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How NOT to euthanize a hamster

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how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster
how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster

Once upon a time, in my youth, I had two hamsters...Tarzan and Jane. Both were male, fortunately, otherwise I might have ended up with a lot more hamsters. Things were good for a couple of years.

One day, I noticed that Jane, my tiny little fawn-colored hamster, had an issue. Something large, pink and nasty looking was extruding from his ass end. It looked as if his intestines were trying to creep out and expand. It looked...painful. Jane didn't seem to be in any pain however and so I just monitored the situation, hoping that the hamster would expire of natural causes before I had to make a decision. Yes...THAT decision.

My family was not big on euthanasia. Parakeets keeled over in their cages and were found feet up the next morning. A turtle baked to death once when Mom accidentally moved his terrarium into a shaft of sunlight for an entire day. And dogs simply took one way trips with my father in his truck...and I was told that he had found them a better home. Not until much later would I even be familiar with the term or realize its availability.

That left me with a problem though regarding Jane. Instinctively I knew that the humane thing to do would be to "put him down." I just couldn't figure out how to do it painlessly. My thoughts turned to suicide...or rather, how people kill themselves.

how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster
how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster

I ran scenarios through my head. What sounded relatively painless? Carbon Monoxide poisoning seemed to be a popular choice. Unfortunately, it would still be a few years before I would have a car or a driver's license. Not to mention the amount of work involved trying to find a closed container and a hose of the proper length and size to fit a tail pipe.

A lot of people seemed to favor a drug overdose...perhaps something like that would work. But then again, I didn't have access to any really lethal drugs. Wait a second...weren't pills and alcohol supposed to be a deadly mix? My mind quickly raced through the contents of our house. We had alcohol. Sure the vodka might be a bit watered down because of my sister, who was snitching it and didn't think I knew...but it would still probably work. And we did have some Tylenol time release capsules in the medicine cabinet. I could break one of those apart and the contents should do the trick...

And of course, if that didn't work...there was always the toilet.

I shuddered just thinking about it and decided that Jane would just have to die of natural causes. There was no way I could do any of those things. And so...I waited.

how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster

Weeks later and Jane could no longer walk comfortably around his cage. The ass bulge kept dragging and it was starting to look irritated and messy. With reluctance, I reached into Jane's cage, lifted the small hamster out and looked it in the eye. Jane was suffering...up close, I could see it. There was no sense putting it off any longer...

I assembled the ingredients for the lethal cocktail...one capful of watered down Smirnoff vodka and the contents of a Tylenol capsule. My hand was shaking as I sucked up a portion of it into the eyedropper and carefully administered it to the hamster in my hand. Jane chewed on the Tylenol loudly. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Little by little I dosed my hamster until it began to sway from side to side. And then I waited...

About a half hour later, Jane lay on his back...the nasty butt growth fully visible. But instead of being dead, the hamster seemed to be fascinated with its own paws, sticking them in his mouth and rubbing them along his belly. Every once in a while there was a hiccup that shook his entire little furry body. The hamster was severely intoxicated...

With a sigh, I realized that this was just not working...and that left only one other option. The toilet. I didn't allow myself to think about it. Quickly I lifted the lid, deposited the hamster, shut the lid and fled the room. In the living room, I rocked back and forth in my mother's favorite chair...ticking off the seconds. In my mind's eye, all I could see was Jane, swimming desperately...drunkenly...in the toilet bowl...and I realized that I just couldn't do it. Immediately, I propelled myself from the chair and raced to the bathroom...lifted the lid...and sure enough, there was Jane, doing a mad doggy paddle. With relief, I reached in and retrieved my hamster, thankful that I had gotten there in time.

"I'm so sorry, Jane...I'm sorry. I can't do it. I know you are in pain...but I can't kill you," I cried stroking the wet fur with one finger, tears sliding down my cheek.

Jane looked at me...hiccupped once...and keeled over in my hand. Dead.

Now you would think that I would be relieved...mission accomplished. Jane was dead. But no...

"Jane!" I cried in horror, "Oh...no! Jane!!"

