On Tuesday, 18 January, the Animal Welfare Society of SA admitted 20 unwanted Syrian Hamsters that have since been transferred to a specialist rodent rescue group, Boggle And Brux Rescue.
Their owner Mr Alexander from Hanover Park took them over from his grandson who “had no more patience for them” about a year ago. Their numbers soon swelled and Mr Alexander could not afford to buy them individual cages to prevent them from breeding, fighting and killing one another.
The pet shop owner who sold them the original pair suggested that they be kept in separate 5-litre plastic buckets, but before Mr Alexander could take any form of remedial action, he went away on holiday leaving the hamsters in the care of his son and free to multiply.
When he returned from holiday the number of hamsters had exploded with several having given birth to as many as 13 babies at a time leading him to finally conclude that “he couldn’t keep up” and that “things can’t go on like this.”
The breeding was so rampant that on the morning of their admission one of the hamsters gave birth to a large litter and literally moments thereafter the male was chasing her around relentlessly.
Unfortunately, all of the survivors had some form of injury. Many had infected bite wounds whilst others had skin problems and painful eye infections caused by constant fighting and overcrowded living conditions.
The Animal Welfare Society of SA also noticed that they were without exception underweight and very stressed and as they fished through the urine-soaked bedding in search of newborn hamsters the overpowering stench of faeces and urine took their breath away and made their eyes watery.
“There are so many lessons to be learnt from this story starting with giving proper consideration to pet ownership, to never buying pets from pet shops to the infinite benefits of pet sterilisation, but the most important lesson is to take timely action when things start to unravel and the novelty of owning that once cute pet wears off”, says the Animal Welfare Society of SA.