Songs in the key of me: The price of a luxurious coat

I don't know how to properly care for my pet hamster in the summer and I'm afraid he might die.

There is no air conditioning in my apartment and there is no where I can put him where he won't be close to a window.

I keep the blinds closed, but some sunlight always gets through. There isn't very much light in the morning, but I have no way to know how intense the beams get at the height of the day.

Mr. Robert J. Cabbage, my hamster, also has a long and, what I consider very luxurious coat. The people at the pet store said his fur would get so long that I would have to groom him, but this has not been the case.

Mr. Cabbage spends several hours each day grooming himself. He does this even though he has no other hamsters to see and no reason to think he won't be immediately popular with the people he meets.

It is only pride that drives him.

I respect that.

"Well, someone looks quite handsome today," I will tell him.

"Who? Me?" Mr. Cabbage thinks, turning to one side, pretending to be embarrassed.

I don't know if he is supposed to shed, but he doesn't and this leaves him looking like a tiny woolly mammoth.

I would trim his fur, but that seems like it would be traumatic for him. Think of what it would be like to a get a haircut with scissors that are the length of your body.

But I guess he is content with other things people won't do, like eating from a large food dish, drinking from an enormous jug and sleeping near his own filth.

Anyway, I've started putting a fan by his cage, but I don't know if this makes him too cold. I wouldn't want to dry out his eyes either, especially because I'm not sure he actually has eyelids. It looks like he just scrunches his face together when he sleeps.

If hamsters get too cold, I guess they go into hibernation. Mr. Cabbage has not done this, but I think he would if he could voluntarily.

He sleeps at least 16 hours a day, getting up only for a drink of water or to carry food pellets back to his nest.

I worry about the water bottle, though, because if got jammed and stopped working, how would I know? It's not like there is an open source of water on the floor that he could run to and show how thirsty he was.

It could be, however, that all this is Mr. Cabbage's own fault. Maybe he can control his shedding but chooses not to.

"It's the price of a luxurious coat," he might want to tell me.

- Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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