Oh yes. If we’re going to talk about evolution in terms of survival of the fittest, then hamsters have just got to be on the hit list for forthcoming extinction. They have to be.
‘Oh no!’ I hear you shout. ‘Not the humble hamster?’
Well, I’d never have thought it either – until this morning. But to fully understand the situation we need to step back in time all the way to last night. It was ten o’clock, upstairs was in darkness, the TV was on downstairs (I know that because I was watching it!). Suddenly … creak, creak, sniffle, creak and … my eldest daughter appears in the doorway with a small bundle in her hands which she was trying to drown in tears. No. Hang on. She couldn’t drown him because he was already dead! Oh, dear. Well, as you can imagine, it was all extremely traumatic. Poor sweetheart. This was her first pet of her very own and she really had looked after him well. I was extremely proud of her, having fully expected to be promoted to chief hamster carer after the novelty wore off. Two years on and he was the most loved hamster ever, so you can imagine how upset she was. Unfortunately, my younger daughter woke up, too – and that wasn’t quite to easy, leading to tales of ‘two years old is ancient for a hamster, he did very well’ and ‘don’t worry, He’ll find Granny and they’ll be ever so happy together’ (although I did wonder what Granny was going to be doing in Hamster heaven! – best not ponder that one too deeply).
Anyway, we lay poor Tribble to rest for the night back in his cosy little bed and eventually everyone goes back to sleep. Peace …
until morning. 8.30 a.m. and Daughter comes flying down the stairs, hamster instruction booklet in hand: ‘Mum, look! Maybe he’s not dead. It says here he could be hibernating!’ And so my day began – heating water bottles, cuddling and whispering sweet nothings into the deaf ears of poor stiff little Tribble. But that’s the thing. He’s not actually stiff. Blimey, it’d be a lot easier if the poor mite had died mid-chomp of a monkey nut – or clinging to the side of his exercise wheel, but no. He’s chosen to keep us guessing. ‘It is extremely difficult to tell,’ says the book, ‘if a hamster is dead or hibernating.’ (Marvellous reference book, eh?) ‘They can remain torpid for up to a week.’ (A WEEK! YOU MUST BE ***ING JOKING!) ‘A vet may or may not be able to tell you whether your pet has kicked the bucket or not. Occasionally, a whisker might twitch and/or if you’re lucky enough to know where a hamster heart is located, you might be supernatural enough to detect a small breath perhaps once every TWO MINUTES!
Ok. So tell me. Exactly how does this ridiculous and completely illogical behavior help this species? I mean, come on! How many hamsters can you imagine have been consigned to the recycling bin (sorry – I mean, gently and carefully buried in the local pet cemetery) – ALIVE! Give it your best guess, I dare you. Have YOU buried a hamster? Ha! Feeling guilty now? Are you sure … absolutely and utterly and completely sure … you didn’t bury the poor mite alive??? To be captured, tortured and interrogated endlessly for espionage by the Mole Bureau of Investigation?
How can a species adopt a behavior that is likely to lead them to a terrifying and untimely death continue to survive? This does not make sense! I think this survival of the fittest thing needs to be rethought. I really do.
And now – if you’ll excuse me – I need to google CPR for hamsters.