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January 12, 2007

BBC hamsters
Posted by Teresa at 08:05 AM * 156 comments

I can tell you right now that there’s one area of journalism where the BBC News has it all over us. I’m talking about new stories about hamsters. They’re not quite up into bus plunge range, but they’re a definite staple:

1998: 4
25 August 1998: BBC, Levi’s Jeans assure public that Kevin the Hamster is not dead. :: 06 September 1998: “A Hamster Ate My Granny” cited as example of sensationalist headline. :: 30 September 1998: Record number of complaints received over ad showing hamster’s death. :: 11 November 1998: Study finds hamsters navigate by dead reckoning; have excellent sense of direction.

1999: 8
27 April 1999: Drunken soldier demoted, jailed, for ironing hamster. :: 25 June 1999: ”______ ate my hamster” cited as example of sensationalist headline. :: 08 December 1999 - 27 December 1999: Sir Cliff Richard versus the singing hamsters.

2000: 4
21 January 2000: Apparently deceased hamster revives; gnaws hole in coffin, tunnels out of grave, and finds its way home. :: 20 April 2000: Male Djungarian hamsters make excellent midwives. :: 01 August 2000: Missing snake found stuck in hamster cage after eating neighbor’s hamster. :: 23 August 2000: Scientists develop see-through hamster skin.

2001: 3
12 February 2001: Germany faces reprimand for failure to protect natural habitat of endangered black-bellied hamster. :: 17 September 2001: Hamster in plastic exercise ball found rolling along the M6 motorway at Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham. (The Birmingham RSPCA named him “Roly”. See also 24 September 2005; 04 July 2012.) :: 28 February 2001: Six-foot fiberglass hamster from Millennium Dome fetches £3000 at auction.

2002: 4
13 May 2002: New mobile phones allows text messages to be read out loud by talking hamster. :: 18 June 2002: “My hamster died” cited as example of poor excuse for missing school. :: 23 August 2002: Bus company apologizes for charging hamster 10p for ride; issues lifetime bus pass. :: 30 December 2002: RSPCA rescues hamster left out for rubbish pickup.

2003: 5
29 April 2003: Runaway hamster eludes would-be rescuers. :: 14 May 2003: Escaped hamster starts house fire by chewing electrical cable. :: 4 October 2003: Church holds pet blessing. :: 29 October 2003: West Yorkshire hamster breeder may have world’s smallest hamster. :: 03 December 2003: Oldest hamster food cache found. (Miocene, 17 million years old.)

2004: 12
08 January 2004: Siberian hamsters used to study obesity. :: 01 March 2004: New hamster escapes in car, runs up £370 repair bill by gnawing ignition cables. :: 01 March 2004: SSPCA calls for boycott of shop selling hamster-fur coats. :: 05 March 2004: Shop removes hamster-fur coats; issues press release. :: 10 March 2004: Family fights council pet eviction order. :: 12 May 2004: Bristol couple banned from pet ownership for two years after leaving gerbil, hamster to starve. :: 13 May 2004: Bob the Hamster rescued from inside the dashboard of new owners’ car. :: 20 May 2004: Scientists use citrus peels to lower hamster cholesterol. :: 24 May 2004: Fat Hamster Cheats Vacuum Death. (The best headline of the lot.) :: 20 August 2004: Callous thief uses “lost hamster” scam. :: 27 August 2004: Shop sneaks hamster-fur coats back onto sales rack. :: (27 August 2004: The Telegraph also disapproves of the sale of hamster-fur coats.) :: 19 December 2004: Five hamsters perish in burning home.

2005: 14
08 January 2005: “Bitten by hamster” cited as example of inappropriate calls to NHS help lines. :: 12 April 2005: Passing police constable rescues hamster from cat; owner sought. :: 25 May 2005: Hamster virus kills three people. :: 27 May 2005: Hamster survives rat poison feast. :: 24 June 2005: Cambridge postman rescues hamster mailed in unprotected envelope. (See 17 January 2006) :: 23 July 2005: Firemen rescue two each hamsters and parrots from blazing house. :: 27 July 2005: Girl, 7, finds hamsters torched. :: 23 August 2005: Pet shop rents out hamster by the week. :: 25 August 2005: Teenage inventor builds hamster-powered phone recharger. :: 20 September 2005: Fluorescent green hamster sperm used to study human fertility. :: 24 September 2005: Hamster in exercise ball rescued from busy street in Somerset. :: 8 October 2005: Pet rodents ‘a salmonella risk’. :: 24 November 2005: Man jailed for 60 days after drop-kicking ex-girlfriend’s hamster. :: 02 December 2005: Youths strap hamster to firework.

2006: 11
11 January 2006: Firefighters rescue hamster with head stuck in cage. :: 17-18 January 2006: Drunken Cambridge students who mailed a hamster (See 24 June 2005) receive heavy fines; are banned from owning animals for ten years. :: 19 January 2006: Rodent-eating snake befriends snack-hamster. :: 27 February 2006: Steroids cause mad hamster aggression. :: 14 March 2006: Nanotech helps blind hamsters see. :: 13 April 2006: Mistreated snakes, lizards, fish, rats, and hamsters found living in makeshift containers. :: 05 May 2006: RSPCA appeals for information on five baby hamsters abandoned outside pet shop in Cornwall. :: 25 May 2006: The Sun says: Freddie Starr ate my hamster. (See also.) :: 02 June 2006: Hamster survives trip through giant industrial metal shredder at recycling plant. :: 06 July 2006: Scientists successfully detect asymptomatic Mad Cow Disease in hamsters.” :: 26 September 2006: Fudge, a hamster with serious escape-fu: (1.) escaped from his cage in Devon; (2.) turned up in his owner’s golf bag while his owner was on a golfing holiday in Scotland; (3.) accompanied his owner around several major golf courses; (4.) was left for safekeeping in a cardboard box in his owner’s rented car; (5.) escaped, could not be found, and was assumed lost for good; (6.) remained lost while his owner flew home; and (7.) reappeared inside the car when the next person rented it. The nice lady who rented the car is adopting Fudge permanently, with his previous owner’s blessing.

2007: 16
09 January 2007: Hamster escapes from cage in trunk of car; car stops working; hamster found by auto mechanic. Bill for gnawed wiring: £1000. :: 05 February 2007: Hamsters thrown out with rubbish. :: 16 February 2007: Hamster survives cooker fire. :: 14 March 2007: Trapped hamster saved by vacuum. :: 14 March 2007: BBC Radio Lancashire thrown into chaos by escaped hamster. :: 12 April 2007: Boy is treated with hamster cells. :: 28 April 2007: 477 animals (including hamsters) hurt, 70 killed, in parked unventilated pet shop delivery truck. (Judging from the photos, the guinea pigs got the worst of it.) :: 22 May 2007: Argentine scientists find Viagra reduces hamster jetlag recovery time by 50%. (See 04 October 2007.) :: 30 May 2007: Hamster bite puts man in hospital. :: 03 July 2007: Obese hamsters invited to participate in charity pet-slimming initiative. :: 26 July 2007: Hamster rescued from rubbish dump. :: 23 August 2007: “Hamster trapped behind wardrobe” cited as example of inappropriate 999 call. :: 25 September 2007: Hamster rescued from suspicious blaze in block of flats (along with five adults, four children, two dogs, a rabbit, and a rat). :: 4 October 2007: ‘Gay bomb’ scoops Ig Nobel award; other winners include work on treating hamster jet lag. (See 22 May 2007.) :: 23 November 2007: Hollywood actors set to play guinea pigs, hamster, and mole in animated film. :: 05 December 2007: Harrogate boy guilty of putting sister’s hamster in freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer.

