I wonder crazily if they’ve died of trauma.

My pets have no name yet. They keep hiding in the basement and I can’t see them clearly enough to name them.

I cannot touch them, either, because all the hamster guides say I have to let them settle for three days before interacting with them. But I inadvertently rouse them at 9 pm because I need to change their water and open their wheel for business.

The Goonfather had said not to allow them access to their wheel until they’re toilet-trained because he doesn’t want them to poop in the wheel.

But I think what the heck. They need their wheel or they’re going to stay in bed for the rest of their lives.

For toilet-training, I had given them a little toilet hut and put toilet sand into it, supposedly to make them poop in there.

After one day, there’s no poop in the toilet hut. But there’s poop in the food dish. The Goonfather picks the poop pieces up and throws them into the toilet hut.

I hope they get the idea soon.

I let them get used to my scent by letting my hand linger in the cage for a minute. I try to tempt them with a tiny piece of dried fruit but they’re not interested, so I let them alone.

At 1 am, the Goonfather turns off the bedroom light to go to bed. I’m still at my computer doing stuff.

15 minutes later, I hear a sound coming from the cage. I get up to investigate.

Awwwww. My widdle hamster has discovered the wheel.

I do a quiet celebratory hop and dance, and squeal in excitement soundlessly so as not to wake the Goonfather.

I am choked up with joy and pride even though a hamster running on a wheel is about as unremarkable as kilometre-long Toto queues during Chinese New Year.

But I don’t think my reaction is all that melodramatic. After all, I haven’t seen them move from their bed for 24 hours.

I sit there and watch my cutie get used to the wheel. She start-stops every few seconds as if trying to learn how to manage the wheel. After 10 minutes, she gets tired and retires to the basement.

I go back to my computer.

At about 2 am, I hear another sound and rush to the cage.

Both of them are at the wheel.

I want to scream with happiness. I want to wake the Goonfather so he can witness it but he has to work tomorrow.

I sit there for an entire hour watching them share the wheel. It’s so cute I’m dying from cuteness overload.

I am amazed that I can just sit there and stare at them for over an hour without feeling bored.

Once in a while, one of them will come out of the wheel to sniff around, drink some water or groom herself.

I feel compelled to sit there and not ever go away because I don’t want to miss any single moment of cuteness.

But I finally reluctantly leave them to go to bed because it’s already past three in the morning and I need to sleep.

I guess there is always tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Squabbling Sisters

Cute as Cookies

[Hamster Tales Part 1]

Day 1
Wednesday, 26 Dec 2007

It’s 8:30 pm. I’m at the Goonfather’s sister’s home and I have a shoebox in front of me.

I have waited so eagerly all day to meet my new darlings, a gift for me.

I have a pretty pink cage all ready for them, with everything they’d need for the first few days, at least.

Anticipation makes me quiver. My new pets are inside the shoebox and I can’t wait to lift the lid and see what they look like. I open the box. Aww. My little pretties are scampering about in the box, cute as cookies. I hold one of them because I’m expected to.

But I put her back after a minute because I read on the net that hamsters need a few days to settle down after being moved to a new home before they’d trust their new owner.

I bring my princesses home.

I have no choice but to touch them again because I need to move them into their Pink Princess Castle. It’s difficult to pick them up because they’re so skittish.

Once in the castle, they start exploring. I speak to them softly, welcoming them to their new home. I offer them a milk cookie to make up for the stressful housemoving. One of them sniffs her way to me and starts nibbling on the cookie.

My heart melts instantly. I refrain from squealing with joy. I let go of the cookie gently because I think she has a grip on it. But she doesn’t. The cookie falls onto the floor. She skitters off.

I pick up the cookie and try again.

This time, the other one comes and takes a nibble. She puts both her paws on the cookie.


There is no sweeter thing on earth to experience than this. I let go because I think she wants to hold the cookie. Once again the cookie falls.


This happens a couple more times and then they’re tired of the cookie and stop coming to me.

I think it’s time to leave them alone. I put the roof of the cage on and latch it shut.

My little babies explore their new home for 10 more minutes, then settle into the purple triangular dish I set out for them to use as a bed. I want to give them a covered bed but it won’t fit into the basement of the pink castle.

But I’m thrilled that they’re using the purple dish. They snuggle together into it and promptly fall asleep, remaining in that state for the rest of the night.

Coming tomorrow: Two Hamsters and a Wheel