I was putting Kelly to bed the other night, and we were looking in on the remaining 2 hamsters, Kashi and Cheerio, making sure they had water and extra treats, when I noticed that Cheerio was trailing something behind her.
A long... red... string.
Now, Cheerio is our brain damaged Roborovski Hamster. She's had what we thought was a nervous tic since we got her, which has caused her to only turn left. As she's gotten older her head-twitch has gotten more pronounced, and her barrel-racing ways have gotten more obvious, and a little more frenetic. If she's not actively turning left, she's twitching her head like Justin Bieber adjusting his bangs.
My first thought was that she'd run into something, and had repeatedly run into it because of her disability, causing a wound. But I would have thought that the wound would be closer to her head, and this seemed to be originating from somewhere in her hind quarters.
Sure enough, when I was able to corner her, and pick her up (good grief, those girls are fast!), I could see that all her left-turning (seriously, we should have called her Nascar. "Just turn left! Just keep turning left!"), and her ramped up speed recently, was causing her to pivot on her left rear foot, and somehow all that pivoting had caused her to spin some of her bedding into a strong string that had managed to form a tourniquet around that pivot foot. The blood was bright red, so I knew it was fresh, but I really didn't know if it had already cut off circulation to the foot, or if it had twisted enough to actually cut the foot off, period. My stomach was churning as I looked at the thread around her foot, and the sticky blood on the thread. How was I going to get that off her foot?
Kelly had a pair of craft snips on her desk that she's been using to make jewelry, and they looked tiny enough, and sharp enough to get in close without crushing any tiny hamster bones. *shudder*
Cheerio didn't like being held, and she was spinning around in my hand, so it was kind of hard to pin her down so I could get access to her rear foot. I managed to snip the thread fairly close to her foot, and I hoped the twisted bit around her foot would wiggle loose as she started tooling around in her tub again. Kelly wanted to make sure she would be OK (the foot was swollen, and bright red), so we took her into the bathroom, and I put her on a hot wet washcloth in the sink, where she could wander around on it, and moisten her wound. I had a wet Q-tip that I was trying to swab her foot with, and Kelly sprayed some Neosporin onto another Q-tip, and she was trying to medicate the foot, so it wouldn't get infected.
I did dread looking into her cage in the morning. Would she be missing a foot? Would she be dead? She is getting old, almost exactly 2 years old this week, and I wouldn't be surprised if this trauma would be enough to put her into shock.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
Hello, Cheerio. Ready to spin for another day?