I started with chest compressions using my index finger. When that didn't work, I placed my mouth over Jane's Tidy Bowl flavored face and tried mouth to mouse resuscitation (I know...technically he was a hamster, but a mouse is a rodent too and it sounds better). Let me tell you something about that technique when employed on a hamster. It doesn't work. His little cheek pouches expanded and that was about it.

And that was how my mother found me when she arrived home...sitting in her chair with a dead hamster wrapped in a towel, rocking back and forth in the throes of grief and guilt.

I swore, from that day forward, that I would never again deliver death to an animal by my own hand. No matter how small a creature it was, I would gladly deliver it to a veterinarian and have them do it for me. I could excuse my actions due to youthful ignorance...but my conscience still pains me.

Mittens & Max prepare to bob for drunken hamsters

how-not-to-euthanize-a-hamster

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Comments

Melissa A Smith from New York on October 31, 2018:

I'll never understand how people can be moronic enough to use a toilet. I recently read about a piece of scum that flushed her hamster at an airport because they wouldn't let it on the plane. Why a toilet, exactly? As opposed to just drowning it yourself? Because you don't want to see it suffer yet are OK with giving it such an agonizing death out of sight? Toilets are for dead fish, not living animals.

Kennedy on October 27, 2011:

I stumbled on this story in my attempt to google Euthenizing a hamster. My poor little guy is suffering and we really don't know how to help him. I never thought of tylenol and vodka, but I probably still can't do it.

It doesn't sound like he suffered in his death though and that is really the point of euthanizing, to avoid a painful death.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on December 19, 2010:

I had no idea there were wild hamster colonies in existence! But I shall certainly keep this in mind should the opportunity arise, LOL! ;)

jomig on December 14, 2010:

If it was me, instead of trying to kill it, i would release it into the wild so that it could enjoy freedom in its last few days :)

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on December 10, 2010:

Lorna: Thank you :)

lorna on December 01, 2010:

wonderfully written, you have really made me laugh.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on April 22, 2009:

glass - Despite the rather dark humor in this piece, I'm a strong propronent of euthanizing an animal that is suffering. While I'm not the one that wishes to be the deliverer of a merciful death, I will take the responsibility and make sure that an animal is in the care of a professional trained to do so.

glassvisage from Northern California on April 22, 2009:

You certainly tried every alternative to euthanizing a hamster. In a way, euthanasia isn't always the worst thing. My mother works at a vet, and sometimes that's the best option when an animal is suffering... She sees some pretty depressing situations. And maybe it wouldn't have been so bad in this case either. But it's nice that you took so much consideration regarding this.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 14, 2008:

Funnebone - How about 2 out of 3? :)

funnebone from Philadelphia Pa on October 14, 2008:

I don't know if I should laugh, cry or call PETA!

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 10, 2008:

Uninvited: LOL! You should feel guilty! :) But then again, it just goes to prove that you have a wonderfully morbid sense of humor and I happen to like that a lot!

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on October 10, 2008:

This really made me laugh, I feel guilty :)

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 10, 2008:

Livetech - Oh definitely! The garbage can was definitely not a suitable burial in my opinion either. I once saved a pet rat in the freezer for the entire winter so that it could be buried in a proper fashion once the ground had thawed. My mother was severely grossed out. There were packages labeled corn, ground beef, green peppers, pork chops...and rat. Thanks for your wonderful comments :)

Ananta - LOL! I'm surprised there weren't any complaints while we ran amok in here. Glad...but still surprised, in a very nice way.

Ananta65 on October 10, 2008:

So did I :) And I didn't hear any hamster complaining either, so I guess everything's ok then ;)

Paul Levy from United Kingdom on October 10, 2008:

This hub is wonderful.... I once had a very similar experience myself! But when children, my brother and I would NEVER let our dad wrap up the dead animals and put them in the trash....... we would ALWAYS bury them...regardless of whether a hamster or simply a moth!

Once again, a really great hub! You are a wonderful writer.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 09, 2008:

Ananta - After today's fun...I'm not so sure about that statement :) But I had a great time!!

