Hi, my name is Pretty Girl and I'm a teddy bear hamster. My owner, NiteBecky, adopted me and took me home to live with her when I was just 6 weeks old. She had just lost her previous pet hamster, Che, to old age (which comes pretty early to our kind - about 2 years of age). NiteBecky says that many people who are living with a disability find that animals are an essential ingredient in their therapy. She discovered that to be true six years ago when her son, Joe came home with their first hamster, Gidget, a poor unfortunate who suffered and died from a horrible hamster disease just a mere three weeks later because the pet store hadn't taken good care of her. Those three weeks with Gidget though were all it took to persuade my owner NiteBecky to adopt another. So they adopted Sparkles who lived happily with them about two years and provided alot of joy and comfort to their home, especially to her husband Bob. They'd let Sparkles crawl on his tummy and he'd feed her bananas which were her favorite food.
My owner takes such good care of me. I know I am an important part of the family and am much loved. The fact that NiteBecky went to so much effort to find me and give me a good home proves it. She went to several pet shops looking for me but was was unhappy with how many shops do not maintain their litters well. They mix males and females or too many are kept in one cage. In one store she noticed some of the "pups" were starting to fight, that told her that they were already at least 8 wks old and had a "sexual identity" <they can have babies>. Well she didn't need a pregnant hamster nor did she want a hamster she'd have to spend months in handling to get them calmed down and trusting of humans.
Finally she found the pet shop I lived in and thought it was better than most. The females and males were separated, and when the litter started fighting they removed them to another aquarium. She had a choice between me and this one male. Although males are more calm, affectionate and ready to be held or petted, females are fun to watch and seem to like being noticed. They also primp a lot, She thinks we are "rats with an attitude". She figured that because her previous two hamsters had been males that it was now time for a female.
She reached her hand into my cage and lightly stroked my tummy. SQUEAK! Oh that felt so good! I cried like a baby. As soon as she picked me up I snuggled up close to her, and hid my head like a child against her chest. I was the only female left and was the perfect age. She loved my fuzzy long hair and says I remind her of Sparkles. I don't mind being handled sometimes but NiteBecky always respects my privacy when I'm not feeling sociable. When I click or squeak, she will put me back in my cage.
She believes hamsters are an excellent choice for people with disabilities because they are low maintenance pets. She keeps me in an aquarium, which has a top that doesn't come off very easily. She thinks this is great because she can scoop the shavings out in between cleanings and keep the cage cleaner. She feels that fancy cages like the one's from Sam's or Hartz take a lot of time and patience to clean because you have to disassemble the parts to clean them and then put them back together.
Some people have asked my owner why she named me Pretty Girl instead of a more human like name. She says that with the last hamster she had chosen a "real name" and ended up calling him by everything else but his name (ie "pretty baby;" "handsome hamster" and of course "baby"). Therefore, when her son, Joe, took a vote amongst his friends, and they unanimously suggested "Pretty Girl", she considered it a very good choice since she knew she'd probably end up calling me that anyway. Sometimes when I'm perched on her lap I will clean myself with my paws. I will scrub all my fur and wash my face then I'll shake my fur out like I'm in a beauty spa giving myself a shampoo and blow dry. I always emerge looking so "pretty". My reddish brown and white fur is like chocolate pudding with whipped cream. Rebecca thinks I look like a little raccoon with my long fur and black eyes.
I'm a blessed hamster indeed to have such a loving and godly owner. She feels like God wants people to care for His creatures. I think she's right. Proverbs says "Righteous is the man or woman who cares well for his "beasts". So in keeping me or some other hamster she could be saving me from being fed to a snake or possibly adopted to a home where kids are allowed to mistreat me. Please if you do consider a hamster or any animal for that matter, please do not place us with our natural enemies, like cats or dogs. Some folks believe the cat can be trained but unless you keep us in a separate room and ALWAYS remember to replace the lid on our cage, that cat is going to have a hamster lunch, it's the way God made them! Don't ever take on a pet you know would be a problem to care for or protect. Finally if you're unable to clean the cage, because it's too heavy or awkward, you can pay a kid or another neighbor to come over once a week and do it for a small fee. Most able bodied folks can empty and scrub a small aquarium in 10 minutes though. Rebecca has two aquariums, so she can soak one while she uses the other one for me. She gets a dishwashing brush with a handle and uses hot water and dish detergent. I never have to worry about a dirty cage. Just don't forget to rinse it well.
If you have any questions or comments on my story you can write to NiteBecky or if you have questions about your own hamsters she also has many links to other hamster sites where people have "all the answers". These are people who breed and care for hamsters for their life's "love" . Click on any Link, I especially recommend Lorraine Hill's sight as well as her Complete Hamster Mailing List. There are people out there who really know their stuff and are happy to help you find, care and take care of your new found hamster, or as my owner likes to refer to us, your "palm puppy".