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Hamster Tails #7: Johnny – The Incredible Story of a Hamster in the Bucket

by wiffy on January 22, 2010

This article is written for Hamster Tails by HH member Isa, a special series on real-life hamster adoptions that will tug at your heartstrings. Thanks to HoppingHammy for proof-reading it & cropping the photos.

Author’s note: Many hamster stories start in a pet shop. Most of them are very simple, along the lines of “I was in a pet store and I fell in love with this cute hamster, so I had to bring it home with me. The End.” Johnny’s story starts in a pet shop, too, but it’s a totally different story. It’s so incredible, in fact, that you won’t believe it’s true. I think it’s an important story to be told, though, because it will teach you many things such as – what’s really behind the cute hamster you see in a pet shop, how you should not get a pet if you aren’t serious about keeping it its whole life, and how sometimes you can take a different route from walking into a pet shop to find your new companion! It may be more complicated, but it’s surely more rewarding. Now, on to the story!



Once, a girl who loved hamsters very much was in a pet shop. Even though she knew the pet shop owner very well, she didn’t like going in that shop because hamsters weren’t usually treated nicely there. But what she saw, that day, was beyond imagination. A whole family of Winter White hamsters – dad, mum and 4 babies with their eyes still closed – was living in a bucket without any toys, bedding, or even a hideout!

The brave girl, of course, complained with the store owner. He laughed and said she could bring all of them home for free. Now, this may seem strange, but you have to know that many pet shop owners sadly only care about money; and since a very small part of the shop’s income actually comes from the hamsters themselves, that’s why they don’t care about hamsters. They provide them with the cheapest housing and food possible, and it doesn’t matter if some of them die from illness or fighting with one another, since they reproduce so fast there’s no danger of running out of hamsters to sell!


Anyways, the girl went back home with the whole “bucket family”. However, even though she separated dad from mum and the babies immediately, when the babies were about 21 days old, Mum gave birth to 3 other babies. (This explains why you should separate mummy and daddy hamster before the babies’ birth, but pet shop owners obviously don’t care.)

The girl had no choice but to separate the first 4 babies from mum and find them new homes. One of them, (nicknamed Leone (Lion) for his long, fluffy fur that resembled a lion’s mane) was adopted by another girl, who our rescuer knew very well. She thought he would finally have a nice home.

The End…? No, that’s not the end! One week later, while the girl was still struggling to find homes for the newest babies, Leone’s owner just brought him back. She said she changed her mind and she wanted to get a guinea pig instead. (Comments about this behavior are best left to the reader…)


Poor Leone was without a home again. Who could possibly want him now, especially since he wasn’t a cute little baby anymore? In reality, he wasn’t even 2 months old, but people would prefer to adopt his younger siblings instead. That’s where the narrator of this story comes into play. I, Isa, who had followed the whole “bucket hamsters” story through a hamster forum, who couldn’t stand all what these poor hamsters had gone through (especially poor Leone), finally offered to adopt him. Actually, I was 1 hour away from where the girl lived and I didn’t have a car either!…no problem! I managed to organize a meeting at the train station, make the 1-hour train trip with an empty hamster carrier, meet the girl’s mum (who handed me the hamster and give her a brand-new Wodent Wheel as a gift), jump on the return train 10 minutes later, and finally be back home in time for lunch.

So, that’s how my hamster came to live with me. He’s been renamed “John”, after the nice girl who rescued him, (whose name is a female version of John) and his middle name is Leonard, as a variant of his old name Leone. John Leonard, usually shortened as Johnny, now lives in a 2-tier Imac Fantasy (a big improvement from a bucket!), and has a Wodent Wheel plus many other toys. He is as happy as a hamster can be!


I hope you enjoyed reading Johnny’s story. Next time you go to a pet shop and see a cute hamster, think about Johnny. Ask yourself if you really want to support the pet shop business by buying one. Think that there may be another hamster, somewhere, whose life hasn’t been easy and who may not be so immediate for you to get, but who deserves love just as much. Consider adoption, which is always the best choice!

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kisetsu January 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

It’s a wonderful story. This is a true fact of petshops, they thot they can make a quick buck outta hamsters, when they don’t, they just dispose. I really must give kudos to the brave girl. So glad Johnny has a home. :)

2 lemonadenoi January 24, 2010 at 12:12 am

What a wonderful story & what a lucky hammy Johnny is :):)

3 saphira January 31, 2010 at 11:37 pm

i’ve been through with hamsters at least a decade and this is one of the most touching hamster story i heard :thumbs up: for you Isa, may you and Johnny lives happily ever after.