Sschilke - Oh no!! Not PETA! :) Maybe the'll be lenient if I point out that I didn't wear any of the hamster's fur? Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment! Always good to see you!

sschilke on October 09, 2008:

Spryte,

I just got off the phone with PETA. Needless to say they weren't too happy with you. I don't know what they intend to do about it, but prepare yourself, those folks are serious:)

Loved the hub.

sschilke

Ananta65 on October 09, 2008:

There's less wrong with me than there is with the hamster *grin*

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 09, 2008:

Ananta - LOL! There is something seriously wrong with you. :P

Misty - I seriously think we would too! It would be a LOT of fun.

Ananta65 on October 09, 2008:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nTYcxPlWnBA

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 08, 2008:

I agree Spryte, we do seem to have had some pretty weird experiences between us. I am guessing we would have a lot in common if we met up for a life comparision session :)

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Heheh...no worries Rochelle :)  I don't mind being confused, mixed up or associated with THAT strange Misty woman.... *winks at Misty*  It seems like the two of us have had some rather unusual pet experiences...bathing chickens, sending bunnies to faith healers and overdosing hamsters...definitely not the norm, I hope...

Dottie - I hope not either!!  I'm just not cut out to play Dr Kevorkian. :) 

Thanks to both of you for stopping by and leaving such nice comments!

Dottie1 from MA, USA on October 07, 2008:

Oh the stories we have about our pets...the good, the bad and the ugly.  I hope you never have to make that kind of decision again for the rest of your life.  Great hub Spryte.  I enjoyed.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 07, 2008:

Ooops, sorry Spryte-- I thought this was another Misty-- both of you are so brilliant, I get confused.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 07, 2008:

Misty-- you obviously have the market cornered on this week's hubmob subject. Your experiences are described in such an entertaining manner-- very enjoyable.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Hiya AJ - Yah...I love guinea pigs too.  They remind me of Tribbles (from Star Trek).  I bought one as a gift for my sister once...and to my surprise it turned into a Buy One Get One deal when it produced a baby a few days afterward. Death by beagle...horrible way to go :(

ajcor from NSW. Australia on October 07, 2008:

great hub just loved it!! You did your best for Jane who was a boy with a serious issue! We had a series of guinea pigs when my boys were younger - alas (poor yorick) all died but the most memorable was Sprokett - affectionately known as Sprok (he got eaten by the beagle from next door - nasty little dog), he had a real personality, acted as an alarm on the verandah,often used to run around my son's bedroom and help him concentrate on his homework! we all shed real tears when Sprok. met his unfortunate end.

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 07, 2008:

Leave it with me, but I still feel the guilt to this day LOL :)

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Misty - Uh Oh...do we want to know what you did? :)

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 07, 2008:

Spryte, this hub managed to be hilarious and sad at the same time. I felt for your poor hamster, trying to swim whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but I guess there are worse ways to die. You reminded me of a story of what I did to certain pets once in my childhood. I may do a hub on that :)

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Ryan - Thanks! It was devestating at the time...but over the years, I have to confess that my morbid sense of humor has gotten the best of me and even I laugh at it.

Patty - LOL! Thank you. It took a while for the taste to leave my mouth...I can tell you that.

Benson - awwww...Fatty and Skinny :) I love those names. Hamsters do grow on you and I commiserate with your children. But long-iived they are not, even when completely healthy. Tarzan lived to the ripe old age of six though...which is darn good for a hamster.

Shade: Thank you! I'm just glad I haven't been lynched yet for being a hamster murderer. It's a tough thing to admit to people that you'd rather impress...

Christoph: I'm soooo sorry about the visual imagery. Just to make sure I had the description right, I googled "hamster anal prolapse" and *shudder* ...yep, that was it. Nasty, nasty, nasty. I simply can't imagine how horrifying that would be. Evidently it's common amongst hamsters...not sure why...not sure I want to know why. Jane's memory lives on though...as you've said. His death was not in vain.

Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on October 07, 2008:

Hi Spryte. Fantabulous story. I felt sorry for Jane and his bulging butt. You really made me "see" his predicament (and for that I can never forgive you). I wonder if Jane knows he still lives on in your heart. That was a lucky hamster (as far as hamsters go.) Great work.

Shadesbreath from California on October 07, 2008:

Godamn, what a great read. Humoruous as hell and human and humane and honest and all kinds of other words that start with H. Fantastic work.

Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on October 07, 2008:

Spryte,

only if you really want to know, read on. I had 2 hamsters, fatty and skinny. Fatty did not move much and ate a lot. Skinny exercised like iron-man. Skinny possibly died from an overactive thyroid. Shortly after he died, fatty also died, I suspect from boredom. My kids were really attached to them a that time and were crying their hearts out. So, no more hamster. We then had a dog and hopefully, no more early departures for a long while.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 07, 2008:

I think this may be the best of topic. Your writing is such that I could see evrything that happened.

Ryan Hupfer from San Francisco, CA on October 07, 2008:

Even though it's extremely sad, this is an awesome story. Thanks for adding it to the HubMob!

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Hiya Trekkiemelissa - And thank you!

Aggie - Pretty Boy was definitely a budgie...and I know they are different from a parakeet, but can never remember exactly how.

Rowan - Hola chica! Ramses... :) The dog that could bark forever... LOL! You forgot to mention your other animal...Matt :)

rowanelayna from York, PA on October 07, 2008:

We never tried the burial at sea method on anything larger than a fish...but I'm pretty sure most of my gerbils died naturally and were buried in one of my father's empty cigar boxes (except for one that was eaten by the living gerbils...but we don't talk about that one...)

I do seem to have bad luck with any animal larger than anything in the rodent family, especially dogs. You already know about my poor Ramses...and then there was Cory (the dog that was allergic to fleas, lost half of her fur because of it, then went blind).  Ahhhhh but with my luck Geddy (annoying dog) is going to live forever...

Peter from Australia on October 07, 2008:

Well I would expect a Parakeet would outrank a lowly old hamster any day!

In Oz we have parakeets and budgies and they are completely different birds. Although both belong to the parrot family!

Trekkiemelissa from Illinois on October 07, 2008:

Great Hub. Well written.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 07, 2008:

Lazur - Whoa...now that's the way to go. I hadn't thought of allowing the hamster to solve the problem himself. I hope nobody was standing below the ball when it dropped. Thanks for sharing that!

Aggie - Jane definitely seemed to enjoy the send-off party, that's for sure. And yes, he joined the rest of the family casualties on Boot Hill in the back yard. It wasn't as elaborate an affair as the one the parakeet (budgie to you) had the year before, but it was a touching service nonetheless.

Peter from Australia on October 06, 2008:

Dear Spryte there is no need to have a guilty conscience about poor old Jane, your intentions were indeed very noble and came from the goodness in your heart. It must also have taken a great deal of courage to carry out all of those actions. I am sure that you also saved that poor little bugger many more hours of suffering! Being wacked(oz for pissed) and all, he probably couldn't feel a thing!

You didn't tell us if you gave the poor guy a proper hamster funeral ?

Lazur from Netherlands on October 06, 2008:

When I was in nursing school all the girls on our floor had a hamster. My friend next door had  the same problem. She put her hamster in its ball so she could think what to do and Higgins could run around.  She forgot the door was open  to the outside and we lived on the seventh floor. Hamster Higgins committed  suicide. I’m glad to say that my Goldilocks died a natural death after three years.

spryte (author) from Arizona, USA on October 06, 2008:

Hey Gwendy :) Glad you could drop by! I can't recommend CPR on hamsters...the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth. Oooh...that was a stinky one, even for me. :)

Hiya Benson: So your hamster was suffering from anal prolapse or alcoholism?

Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on October 06, 2008:

Spryte,

you could have written this hub five years ago and helped me save my hamster. sigh..

gwendymom from Oklahoma on October 06, 2008:

Wow spryte, this is a great story. I loved that you actually took the tme the give him mouth to mouse, what a trooper you are!! Thanks for the laugh in a really yucky day!

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