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This article is written for Hamster Tails, a special series on real-life hamster adoptions that will tug at your heartstrings.

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“I shudder at the thought of how different my life would be if I hadn’t adopted Neko … I would have definitely missed out on many happy moments.”

Neko came to me on 5 May 07. When he arrived, he weighed a measly 30grams and he was all bashed up (his right eye was injured and one of his paws was bleeding). My first reaction when I saw him was shock at his scrawny, emaciated frame and I wondered if he will survive.

The Neko File
Neko’s Adoption Certificate

Neko has a very sad and traumatic childhood. He was rescued from a backyard of a scheming pet shop whereby a kind soul witnessed a first batch of unsold hamsters being ‘discarded’ by the pet store owners by gasp, pouring boiling water over them when they were still alive.  The kind soul subsequently grabbed the second batch of 11 hamsters which were all being crammed in a small cage and saved them from the fate of being boiled alive. The hamsters were subsequently rehomed and I took Neko.

Neko, my dear ham
Neko – a handsome dude

“Every hamster has the propensity to be happy, and it’s indeed sad if they do not have the chance to live their lives to the fullest.”

Neko recovered more than 200% though. We washed his eyes daily and I was ecstatic when his eye healed completely one day (which I didn’t expect at all). His paw healed too without any scarring. He looks so handsome now, I’m so proud of my boy, hehe. He is the ultimate food connoisseur (read: he is greedy) and quickly grew from 30g to a whopping 80g, which is really chubby for a dwarf hamster. He eats a lot, wheels a lot, his eyes are bright, his ears are perky … in short, I have never seen  a happier hamster. This just shows that every hamster has the propensity to be happy, and it’s indeed sad if they do not have the chance to live their lives to the fullest.

Neko, my dear ham
Shifty looking Neko – What are you up to my boy?

Despite his sad past, Neko has the sweetest disposition. He seems not at all bitter about his bad childhood, for he is affectionate and easy going. He is the most good-natured boy in the world. He never bites, he allows himself to be picked up at any spot in the cage without resistance and he enjoys a good massage now and then.  I can also tell that Neko is a very contented boy who seems to appreciate every little toy and treats that was given to him. He explores every nook and cranny of his cage, and he seems to like every part of his home.

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Neko’s Home – A cage within a bin concept, which he really loves

Neko is an obliging hamster.  He lets me “bully” him by posing in all kinds of photoshoots, which were subsequently published as a series of online comics titled “The Misadventures of Neko Chan”.

Neko, my dear ham
An obliging Neko (Oct 08). Neko perfects the pissed, dot dot dot look.

“Neko is the apple of my eye and he brought me so much joy on a daily basis. I feel so thankful everyday that I have Neko by my side.”

Neko means ‘cat’ (ねこ) in Japanese and I named him so because I think he must have 9 lives like a cat to be able to survive his earlier ordeal, and it is my wish that from there on he will live a long and blissful life, to be able to escape if he faces any danger – just like a cat :)

Neko, my dear ham
Neko’s Tail

Neko is the apple of my eye and he brought me so much joy on a daily basis. I feel so thankful everyday that I have Neko by my side. I shudder at the thought of how different my life would be if I hadn’t adopted Neko … I would have definitely missed out on many happy moments.

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Hamster Tails #4: The Adoption Bug

by wiffy on November 12, 2008

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We all have different perceptions about pet store hams and shelter hams. It would be natural to assume that pet store hamsters for sale are of better breed and quality, while hamsters who have been given up are in poor condition and untame. However, Hamster Hideout forum member rhapsody found out that the truth is far from it. She now finds so much joy in adopting and rescuing hamsters, that she will never again buy from a pet store.

Read the full inspiring story, written by rhapsody herself.

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“Be warned – the adoption bug is extremely contagious, and catching it will make you want to rescue every single hamster in need.”

I admit that I once had a prejudice against shelter hamsters.  Most I believed were either sickly, ancient, or had major behavioral problems.  I mean, these hamsters were abandoned for a good reason, right?  Why would I want someone’s rejects when I could purchase a young and healthy hamster from a pet store?

“I decided to give the whole adoption thing a try.  And in less than three months, my hamster family exploded from two fur-kids to a brood of seven.”

