Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The beginning of the end?

Both sets of inlaws are descending on us this weekend.

In preparation for the assault, I have started getting the house in order.

Yeah, who knew that I could actually be on the ball, and start getting ready for Wednesday on Monday? I'm all grown up, or something.

But anyways. In order to make things work, Nate will move in with Skip in his room, Kelly and the Hammies will move into Nate's room, and then Grandpa and Grandma can have Kelly's room (minus the hamsters and their unique bouquet)

So this morning, I'm moving things around, and before we leave for school, Kelly and I move Midnight and S'more over into Nate's room, onto cleared spaces on the dresser and the toy box. Kelly suddenly says "Eeeew, gross!"

"What's up?" I ask, knowing, of course, that Midnight, being a boy-hamster, tends to make a more caustic stink in his cage.

"Mom, Midnight pees on his wheel, and it's all DARK!"

Well, we knew that Midnight had decided a while ago that instead of actually EXERCISING on his exercise wheel, he was going to use it as a wobbly potty. I try to keep up with the cleaning, wiping it out occasionally, so that it's not accumulating a sticky dark pee-coating. So I just said "Don't worry, honey, I'm cleaning the cages this morning." and we left it at that.

We go off to school, I run a few errands, and I head home to clean cages and start laundry before I have to go to the library to volunteer.

First order of business? Midnight's cage.

I open his cage, and he comes running. He's so well trained. "maybe she has a treat? Maybe she has peanut butter on her finger?" (thanks for that tip, special fave of mine!)

I put him in his wheel, and got ready to clean out the cage.

There was a lot more sunlight in Nate's room than there had been in Kelly's room when we moved the cages, and when I popped open Midnight's cage, something became immediately apparent.

It was not dried up old dark piddle in Midnight's exercise wheel.

It was blood.

And the blood was sticky and fresh.

I looked at Midnight. He was gaily tooling around in his little exercise ball, exploring the perimeter of Nate's room. He didn't look sick at ALL. There was no matted fur. There was no lethargy. There was no dullness in his eyes.

Just this puddle of blood in his exercise wheel.

So I cleaned up the cage, and gave the wheel a good scrubbing. And when I brought the cage back into Nate's room, I saw something I was hoping I wouldn't see.

Midnight had peed while out in his exercise ball, and there was a small red puddle in the middle of the floor.

I read as much as I could get my hands on for the remainder of the time I had at home before heading out. Looks like hamsters are very prone to getting bladder stones. Especially after they turn ONE. Who knew that a one year old hamster was already considered Of Advanced Age? Midnight's almost TWO. He should be collecting Hamster Social Security checks, by this information.

While a veterinarian can operate to remove the stones, this seems like a great deal of grief and effort for a pet that probably only has a few more months of good life left. He doesn't seem to be in any pain at all, is eating and drinking fine, and hasn't changed his habits at all. I've looked up a few things, and will cut back on the fatty treats (he's such a sucker for Yogurt Drops, which are pretty high in fat), and will introduce dandelion leaves, which should help him pee more freely. But looking at the contiguous volume of piddle he produced, he doesn't seem to be having any difficulty with stopping and starting. And until I see some changes in his behaviour, I'm going to just keep mopping up the pink piddle, and hope that he's truly not in any distress.

I'm not ready to go back to being a one-hamster family just yet.

And I'm sure that Kelly isn't, either.

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