Sunday we took Princess to the pet store to get a new hamster. I figured she’d avoid Teddy Bear and Panda varieties since they’d remind her of Marshmallow and Oreo, and was prepared to scout out where those hamsters were and steer her away from those cages. Luckily there were no Teddy Bear or Panda hamsters, but there were other adorable varieties. All of the hamsters were sleeping in their “castles” so it was hard to see them. We found an Associate and asked her to uncover them so Princess could get a good look at each of them. Princess’s eyes shone as hamster after adorable hamster was uncovered. “They’re all so CUTE!” she squealed. “Which one do you like?” I asked. I wanted to give her enough time to choose, but we were there with all the kids and Little Guy had decided he wanted DOWN NOW which meant that holding him was a Herculean effort.
“I like those…” she said, pointing to the cream and white dwarf hamsters. I was surprised to say the least, but glad she hadn’t chosen the Albino ones that freaked me out, looking like rats with their bright pink eyes. Dwarf hamsters are teeny tiny – less than half the size of the other hamsters we’ve had – and when the Associate lifted up their cave and they all wiggled around and started running in all directions, reminding me of mice. I didn’t like them at first, but the more I looked at them the more they grew on me. They had fluffy tan/grey backs with white tummies, long whiskers and bright black eyes. I read the sign posted above their cage and pointed out that they would only be about 2″ long when full-grown, and their life expectancy was only 1 year – half that of the bigger hamsters. Princess decided that was OK and started deciding which one she wanted.
The Associate told us that dwarf hamsters really should have a buddy or two so we ended up getting two hamsters. Princess pointed out the two she liked and we all laughed as the Associate tried to catch them. Not only are dwarf hamsters twice as small as other hamsters, they’re twice as fast! She caught the first one (later named Creampuff) fairly easily but the second one (Honeybun) evaded her for a good long time. Finally she got a small bowl, shooed Honeybun into it and covered it with her hand to transfer him into the cardboard carrier. Of course new hamsters need new stuff so we also bought treats, a cardboard tube filled with fluff (stuff that looks like pulled-apart cotton balls), extra fluff, a couple of add-on features for the cage, etc, etc, etc.
After getting the hamsters situated in their freshly-cleaned cage with it’s new tunnels, accessories, silent wheel and fluff tube we realized that they’d given us hints into their personalities as the Associate tried to catch them in the pet store. Both started out hiding in the side tubes, but after a while Creampuff slowly ventured out and since then Creampuff has always been the first to come out, and the one who’s been out more often. Honeybun is much more shy and prefers to hide when we’re around. If he does come out it’s only after Creampuff has been out for a while, and he’s likely to scurry back into the fluff tube or the side tubes at any moment.
Not only can we tell them apart by temperament, they look a little different too. Creampuff is a bit fluffier and lighter while Honeybun has slightly darker fur on his back and is a little thinner. They’re both almost impossible to catch and hold because they’re so small and fast, but I’m hoping that as they grow up they’ll mellow and get used to being held. They’re awfully hard to take photos of too! Creampuff is pictured in the cage, and Honeybun is being held by Princess.