Ancestor hammie Bitoy, 01 June 2004.
He was just an ordinary hamster, a banded brown (inbred) male Teddy bear. He came to us in September 2003 with his sister (banded orange) when my wife’s friend offered us to adopt them because her aunt didn’t want to keep hamsters any longer. The hamsters were barely a month old; we “christened” them Bitoy and Bebang. From then on our household includes a family of more or less a dozen members whose roots can be traced back to this first pair. (click on this word: Genealogy )
This is Bebang, nursing two in a litter of eight of the second batch. She was very meticulous, neat and orderly in her cage. (photo 26 March 2004)
Although at a younger age not so friendly to human or animals alike (hamsters were no exceptions), Bebang was a very responsible mother to all her 3 batches of litters.
This is one of Bitoy’s few portraits (wala pa ko digital camera nu’n). I was working on the construction of a scale model of a rice harvester. I always use my hamsters as models to give a clue on the relative size of every miniature that I make. He was caught here in a bad mood because he was awoken for the sole purpose of this pictorial. (05 April 2004)
Bitoy was a constant companion in our visits to my mother and in-laws not very far from Manila, and in our regular trips to Baguio (We live in a small rented unit in Nueva Ecija). In the evenings of these overnight stays, we let him stroll freely in the room. Lying in bed with the lights off, I could distinctly hear his footsteps as he ran across the wooden floor with reverberating outburst of vocal delight (Tududududududu…!!!). He really enjoyed the overnight stays, but I think the long trips had been indeed very stressful for him.
In November 2004, Bitoy got sick and lethargic. He was refusing to play on his wheel and had chosen to stay and sleep in his transport box. During the evening, in the hours when he was supposed to be active, I let him stay and sleep on my chest while I was lying down; he just stayed there as if he was getting some comfort.
About seven days later I knew he was dying. He solemnly took his last breath while in my hands. (Incidentally, I was playing a country-western version of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” in my PC’s CD; I cannot help but cry silently.)
I admired him for his struggle to survive (as most animals do). He didn’t seem to worry about his infirmity even until he was at death’s doorstep – he still ‘ate and moved on’ – as long as he was able. When he died, I even found a fresh sunflower seed in one of his cheek pouches.
He lived for only 15 months — too much shorter for the already short lifespan granted to such small creatures. But he left a lasting legacy.
I have had some small animal pets in the past (guinea pigs in 1975– , and hamsters in 1988– and 1999– ) but I have never been so attached to such a little creature before. Bitoy is no ordinary hamster after all.
His departure grieved me for a long time… but I must get over it. I knew more “passings-away” would follow…