Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Hamsters in Japan

Several years ago I was visiting my cool aunt in Japan during one of my holidays. As I was playing with her hamsters she mentioned to me a common problem with these cute little pets that many owners in Japan were facing: accidental death by BURYING THEM ALIVE. A particular breed of hamster, the Djungarian Hamsters, are from desert climates and are very weak against the cold, entering a hibernation-like state if the temperature drops too low… and Japanese winters get very cold. The critters are difficult to rouse once this happens, as it is not normal sleep, and many ignorant humans mistake the hamsters for dead. The owners, often children, would then dispose of the “corpse”, usually by burying them in a garden, unknowingly becoming responsible for their beloved pet’s death (I utilized the toilet flushing method in my comic, though not strictly accurate it was in the interests of comedy! Things are much funnier when they involve toilets, right?).

The Japanese pet situation is slightly different from what’s normal in Australia, and this is due mostly to the practicalities involved. Limited living space is a big issue, dictating the size of animals in all but the largest of houses. It is also relatively difficult to find leased properties that allow the keeping of pets, much more so than in Australia. It’s a distinct selling point for a house or apartment to offer their tenants the option. Given the limitations of space and how damned cute they are, the hamster is an excellent choice for a pet.

Did I mention they are cute? They are SO CUTE! If they were allowed in Australia I would keep one, no doubt. It is pretty great feeding the little guys an entire noodle of raw spaghetti because it’s similar to a Warner Bros. cartoon beaver chewing through a log like a wood chipper: you offer one end of the pasta to the hamster and it grabs it with two tiny pink hands, and in a second or two it is all gone. The hamster is like a black hole that sucks the whole thing in, instantly. And then it walks around with a pair of huge bulging mutant cheeks like nothing is the matter.

Still, they are a pretty stupid animal. I know this whole hibernation thing doesn’t count as stupidity, but it contributes to the image in my mind that these little guys are freakin’ dumb. There they are in an environment designed for their survival – unlimited food and water, an exercise wheel (luxury!), a cozy little burrow, NO PREDATORS – and they go ahead and mess it up. I imagine their survival strategies in the wild would go something like this: