We lost Pigpen.

15 August 2009

I took Pigpen out to run around the apartment in his ball a couple of days ago and used the opportunity to refill the water and food in his cage. After I put him back he promptly returned to his daily life of climbing around the cage and taunting gravity by climbing around on the roof of his cage. As you would expect would happen, from time to time he’d lose his grip and fall to the bottom of the cage (or maybe one of the mesh floorwooks that added a little more terrain to the interior). At some point he retreated to his hidey hole and pulled some bedding in after him, which isn’t unusual for a hamster. Then we didn’t see him for a couple of days. I didn’t think anything of this – Lucy used to do it from time to time. I’d figured that it was because we were running the air conditioning more often, and hamsters are sensitive enough to cold that they’ll bed down if it gets too cold.

A couple of days passed and Lyssa and I became quietly more concerned about the fuzzball. He hadn’t touched any of his food or had anything to drink from the water bottle, nor did he come out to take any of the treats that we’d put in his cage.

Lyssa discovered this morning that he’d retreated to his nest to quietly expire sometime in the past couple of days. Just before she and Hasufin left for the farmer’s market they emptied the cage and buried Pigpen someplace near the apartment.

For all we know, it could have been old age. Pigpen was fully grown when we got him so we really don’t know where in his three-year lifecycle he was. Then again, he just as easily could have sustained an obscure injury during a fall from the roof of the cage and died from that. Q- had mentioned that he’d lost a hamster or two in such a manner in the past. We really don’t know.

I found out later today that, to be blunt, Pigpen had probably been dead for two or three days when Lyssa discovered him. Specifically, she moved his plastic igloo to see if he would react.. and the smell of decomposition hit the air and filled the library.

Hasufin, ever patient Hasufin, put on gloves and took the job of extracting Pigpen from his cage (bedding and all) for burial outside. I think the fairest thing that could be said, at the risk of being too graphic, is that the bedding probably kept the mess to a minimum by absorbing the escaping fluids which is why we couldn’t really smell anything.

Hasufin, I at least owe you a drink for that.

Lyssa says that Pigpen went out the same way he came in: by making a mess that everyone else had to clean up. He certainly lived up to his name in the short time we took care of him.