However, my assumptions about pet stores turned out to be far from the truth as I discovered after purchasing my first three hamsters: Sweet-Pea (R.I.P) suffered from chronic diabetes, Munchkin has a neurological condition that is most likely caused by severe inbreeding, and Nikki has extreme cage aggression.  And after some research, I discovered the ugly truth of the origin of many pet store hammies – breeding mills and irresponsible “backyard breeders.”  I vowed to never again purchase hamsters from a store.  Thanks to a certain Hamster Hideout member and her lovable yet wobbly dwarf, I decided to give the whole adoption thing a try.  And in less than three months, my hamster family exploded from two fur-kids to a brood of seven -

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Robo sisters Itsy-bitsy and Teeny-weeny: The unwanted results of an accidental pet store pregnancy, dumped at a small animal rescue.  Found via Petfinder and adopted on Saturday, June 28.rhapsody_Pippin_300 rhapsody_Pippinbutt

RC dwarf boy Pippin: The only hamster in an enormous humane society, consistently overlooked by potential adopters for over a month.  Found via Petfinder and adopted on Friday, July 18.

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RC dwarf boy Twip: A rambunctious yet unwelcome burden to his owner who no longer had time for him.  Found via Craigslist and adopted on Thursday, August 14.

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Syrian girl Hazel: A large gal with patchy fur that was stuffed into a tiny filthy wire cage that had very little floor space and a 5’ wheel.  She had a deep mistrust of humans and a penchant for biting.  Found via Craigslist and adopted on Wednesday, August 20.

“Adopting a hammie is truly an experience like no other, and trust me, you’ll never regret it.”

With these new additions to my furry family, I learned just how rewarding adoption can be.  In all honesty, I feel that I have bonded with my five adoptees on a far deeper level than my two pet shop hamsters.  For me, there is a sense of greater responsibility on my part to make things better, to right all the wrongs these hamsters have experienced.  To prove to them that they are worthy of love, and that my home will be their forever home.

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And they in turn respond to my love and care with an outpouring of affection.  None of the five have ever bitten me, not even the mistrustful Hazel.  The robo girls will affectionately head-butt my fingers every now and then.  Pippin and Twip are absolute love-bugs who enjoy being held, crawling all over me, licking my fingers, and hugging my nose.  And Hazel … well, the timid gal has fully blossomed into a cuddle monster who likes to take naps in the crook of my arm.

Be warned – the adoption bug is extremely contagious, and catching it will make you want to rescue every single hamster in need.  Adopting a hammie is truly an experience like no other, and trust me, you’ll never regret it.

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When HH forum member mikachewie saw Meeko’s ad on Pet Finder, she does not even know what Meeko looks like … but not that it matters anyway, because she already has her mind set on adopting Meeko!

Little does mikachewie knows what she has gotten herself into – a super tame hamster, a whole lot of happiness, and the great sense of satisfaction that comes with adopting. Looks like someone has caught the adoption bug! ;p

Read the full inspiring story, written by mikachewie herself.

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“In a world that forgets that hamsters are amazing companions and not just expendable pets for young children, I managed to save one and it felt good.”

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I was perusing PetFinder when I came across Meeko at Animal Care & Control (ACC). I couldn’t help but immediately inquire because ACC is no place for a dog or a cat, let alone a hamster. They had no pictures of him, just a description. I went ahead and sent them a message to see if they’d allow me to adopt him. I didn’t really care what shape he was in or what he looked like, as long as he came home with me. They responded and told me that Meeko & another hamster had been dropped off carelessly in front of a pet store in a box during the day. Since Meeko was male, the store refused to keep him, and he was sent off to ACC.

“They had no picture of him, just a description … I didn’t really care what shape he was in or what he looked like, as long as he came home with me.”

meekocute3 I arrived on August 7 08 to pick Meeko up. I was surprised to see a beautiful albino male sitting in a bed of carefresh. He was in a 5 Gallon tank, open top, with cats around him. His cage smelled atrocious. In fact, 6 days later he is still retaining some of the smell, though, with time, it’s starting to lift from his fur. I didn’t notice a wheel or a hiding spot – just food, water, and a chew toy. ACC don’t have space to accommodate hamsters, so I can’t say I was surprised. I filled out all of the paperwork and paid $5.

“I got home and found out you can pluck him straight from his cage or let him walk onto your hand and expect no bite.”

meeko_butt The girl who was handling him said he had been “nippy” and I assumed it meant he wasn’t tame. It turns out to be far from the truth, as I got home and found out you can pluck him straight from his cage or let him walk onto your hand and expect no bite. He loves his wheel and his little TV and he’s about as sweet as anything. He managed to steal my heart and my plan to foster him while I find him a good home failed miserably. I can’t give him up. I love my little Meeko and it was an amazing experience to adopt and save him. In a world that forgets that hamsters are amazing companions and not just expendable pets for young children, I managed to save one and it felt good.

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Read all the issues here.

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