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Hamster Panic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Yup,that one right there is a boy," declared the pet-store owner as I gazed intothe sawdust-filled aquarium.

"Can I hold him?" I asked eagerly.With every passing minute I fell more in love with the spirited little ball offluff scampering around the cage.

"Oh, of course!" boomed thebig woman, smiling at the prospect of a sale. She scooped up the chubby littlefuzz-ball and placed him in my waiting hands. And with that, I was hooked. Myheart was set: I would not leave the store without him. My mother knew it, too.She gave in rather quickly, and before I knew it, I was in the car holding myhamster in a tiny white pet-carrier.

My hamster settled into his new homevery nicely, digging in the pine-scented bedding and exploring the colorfultubes. I held him every chance I got.

The third day I had him I came homefrom school and went to my room as usual to do homework. When I glanced inside mylittle hammy's cage, though, I was not at all prepared for what I saw. I stoodthere, dumbfounded. It appeared that my new pet's insides had fallen out and wereviolently wiggling around in the sawdust next to him. I tried to scream to mymom, but all that came out was a half-hearted yelp. When I had somewhat recoveredfrom the shock, it dawned on me what had happened.

"It hadbabies!" I screamed. My mom, nearly as shocked as I was, came rushing in. Itwas hard to believe that such an unsightly brood had come from such a cutemother. All ten looked the same - eyeless, hairless and pink.

When I dida little research, I found some very disturbing facts: if the mother feelsthreatened in any way, she will kill and eat the whole litter. The same willhappen if your scent gets on any of the pups, so under no circumstances couldthey be touched for the first three weeks. I had never been so stressed in mylife. If they all died, it would be my fault. I was now responsible for ten uglylittle lives.

The nest was positioned in the corner of the top layer ofthe cage. It was the perfect spot, close to food and water, but far from the tubethat led to the bottom layer. She was not satisfied, though. When I came home thenext day, the whole family had moved into the tiny orange hut. This would nothave been a problem, except for the tube. It was an eight-inch vertical drop thatwas dangerously close to the entrance of the nest.

I got home just intime to watch the first one fall. It made an awful plop as it hit the bedding."Please don't let it be dead," I pleaded. Just as I finished thatthought, the second fell, and then a third. The mother, who was stuffing her facewith food, was disturbed by the yelps coming from her fallen babies and went downthe tube to check it out. Please don't eat them; please don't eat them, Isilently begged. She sniffed one of them, then picked it up and put it in hermouth.

"She's eating them!" I wailed, and ran down the stairs ina crying fit. "Do something!" I choked as loudly as I could. My momsprang out of her seat and went to look.

"Catie! It's okay; shebrought them back up to the nest. They're all okay," she called down thestairs in an attempt to calm me.

"A-a-alright," I squeaked, andreturned to my post. I had to wait until all of them were safely in the nestbefore I disassembled the cage. I didn't know how long it would take, but I knewit had to be done if I were ever going to sleep again. By the time 3 a.m. rolledaround, the last baby was back in the nest. I moved quickly, and took the tubeoff and capped the opening. It was such a relief that I lay down on my bed, and,with one long sigh, was asleep. I don't think I have ever slept more soundly thanthat night.

Nothing else went seriously wrong after that, but my fearpersisted. After three weeks, the babies had their eyes open and even venturedout of the nest. With each passing day, they matured and my stress level wentdown considerably.

The weeks flew by. I was really sad to have to let thebabies go, but for fear of getting ulcers, I returned them to the pet store.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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