2008: 19
03 January 2008: Man denies hamster-hurling charge. :: 10 January 2008: Devon animal shelter reports tough holiday season for abandoned pets (including hamsters). :: 14 January 2008: Jury hears hamster-hurling claims. :: 15 January 2008: Hamster-hurling Dumfries man found guilty. :: 29 January 2008: Hamster-throwing man given 12-month sentence. :: 31 January 2008: Man who tied hamster to firework (see 02 December 2005) found guilty of animal cruelty. :: 12 February 2008: Hamster prices triple in China. :: 05 March 2008: Hamster firework youth sentenced . (See 31 January 2008; 02 December 2005) :: 07 March 2008: Pet hamsters banned in Vietnam. :: 16 May 2008: Study shows fruit juice reduces risk of atherosclerosis in hamsters. :: 11 June 2008: Runaway rodent collared by police: Hamster was taken into custody after walking into Cheltenham police station. :: 22 August 2008: Hamster rescue was start of East Sussex Rodent Rescue operation. :: 22 October 2008: Fire crews hunt escaped hamster in East Lothian :: 23 October 2008: On-the-run hamster pops back up. :: 04 November 2008: Smoke detector saves lives of Launceston family, three parrots, one dog, but not hamster. :: 24 November 2008: Thieves steal homeless family’s caravan, Christmas savings, pet hamster. :: 02 December 2008: Meet the Radio Humberside Saturday Breakfast show team: Rag. :: 02 December 2008: Hamster included in list of unemployed members of Glasgow household. :: 18 December 2008: Two hamsters, 50 African snails, die in Newport Pagnell house fire.

2009: 19
15 January 2009: BBC keeps straight face while reporting five-day-old story about theft of one-eyed hamster (also game console, half bottle of milk) as breaking news. :: 16 January 2009 & thereafter: UK news organizations which fail to get joke, and run stories deprecating BBC report of theft of one-eyed hamster (plus game console and half bottle of milk) as breaking news, include the Sun, Telegraph, and Daily Mail. :: 26 January 2009: Monday’s quote of the day: “After they exhumed Mr Itch they were very apologetic.” :: 02 February 2009: REVEALED: Sid Vicious named after one of John Lydon’s hamsters. :: 06 March 2009: Hamster rescued from suspicious house fire in Little Canfield, Essex. :: 11 March 2009: Hamster juice saved my life. :: 11 March 2009: Secrets and Lies: Jamie Peacock tells how she killed her family’s pet hamster. :: 19 April 2009: Fancy that: Peter and Christine Logsdail on operating a hamstery. :: 25 April 2009: Derbyshire fire crew rescue hamster trapped behind bath panel. :: 19 June 2009: Stoke-on-Trent animal hoarders plead guilty to harming nearly 60 animals (including hamsters). :: 29 June 2009: James Campbell and the dead hamster sketch. :: 03 July 2009: Hamster owner who rang 999 for help with hamster stuck under floorboards cited as example of misuse of emergency lines. :: 29 July 2009: Tory Leader David Cameron reveals plan to deny his children’s request for hamster. :: 29 July 2009: Charity calls for more care for school pets over the holidays. :: 05 September 2009: Bath animal home blames recession for high levels of pet abandonment (including hamsters). :: 10 November 2009: Hamsters Go Going off the shelves. :: 07 December 2010: Manufacturer insists Go Go Hamster toy Mr Squiggles is safe for children. :: 10 December 2009: New exotic animal veterinary training center will teach care of hamsters, chinchillas, lizards, and snakes. :: 21 December 2009: Bicycle and hamster only childhood Christmas presents remembered by Gemma Godivala of Leighton Buzzard.

2010: 9
07 January 2010: Footless hamster found abandoned in Grangemouth, Scotland. :: 26 January 2010: Hamster lifecycle cited as poor model for macroeconomic growth. :: 05 February 2010: Northamptonshire teenager’s hamster-microwaving sentence adjourned. :: 07 April 2010: Wolf escapes from Scottish wildlife park; park’s animal collections manager claims pet hamsters are a greater threat to the general public. (See 08 September 2010.) :: 23 May 2010: Stuart Kettell runs Coventry half-marathon dressed as a hamster. :: 28 May 2010: Compost heap sets Buckinghamshire house ablaze; hamster rescued. :: 11 June 2010: Northamptonshire boy sentenced to four months in youth detention unit for microwaving brother’s hamster. :: 08 September 2010: Princess Anne opens newly reinforced wolf enclosure in Scottish wildlife park; BBC repeats claim by park’s animal collections manager that hamsters are a greater danger to the public. (See 07 April 2010.) :: 22 September 2010: Hartlepoole man jailed for killing hamster in microwave oven.

2011: 6
21 January 2011: EU court threatens France with fines for failure to protect native population of the Great Hamster of Alsace. :: 06 April 2011: Kitten and hamster rescued, homes evacuated, after chip pan fire in St. Saviour, Jersey. :: 08 April 2011: Photo of hamster “Splodge” chosen as cover image for Workers Playtime EP. :: 27 April 2011: Eight people and one pet hamster taken to safety after a fire in a flat above a bookmakers in Milford Haven. :: 07 September 2011: Guernsey hamster owners warned over speedy breeding. :: 09 September 2011: Hamster abandoned at Arthur’s seat.

2012: 9
10 February 2012: Hamster found dumped by bins in the cold. :: 12 April 2012: Smurf the hamster gets stuck to cage with magnet. (See also.) :: 01 May 2012: Escapee hamster Houdini causes £1,000 car damage. (See also.) :: 04 July 2012: Hamster rescued from ball after Kidderminster midnight dash. :: 11 July 2012: Frightened hamster found in Northallerton bin. :: 03 August 2012: Young boy opens up ‘hamster hotel’ to earn pocket money. :: 17 August 2012: NHS Wales sees summer rise in ‘inappropriate’ 999 calls (including a woman whose hamster bit her finger). :: 30 July 2012: Hamster rescued after window fall and cat chase. :: 06 September 2012: York student accused of cooking live hamster.

2013: 4
14 January 2013: Weymouth hamster rescue fire woman criticised. :: 07 March 2013: Animal ban for student who fried flatmate’s hamster. :: 20 March 2013: Hamster found during blizzard on Edinburgh street. :: 11 April 2013: Sick leave, Bras, Hamsters (podcast). :: 28 April 2013: Brooklyn blogger blames UK journalistic kerfluffle of 16 January 2009 for subsequent steep downturn in total annual BBC hamster-related news stories. ::

=====

And the moral of the story is: (1.) Hamsters have mighty escape-fu. (2.) Never leave a hamster in a cardboard box inside a car. (3.) Since there’s now a hamster-directed Roomba, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before one turns up on a British motorway.

Comments on BBC hamsters:
#1 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:23 AM:

Hamsters are amazing.

We had one, Archimedes, who used to go on holiday from time to time. He would escape from his cage, cross the room (where kittens played), and spend a few days in the closet. Then he would present himself to a human for return to his cage.

When he and his mate Aphrodite had babies, they took them on holiday with them.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Next... News for Parrots...

#4 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:41 AM:

Actually this is the saga of the mighty fudge and his kinlings, total about 30 hamsters did all this damage on the human oppressors.

#5 ::: Erin Underwood ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:17 AM:

Clearly, the Brits have cornered the market on hampster news. If only our headlines were more about the creative, cleverness of hampsters and less about an infuriating little man who belongs back on his ranch.

#6 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:17 AM:

I actually saw an advertisement featuring a hamster fatality this very morning. The ad was something about good parenting. The gist of it being that even if you killed your kid's hamster by sucking it into the vacuum cleaner, you weren't necessarily a bad mom.

Opinions may vary.

#7 ::: JerolJ ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:54 AM:

I would like to have a hamster, or a gerbil. My wife had guinea pigs in college. But with 5 Maine Coons in our house, we can't have hamsters, or any other type of animal that might be considered prey. They're the velociraptors of felines - they work as a team and no cage or enclosure would stop them.

Once upon a time my wife asked the "bird lady" at the local pet store we could have birds, even though we had "multiple" cats.
Bird Lady: Oh, an African Grey or a cockatiel can pretty much defend itself against a few cats - I think you can have birds.
Me: We have 5 Maine Coons.
Bird Lady: You can't have birds.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Hamsters and cats don't mix. Even normal slothful housecats can inflict traumatic damage if a hamster escapes. Hamsters and ferrets are Right Out.

#9 ::: Jenny J ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Is the apparent year-on-year increase a real effect? If so, should we be worried? Are hamsters taking over Britain? Or perhaps the BBC?

They'd have a job fighting off the squirrels, I suspect.

#10 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:22 AM:

No -- the hamsters are our only hope against the squirrels

#11 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:33 AM:

I had a slight overlap of having small pets and having cats. Except for the guinea pigs, I felt the hamster and the budgies were always in mortal danger.

Despite that Amberhamster lived to nearly three and a half! I sold off the budgies and found a home for my small, daft, wild-caught parrot (Senegal).

