In Soviet Russia, Hamster Buys You

| Working | January 8, 2016

(Though I don’t consider myself an expert of any kind, I have kept hamsters for about ten years, and am familiar with them. I am picking up some supplies at a pet store when I overhear this exchange between a woman and — according to her name tag — the small animal expert.)

Woman: “I’m just not sure what kind to get her. She’s only six, you see, so I want something that would be good for a child just learning about animals. But she LOVES hamsters.”

Expert: “Well, I’d recommend the Djungarian hamsters. They’re dwarf hamsters, and it’s always better to get a hamster more their size.”

Woman: “Are you sure?”

Expert: “Absolutely sure. I am an expert in small animals.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to butt in, but actually I would never recommend a dwarf hamster for a smaller child. The Russian dwarfs are better than the Chinese dwarfs, but get a Syrian hamster. They’re the bigger, classic hamsters. They’re a lot more tolerant to being dropped, and they’ll forgive you if you squeeze them a little harder than is comfortable, or pet them a little too roughly. Russian dwarfs aren’t vicious, but if you pet them too hard, they feel threatened and bite. You don’t want to encourage children dropping their pets and stuff, but mistakes happen, you know? Syrians are much better for smaller children.”

Expert: *scoffs* “Dwarfs are cuter.”

Me: “I actually think the Syrians are cuter, personally. But, I just was making a comment about their age-appropriateness. And Syrians are better for smaller kids than Russian dwarfs.”

Expert: “Well, maybe. But these aren’t Russian dwarfs. They’re Djungarians.”

(I point to the info card which reads: “Djungarian hamsters, also known as Siberian dwarfs, or Russian winter white dwarf hamsters..”)

Me: “Yes, they are. Just giving my opinion.”

(I walk on. Later, I see the mother at the check-out. I’m very pleased to see that she bought a Syrian.)

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