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Hamster Surprise

A true story?

Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell me there was “something wrong” with one of the two hamsters he holds prisoner in his room.

“He’s just lying there looking sick,” he told me.

“Oldest trick in the book, son,” I informed him. “You go in to see what’s wrong with the sick one and the other one sneaks up behind you and bonks you on the head. Then they change into your clothes and escape.”

“I’m serious, Dad. Can you help?”

I put my best hamster-healer expression on my face and followed him into his bedroom. One of the little rodents was indeed lying on his back, looking distressed. I immediately knew what to do. Call for help! “Honey!” I yelled. “Look at the hamster!”

“Oh, my gosh!” my wife diagnosed after a moment. “She’s having babies!”

“What?” my son demanded. “But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!”

I was equally outraged. “Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn’t want them to reproduce,” I accused my wife.

“Well, what was I supposed to do, post a sign in their cage?” she said sarcastically.

“No, but you were supposed to get two boys!” I reminded her.

“Yeah. Bert and Ernie!” my son agreed.

“Well, it’s a little hard to tell on some guys!” she growled.

By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. I shrugged, deciding to make the best of it. “Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience,” I announced. “We’re about to witness the miracle of birth.”

“Gross!” they shrieked.

“Well, isn’t that great! What are we going to do with a litter of little hamster babies?” asked my wife.

“When the dog had puppies, I took them to the grocery store in a cardboard box and gave them away,” I recalled.

“What do you want to do, take a pair of tweezers along so people can pick out their hamster?” she asked.

We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a moment later. “We’re not making much progress,” I noted.

“Breech birth!” my wife whispered, horrified.

“Dad! Do something!” my son urged.

“Okay, okay.” Squeamishly, I reached in and, the next time the foot appeared, gave it a little tug. It disappeared. I tried again, with the same results.

“Should I dial 911?” my daughter asked. “Maybe they could talk us through this.”

“Let’s get Ernie to the vet,” I said grimly.

We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap. “Breathe, Ernie, breathe,” he urged.

“I don’t think hamsters do Lamaze,” his mother noted.

The vet took Ernie into the examining room, put him on the table, and peered at him through a magnifier.

“What do you think, Doc? An epidermal?” I suggested, scientifically.

“Oh, very interesting,” he murmured. “Mr. and Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?” I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside.

“Is Ernie going to be okay?” my wife asked.

“Oh, perfectly,” the vet assured us. “This hamster is not in labor. In fact, that won’t ever happen. Ernie is a boy.”


“You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into maturity, male hamsters will, uh, er, ah...” he blushed, glancing at my wife. “Well, you know what I’m saying, Mr. Cameron.”

We stood in shocked silence, trying to absorb this. “So Ernie’s just… just… excited?” my wife offered.

“Exactly,” the vet replied, relieved that we understood.

More silence.

Then my vicious, cruel woman started to giggle. And giggle. And laugh. Then laugh loudly. Laugh uncontrollably!

“What’s so funny?” I demanded. Tears were running down her face.

“It’s just… that… I’m picturing you pulling on its…its… teeny little…” she had to gasp for air.

“All right! That’s enough,” I warned. We thanked the veterinarian and bundled hamster and son back into the car. He was just happy everything was okay.

“I know Ernie’s really thankful for what you’ve done, Dad,” he told me.

“Oh, you have no idea,” my wife agreed, collapsing into laughter as I gave her a dirty look.