Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 Space Cage
When M. Edium first got Bucky, we got the cheapest cage available, basically a plastic pan with a white-laminated wire top and a plastic exercise wheel clipped to the back "wall." The really fancy standard features were a little plastic food bowl and a little plastic tag you can write his name on so that if anyone breaks in and kidnaps him they'll at least know what to call him.
The cage M. Edium really wanted for Bucky was the fancy, super-advanced model made mostly out of purple and green plastic, with wire bars laminated in neon green. It's festooned with expandable crawling tubes that loop in and out of it, there's a "visiting tank" on top that we can open the lid on and pet him if he feels like crawling up there at the same time, and the exercise wheel on top not only spins normally on the horizontal axis, but more slowly on a vertical axis, like a rotating restaurant. Super-cool, in short. I told him we were getting the starter cage, and if he took good care of Bucky and saved up his allowance he could get the "space cage" later.
After a few months, he earned the space cage for Bucky when he got promoted to "gold stripe" in karate. We brought it home and set it up that very night and popped Bucky in, and then waited for him to start loving it.
Turns out it's a little difficult to explain to a hamster why he should love his new cage. He was afraid of getting stuck in the crawling tubes, the exercise wheel made him claustrophobic, and the visiting tank made him feel exposed to every owl that passed overhead in M. Edium's bedroom (no matter how many times we told him there weren't any). Also, the dark plastic roof meant he was getting a lot less light in there than he was used to, and as much as we tried to remind him that he's crepuscular he didn't seem to buy it.
We gave it a few days, but while we were used to Bucky chewing on his bars once in a while, we weren't used to him chewing on his bars all the time. By the middle of the week, the food bowl never got depleted, the exercise wheel gathered cobwebs, and the top of M. Edium's dresser was covered in green drifts of pulverized wire-coating.
We decided the only thing to do was move him back "home." We swapped the cages back, and the difference was unmistakable. You might think it's hard to judge the mood of a tiny creature whose emotional displays consist of scampering and twitching -- which look exactly like his unemotional displays -- but we could all tell. For one thing, he ran that cheap-ass old wheel like he thought I really had hooked it up to a cell phone charger.
You might also think that M. Edium felt screwed out of his reward, which he kind of ended up wasting on a pet who didn't want it. But he's happy; Bucky now has a "vacation home" that he can visit on weekends and special occasions. The fact that he's never bothered to do so doesn't take away from that. I'm sure a lot of people with second homes have a similar relationship with them. posted by M. Giant 9:35 PM 0 comments