Ok so she wasn’t eaten by Freddie Starr but our first hamster owning experience did not go well. Suffice to say that said hamster was incarcerated in a box within a box within a box and driven back to the pet shop with a police escort 48 hours after arrival.
It all started when a friend kindly took the 8 year old to the pet shop (note to self, never allow your child to go window shopping in a pet shop). He arrived back beside himself about the pet adoption scheme and in particular a hamster named Primrose.
She was a cute looking thing to be sure, sitting up on her hind legs, safely encased behind glass. We weren’t the only ones who fell for her, another mother and daughter, noses flattened, cooed and aah-ed and if only-ed and made us determined that Primrose would be ours.
Ten minutes later we’re driving home, me at the wheel, the new hamster now rechristened Rose, in a teensy weensy cardboard box on my son’s lap. What can I tell you about that journey to hell, the hamster’s Godzilla-esque growling, teeth gnashing like chainsaws, bits of cardboard flying in the air, my son crying, his mother screaming.
Screeching up the drive, erecting the hamster cage in seconds, dropping the bedraggled, vibrating, snarling box inside it and snapping shut the clips.
We called the pet shop.
‘Is this normal?’
‘She’s just a bit traumatised,’ they said, ‘give it a day or so.’
So we did. There was no question of handling this raging hamster (Rose by name Rottweiler by nature) but every time we gingerly put our fingers in to change her water or top up her food, Rose rushed forwards growling to take a nip. She drew blood from my daughter, she terrified my son. My own special Rose moment came when I popped in to say good night to her and she stood up on her legs, bared her bright yellow teeth and let out a long horror movie hiss.
Back at the pet shop they told us it was the third time Primrose had been returned (funny how they forgot to mention it before).
I’d like to think there’s a happy ending to this tale. The girl in the pet shop, a hamster expert, said she was going to take Primrose home and tame her. And the 8 year old has segued swiftly into a new campaign; he wants a puppy for his birthday.