How I Ended Up As a Hamster Grandmother at 19

In January, one of my roommates bought a winter white hamster, and I fell in love.

Her little bundle of fur was playful and cuddly, and I just had to have my own.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t do my research before getting one, however.

If I was smart, I would have been diligent on checking the gender at the pet store and not relied on their assumption.

Also, I would have known that winter white hamsters should never be housed together, but I stupidly neglected to do the proper research before I welcomed my own hamster.

The two hamsters got along famously.

I named mine “Baby” (after the movie "Dirty Dancing").

They cuddled together and took turns running around the wheel.

I did notice that my hamster had gotten rather hefty as I had her.

I thought this was normal, though.

She was about three weeks old when I got her, so I expected her to get bigger and gain some weight.

This was my first hamster, so I had no idea how much weight an acceptable amount was.

At this time, I finally did my research.

I was shocked to see the sheer number of hamster Facebook groups that the site boasted.

There were dozens of groups, each containing thousands of members.

I learned here that winter white hamsters, also known as Djungarian hamsters, should never be housed together.

They are prone to confrontation when resources such as food and play toys come in to play.

This breed of hamster is very territorial.

My roommate and I then decided to separate the two before a fight could occur. They then lived independently.

On February 20, my roommate’s boyfriend was alone at the apartment and heard a scream from Baby’s cage.

She had fulfilled her name’s sake, and our two hamsters suddenly became nine.

My roommate’s boyfriend described the sound of her giving birth as one of the most terrifying noises he had ever heard.

I was duly unprepared for hamster motherhood and quickly began researching.

The wiggly little pups were about the size of my pinky and totally blind, deaf and bald.

They couldn’t really do anything besides breastfeed.

I scoured long-dead forums on proper postnatal care.

All sources said not to touch the babies until their eyes were open, which would happen in about two weeks, so we stayed back and let them grow.

Even in the first few days we could tell that they all had developed stripes like their mother.

Their pink bodies had dark pigmentation going down their back.

During the first few formative days, we didn’t see much.

Baby had moved them a couple of times in the cage, picking them up in her mouth and scurrying around to fashion a nest.

They then started to crawl, so she had a hard time keeping track of all nine of them.

Unfortunately, spring break began on February 29, and I went to a vacation house near Sarasota.

One of my roommates stayed and watched over the hamsters.

He didn’t give any updates, so I really had no idea what to expect when I returned on the following Thursday.

That would also be two weeks after their birth, and they should be opening their eyes.

When I arrived home, I couldn’t believe how much they had grown.

They were excited and running around their cage chasing each other.

My original hamster, Baby, seemed beyond stressed at this new development, so I gave her some alone time as I checked over each one.

There was one runt, one that only had one eye and seven healthy pups.

I knew I couldn’t afford to take care of all of them, nor did I have the space to house nine hamsters, so I began searching for homes.

I wouldn’t be able to separate the babies before three weeks because they still depended on breast milk, but they sexually mature at four weeks, and I really did not want incestuous hamsters on my hands.

I was able to give four of them to friends I trusted and found homes for the other five on Craigslist.

It was bittersweet seeing them go.

I hadn’t expected them, but I genuinely loved the energy and playfulness that each one brought to the apartment.

They surely livened up the place, and I was thankful for the opportunity that the raising hamsters provided me.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow up develop their own personalities.