4 starismyhamster February 1, 2010 at 4:18 am

poor johnny :(
happy he has a better owner though :)


5 crazydaisyuk February 10, 2010 at 2:27 am

I enjoyed reading your “bucket story” so much. I made sure my children read it too and we all agreed that people should first find out what it takes to look after a small pet before getting one – maybe a responsiblepet shop should ask them to fill out a questionnaire or something?
We have adopted our little Robo named Oscar last September – he has been bullied by his siblings, so the owner asked the pet shop to rehome him – and we are enjoying being his new owners and friend very much :)
He has since moved into a new house with us and me or my children wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him – his life hasn’t started off on the best note but we’re making sure we make up for it by looking after him and making sure he’s entertained and has all he needs.
Thank you for the story, Isa :)

6 beautiful (; February 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm

reading the last paragraph, it actually made me think about those poor hammies…. a touching story (:

well done, isa
laurenandbobbles xx

7 hannah :) February 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

Aww so sad im gunna own a petshop someday and the hammys are gunna have a great life!! :)

8 Faithy xx February 28, 2010 at 12:43 am

I am now inspired by this story and now how important it is to think about hamsters and what they’ve been through . This is a touching story and i will always think about Johny . xx

9 Love4Mykah March 1, 2010 at 3:29 am

That was so sweet of you!(:

I know that my next hamster will be adopted! Whether it be a baby or a 2 year old, I want to help a hamster in need(:

10 Razzy March 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

A Hammy in need deserves (no, not Puff’s Plus indeed) a nice home indeed! :3 <—–Isen a BIGGUN who is in need for a house indeed! OHSA!!!!
Sorry, Carmen went a bit wacky but Mitzi is planning to get back at the store owner, and me? I almost bawled my eye's out.
I LOVE HAMMY'S!!!! Take care John!

11 George Lucas April 4, 2010 at 1:47 am

Nice story thanks for sharing!

12 Hamsters are 1 ! June 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm

That was a great story loved it

13 Shelly June 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Sorry I had changed my name

14 Shelly June 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm

My friend may tell you a story her hamster was in the bathroom and who knows why and she got up in this pipe in the bathrrom sink she was crying they got her out but what happens next write back to find out. By the way I love the stories all of you write they are all fun

15 Shelly June 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Well I meant my friend was crying

16 Shelly June 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I will be on a trip back from virgina I am up there with her at a different place. Also at the stupid website with the hamster drawing incident when the person wrote a mean thing about hamsters there was another person who liked them and it said my friends hamster coco/coconut had died the owner heading back from virgina has same named hamster

17 kelsey August 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

that is such a touching story!!! i myself have 2 hamsters a boy and a girl my girl hamster is 5 days pregnant i’m gonna have a mum hamster and a few babes !!!!!!!!!!

18 skarfy March 30, 2011 at 3:32 am

I had seen this happen before.. The shop main pet was birds and it was so disgusting. The birds were everywhere. & when I walked in to check out some hamster supplies, I walk pass what I thought was an empty bucket but instead saw the hamsters in a red bucket with no wheels and with pine bedding! I really felt sad for the hamster but what to do? I cant afford to own more hamsters.. I’m really glad the girl was brave to complain to the pet shop owner :)

19 Leia July 9, 2011 at 7:52 am

Guinea Pigs always seem to be involved in hamster
rejects. That’s horrible! I hate guinea pigs!

20 coco January 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Sad….. :( and who wants guinapigs?! They are dumb in the brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

21 Tianna April 7, 2012 at 3:08 am

That was a great story and I think that I might get my hamster from the hamsterhideout adoption

22 Karolina July 1, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Wow the last paragraph was touching the poor hammies!
My sister wants to get a Syrian Hamster, she said shes gonna call it Mr.PicklePie :P ^_^

23 Haley Llera September 27, 2012 at 2:35 am

Yay for Edmodo!

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29 Roboqueen2 October 7, 2013 at 7:16 am

sooo glad Johnny got a home. I wish people were not so selfish):

30 Roboqueen2 October 7, 2013 at 7:16 am

sooo glad Johnny got a home. I wish people were not so selfish):

31 gracie January 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

oh yeah i forgot to say I’m going to try pet finder but that site never works for me :(

32 HamsterifficLuv8116 June 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

oh my goodness! so touching!!!!! ^3^ (~^u^)~

33 HamsterifficLuv8116 June 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm

and to gracie, you just need to ask for help when your on that site, my eye is on sherman the dog, but i was originally looking for a hamster there, but then decided that i would save a poor chinese dwarf hamster from rotting away in a pet store, i got Mimi , we don’t know yet but she might be pregnant and I’m secretly hoping she is since i want to be on that level of experience with hammers! but yaaaay pet finder is still awesome!!!!

34 HamsterifficLuv8116 June 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

lol i said hammers instead on hamsters!
|0 3 0|
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35 Madde Lawrence June 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

Sooooooooooo touching

36 brookie82928 June 22, 2014 at 9:49 am

that’s so heart warming and im now so happy I got my hamster!!! Believe me if I could then I would love to adopt one of those little hammies!!!!!

37 Tessa August 16, 2014 at 7:28 am

What!? ADOPTION! Thats the stories moral? Those hamsters who were living in a BUCKET didnt teach you anything? They were IN NEED! They were dying to you know, just because they came from a petshop means they dont need a home??? I buy hammies from my local petstore to save them! Not to support the store!

38 Joe September 1, 2014 at 12:18 pm

SO SAD!But I have a hamster but thAt story is sad.

39 Coconuts February 15, 2015 at 2:11 am

Guinea pigs are not dumb. I have guinea pigs at home and they are amazing.

This story was so touching! My hamster was abandoned on the street then the lady from the rescue found her. we adopted her! when I see my hamster I will think of johnny

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