Now that Caiti has met her surprise hamster, I can tell you all about her. At least, we think it’s a her. The pet shop assistant was a bit vague, saying it’s hard to tell males from females, but we’re going to go with her being a lady hamster.

Caiti’s already had two hamsters: first a teeny tiny Robovroski hamster, called Princess Fluffy the Ferocious. We didn’t realise that these particular hamsters are extremely good climbers, and hadn’t taken the necessary precautions. PFF escaped after a few months. Next came the adorable Tchaikovski, Tchai for short, a Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamster. He was a super little guy. He travelled happily between Bordeaux and home on the train with Caiti over her last year at university there. He was really friendly and inquisitive, a real star. We all had a very soft spot for him. Sadly, and to our great surprise, he took off for pastures new one night. He’d escaped plenty of times in the past but always come back. However, this time he didn’t and we were all upset.

Caiti has been busy sorting out her place on a Masters course to read Bioinformatics at university in Leiden in Holland, and finding a flat there, and then going to Paris to take a required language test to prove her English is good enough to be educated in! Despite being a native English speaker she had to do this test as part of the admission process for Leiden. She sailed through the test and got a score of 119 out of 120, proving what we already knew at the cost of a good few hundred euros! But such is life.

Anyway, Caiti announced she’d be popping home to collect her bike. Everyone cycles in Holland, and apparently it’s quite dangerous being a pedestrian. Much safer to be on two wheels. So I nipped to Jardiland to buy a new hamster for us to share. I’ll mind her most of the time, and Caits can be Senior Hamster Keeper during her holidays.


So meet Sibel. It’s a shortened, female version of Sibelius, since we had a composer name thing going with Tchai. She too is a Russian Dwarf Hamster, and I ignorantly thought Sibelius was a Russian composer. When I finally checked, I discovered, of course, that he was Finnish, but the name has already stuck. Sibel she is! We actually think she’s a Russian Winter White Dwarf Hamster. She’s a lot paler than Tchai was i.e. white, plus she’s more active in the day than he was, which is another characteristic of the breed.

She has a tumour on her right front paw. I didn’t notice it in the shop, since she was whisked out of her nest at high speed by the pet shop lady and shoved in a little box. I soon noticed it at home though. Hamsters are quite prone to tumours, it turns out, but it’s rare for them to be malignant. So all being well hers is benign, and I hope it won’t grow any more. I don’t imagine it’s easy to remove them from such tiny creatures.

She seems to be settling in happily. She slept in the ‘bedroom’ module of her cage to start with, but has since moved her nest to what was her little sand tray for rolling in. She’s made herself lovely and cosy.

She’s spry and perky, and really rather sweet. I’m sure we’ll get lots of enjoyment from this tiny ball of fluff, and I hope she’ll enjoy being with us too.