The Life of Roland

I have no movies of Roland, and only one good photo, so to remember and honour him, this is the life of Roland:

He was adopted on Friday the 31st of May 2013, from a pet store in the next town over to us. Bringing him home in the taxi reminded me of the prologue to Jurassic Park where the Velociraptor was trying to escape by banging itself against the ends of the cage. Fortunately the store had double boxed him and though he escaped from the inner box, the outer held true to the relief of all.

I like to think that that evening must have been the happiest of his life. Once safely transferred to his new home he promptly had his fill of nosh, allowing me to take the awesome, and only photo I have of him, before discovering the hamster wheel and spending the rest of the evening hurtling around at breakneck speed.

From the moment he first caught our eye we were thinking of names. I suggested Roland because I thought he looked like a little rat, and as everyone knows all rats are called Roland. We couldn’t think of anything we liked better by Saturday morning, and so the name stuck.

On Sunday we had to disturb his peace and quiet by removing his temporary cardboard home and replacing it with the more solid and permanent little wooden house we had bought for him. Great amusement ensued as we watched him spend around half an hour sniffing and circling around his new home, not quite sure what to make of it. We had been careful to transfer his bedding and small food store to the same place within the new house so he could smell it and knew it was still his place, but he just couldn’t quite figure out how to get inside! He got tired of this after a while and decided to nestle underneath the little bridge instead. That would be his home from then on, prompting the nickname Roly the Trolly.

We didn’t see much of him throughout Monday and Tuesday. We thought he was just a little shy, and talking time to get used to his new home and our work patterns, but with hindsight perhaps he was ill. On Wednesday morning though, we found that he had discovered the tube tunnel which runs from one end of the cage to the other through the roof and seemed to be enjoying himself going through it several time in quick succession, like a child discovering a slide for the first time.

On Thursday morning we woke to find him lying lifeless in the middle of the cage. We tried to tell ourselves that he had just fallen into hibernation for some reason, and so we put him back, covered him with bedding to keep him warm and snug and put the heating on high throughout the day. But when we came home from work that evening we had to accept the sad truth.

On Friday we buried him in the second of two large hanging baskets we have, our only garden, next to Chewie. They never met in life, but perhaps in death they can keep each other company.

We’ll never know for certain why he died so soon, but there were no signs of wet-tail disease which is a comfort as it means he probably wasn’t under any stress. We can only think that it was an infection he already had from the store, or a genetic problem. We did let the store know so that they could check on the other hamsters, for which they were very grateful.

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