I'm a grandma, kind of. The boy has been wanting a hamster since sometime this summer when he went to Petsmart with his dad to get cat supplies and he saw the dwarf hamsters. I knew nothing, and I mean nothing, about rodents except the odd factoid or two. Factoid the first: Rodents teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and if they don't wear them down by chewing on things they can die. Factoid the second: the capybara is the largest rodent in the world and is my sister's favorite. Uniformed opinion: They are small, smelly and can escape if not watched carefully, I didn't want one in my house.
Why then did I buy a magazine on hamsters? It had articles on how to pick the right hamster for you, what to feed your new hamster, what diseases to look for. We read that magazine cover to cover. We debated the relative merits of the different types, Syrian are not dwarf hamsters and tend to be a bit, ummm, more odoriferous, than the dwarfs, Campbell's (aka Fancy Russian) are the largest of the dwarfs are pretty good about being handled but have a high incident of diabetes, Chinese are a bit smaller, and don't like to be handled, Robos are the smallest of them all and simply won't be handled, they also need the largest cage of all because they need to move.
We sat with this information for a month or so. Talked about it, talked about where the cage would go. Talked about using Sparky's aquarium as the new hamster home, talked like we were going to be getting a hamster.
On Tuesday the Boy decided he really, really was ready to get a hamster. So I said we need to clean his room and get it ready for a hamster cage, and clean the aquarium, then if we still had time before scouts we could go pick one up. We took 3 HUGE bags of stuff out of his room, one of trash and 2 of clothes and toys to give away, plus a bunch of cardboard for recycling. His room looks better than it has in years. In the mail that day we also received a coupon for $10 off $50 or more purchase at where else but PetsMart. I tell you, it was destined.
We headed off and went through the store getting the things you need for a hamster, minus the cage. So we get bedding, we get food, we get a food dish, and a water bottle, salt blocks, and treats (Disney Ratatouille treats, of course), a wheel, a hidey home, and last but certainly not least a ball. Then we pick out our Campbell's (aka Fancy Russian) dwarf hamster. There were 2 in the cage and he picked the dark gray one.
We carry her carefully home, set up the aquarium and head out to scouts. She needs time to get used to her new surroundings and so the boy is going to 'interact with her' only through the glass for the first night.
The next morning he is up and watching her again. She is very awake and active, he gets her new food and water and then we see how she reacts to her ball. She crawls right in and runs around the room. She allows him to pet her and hold her. She is, all in all, a very sweet thing. I had no idea how cute or sweet hamsters could be. She has nipped him a couple of times but it doesn't hurt much and he understands why she did it, once when he surprised her while she was eating her treat stick and once when we brought in her fresh veg and he tried to hand feed her spinach, she REALLY likes spinach.
He toyed with naming her Sparky, like our toad, because she too is a pretty fast little one. He toyed with Little One, since that is kind of the house pet name for all small things. He settled onto Sweetie, because simply, she is one. He feels so proud to be given the privilege of taking care of her. He told me yesterday "Mom, by letting me have a pet that is mine to take care of I have such a feeling of pride and accomplishment, thank you." He really has just taken the responsibility to heart and she is his completely.