Butterscotch: the Century’s WORST pet!

[A post in two parts]

Last year, our daughter asked us for a pet mouse. I, who grew up with every ilk of rodentia, found her request charming. DH, on-the-other-hand, whose most exotic pet was a cat, said no. His reasons were simple, you can read about them here.

He and I discussed her request for the better part of a month and finally agreed that Santa would deliver the encampment for her ward, her parents would help her determine the resident. We settled on a Roborovski Hamster. She named it Butterscotch.

In hindsight, I wish I had done a lot more research on Robos than I had. Instead, in my eagerness to fulfill my child’s wish, I concluded: they’re small, cute and from Asia; terrific, so was she. What I discovered, post facto, was: 1. Robos are the fastest of the hamster family; 2. they’re nocturnal (in other words, the moment our daughter’s head hits the pillow, it’s up and at ’em for good ole Butterball); 3. they’re not very affectionate and 4. they make terrible pets for young children…GREAT!

The upside: dwarf hamsters only have a 1-3 year life span.

For the past ten months, while Butterscotch has grown from tween to middle-aged, he has been somewhat of a sideshow. Kids, who come over for playdates, notice a fancy cage and wonder what dwells within. We, as ring masters, open the cage door, lift his little igloo-shaped house and poke Butterscotch into action. Oooh’s and Aaah’s issue forth from our visitors and the brave few ask to hold him.

We’ve devised, over the past year, that if you wish to interact with our world’s-fastest-hamster, you have two choices: you must either sit in an empty bathtub with him or place him in his micro hamster ball and follow him around the house. He’s that much fun.

On two prior occasions, the rodent has escaped. The first time, for comic relief, we placed him in his hamster ball when adult friends were over for a playdate. An hour into it, we forgot about him entirely. As we sat on family room floor, sipping wine, playing a board game, a vision of fur caught our eyes. Right into the lions’ den wandered Daniel. In fact, right into my husband’s lap ran hamster. The capture was fast and effortless.

The second time he escaped was just after I finished cleaning his cage (which I do on a weekly basis).

As I opened the cage door to plop him back in, he jumped ship and slipped behind the toy shelf. Luckily the toy shelf rests against a corner wall and DH has quick reaction time. Butterscotch returned to captivity a mere three minutes into his escape.

Last night, the scene was QUITE different.

Stay tuned…


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Boynton
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 15:24:01

    My son also requested a hamster many many moons ago. He’s a sweet talker so we ended up with 2 Russian dudes that he named after his best friends – Little Phil and Little Alex. I announced that if they escaped I would leave the door open so they could hitch a ride to the great hamster farm. Nor would I feed or clean their cage ( By then I was experienced enough to know that I would soon be ditching their pad in the garbage – so cheap it was!). Little Phil escaped soon after – Eric captured him a week later by leaving hamster food in the rolly ball. He must have been still a little hungry after that because later that night when the wheels weren’t bustling along Eric took a peek inside the cage. He flew into my room screaming, “Little Phil ate little Alex!” Russian hamsters hate each other – game, set, match.


    • growingmuses
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 20:52:55

      That’s the best story EVER!! Phil actually cannibalized his suite mate?! Dark my friend, very dark! I could see how that might lead to a heavy drinking problem in later life…oh wait, they were your son’s pets…never mind 😉


  2. slightlywonky
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 15:27:39

    You’re a good mom for getting Butterscotch! You’ve also been the one doing the lion’s share of the upkeep. I’m sure that he’s quite thankful for all that you’ve done so far…just overlook those little nips and poops on your hand… 🙂


    • growingmuses
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 20:51:09

      Yeah, nice metaphor, “lion’s share” as in Daniel and the Lion’s Den…Butterscotch’s days are numbered, if not in his own Hamster Book of Days, than certainly once we introduce our Yuletide feline to the house :o)


    • DH
      Oct 27, 2011 @ 22:29:13

      For the public record: The condition of getting Butterscotch was that Daddy was not to be involved in ANY of the upkeep. Been down that road before… I think my favorite part about that hamster is how little he eats (and ergo, costs). 🙂

      Our late, beloved, one-of-a-kind Japanese fuzzball cat was the BEST! He was my wife’s…but he was the BEST. What was not the best at all…was getting stuck with all the litter changing – which she seldom did (even before being pregnant with our firstborn). When we lived in Alexandria (VA), I remember it being a will-of-wills (who could go the longest with the smell – so they wouldn’t have to change it). Of course, once we had kids – changing it became a weekly ritual…mine.

      The Yuletide feline may come a few weeks early this year, and the kids will love the four-legged hunter. Admittedly, I’m looking fwd to it too and secretly want to let him/her paw at Butterscotch when he’s in his hamster ball. I just may not be looking fwd to having a litter box again… (I see the reinstatement of the daily chore-chart for our children!!)


  3. Lisa Zorn Smeglin
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 15:51:40

    Again, so sorry about yesterday! But very grateful for you watching my little guy.


    • growingmuses
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 20:49:25

      Burgs, this incident had absolutely NOTHING to do with your little guy. I drafted it last week but finally found time to edit it last night. A mere coincidence. I was so happy to have that time with you wee one, the fact that the only negative incident in our 4 hours together was when he knocked over Butterscotch’s cage only fueled the fire to get this published. Thanks for reading!


  4. elizabeth
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 21:41:38

    a kitty might be a good addition after all…. just sayin’. 🙂


  5. joan havens
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:36:51

    I have to agree that a hamster is not the ideal starter pet. Butterscotch takes me back to the hamster days of yore when Kip’s hamster, like Chronos, ate its offspring and yours met a sudden end before its lifespan was up, hurled against the wall after nipping your finger. they only look cuddly. They are rodents, after all.
    I have a feeling that the Christmas feline will put an end to your troubles. Remember what happened to Kip’s gerbils?


  6. Heather Kelly
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 10:27:59

    Superman still grieves for his hamster, Ron. (Named after the Harry Potter character, since they both had orange hair). One day we’ll travel down this road again, but maybe not with your speedy gonzales breed of hamster! These pets are blessed with a brief life span!


  7. Trackback: In Memoriam « Growing Muses

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