April 09, 2009

in passing

So, I just posted about the Robo separation, and how well it was going.

Apparently I spoke too soon.

G went to check on and feed the girls, and found Hip-Hop curled up in her food dish. For a brief moment, he thought she might be sleeping, but it was soon confirmed that she was gone. I was asleep on the sofa, due to a hard day of manual labor, and he came in and woke me up. He said he was bummed, and needed a hug. It took me a few moments to come to and realize that he was holding her food dish and the food bag. My heart sank, and I asked him what happened to the girls. He told me he thought she was gone, and lowered the dish so I could see. My first thought was that we didn't separate them in time, and Rhymin' was too weak, and went. He corrected me, and told me it was Hip-Hop. He sank down on the couch next to me, and I couldn't stop the tears from welling up. I reached out a fingertip to pet her, and felt her cold body. I felt terrible. I am pretty sure there was nothing that could have been done, but I still feel guilty. Part of me felt silly for being a grown woman, sobbing over this teeny-tiny creature. However, I adore the girls! I was upset that we had to separate them, but I know it wasn't Hip-Hop's fault, they are solitary by nature.

When G gets home from work, we are having a memorial. We shall bury her in the garden, and mark the spot with my wee fat squirrel statue. I will sing "Tiny Hamster" and we will recite the parts we can remember from the Flight of the Conchords rap battle.

We are going to wait until Rhymin's time comes (hopefully in the expected two or three years...not sooner!) to get new hamsters.

If you aren't familiar with Robo-dwarves...they are fast. Very, very fast. We'd tried to get photos, but 99% of the time, they come out as furry blurs. Luckily, our dear friend, Proptart, was able to get a couple of successful shots while hamster-sitting over the holidays. You can see Hip-hop's furry adorableness, and how much her kitty adored Hip-hop.
hiphop in ball.jpg

hiphop and reuben.jpg

Posted by raven at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2009

gotta keep 'em separated

So, you may remember last October, when I got G a pair of Robo Dwarf hamsters for an anniversary gift. They are wee and tiny and adorable. Having coveted them for some time, G had done lots of research into them, as far as their behaviors and needs. From what he gathered, if one wanted two or more hamsters, they had to be chosen at the same time and know each other, lest they fight to the death. Hard to believe something so wee and adorable could be deadly! Since he wanted a pair, we were sure to get them at the same time. There were only three to choose from, so we picked the fat one and the tiny one, as the seemed the cutest and funniest of the three. We felt bad leaving one behind, but not everyone gets them in even numbers, so there was hope for the little lady.

We got all the accoutrements needed for the wee ladies, named them (Rhyminocerous and Hiphoppopotamus, or Rhymin' and Hip-hop for short) and they seemed to be fine. One day, we were cleaning their habitrail, and noticed that Rhymin' (the weeer of the two) had sores near her tail. G assumed that we weren't cleaning them often enough, and was determined to keep an eye on her. However, the sores got worse instead of better. The last time I went to clean them, I noticed the sore area was alarmingly large. So, I went to the internets for help. After reading pages and pages on dwarf hamster sores, the conclusion was very clear. Even getting the hamsters together as babies is no guarantee that they won't fight. In case after case, owners would find one hamster to pick on the other. Usually the one doing the bullying was less friendly to being picked up and such by the owner. Several cases warned that if they weren't separated, the hamster getting picked on wouldn't make it. Some of the tales were horrific, to say the least.

So, I sadly broke the news to G. From all accounts, the sores on Rhymin' had nothing to do with the cleanliness of her cage, and more to do with Hip-hop being a bully. I suggested we separate them, but as they are his, left the decision ultimately up to him. In the meantime, I worried around the clock about our wee Rhyminocerous. I was terrified we would come home one day to a hamster without a face. Then, one day, G came home from work with a second habitrail. I confirmed that he decided to separate them. He noted that he had looked in on them because they were making a racket, and sure enough Hip-hop was picking on Rhymin'. He was very sad to separate them, and felt like it was his fault for not socializing Hip-hop better. I assured him this was not his fault! All the things I read said that the owners tried to socialize the bully, but he or she would bite or fight it. So, he prepared the habitrail, and we played with Rhymin' a bit before the transfer.

It's been over a week now, and the separation appears to be successful. Rhymin' is much more active, and much more calm when handled. Both are using their wheel more, which is good, because they need to run for miles and miles every day (up to 20 miles, in fact). I took Rhymin' out today to play a bit, and her rump appears to have healed. It is still bald, but the scabs and bloody bits are gone. They are both quieter, apparently because they aren't scrapping all the time.

In some respects, it is kind of a drag. It was so cute to see them sleeping together curled up into tiny balls of fluff. We enjoyed watching them interact, though we now know that some of their antics weren't innocent. However, it is much better than finding a mauled critter. So, lesson learned. Not only do we have to keep them away from the cats, we must keep them away from each other.

Posted by raven at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)