And now one of my current cats is a dedicated mouser, so small pets are Right Out.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:35 AM:

And I thought that the squirrels were the only natural defence against stoats....

#13 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:36 AM:

The gist of it being that even if you killed your kid's hamster by sucking it into the vacuum cleaner, you weren't necessarily a bad mom.

If it's the same advertisement I've seen, I don't think the hamster dies. At least, there's a hamster staggering around at the very end of the advertisement that I always thought had just been released from the vacuum cleaner.

#14 ::: Jenny J ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Andrew; Fragano. You've got it all wrong, I'm afraid. I wonder if perhaps you have been reading the Daily Mail and watching Fox (coincidence, or something more sinister?) News, when to uncover the truth you must of course buy and read everything David Icke writes.

It is a truth backed up by All The Facts that the grey squirrels (HQ: Hull) are quickly but quietly taking over England in a bid to eat all the human brains there available, in preparation for the final push into Scotland (which has better brains, but a final stronghold of reds which could prove diifficult to win over). The ducks are in league with the squirrels, having been promised the bits that aren't brains and an end to swan tyranny, but so far the swans, who are the real opposition at least for the time being, are just about managing to thwart the evil squirrel plans. Except in Cambridge, of course.

Stoats have nothing to do with it. Hamsters are apparent newcomers into the war, and we would do well to monitor their activities closely.

(all this, it goes without saying, is part of the master plan of the Jewish lizard illuminati, who aim to sweep in when all the brains are gone and dance round fires naked in peace at last).

#15 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Living with a housemate who keeps rats, I have noticed this rodent-bias that the BBC exhibits. For instance, a similar story I heard about to the "drunk Cambridge students" one that involved a rat was never mentioned.

We should campaign for rodent-equality! :)

#16 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:42 AM:

> Hamsters have mighty escape-fu.

Yes. Our three-legged hamster escaped into the wall of our house, and was never seen again. Smelt, yes, but not seen :-(

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Squirrels and stoats are not what Brits should be worried about. You're starting to have a population of escaped raccoons, and you have no idea what you're getting into. This should be declared an environmental crisis.

#18 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Life is tough for furry little squeakers. What about the positive hamster news, like when they win awards, or make exciting discoveries?

#19 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Freddie Starr ate my hamster

a headline from 1986. (reminisced about in the "most memorable headlines" page of May 2006.

In my years at Oberlin College some students on a year-in-London program found the headline, thought it was funny and brought it home with them because the president of Oberlin was also named Fred Starr.

The president of Oberlin College did not eat hamsters, as far as I know.

#21 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:13 PM:

I, for one, am glad the BBC is keeping track of the evil ravages of the evil hamster hordes. Yes, verily, I do not relish the day when the Hamster Overlords rule the Earth from their UN Habitrails.

#22 ::: Jenny J ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Raccoons? How did I miss that one? Seriously, that is worrying, even to a Brit like me who's never experienced them first-hand. Where are they? Help!

#23 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:42 PM:
Hamsters and cats don't mix. Even normal slothful housecats can inflict traumatic damage if a hamster escapes. Hamsters and ferrets are Right Out.
So is there a story you're hinting at here, and what sort of bribery is required to encourage you to tell it? I got... [checks pockets] ...26 cents anna Hershey's wrapper.
#24 ::: Electric Landlady ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Jenny J: I saw the story only yesterday in Metro's News of the Weird section: Raccoons on the lam

Beware!

#25 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:08 PM:

To support Jenny @ #14 - The Scotsman has been covering the advance of vile grey squirrel, and their goals of squirrely domination.

From the Scotsman, 21 Sept 2006

Border guards to repel deadly grey invaders
AN IMAGINARY Hadrian's Wall is to be set up to prevent infected grey squirrels crossing the Border into Scotland and wiping out their red cousins.

Two control officers will have orders to shoot to kill at grey squirrels if they invade reds' territory. The greys are spreading a deadly virus to native red squirrels. Research has warned that the red squirrels will be wiped out in the Borders area within ten years if action is not taken.

Scotland is home to more than 75 per cent of the UK's 160,000 red squirrel population and the Border crossing is seen as a strategic defensive point.


Brunswick stew, anyone?

#26 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:09 PM:

I'm waiting for the story about a busload of hamsters plunging to its doom.

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:23 PM:

The hamsters would have already escaped.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:31 PM:

This is sounding more and more like a Twentieth Century Vole production of a Terry Gilliam cartoon.

#29 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:39 PM:

It is a good thing that the UK is pulling out of Iraq -- they will need every soldier they can get to face the Nazi raccoons on the march.

#30 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:40 PM:

So how is Bruno, the roaring hamster, doing?

#31 ::: erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:50 PM:

#26 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:09 PM:
I'm waiting for the story about a busload of hamsters plunging to its doom.

---

That's more likely to happen to lemmings

#32 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Hamsters and cats don't mix.

Lord knows we tried.

I woke up in the wee hours one night, to sounds of an epic struggle in the hall. Our cat had pinned our rather chubby hamster du jour and was attempting to swallow it whole. I didn't know what to do, so I yelled for my big brother, "Owen, wake up! Pope Irving's eating Aunt Emily!"

She was extracted, rather damp, and lived somewhat longer than her fellows. Not that this was very long, of course.

#33 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Hamsters are small mammals often kept as pets. Hampsters are little demons that live in your hamper and chew holes in your dirty socks.

#34 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:15 PM:

No. 7: I have a friend who keeps African Greys, a cockatiel, and dogs and cats (not to mention other birds outside.) The birds are perfectly capable of getting rid of any unwanted attention, feline or canine. It's pretty impressive. I've seen photgraphs of the parrots sitting on the cats. And if the cat in question is anything like our cat - her son - she's no slouch in the predating department, either.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Jenny J #14: But what role is played by the parrots, the West Indian mongooses, and the jerboas?

The idea that Scots have better brains is rather problematic; were their brains so good, why would they live in Scotland?

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Ask abi, Fragano.

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:35 PM:

The misspelling *'hampster' is, I believe, influenced by writers' familiarity with '(New) Hampshire'.

Also, not at all helped by evil people like me, who always call the state New Hamster.

#38 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Fragano at #35 as an non native living in Scotland I resent that. Edinburgh is a fine city to live in.

Now the weather isn't brilliant but the people are on average very nice. There are good curries and the city itself while not the most glamourous city in the world is very comfortable. Almost too comfortable if anything. Pretty much everything is within walking distance. I've not driven a car since I moved here.

As for Hamsters and Cats. I would not inflict my cat on any hamster. While not a Maine Coon she's a Bengal cat which I think amounts to pretty much the same thing in the hunting department.

#40 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Fragano @35
I'm with Sica on this. Every time I go Dahn Sahf, all I can think about is how soon I can get back to Auld Reekie. Edinburgh is a lovely city, small enough to be able to escape but large enough not to want to. I can get anywhere I want to on the buses, quickly and cheaply. It lights up in August, with the Festival, but is restful the remainder of the year. Even better, my favourite restaurant just moved here from the wilds of Dumfries-shire.

Were it further south, so that it was not so dark in winter, I would never move.

I wouldn't live in London, not for all the squirrels in Scotland.

(Note, though, that all the squirrels I see in my daily lunchtime walks in the Botanic Gardens are grey squirrels. Wherever the Squirrel Alamo is, it's not Embra.)

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Jenny J, it's not as bad as I first thought. The most alarming report turned out to be facetious. Still, there's that escaped pair nobody seems unduly upset about. Also, people are apparently keeping raccoons as pets, which is never a good idea because they really are wild animals, and in Britain is a worse one because pet owners with uncontrollable animals can get lax about preventing escapes into the wild. And if they're being kept at animal attractions, they will sooner or later jimmy their cage latches and escape.

Dealing with raccoons is not like dealing with any other animal. They don't fear us. In fact, they like living in proximity to us, on account of the vegetable gardens, poultry houses, and garbage cans. Worse, they're a little bit smart, a whole lot inventive, and they're clever-handed to an unnerving degree.

When they start ganging up, they get fearless and aggressive. They also breed quickly. Given that they've already overrun Germany, where last year they ate up almost the entire grape harvest in the Brandenburg area, you'd think Britain would be a little less laid-back about the possibility of feral raccons getting a foothold.

They'd love it. Britain might have been made for them -- and that's not even counting all those thatched roofs, ornamental fishponds, and doors with cat flaps.

