Vern, aka Vernal Squeequinox, is my Winter White dwarf hamster. You might have seen him in other articles here, or in my interminable Facebook posts. Maybe you’re not interested in another page about my emotional support hamster*, but I assure you, Vern only wants to share love. Like me, he takes his small fandom very seriously. (As seriously as a tiny ball of fluff can take anything.)
*If you’d like to lose an awful lot of blood, mention “that news item” in front of me. I will happily crush your windpipe and aerate your jugular vein. Happily.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
This V-Day is a little more special than last year’s, because Vern is a year older, which is a long time for dwarf hamsters. If you’ll permit me, I’d like to get the “hard stuff” out of the way first.
- I’m aware of the average dwarf hamster’s lifespan. This does not change my (tremendous) attachment to Vern in the slightest.
- Vern was so affected by the stresses I suffered at my former residence, his fur fell out in spots. When I moved and improved my living situation, his fur grew back, thick and shiny.
- For the past month or so, Vern has had a goiter about the size of a marble under his chin. He appears unaffected by it, and is as bright-eyed in the morning as ever. It’s underneath his fur, so it’s hard to see, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t worry me. A trip to the vet costs as much as a trip to the doctor, and I feel like I’ve been begging for donations too often. Again, Vern is not in any pain or discomfort that I can discern. If this changes, I may become hysterical, so be forewarned.
- I’m telling you this because Vern is a beloved mascot around here with a lot of “fans”, who give him lots of love, which he absolutely enjoys. For real.
Pictured above is Vern in his favorite chill spot: my mottled sausage-mitt. He sticks one back foot out between my ring and index fingers, and the other above my pinkie. His front paws are under his chin (so is the goiter). He sits like this while being petted between the ears, and slowly falls asleep. It’s extremely therapeutic for yours truly (and probably Vern, too).
Vern eats food specific to dwarf hamsters. I recommend this over regular hamster food. Coincidentally his fur grew back when I made the switch, so for all I know, he started going bald because I bought him the wrong food. That’s a stretch, though, and I don’t wanna bear that cross.
Something else to consider if you have or want a hamster; I have maintained a large set of Habitrail “Ovo” pieces for around ten years. Ovo habitats have no corners; all the chambers are spherical. This is because hamsters naturally think corners are future passageways. If you ever wondered why your hamster is scratching at a corner at night, it’s because;
- You need to put the hamster in a proper habitat and not just what’s convenient for you
- Your hamster is bored and needs to bond with you
Hamsters have a unique and special bond with people. I typically get a boy hamster because they’re a little more easy-going and lazy. Female hamsters can get bitey, because they’re wired to protect their environment. I have been bitten by hamsters. I never hold it against them. Tiny living things can be easily frightened.
This is how Vern and I bond, about every evening. Again, note his back feet- they are actually functional, despite their vestigial appearance. When he starts to fall asleep, they flap gently like little paddles. Then I involuntarily make a snorting noise, and he wakes up. When he wants to go back home, he twists his upper body in that direction. This is usually because he needs to poop. He has almost never pooped or peed on me. His tail is so teeny it might as well be a point.
Vern has not read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, but he was around when I did, and I explained to him about the Tralfamadorians and their view of mortality. He knows that when he does pass on, we can look at pictures of him, and it will feel like he still lives. Vern has a great spirit. I like to make excuses to share that spirit with my audience. Like, say, Valentine’s Day.
When it’s usually just me and Vern. Are you also alone on Valentine’s Day? Well guess what- not anymore!
Here’s a blurry pic of Vern I took at my old place. I like it because our beards match, and the food in Vern’s cheek pouch makes it look like he’s flexing. He’s roughly the size of a large, fluffy mouse, and sometimes he moves too quickly for the camera. He likes to kiss. He has kissed me on the nose. There’s no shame in it.
I like the above photo because it has a “hang in there, baby” vibe to it. Vern was still getting situated when I snapped the picture. Again; those are his real feet. Anyone worried about me squashing him is ignorant of the reality of dwarf hamster teeth. They’re like needles, and they sink into flesh effortlessly. Buzz, my first dwarf hamster, used to nip the end of my thumb and hang by his choppers. He knew exactly how softly to bite. Hamsters are wondrous.
I don’t have a video of Vern this go-around, because like him, I am lazy, and I didn’t have Cheerios or other treats ready for him to eat on camera. (I’m actually lazier than Vern. He cleans his apartment more often.) I have peanuts, which have to be slowly distributed to Vern, lest he grow too fat. Any doubts about his vitality are laid to rest when he violently wrenches a single legume from my grasp. He’s seen me go through a can of the damn things in one sitting. He knows what’s up.
Anyway, from Vern and myself, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYBODY!