Last week, I finally capitulated and let Little Brother adopt a hamster (you can read about how that came about over at Mom.me). Then a few days later, HapaPapa took the boys on a long camping trip, leaving me to feed, clean the cage, and put the critter in it’s ball once a day. Easy enough, right? I have to say, it really was pretty simple. Hamsters aren’t the most evolved animals. And because I was alone, I talked the hamster — her name is Ursa — a lot, petted her a little, and even fed her a few pumpkin seeds by hand. Then, I just sort of left her alone. She smells like dog food and runs in her rattling wheel all night long.
When the boys came back, I noticed something. At first I though I was imagining it, but I think she likes me best.Why not? I don’t try to stop her wheel from spinning or tease her with little bits of string. One morning, I peeked at her cage when she was hiding inside her plastic igloo, and I swore I heard soft, happy snorts, then she peeked her head out. HapaPapa even noticed that when I’m talking in the room, she stands up on her hind legs and looks around. When she does that, part of me expects her to start talking like Stuart Little, that rat from Ratatouille, or any of Cinderella’s mice.
I have no delusions that hamsters are evolved to have emotions or loyalty. They’re solitary creatures and will instinctively fight with other hamsters. But I was curious about how much they can recognize people. A quick Internet search turned up this information about hamsters from expert Betsy Sikora Siino:
…hamsters bond with one to two people, which means that your hamster may tolerate guests and other family members, but he’ll only bond and recognize you and possibly one other person.
So I guess I’m the hamster’s One Person now. Hopefully, Little Brother will become the second person. Because I still expect him to clean the cage.