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:10 PM:

I like Scotland. The accents are much clearer, and it looks a lot like home, only with more water.

#43 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:12 PM:

We have two cats and a Blue-Fronted Amazon. Our cats (a matched pair of all-black mutts named Sylvie and Bruna) have never given Carmen any problems; in fact, she hassles them more than the reverse. Our previous cats were two female Maine Coons, who also troubled her not at all. Mind you, all of them were house cats who were never outside except for trips to the vet, so all they had to go on was instinct, not experience. Indeed, one of the Coons, Bo, accidentally discovered a mouse in our dining room; I caught her studiously ignoring its presence. (Her sister Boo showed some minimal interest, watching it but never approaching.)

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Scorpio, Porco Bruno has grown up to be handsome and chipper, and is having a good time. He's never roared again since those first few episodes, but he still carries on a running commentary in chirpy little hamster-noises.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:18 PM:

The idea that Scots have better brains is rather problematic; were their brains so good, why would they live in Scotland?

This reminds me of the following:

While it's well known that God created the world in six days, what's less well known is that most of the world took only about one; God spent the rest of the time on a particularly important section of the planet.

Since this put Him way over deadline, Gabriel decided to come to Him toward the end of the sixth day.
"My Lord," quoth the Archangel, "what's taking the construction of this little planet so long?"
"Gabriel," said the Lord, "I have to put the finishing touches on this one small country. The people who are going to live there are very special to Me, and I want to make sure it's the most beautiful country in the world.
"Look at the highlands! The lowlands! The crags and glens! The many lochs! Did you ever see such beauty?"
Gabriel had to admit that he had not. "But my Lord, if You've lavished such luxury, such exquisiteness, on one people of the world, won't that tempt the other peoples into the deadly sin of Envy?"
God thought about that for a moment. "Well," he said slowly, "you might be right.
"But look who I'm giving 'em for neighbors!"
#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Teresa, you should hear some of my sister's raccoon stories:

Raccoons that can open pull-tab cans of cat food (she's waiting, not with glee, for them to learn about can-openers).

Raccoons that got the packet of instant hot chocolate out of the mug (inside a gift box), and then proceeded to dump it in the cat's water dish in the kitchen.

She prefers possums. Or skunks (cats don't object to skunks).

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:22 PM:

And is it true that Scots are no good at tennis? If not true, then the Monty Python skit where an alien blanc-mange turns everybody into Scotsmen because it wants to win at Wimbledon collapses.

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Serge @47:

Well, Andy Murray is currently ranked 15th in the world, which is not too shabby.

(As always with sporting figures, he's British when he wins and Scottish when he loses, at least in the London-based press.)

#49 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:00 PM:

When I was a kid, my brother had a hamster. Several times, she got out and wandered across his chest during the night.

Since, being a teddybear hamster, she weighed next to nothing, this was a bit disconcerting to wake up to.

One time when my mother was away in Pennsylvania, I somehow let the hamster get out. Couldn't find her anywhere. So my mother got back, and I had just started to tell her, shamefaced, that the hamster had fled the premises, when she closed the kitchen door, and screamed. Lo, there was the hamster (Theo by name), chillin', eating a dropped piece of bread. (The kitchen is down some very steep stairs from where the hamster was kept. Also, we had a terrier at the time.)

So I told her about the hamster, see, while putting a bowl over her so she wouldn't escape.

My current cat, while a very good mouser, grooms my guinea pigs.

#50 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:01 PM:

It's not just the cats you have to worry about if you're trying to keep small animals --

My partner's Sheltie tried to assist the cats in hunting a mouse about a month ago...

My best guess on how the timorous beastie got into the house is either through the garage or the screened porch.

That was our second strange visitor of the year, the first one was a Carolina Wren, who inspected the house this Fall. The wren got out alive, the mouse, unfortunately, didn't.

#51 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Siberian hamsters used to study obesity.
--Why, what are they studying now?

Badaboom.

#52 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:15 PM:

They’re not quite up into bus plunge range, but they’re a definite staple

I can see why. They all have these adorable hamster pictures. It's the baaaaabyanimals effect.

Re: hampster, one presses lips together on the "m", and in the transition to the "s" a puff of air usually comes out, making a ghostly "p" sound. It's thus almost a phonetic misspelling. You have to say hamster very carefully in order to not wind up with hampster.

#53 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Re: small pets and cats, a pair of my friends keep a number of cats that generally hovers around six or seven, plus a whole reptilian sub-household. They breed mice -- the smart ones are separated out as pets, the dumb ones are lunch for the ophidian denizens.

Housing the mice in a closed spare room keeps the cats off. I don't imagine this segregation would work for birds, who need lots of attention.

#54 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:36 PM:

First, one or two newsworthy hamsters a year. This quickly multiplies to three or four. Then nine. There's already at least one in 2007. Do you see what this means? At this rate, around 2045 there will be an inescapable Hamster Singularity, where newsworthy hamsters eclipse newsworthy humans to such a degree that hamsters themselves will be able to write their own news stories about themselves. It will increase ever more exponentially, hamster news been written so frequently that what we currently understand as "news sources" will be unable to cope with the volume. Soon thereafter, the human era will end.

#55 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Or, we could teleport all of them into a passing Klingon ship like Kirk did to the tribbles.

#56 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:42 PM:

On the p in hamster #52: Isn't that why we have a p in words like "glimpse" and...um...oh, hell, a second ago I had another example in my head. You know, glimpse. Didn't always have a p. All that.

#57 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Lapse. Whoops. Er...

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:54 PM:

All hail abi!

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:55 PM:

(Oops. Wrong thread.)

#60 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Re: birds and cats, my blue-headed Pionus says* "Lo, though I walk through the valley of the felines, I shall fear no claw, for I am THE BADDEST BEAK IN THE VALLEY."

Every so often when I'm in another room she decides that she needs to come find me. She climbs down the side of her cage and then comes walking through the apartment looking for me. Usually both cats are trailing along behind her at a distance of 3 or 4 feet with expressions that seem to combine yearning with wary respect.

*Or she would if she could talk, but Pionus are not known for speaking ability.

#61 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 05:38 PM:

I wish I could have a hamster again, but with 3 cats, and my own lack of desire to do the work to care for it properly, it's not fair to the hamster.

Thank you for the hamster links to feed my yearning.

#62 ::: Jodi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:06 PM:

I only became a hamster owner in the past year...in my mid-thirties! I love it and am enjoying these stories.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:12 PM:

abi, Sica, Xopher:

Is there such a thing as civilisation north of Watford?

(Let me add that my youngest brother lives in Aberdeen and is threatening to vote SNP. But then, he isn't a native Londoner.)

However, I appeal to the authority of Flanders and Swann:

The English
(Flanders & Swan)

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot
You'll find he's a stinker as likely as not

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The Scotsman is mean as we're all well aware
He's boney and blotchy and covered with hair
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And hasn't got bishops to show him the way

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The Irishman now our contempt is beneath
He sleeps in his boots and he lies through his teeth
He blows up policemen or so I have heard
And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third

The English are moral the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood

The Welshman's dishonest, he cheats when he can
He's little and dark more like monkey than man
He works underground with a lamp on his hat
And sings far too loud, far too often and flat

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

And crossing the channel one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed

The English are noble, the English are nice
And worth any other at double the price

And all the world over each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice before hand which spoils all the fun

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

It's not that they're wicked or naturally bad
It's just that they're foreign that makes them so mad
The English are all that a nation should be
And the pride of the English are Donald (Michael) and me

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

#64 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:36 PM:

The thing about Embra is, I didn't really understand where Iain Banks got his ideas from until I moved here.

It truly is a non-Euclidean city full of real ale bars, crumbling stonework, and eccentric people.

(And when Pat Robertson tried to set up shop here he was spanked out of the country by a rainbow coalition that included everyone from the various gay campaigning groups to the Church of Scotland. Which should tell you what you need to know about the local politics.)

#65 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Fraganothose south of Watford spends the money. It's north of Watford where the money was made. And all the great centres of early England are north of Watford; Lindisfarne, Durham, York, Lichfield, Lincoln. The cotton mills of Lancashire and the heavy woolen industry of Yorkshire. It's the North that made the railways, and the great ships. That great melding of cultures that was the Danelaw, that's the North, The English we speak and read; even that came from North of Watford.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:43 PM:

Charlie @64:

It (Edinburgh) truly is a non-Euclidean city

Agreed, entirely. I love walking along South Bridge, which looks like a street complete with four and five story buildings on either side, and coming to a parapet where you look down another four stories to the Cowgate.

