Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Hamster Chronicles

In the event that you all didn't know, I have a small sized petting zoo, and we seem to add to it on a regular basis. I have two dogs, two cats, a parakeet, five hamsters, four fish tanks, a frog, and two betta bowls. Theoretically, with six children, I should have plenty of helping hands to help dole out snuggles and meals.

One of our newer acquisitions, a black bear hamster is ill. I noticed on Thursday, that she had not run on her wheel Wednesday night. On Thursday, I put a couple of treats on her wheel to see for sure if she wasn't running. The treats were still on the wheel Friday morning, so I picked her up to look at her. Her bottom was damp, and anyone who knows anything about small animals, knows that Wet Tail, is the worry of every hammie owner and aficionado. Wet Tail has a 90% mortality rate.

The first thing I did was call the shop to ask about the health of the other hamsters in the cage. The shop owner informed me that she had found three dead, but, that she didn't know why. She also tried to tell me that Wet Tail is completely curable, and that a vet visit was most unnecessary. I was horrified by the lack of care that the animals are given.

Don't get me wrong, I've lost hammies in the past, but never in a way that they suffered in any prolonged manner. I am also pretty sickened that the shop will continue to sell the hamsters from that cage to families like mine, setting the children who will love them, up for disaster. The disease has a slow onset, it takes between 7-10 days for a hamster to show symptoms, which is why the reputable shops will offer a 14 day policy on hamsters. I'll be honest, I've been a little queasy since Friday thinking about all of this.

I eventually found a vet in my area (that was less astronomical than others) who would see Honey. She confirmed what I already knew, that Honey had Wet Tail, and that while she would give us antibiotics, we shouldn't get our hopes up. She gave us a five day window, tomorrow, we will be just over half-way there. We are keeping our fingers crossed for our Honey Bear. In the meantime, I am changing bedding every 8 hours, administering antibiotics every 12 hours, and washing her soiled bottom every time she has a bowel movement. Talk about fun! You don't know adventure until you've washed your hamster's asshole with betadine...just take my word for it...okay?

I am actually approaching you guys on the Internet, not because I think that you are going to be greatly interested in our hammie, but, because I want to know what your thoughts are on the moral aspects of pet shops, and the treatment of 'less valuable' companion pets might be? I spent all day on Friday trying to find someone in our state/county that could tell me what the law is in reference to just letting animals suffer and die because they aren't of a great enough dollar value...and let me just say, that nobody seems to know. So tell me, what do you think should happen?


  1. Call the ASPCA as soon as possible and report the pet store. They should investigate the store and warn them, fine them, force them to treat the animals, seize the animals, or close them down depending on the severity of neglect and illness in the store. We keep the MSPCA hotline number on the fridge because I'm a bitch like that -- I'll call on people for animal mistreatment.

  2. I think you should call the store manager and let it be known. If nothing happens then, start calling around the the BBB or up the chain of store authority. You are correct. They're not acting properly!

  3. We had two guinea from a pet shop, the other from a rescue organization (that had great vet care for all their piggies). Our pet shop guinea died shortly after we brought him home, with zero warning beforehand. My understanding now is that they so over-breed these little animals to sell them to pet shops that they're often born with defects, etc. I think it's awful and I don't know that I'll ever purchase more than a fish from a petstore again.

  4. This is terrible! You definitely need to document all of this (other than here.) The pet shop should pay your vet bill. I also think you must contact the BBB and file a complaint. This is heart wrenching to me, not only because that cute little creature is suffering but so is your family. So sorry you are dealing with this. Honey, we are thinking about you!!!

  5. I dislike pet shops in general. Especially any type of chain pet shop that carries pets. While I do realize that there is a need & a demand for a pet store that carries pets I prefer a smaller local owner whom hopefully has a little more care involved with the animals than most of the chains do.

  6. That sounds like neglect to me - if you were in the UK I would suggest calling the RSPCA.

    Wiping the hamster's bum made me laugh out loud (sorry!)