SNOWBALL: Zombie Hamster

Our hamster Snowball is sick.

It all started about 6 months ago when my daughter Emma noticed something inside Snowball’s ear. I didn’t think it was serious until it got so big that it was growing OUTSIDE of Snowball’s ear as well. That’s when I took her to the vet.

Yes, that’s right. I took a hamster to the vet which is an endeavor in itself since NO ONE treats hamsters. We found the only place in Dallas that would see her and that’s where they determined she has cancer. Hamster Cancer, believe it or not, is quite common and is the #3 killer of hamsters, right behind:

#1- Other Housepets and

#2- Neglectful Children

Despite the prevalence of Hamster Cancer, no cure has been found (and surprisingly no 5k has been established) so Snowball was given a death sentence. The vet even offered to put her to sleep when she became too uncomfortable.

I delivered the somber news to my children, who were heartbroken. They were also a little excited about administering daily medication to an animal they rarely held. And so it began.

That was months ago and our hamster hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, there are days when she seems HEALTHIER and HAPPIER than before that thing started growing out of her hear. Speaking of which, it has gotten MASSIVE. Some days it’s even bigger than others. Maybe she’ll scratch it too hard because it will swell and appear bloody one day, then seem smaller the next. Some days she’ll seem quieter than others and we’ll start to worry. That’s when my husband will say in a hushed voice, “Snowball’s been awfully quiet lately.”  For the record, he has given me constant hell for the time and money I’ve spent on this hamster. He’ll say, “We could’ve gotten 20 Snowballs for the money you’ve spent on that thing!” But he’s also the first one to worry when she’s quiet. Those are the days that she’ll hide from me when it’s time to give her medicine. I start to prepare myself for the worst but later that same night she’ll be running a marathon in her wheel. I call it her “I’M NOT DEAD YET” victory lap.

My kids can barely handle it. They don’t like looking at Snowball anymore because she freaks them out. I don’t know what to do with this. Sometimes I’ll make them sit with me when it’s time to give her medicine so they can see that she’s still healthy despite the growth (I need a name for that thing. Seymore?). Other times, when she doesn’t look so hot, I let it go. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do as a parent but I also don’t want to traumatize them. Plus, I don’t mind having a few moments alone with Snowball. I’ll let her scurry around on the floor and crawl across my legs before giving her medicine. She especially loves chewing on my shoes (Vans in particular ENRAGE her for some reason). It’s our time together and if I’m honest with myself I’ll admit that it will hurt me more than anyone else when it’s Snowball’s time to go.

I have certain friends who always ask how Snowball is faring. One girlfriend just brought her up the other day and said, “Is that thing really still alive?” I told her that YES, Snowball is still kicking and feistier than ever and she replied, “Damn, she’s like a Zombie Hamster.”

Yes she is. Kudos to you, little Snowball. Keep fighting like hell and be a symbol of strength in the Battle Against Hamster Cancer. Now I’m going to post a picture of her. Prepare yourself. She isn’t pretty, but she’s my hamster.



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