I've used this a number of times in geocaches. The GPS says they're in the right place, but people can't find the thing. Then they look down and realise they've been thinking in only two dimensions.

I think Sir Walter Scott said it best in Marmion:

Such dusky grandeur clothed the height
Where the huge castle holds its state
And all the steep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy,
Close and high,
Mine own romantic town.

(A pleasantly positive definition to counter Flanders and Swann, who seem to only praise by comparative insult.)

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:15 PM:

Fragano #63: The problem with that is that now in England there are people who would take that as simple truth, without a scrap of irony. In fact, my sense is that the Mad Cow herself (a self-declared English Nationalist) would see nothing ironic about those lyrics.

#68 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:24 PM:

Xopher @67
Agreed. Certainly, there are Scots (and people who live in Scotland) who don't see a lot of humour in that set of attitudes. More arrogance, really, and the kind of willful, blind provincialism that wasn't even right when England had an empire. Maggie, living that particular dream, did a lot of damage, and it doesn't take much to flick the old poll tax scars.

Working in an organisation with offices in Edinburgh and London, I can assure you that you're better off making openly sexist jokes than straying onto this turf. (And I do not say this because it's an IT organisation and mostly male.)

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Indeed, abi, a people who have committed massive genocide against another people ought to be damned careful about dissing those people later. IMHO.

#70 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:37 PM:

A number of years ago, we owned a hamster that my wife would take out of the cage to put in an exercise ball. Interestingly enough, the lid popped off the ball one time and the hamster immediately ran for the cage to get back in it. We tested it after that incident to see if it was repeatable. Sure enough, the hamster ran for the cage every time. Evidently, we had the only hamster that didn't want to escape.

#71 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 04:16 AM:

or you owned a hamster that didn't want to be forced to do physical exercise for your amusement and just wanted to go home for a good doze.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Xopher #67 & abi #68: Unfortunately, that's true. There are different English nationalisms. There's the Maggon's and Lord Tebbit's, on the one hand, and there's Billy Bragg's on the other.

Dave Bell #65: Londoners, of course, being smart enough to foist the actual work on others.

#73 ::: enchanteresse ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:50 AM:

The idea that hamsters and cats shouldn't mix is news to me... I had Gandalf for two and a half years and he peacefully died of old age. The worse thing that my cat ever did was to extend a cautious paw to touch him while he was running across the tabletop.. and she did it so delicately that I wasn't terribly alarmed. My new hamster, Loki, was climbing all over me when he met my cat. They basically just sniffed each other, under close supervision.

The cat hurriedly gets out of the way of the rolling exercise ball when it comes her way with the most amusing offended expression. She seems to find the whole thing highly unnatural. Once in a while, she'll sit by the cage and watch the hamster moving about, but she quickly loses interest.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:54 AM:

About regional differences within the British Isles... I remember the first episode of Eccleston's Doctor Who, and how surprised I was by the argument Rose and the Doctor had about the North and the South, and a later episode when the Prime Minister meets him and shakes her head about his North accent. I take it that there is a bit of a North/South competition over there, hopefully not as bad as the one within the USA.

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Fragano @72
Just for clarity...you have had your tongue in your cheek in this thread, yes? Because my first reactions to your comments have been negative. Extremely negative.

#76 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 01:50 PM:

In yesterday's local paper, it says Prescott's new shopping mall is about to get a Celtic Pub whose menu will include haggis!! (The real focus seems to be on imported whiskey, though.)

And #248: another tennis fan here? (Hurrah! The Aussie Open is just days away.)

#77 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 02:04 PM:

PS: At the local grocery/miscellaneous-stuff store today, I saw an Elvis model of the "singing hamster". Though I threatened to buy it for my husband's birthday, I won't go so low.

#78 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Dave Bell said (#65):
That great melding of cultures that was the Danelaw, that's the North, The English we speak and read; even that came from North of Watford.

Well, not to knock the Danelaw or anything, but are you sure about that? My understanding has always been that Modern English derives mostly from the southern dialects of Middle English around London, not from more northern dialects. That's why Canterbury Tales (London/East Midlands dialect) is somewhat more easily readable to us moderns than is Gawain and the Green Knight (Cheshire dialect), for example.


Of course, the important thing to remember is that the history of England has always been entirely dominated by hamsters.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Faren @76:
Haggis is good. I will miss haggis when I leave the UK, and will eat it on my return the way I always have a proper burrito when I go back to California.

As for the tennis, not so much a fan as aware of it. But living in the UK, Wimbledon season makes everyone aware of it. Sorry...two small children, a job and an obsessive hobby don't leave a lot of time for sport fandom.

#80 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:06 PM:

I was mildly disappointed in the hamster driven Roomba video. I had visions of an intrepid test-pilot rodent (a C. Yeager Hamster sort) dressed in a flying ace leather cap and goggles, silk scarf fluttering, holding a tiny joystick controller at "full throttle", careening around vacuuming.

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:08 PM:

Abi #75: Of course my tongue's been in my cheek. I thought everyone's was.

I certainly have nothing against the Scots, or Scotland.

#82 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Fragano @81
Abi #75: Of course my tongue's been in my cheek. I thought everyone's was.

I'm reading a lot of sincerity in the defenses of Scotland, particularly from Sika, me, Xopher (in sympathy) and Charlie. It's a potentially touchy subject, particularly to those of us actually here.

I'm glad you were speaking in jest.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Abi #82: I'm sorry to have caused anger or distress when I was being merely light-hearted (and, I thought, humorous).

#84 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Fragano @83
I'll stop whingeing now. I'm sorry if I've been hypersensitive. I am not at my best right now.

#85 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Xopher said (#69):
Indeed, abi, a people who have committed massive genocide against another people ought to be damned careful about dissing those people later. IMHO.

Huh? I'll admit to being mystified about what you're referring to here.

#86 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Peter #85, probably the Highland Clearances (with a side-order of earlier repression of the Jacobites, and a glance at other places, other times, other peoples).

#87 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Peter #85, Mez #86 has it right. It also applies to the Potato Famine, which was engineered by the English as a way to depopulate Ireland. (Not the blight, just the famine.)

#88 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Xopher and Mez:

Hmm. I guess I tend to object to the term "genocide" (let alone "massive genocide") being thrown around like some rhetorical hand grenade to describe things it doesn't apply to (are injustices like the Highland clearances or, say, the 17th Century French oppression/expulsion of the Hugenots really equivalent to Rwanda, Cambodia, the Holocaust, or the Armenian Genocide?).

And as I understand it, the clearances were orchestrated by the Highland landlords, who were mostly Scottish, for their own selfish economic purposes. It's true that there were regional/cultural differences involved, in that Lowland Scots had little sympathy for the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders -- but what does that have to do with the English? (I assume you're not suggesting that people in Glasgow and Edinburgh were "English," even if they were culturally somewhat closer to the English than the Highlanders were.)

Of course, if one is going to include "a glance at other places, other times, other peoples," then the Scots themselves aren't exactly blameless, either, given their involvement in and profiting from the British Empire.

#89 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 08:34 PM:

I did not hear that the clearances were orchestrated by Scots landlords. If they were, the orchestration was commissioned by the English. And given how close it was to the betrayal and defeat of Scotland, calling the Scots landlords "collaborators" doesn't seem excessive either.

And when 90% of a population (of the Highlands) is wiped out, 'genocide' doesn't seem like an excessive term.

#90 ::: Squrfle ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:19 PM:

I do not know about the Highland clearances but that does not change what happened to the Mau Mau in Kenya. A friend just recently sent me an article about the massacre. I can only attribute my ignorance of the information published by the 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner winner to the shock. I know the Brits are as human as the rest of us but this one was hard to take in.

