My girls each got pet hamsters for their birthdays this year. K. named hers Bear Grylls after her favorite tv personality on the Discovery Channel. Our Bear is a cute little female hamster with short hair and brown/black coloring resembling a chipmunk (not to be confused with the other Bear Grylls, who is a cute, decidedly male, human survival expert) . She’s sweet and likes to be held and played with, and she’s never bitten any of us (yet). I’m not into rodents myself, but my kids sure love their hamsters, and this one is pretty cute, as hamsters go.
This past weekend, we had a houseful of kids here on Saturday for an end of the season soccer party. Bear was held and passed around among a dozen giggly and not-too-gentle 8-10 year old girls. On Saturday night, we noticed Bear had a little blood on her paw. I don’t know if she was handled too much or what, but her paw looked pretty banged up. “Take her to the vet, Mom!” K. cried, consulting her Hamster Care handbook. “She’s bleeding!” We got her tiny paw washed off, and Bear appeared to have a small cut. We went online and googled “hamster bloody paw” to see what we could find out. One suggestion was to check the animal’s cage for sharp edges. We did that, and the cage does have a couple sharp places. Another site suggested taking the hamster to the vet immediately or risk amputation or death. That scared the crap out of my little girl, not to mention my wallet!
We decided to keep an eye on it for a few days before doing anything, but each day it looked worse- more red and swollen. Bear started to favor her other front paw and wouldn’t run in her wheel, so today I called the vet, hoping to hear something like, “Don’t worry about it. Just put a little Neosporin on it and it will be ok.” Instead they said to bring Bear in immediately.
The paw was infected, requiring antibiotics. $105. later ($45 for the office visit, $30 for an injection, and $30 for meds), we were sent on our way. Seems like a lot for an $8. hamster, doesn’t it? Not to be coldhearted, but at what point do you draw the line at how much you will spend on the care and keeping of a pet, especially one whose life expectancy is only about 2 years? If the heart of my 9 year old daughter wasn’t involved, I’m not sure I would have spent the money.
This is not Bear, but it sort of looks like her: