30% OFF Pride collection code: USAPRIDE! Free Shipping over $99

The Average Life Expectancy of a Hamster is Two Years

by The Next Family May 25, 2010

By: Tosha Woronov

I think the hamster is dying.

Princess.  That’s her name.  Princess Super Hamster.

And I feel bad.

I don’t know what to do, how to help her.  I’m not sure if it’s crazy and excessive to take her to a vet, or unthinkable not to.  I had hamsters as a little girl, a few of them.  But none made it to the senior stage that Princess has, which is (possibly) dying just shy of her second birthday, of natural causes, whatever that means.  No, my childhood hamsters– Henry, Henrietta, and I can’t remember the other’s name – suffered more immediate fates:  trapped in our home’s heating system after a late-night escape, having snuck out like teenagers, only to be found several years later by my dad and the furnace guy.  Those brittle, fetal-shaped skeletons.

No, Princess is dying differently, safe in her cage, which I just cleaned, at 3 am.  I did this because I want her to die more comfortably, with soft bedding and fresh water.  That’s what I hope my family will do for me when I go.  Not only that, but should I wake in the morning to find her gone, I don’t want to have to dispose of a gross cage and a dead hamster.

She’s just sort of withering away.  Shutting down, like an old battery.  She weighs almost nothing -a husk -when once she was a fat puffball of warmth.   She doesn’t appear to be in any pain, but who knows?  She’s never been the complaining type.  Suffering gracefully, I suppose.  That’s what I hope to do for my family when I go.  She’s also more still.  Not busy at all.  I can now hold her for hours (and have been all night), half-wrapped in my t-shirt on the couch.  I used to complain, “she’s so sweet and cute and all, but she just won’t hang around or cuddle, always on the move.”  That’s partly why we didn’t play with her enough.  That and I had dishes to do, or emails to write, pasta to boil.  Leo had to play basketball, make a picture, take a bath.  For this, I feel bad.

I think I can handle the fact of her dying.  And it seems Leo can, too.  Tonight I told him it might happen and he didn’t cry.  They spent a moment together, saying not quite final goodbyes, but probably as much as any 5 year-old (who has thus far lost only one goldfish and a tiny praying mantis that we adopted from our tomato garden) knows to do.  At first I think I was disappointed that he didn’t seem more concerned, because I love a soul who aches for all animals.  But then I remembered that his wide-open heart is this way already, and the less it breaks, the better.  I believe we parents of sensitive children are always relieved when that child feels normal –whatever that means –about anything.

It’s time for me to go to sleep now, like the rest of my family.  And when my husband, my son, my dog, and I wake in the morning, it’s quite possible our hamster won’t.

Her name is Princess Super Hamster, and she’s a sweet girl.

The post The Average Life Expectancy of a Hamster is Two Years appeared first on The Next Family.

The Next Family
The Next Family


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Parenting

Modern Fitness For the Modern Parent

by The Next Family March 25, 2016


Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian

By Laura King

Life can get busy. With work, kids, family commitments, friends, chores, and the general chaos of everyday life, it can be near impossible at times to sit down for a cup of tea, let alone squeeze in an hour of exercise regularly. However, all things are possible if you set your mind to them. Those that prioritize their fitness nearly...

Continue Reading →

Estate Planning: The Basics For LGBT Families

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

With the passage of marriage equality last year, laws have been quickly changing across the United States. LGBT couples with or without children weren’t just given the right of marriage, they were provided new protections and benefits within their families. All of a sudden, LGBT couples and families had to figure out how to file jointly when it came to taxes, how to add...

Continue Reading →

Representation of Modern Families in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

by The Next Family March 24, 2016 1 Comment


By Alex Temblador

I recently wrote an article for The Next Family called, “Family-Friendly Films That Feature Adoption and Foster Care,” that shared wonderful family films with adoption or foster care story lines. My reasoning behind doing so was because every family deserves a chance to see similar families like theirs represented in various forms of entertainment.

The same can be said of other...

Continue Reading →