#91 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 11:24 PM:

The Scottish 'thing' is where this came from, courtesy Mr. Burns. It says it all.:

Farewell to all our Scottish fame,
Farewell our ancient glory!
Farewell even to the Scottish name.
So famed in martial story!
Now Sark runs over Salway sands,
And Tweed runs to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands -
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue
Through many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane -
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O, would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My old grey head had lain in clay (be buried)
With Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour
I will make this declaration :-
'We are bought and sold for English gold'-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

#92 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 11:35 PM:

re: hamsters escaping

While we lived in Lawrence we had Ursula hamster, I vaguely recall that she was a white hamster but that was very long ago. What I do recall most is that when she vanished to parts unknown (we were living in an apartment complex), one of Jim's (size 10) high-top sneakers and a fairly large chef's knife went missing too. Visions of the hamster hitchhiking, knife sheathed in sneaker ensued.

And until/overlapping having cats, our longest-lasting pet was a female Mexican brown tarantula. Whatever (Jim kept changing her name when she moulted) lived to be about 16 years old, we got her not long after we got married and she wasn't active enough to attract dangerous attention from the cats. Jim was working in the Biology Department at KU when we got her and a graduate student who's specialty was tarantulas said if it lived beyond a year or so it was probably female.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 01:25 AM:

Paula @ 92... There's a tarentula that shows up in the middle of our backyard during summer - along with quails, little white-tailed gray rabbits, roadrunners, and, yes, coyotes, but luckily the latter have never been seen dragging catapults around. But I digress. One day, the tarentula came to the attention to Nahla, one of our doguettes. It is my understanding that tarentulas aren't deadly but that their bite hurts like Hell. Not wishing our doguettes to test that theory, I sent them all back inside and proceeded to shoo the spider off to the borders of our backyard where she squirmed herself into a crack of a retaining wall.

#94 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 02:16 AM:

Fragano #83 It's not that I didn't assume you were joking, it's just that living up here you get very sensitized to this type of joke and the people bringing it up are quite often using humor to hide round. The cat will attack anything that moves with the right twitchy/repeated movement, although to be honest she's given up on trying to hunt my typing fingers on the computer now. She's also tried to get mbehind while giving a sense of really having the opinion that they're joking about.

I'm not actually Scottish, I'm Icelandic which really.. I come from an even smaller nation further up north who used to get a very bum deal from being a Danish colony for a while so it's not hard for me to identify with the Scots.

I do get a nifty leg up though when it comes to understanding Old English.

As for the cats and hamsters topic. I'm pretty certain it'd be certain death for a hamster to stay in my flat. My cat is an indoor cat yet she killed a large (pretty much hamster sized) mouse the other day *sigh* oh well better than having it running ay fish a few times and overall has a massive play/prey drive.

#95 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 02:19 AM:

Ack.. my comment got messed up, accidentally dropped and dragged text around. The cat paragraph is invading and oppressivng the why English people making fun of Scotland is usually not seen as very funny talk. Is there any way to edit?

#96 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 07:03 AM:

Xopher, one thing you might want to note about the potato famines in Ireland and Scotland was that there was a potato famine in England at the same time. One of the many reasons the famine was so severe in Ireland was that noone really noticed (or cared) about what was going on in Ireland until it was too late, because there were enough problems to deal with in England. Not that swift and decisive action by the government couldn't have stopped it.

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 07:34 AM:

Sica,

There is no editing possible; once you've posted it's there.

I was about 75% sure Fragano was joking, but it fell in the same class as the colleague who told the sexist joke at the dinner party (though lesser in degree).

As I explained to him (colleague), I knew that he was not serious. But he was creating an atmosphere where that sort of comment was acceptable. As a matter of fact, another colleague who actually did believe that women should be in the kitchen felt that much freer to be a complete jerk.

(I did wonder whether Fragano meant it, which was an uncomfortable thought about someone whose writing I enjoy so much. I wondered particularly when he added the Flanders and Swann poem after the tone of responses he'd already got. I am relieved to hear that he did not.)

#98 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:24 AM:

I did not hear that the clearances were orchestrated by Scots landlords. If they were, the orchestration was commissioned by the English. And given how close it was to the betrayal and defeat of Scotland, calling the Scots landlords "collaborators" doesn't seem excessive either.

The only thing the Scots landlords -- in many cases the chiefs of the local Highland clans (e.g., Alasdair MacDonell of Glengarry) -- were "commissioned" by was their own greed. They saw that they could make more money by sheep farming -- or by renting the land to sheep farmers -- and proceeded to evict the local tenant farmers in order to do so. Similar actions were undertaken (starting earlier and extending over longer periods of time, so not as abrupt and shocking) by landlords in England, for the same motives.

The Clearances had everything to do with economic exploitation and class conflict, and nothing to do with any kind of "collaboration."

And when 90% of a population (of the Highlands) is wiped out, 'genocide' doesn't seem like an excessive term.

"Genocide" generally means deliberate killing. Some Highlanders were killed resisting eviction, and some died as a result of exposure or starvation; but the vast majority emigrated to the cities, or to Canada, the US, and Australia. And since the responsible parties were largely (upper-class) Highlanders themselves, it wouldn't make much sense to call it something like "ethnic cleansing," either.

One reason that it's a bad idea to throw the term "genocide" around promiscuously is that it gives license to apologists for real cases of genocide to argue that what they (or their country) did wasn't really that bad or exceptional, since "everyone else was doing it."

#99 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Sica: Is it true that speakers of modern Icelandic can read the Sagas in the original without much trouble?

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:42 AM:

Speaking of Sagas, TexAnne... Did you try to watch the Skiffy Channel's "Grendel" last night. My wife couldn't stand more than the first 10 minutes of it so we switched to something else. I stayed up after she went to bed and I got the movie's rerun and it got a bit better. Still, I don't get a Danish King living in a Roman palace, and Grendel looked a bit like the Hulk with a porcupine on his head, and somebody should tell Beowulf that cowhorned helmets are very passe.

#101 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Serge, I missed it. I'm working my way through the compleat Brisco County Jr. this week. [homer] Mmm, Brisco. [/homer]

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:17 AM:

Neil #96: Ireland had a grain surplus during the potato famine. Guess where all that grain went?

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Serge @ 100

Yeah, there's a shortage of Roman palaces in Denmark. But if there were Roman palaces, I'd bet that the local rulers would have moved into them.

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Sica #94: Scotland must still be a bit of a culture shock, coming from a place as sparsely populated as Iceland.

Flanders and Swann were satirists -- and the target of that song was the English far more than the Scots, Irish, or Welsh. I certainly didn't mean to offend Scots, or anyone else.

#105 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:36 AM:

TexAnne @ 99

Well it's sort of true. Basically the original sagas are written on calf skin. Calf skin was very expensive so they used lots of abbrevations and tricks to safe space. I.e they wouldn't write king, rather a large K ment king so if I'm handed an original manuscript I can't really read it. The handwriting is tough to decipher as well and most of the originals aren't it particularely good condition (probably due to hamsters no doubt ;)

However if you take the originals and basically de-encrypt, i.e expand all the abbrevations and codes then modern Icelandic people can read them without trouble. There are some differences like they used to write "I" as "ek" rather than "ég" and the -ur and -ar endings are just written -r i.e maðr and Gunnr etc. rather than maður and Gunnar like in modern Iceland but that doesn't stop anyone from understanding it.

In fact we're all made to read most of the sagas in school. Then have to take exams in them etc. it's rather amusing though that most of these are quite violent in parts, with stuff like someone being punched in the face which loosened some of his teeth which he then spat back at his assailant with the tooth bursting the 'bad' guys eye.

..not usually considered appropriate reading material for 12 year olds but in this case we were forced to read it for school.

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:40 AM:

P J @ 103... I guess. I assumed that maybe the King had his palace built to look like a Roman palace. I have a hard time with the cow-horned helmets though... I think the last time I saw those was in the movie version of Prince Valiant, with Robert Wagner and James Mason.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Sica: That is so cool. I'm used to medieval French manuscripts, which take training and gnashing of teeth to read. And really, the 12-year-olds I know would be all over eyes getting put out by people's teeth. My next question is, "Do people hate the sagas because they had to read them in school?" I know I couldn't stand Dickens for exactly that reason. It took me years to even think about reading Victorian novels for pleasure.

#108 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Fragano @104

Nah not really. I'm from Reykjavik which is a city of around 150 thousand people and I've travelled a fair bit (early childhood spent mostly in Paris and I've lived in Copenhagen for a few months as well)

The biggest contrast is not in the cities because really even in a city of a million you won't run into all of them every day. If a city is big enough so that there are lots of people you don't know in it the difference isn't that much. Especially going from a city of around 150k to around 500k which i think Edinburgh is.

