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

Posted By wiffy On January 22, 2010 @ 3:10 pm In Hamster Tails | 39 Comments

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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