Dwarf hamster life span is something you legit could not predict.
Yes, you can see it everywhere on the internet.
But when the reality kicks in, sometimes we are just humans who have no hand in deciding someone’s life, not even a hamster’s lifespan.
While every so often, an animal still succeeds in making their way into a special place in our hearts.
Lots of the time, this animal was the last one you would have seen coming. But looking back, you can't think of it working out any other way.
This is what happened with Danish, my sister’s first ever Winter White hamster.
Of course, at the time we had no idea about this hamster species. We just knew they were called Russian Dwarf hamster.
Sally, my sister, had just moved out of a bad student housing situation and into an apartment on her own. Her boyfriend was thinking that it would be a good idea to bring a new friend into her now independent life, so he wanted to get the tiny boy for her.
At the time, they still had Sheldon, an amazing black Syrian hamster – or you might know it as Golden hamster – with the personality of a human being.
He had my sister enthralled with hamsters, so Sally eventually agreed to raise another one.
Me, being a good sister, also took part in the search for the new friend.
We saw an ad on a local classifieds website from a girl who had unfortunately ended up with more than sixty of these baby hamsters – which mostly are Russian dwarfs such as Robo dwarf hamsters, Winter White dwarf hamsters, Campbell’s dwarfs, and even some Chinese hamsters.
The reason we ultimately decided to go was because she had gotten so desperate she was giving them up as snake food... and I clearly was not having that.
So we showed up at this horrid split complex, in the sketchiest part of our city.
It certainly didn't help that it was January and pitch black with three feet of snow everywhere.
Fortunately, my sister and her boyfie were just as determined as I was.
We had read that they were to be kept in pairs (limited resources of the time), so we figured that it would not be difficult to find two siblings out of more than sixty.
We were right, it wasn't difficult at all.
As soon as we got inside the area where all the cages were set up, these two bright-eyed boys scurried over and that was that.
It took us all of three minutes between the time we went inside and when we were leaving once again.
We had Danish and Fransey.
Due to how excited we were about our new friends, neither of us had any idea just how challenging these two dollops were going to be.
As the first few months passed, none of our dedicated taming attempts worked. Both of those tiny babies essentially wanted to be fed and left alone.
I was of course disappointed.
Before adopting, I actually read a bunch of articles saying that Dwarf hamsters make great pets not only because they look cute and funny (eventually), but they are born as social animals.
Though, as time goes by, I decided it was perhaps for the best.
I was certain they would develop some type of problems because of their backgrounds, and I figured that would keep me slightly more detached.
But we were so wrong.
Around six months after we adopted them, my sister came home from work to find Danish absolutely covered in blood.
It took her no time to figure out that there had been a massive falling out, and fortunately we had a spare hamster cage ready for such an occasion.
I always assumed that sad day would cement Danish's timid behavior, as it appeared to permanently affect his brother. Fransey stayed mean for some reason, we concluded it had to have been a stroke, as it was such a sudden change.
However, Danish had other ideas.
While he was always timid after that, he started to not mind getting held while he ate treats, or sniffed around, and my heart just soared.
Unfortunately for us, Danish’s road of difficulties was only just beginning.
It was actually an alarm of other signs of illness.
It didn't take us long to figure out that he had gone blind around the time he turned one. The cause is unknown, and it never slowed him down, but the timid behavior was back tenfold.
Not that I would blame him, but it was certainly difficult for us to adjust to each other and his new hardship, as the vets in our area had very little to offer, so it was very trial and error.
Eventually, he got used to me and my sister’s voice and would take treats from our hands. But that was as far as he wanted to take it for the most part, and he looked to be losing steam fairly quickly, so we didn't want to stress him, as we thought he was near his final days.
Winter faded into spring. Danish also started looking better, so I initially thought I was tricking myself.
But as spring became summer, it was very obvious that he was a rejuvenated hamster. I thought maybe the breeding issues weren't going to affect my little ones after all.
Then one day, I came home to find Fransey forever asleep in the sleeping bag I'd made for him.
Losing his brother for some reason strengthened the bond we had with Danish, as he had somehow outlasted both his brother and my dear Sheldon, after always being the sickly underdog.
As my sister and her boy got ready to go back to university, we really didn't imagine that we would be bringing him home with us ever again, as he was two, and we were more than happy with the time we had with him (or so I tried telling myself.)
Last fall was a season of change for Danish. His fur got beautiful again, he put some weight back on, and he was running on his hamster wheels like I hadn't seen him in ages.
On top of that, he was letting me hold him for the first time since he had gone blind a year before, which essentially made all our hard work worthwhile.
There was no doubt about it;
Danish was a champion in the smallest of packages, and I was learning more from him every day.
And then the night came when I thought it was goodbye.
He had been completely fine all day...until he suddenly wasn't.
We got that horrible gut feeling that pet owners get when they think the worst is coming, and me and my sis especially were at a complete loss.
He was barely breathing, not eating, and when he moved he was dragging himself. We got him baby food and I stayed up with him all night, needing him to know I was there when his time came.
Except by no small miracle, that night wasn't his night.
He pulled through and in the morning I saw his tumors.
There were three of them, and I just completely broke down.
All I had hoped for with him was that he would go peacefully and painlessly, and I knew when looking at him, that would never happen.
We took him to the vet, who told us that while the tumors (and extremely likely strokes) would hinder his movements. There was no real reason to put him to rest yet.
The vets one recommendation;
Remove his wheel as it would just take up space.
So we did, and little by little, we watched him get better. The day came when I was cleaning out his tank, and without thinking, I put his hamster balls and wheel back in (two years with the same habit, it was like clockwork.).
And the most amazing thing happened.
He started walking on his wheel.
Every day he went faster, and we were lucky enough to get another Christmas with him, and then another New Years.
As if fate just enjoyed toying with him, on the two year anniversary of his arrival into our lives, he showed signs of a respiratory infection, as well as another stroke. The same vet advised me to make him comfortable, as there was no point putting him on medication at this point in his life.
We put the heating pad under his tank, fed him his favorite baby food and yogurt (we stopped giving him fresh foods from pet store according to our vet’s advice), and hoped we had done our best.
He was back to using his wheel full time, eating his precious dog bones and solid food (along with his baby food, as it's his favorite,) and loving life.
He was a constant reminder of just how wrong people can be when you have the willpower and the right people backing you up.
Every single day I woke up to him coming to greet the sound of my voice and I am grateful.
My mind recalled the time I decided to adopt my dwarf hamster, Gab.
Us, hamster owners, had this one worry in our minds – that grew over time – when it comes to the lifespan of a dwarf hamster.
And though factors affecting a dwarf hamster life cycle may vary based on the species of hamster itself, at the end of the day, we’re just humans after all.
We prepared our best for the day when our tiny pets will sleep forever, but most of the times we’re just drawn into them obliviously.
I had no intention of getting attached to Danish this way, as I originally just wanted to provide him and his brother with a safe home.
Instead, he has taught me so many valuable lessons, as he fought through every hardship and came out on top.
Our wins are simple, but they are significant, because we are always going to be in each other's corn.