The main culture shock is in the landscape. England is so domesticated. The Highlands are a bit better but they're still pretty tame. I actually got really hit by that in Wales when I was visiting a friend. We'd gone out for a walk and there was something missing. It took me a while to figure it out but for the first time in my life I didn't feel as if nature was inherently hostile and out to get me.

Like a noise that you don't realise is there until it's gone. I'd always had respect and a healthy dose of paranoia towards nature. I.e it doesn't care about you, it's fickle and can turn on a dime and if you're not careful when you leave the cities you can very easily die.

#109 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:53 AM:

TexAnne,

"Do people hate the sagas because they had to read them in school?"

Yeah pretty much. A few people realise that they are actually very interesting later on and read them for pleasure but most don't.

I haven't read a full saga of my own free will yet. I really do like the Hávamál though. I don't know if you know them but they are basically advice on how to live your life. A facinating insight into life in Viking times.

I have read some of the English translations and they loose around 80% of their beauty and impact in the translation. It's just.. they're written in a style that's very brief and terse and just doesn't suit English very well at all.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:58 AM:

TexAnne... Having to read something is the best way not to want to, especially for teenagers. I refused to read the likes of Flaubert and Dumas until I was a grownup (a legal one, anyway). The only author that the school system succeeded in making me like was Moliere.

#111 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:02 AM:

Sica: No, I've never heard of the Hávamál. Thanks for the tip!

It took me a while to get into the first saga I read--Njal's, I think it was--but then wham! Love. It helped that I had already read a great many Old French epics in the original, I think. Not that the sagas are like the epics, of course, but they're all equally distant from modern English. It also helped that I'm a f/sf fan, so putting myself in an alien world isn't hard. (I felt sorry for my classmates who only read 19th-century French novels. Their little heads exploded when they hit the Middle Ages.)

#112 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Serge: Ick, Flaubert. Ick ick ick. And yay, Molière!

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Flaubert, ick, TexAnne? I confess I haven't read that many of his books, but what about Salammbo?

Yay, Moliere? Indeed.

#114 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Sica #108: I know what you mean. I'd say that was true of a lot of the world (those parts that have a lot of people on them); that it's been tamed and nature brought under some kind of regulation. There is a big difference between what Britain is like, and those places where nature still wields a giant club all the time, not just occasionally.

#115 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Flaubert, ick, Serge. I haven't read Salammbo, but Trois Contes? Madame Bovary? OK, the latter is a masterwork of snark, but I generally am not a fan of books which make me want to smack all the characters. (Hence my dislike of Wuthering Heights and Le Rouge et le noir, among others.

#116 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Xopher @102; I know. That's the most obvious quick and decisive action needed; stop the grain merchants from exporting. But they had a near-religious belief in laissez faire free markets, and what voluntary relief efforts were going on were already at work in England.

I'm not really disagreeing; it's just I don't think there was a great conspiracy to destroy the Celtic Races. Just usual greed and incompetence and those people who did care were already involved in dealing with problems closer to home.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 12:50 PM:

I know what you mean, TexAnne, about characters one wants to smack on the side of the head. Salammbo's aren't like that, but be prepared for a very unhappy ending.

#118 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Sorry, reading back, I'm sounding a bit like some kind of Potato Famine apologist. The continuing export of food from Ireland during the famine was scandalous; I was just noting that one of the reasons for this, and the measures the government took being slow, incompetent and counter-productive was the problems in England and Scotland. The Irish, being poor, troublesome and Catholic were put to the back of the list for help.

#119 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Back in the Old Stone Age (AKA, the 1990s), I taught in Bard College's Freshman Seminar. This was my first independent college teaching experience, and it was a lot of fun.

I assigned both Madame Bovary and Hedda Gabler, which, in retrospect, was a mistake. I hadn't read either work before, and found myself having to explain that there would be no other readings that involved the female protagonists killing themselves (as opposed to works by women who did kill themselves, A Room of One's Own was one of the readings).

#120 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Serge #100:

We surfed into the middle of Beowulf, spent about five minutes and then surfed right out, because the Valley-Guy accents had gotten to us.

#121 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Maybe I was feeling generous, joann. By the way, did you recognize the actor playing Beowulf as Chris Bruno, who's the sherriff in TV series The Dead Zone, and whose bro Dylan Bruno is an FBI agent on numb3rs?

Meanwhile we just rented the DVD of something called Beowulf and Grendel that came out not long ago. I hope that it's better.

#122 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Serge #121:

sorry, I'll have to admit to monumental TV ignorance here. (I'm a lot better on the Brit acting stable. Which may not be saying much.)

#123 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Serge #121

Ooh.. that Beowulf and Grendel on dvd one was filmed in Iceland. I've not seen it though so can't comment on the quality but the background scenery should be decent

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 06:20 PM:

joann, how can you live with yourself, being in such ignorance of American TV? Me, I wish we had access to BBC America, which we did for about one week last week. It's one of those promo things from the cable company, where you pay more for the extended access, while the basic package is pretty dismal. At least the basic gets Turner Classic Movies.

That other Grendel was filmed in Iceland, Sica? Wow. I've got to see this. Probably tonight then.

#125 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Clarification: Altho' I can supposedly claim a relationship with William Wallace, I wasn't (at #86) claiming that the Highland Clearances and earlier repression after the Jacobite Rebellion absolutely were genocidal, just that some people do think of the treatment of the Scots in that period as that.

It does (IMO) fall into the range of despicable behaviour that shades into full-blown 'genocide'. There has been a lot of that behaviour around, in many places, over time and with different justifications and intensity; one of the lasting "sins" of humanity that honest & thoughtful people have to guard and warn against (more or less agreeing with Neil at #116's). (My current reading is Barbara Tuchman's 'A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century'. It's not cheerful.) There's been a huge stoush over the last decade or so about whether white settler/invader* treatment of Australian Aborigines could be called genocide, for instance.

Meanwhile, I use the example of grain being exported from Ireland while there was mass starvation there as an example of the ideology of Free Trade — called Economic Rationalism here, aka laissez faire — and why it needs to be held in social & governmental checks.

It could also happen because of the aforesaid "they're not like us", "they brought it on themselves", etc, prejudice against the poor Irish. Maybe you could make a connexion to similar feelings about the poorer inhabitants of New Orleans, or Iraqis. Humans do seem very prone to this, which is fostered & exploited by those it profits in power or money (see also 14th Century, & most others).

*An example of sides taken

#126 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Serge, at this point I hate myself for watching as much tv as I do; it interferes mightily with my reading and writing. There are whole weeks I rue the say tivo entered our lives. That said, what gets recorded is usually travel shows.

We do get BBC America, but because it doesn't show up in the newspaper listings, I somehow can never get round to finding out what's on.

I accidentally watched my first X-Files episode while on vacation this fall.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:19 PM:

joann... I probably watch too much TV too. But sometimes after a long frakking day at the office, I'm too tired to even read.

#128 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Sica @123... I'm almost done watching the movie Beowulf & Grendel. The Iceland settings and the cinematography are absolutely gorgeous, but it is a very strange movie, where you can have a scene of Grendel playing bowling with the heads of people he killed to hacking his own arm off to escape. I did get a laugh out of his tossing rocks at Beowulf who goes "Ow!" and later says to his men when they reach G's lair from above:

"Great. So who jumps first."

#129 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 08:51 AM:

For those who find themselves hating the literary classics they were forced to read at school, there is some good news. Therapy recently became available for at least one section of the population. It even has a hamster in it.

"My name is Jane Narf."

#130 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:21 PM:

Sica @95:

Ack.. my comment got messed up, accidentally dropped and dragged text around. The cat paragraph is invading and oppressivng the why English people making fun of Scotland is usually not seen as very funny talk.
Actually, I thought "the cat will pounce on anything that twitches" went very well, metaphorically, with "one gets sensitive to that sort of joke." You're the cat; it was that sort of joke (it twitched); ergo you pounced.

I thought you did it on purpose and now am all disillusioned because the world holds less poetry than I had thought. Fie! Someone owes me a sonnet!

#131 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @130

I thought you did it on purpose and now am all disillusioned because the world holds less poetry than I had thought. Fie! Someone owes me a sonnet!

