How about a hamster with that cat food

A few weeks ago, my daughter, Jordan, was running errands with her boyfriend, Alex. They stopped at the pet store to pick up a bag of food for Jordan’s cat, Wednesday. Jordan told Alex she would only be a few minutes if he wanted to wait in the car.

Alex said he would come in the store with her. They walked in together but only one made it to the cat food aisle.

I’m not sure Jordan was even aware Alex wasn’t with her. When it comes to Wednesday’s needs, she is laser focused. After Jordan scoured shelves for the best food for the 3-year-old Chantilly Tiffany, she grabbed a bag and went looking for the AWOL Alex.

Jordan didn’t need to go far. Alex was looking at a baby long-haired Syrian hamster. Once they held it in their hands they were sold.

Alex thought the hamster looked like a “Rick” and Jordan added the “ey.” So, Rickey went to his new home, to a waiting Wednesday and all of her “cattitude.”

According to, the Syrian hamster is a small rodent that can become quite tame, friendly and affectionate. It is known as the “golden hamster” because the vast majority are a golden brown with a white belly. Rickey is predominantly white with touches of brown on the tips of his ears.

Long-haired Syrian hamsters, like Rickey, are called “teddy bear” hamsters. A teddy bear hamster has a long skirt of fur on either side of its tail. As a male, Rickey is fuzzier than his female counterparts. Jordan brushes the hamster’s fur with a toothbrush.

They are solitary animals but will interact with humans. Jordan and Alex are slowly building a relationship with Rickey by touching and holding him for brief periods each day.

These nocturnal animals are about five to seven inches long and can weigh four to eight ounces. Syrians are the largest of 19 different species of hamsters. They usually live two to three years. Rickey is 3 to 4 months old.

Like Syrian hamsters in the wild, Rickey digs burrows. In the wild, a hamster burrow can be 10 feet deep. Because Rickey lives in an aquarium his tunnels can be measured in inches. There are multiple tunnels including several under his house.

All hamsters have “cheek pouches” to store and carry food. Rickey stores food in his cheeks in the morning before he goes to sleep. To empty a pouch, Rickey uses his paws to push “up” from the outside and on the inside with his tongue.

According to, wild hamsters can travel up to nine miles at night in the wind. Like most hamster owners, Jordan and Alex have a wheel for Rickey to get his “steps” in each night.

Hamsters are considered one of the cleanest of the rodent family. Jordan and Alex have placed a small bowl in the aquarium filled with reptile sand. Every evening, Rickey takes a “sand bath” just like wild hamsters in the Syrian desert.

Jordan and Alex’s biggest concern was Wednesday. What would the “queen” think? In the beginning, she would jump up on the desk next to the aquarium and watch Rickey scurry about. After a few weeks, the queen lost interest with the rodent and went about her royal duties unabashed.

Like Jordan and Alex, Rickey was just another loyal subject in her kingdom.

Hamster scientific classification

Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Family: Cricetiidae

Genus: Mesocricetus

Species: Auratus


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