Two conversations wander far afield
Like lab-warped hamsters, lacking optic nerves.
One stumbles and a lurking kilt's revealed
To fling the praise of Scotland's proud preserves.
The other ventures down a one-way track
Where fey, alert aelurophiles await
To pounce on errant threads. (They have a knack
For tangent tales where felines can relate.)
But then these fraying filaments are fused
By interference from a feisty pet
Whose frail servant's text should be excused
As part remark and part postmod duet.
Made light, the moggy-mangled message lingers
As tribute to attacks on typing fingers.

#132 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Bravo, Virge!

#133 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Virge,

Fantastic! I particularly like:

But then these fraying filaments are fused
By interference from a feisty pet

Fun.

#134 ::: Jen Moss, CBC Radio ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Hi. I'm a journalist working with CBC Radio in Canada. Like our sister station the BBC, we have a burning interest in hamsters... especially British hamsters. Quite honestly... we're amazed by the number of hamster stories and then the subsequent posts on your site... would you give me a call sometime, or drop me an email so we can discuss this further? My number is 1-604-662-6355 (pacific time, 8 hours behind London, roughly).

Thanks,

Jen Moss
"Freestyle"CBC Radio Canada
PS - when I was 8 I forgot to feed my gerbils for a week and one ate the other.

#135 ::: Nancy C points helpfully to a comment that TNH may want to follow up on ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:21 PM:

#134 from Jen Moss of CBC Radio

#136 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Brave bionic hamster,
Sharp eyes scanning for obstacles.
Hardwired into his sweeper
Following the path the decision tree
(That took so many yesterdays to create)
Predicted for optimal coverage of
Highest percentage of dirty floor.
Simulated bliss increases
As the dustbin fills – but –
Defer gratification!
Time to chase the cat.

#137 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Yes!

Thank you, Dawno; that's splendid. Jen, Nancy, I will indeed be following up on it.

#138 ::: Sam Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:35 PM:

There are a HUGE number of us across the globe who LOVE hamsters. I like mine with a bit of mustard and a chilled Cabernet Savignon.

#139 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:19 PM:

Are you gonna redact the number so malefactors and miscreants don't run amok with it on Google?

Congrats on the interview. I can't wait to hear it.

#140 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Jen, gerbils can be quite vicious to each other, especially if unrelated. One of my gerbils almost starved herself to death from loneliness when another escaped for a week: but a year later the same gerbil broke two of the escapee's legs and they had to be separated for good. That time there was no pining.

Animals don't really *do* consistency. (Neither do humans, come to that. Except for me of course. ;) )

#141 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 06:54 AM:

"Are you gonna redact the number so malefactors and miscreants don't run amok with it on Google?"

How so? Are you expecting her to get messages like:

DEAR MR 6355,

I AM MODOK MOBUTU, NEPHEW TWICE REMOVED OF THE FORMER RULER OF MY COUNTRY. I DEPLORE YOUR ASSISTANCE IN OBTAINING 74 MILLION DOLLARS FROM ACCOUNTS IN SWISS.

etc etc

#142 ::: Hamster Care ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 10:00 PM:

+1 for the hamster that returned from the dead after being buried!

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Animals don't really *do* consistency.

Rosenkrantz: Consistency is all I ask!
Guildenstern: Give us this day our daily mask.

(I would apologize to Stoppard if I've reversed the names...but it hardly seems I should.)

OTOH, A foolish consistency is the hobgob of small minds, or something like that.

I'm not even consistent on my view of consistency. In my inconsistency, however, I am absolutely consistent.

#144 ::: Kate Y. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 02:46 AM:

We had gerbils. Housed them in aquariums. Mom figured "they're desert animals, give 'em sand". So, a few inches of sand in the bottom, some toilet paper tubes to run through and kleenex to shred for nests, and they seemed happy. We dumped the sand in the back yard occasionally and gave them fresh.

We had to upgrade the design after my brother took his gerbil to school for Show & Tell. It escaped from the coffee can used for transport, and once home again, it looked at the open top of the aquarium with new eyes! Got out and went for the dresser, where it chewed straight down the corner of a pile of folded shirts. (The neatly darned "hamster shirts" became my favorite handmedowns.) We put wire mesh on top of the cages after that.


#145 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 06:54 PM:

My brother had gerbils and the family as a whole had a cat (although it loved Mother most) and on one vacation, we asked the boy down the street to feed/care for them. When we came home, the gerbils were missing and there were some tails around. He'd forgotten to put the brick back on top of the wire top of the cage and the cat took that off and just fished for dinner.

#146 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 08:32 PM:

My graduation from high school coincided with the adoption of two baby gerbils from a biology classes' demonstration of Mendelian genetics. By the end of the summer, I had about 35 gerbils, and took one of them with me to college in its own mini-Habitrail. The first time I brought it back home on vacation and reunited it with the rest of its family, the others killed it overnight.

By that time, the gerbils had been segregated by gender and half of them had been disappeared, perhaps to a pet store. The care of the remaining gerbils was taken over by a friend of the family who was staying at our house. Their sleeping chamber was now completely lined with shredded newspaper, hiding them much of the time, and the standard feeding procedure was to put their seed and pellets into an upper chamber of the Habitrail. Perhaps a few weeks before the next time I came home, she failed to notice that the upward tunnel to that chamber had its entrance pressed down to the floor, blocking their access. "They haven't been eating," she told me, and pointed to the single dead gerbil that was lying beside the wheel, the only one in evidence.

When I excavated the mass of shredded newspaper, the only remaining evidence of the other 10+ gerbils were four or five small fragments of bone and an intact, furry tail.

#147 ::: Steve Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Hamsters are a great animal. Being in the U.S I will have to admit I dont watch the BBC too often but now that I know of there love for Hamsters that may have to change. U.S television does not give enough credit to the mighty hamster.

#148 ::: angel ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:22 PM:

my hamster escaped last night and i cant find it...is there anything i can do to see if it is still in the house... espcailly as i read the bit were hampster causes house fires... im really worried someone plz try to help

#149 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Angel,

I had a hamster who should have been named 'Houdini.' One time when she escaped here's how we caught her:

My dad put peanut butter on a plate in the basement, and stayed up watching all night, and when she came out to eat the peanut butter, he picked her up.

I hope that helps.

#150 ::: angel ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:00 PM:

tyvm nancy i will give it a try

#151 ::: monica romero ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:53 AM:

my daughter had a hamster who had 6 babies we seperated them after a few weeks 3 at my oldest daughters and 3 here with me.One day I was at my daughters house and went to feed the babies, 1 was dead not only dead but eaten !!! the other 2 were just walking over it like nothing !!! So, I deposed of it immediatly.. cleaned the cage and everything seperated them !! one week later, at home I checked my hamsters daily !! One day 2 hamsters were the same only 1 was alive !!! what happened ??? they were fed daily, watered daily, cage changed twice a week !! CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED?????

#152 ::: monica romero ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:53 AM:

my daughter had a hamster who had 6 babies we seperated them after a few weeks 3 at my oldest daughters and 3 here with me.One day I was at my daughters house and went to feed the babies, 1 was dead not only dead but eaten !!! the other 2 were just walking over it like nothing !!! So, I deposed of it immediatly.. cleaned the cage and everything seperated them !! one week later, at home I checked my hamsters daily !! One day 2 hamsters were the same only 1 was alive !!! what happened ??? they were fed daily, watered daily, cage changed twice a week !! CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED?????

#153 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 05:49 PM:

Well, this doesn't look like spam, so I'll give it a whirl.

Without a necropsy, I can't tell you what happened to your hamsters. There are a large number of things that do happen to caged rodents, with "sudden death" being the only obvious sign.

You say you are feeding daily, etc., but have you been using the same bag of feed for a prolonged period of time? Feed does have a shelf life, and expired feed doesn't always have enough nutrients to support the high metabolic rate of a caged rodent.

I'm not sure how old your animals are, but their life span is fairly limited.

These are conventional animals, meaning not specific-pathogen-free, and there's all kinds of germs that can kill one animal quickly. There's tumors that you wouldn't see.

As I said above, without having a chance to look inside the cadaver, I can't give you an answer. I can only give you suppositions and possibilities.

#154 ::: Mary Aileen sees old spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Undeleted spam at 154

#156 ::: TNH updates the news compilation ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2013, 02:03 AM:

Will we ever again see the kind of coverage the BBC gave this important subject in 2009?

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