OMG we have a hamster!

November 15, 2022

This guy has been a long time coming.

Initially, Annabel wanted a bearded dragon. But then . . . she pivoted. My sister has a hamster, and I grew up with a succession of hamsters, and A was excited (okay borderline obsessed) about the idea so . . . here we are! Our very first and possibly last family pet!


One of the more positive uses for YouTube is as a tutorial for various aspects of life, including hamster ownership. A watched MANY videos by Victoria Raechel, a 23 year old Canadian who is basically the queen of hamster care. Thus, our enclosure is not a small cage. It is a hamster mansion. Josh ended up taking on the project and built it out of wood and plexiglass in the garage. It was a project.

hamster palace

It was initially even bigger but I threw a full on fit and he cut it down.

And here he is!

On Sunday evening we headed to PetSmart (against every instinct . . . I generally don’t want to do ANYTHING on Sunday nights!) and we scoped out the hamster selection.

This guy was eager, energetic, and enterprising.

“pick me!”

And so he came home with us.

Meet Leif Toastmallow Unger, named after one of the selections in our kid-naming discard pile that Josh and the kids make fun of me for (other Unger children that will never be include Quentin and Penelope. I love those names!).

Anyway! We have a hamster. Annabel is the primary owner and swears she will be responsible for all hamster-related tasks. So far the kids are SUPER into Leif – they run to check what he is doing at every opportunity. A is following a taming protocol she learned about from Victoria Raechel so hopefully he will be nice and not too bite-prone.

So. An exciting week in our home!

I’m also on call and being as stoic as possible about it.


  • Reply Laura November 15, 2022 at 6:50 am

    Welcome Leif!! Here’s to a happy hamster life. Love the name. Our dog is Max because that is the boy name we never wound up using.

  • Reply Coree November 15, 2022 at 7:26 am

    Oh wow! He’s cute???

    Our cat predated me and once he goes, that’s it, no more pets. He’s noisy and destructive and I think soured me on all future animals. I feel horror when people tell me about their childhood cat that lived until 20. We have frogs in the garden, we can name them.

  • Reply Grateful Kae November 15, 2022 at 7:43 am

    YAY!! We are now on Hamster #4 at our house. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they, um, don’t really live that long…). It’s rather tragic, because I get embarrassingly and ridiculously attached to the little buggers.

    The kids will love having him! And wow about the cage! NICE WORK Josh! We’ve always kept our hamsters in similarly large cages, but we always just buy a reptile terrarium to use as a cage. They come in different sizes (we get a pretty big one), with a lid, made out of glass/plexi material- but we didn’t have to make it. Sold in the reptile section at pet stores! If Cameron wants one next, you could check that out. 😉

  • Reply Chelsea November 15, 2022 at 8:17 am

    Awwww… I’m sure Lief will be very much loved. I wanted to name our first cat Tybalt but I was overruled by 3-year-old Ian who was not going to call him anything other than Coco. Our second cat (both rescues, one from a hawk in the front yard!) was named Eve by Scott, which I think is very pretty. I think it was a riff on the Pokemon Evee, but I like where we ended up, lol. I know my DH and kids want a dog sometime, but 2 adults + 3 kids + 2 cats + a dog in 1500 square feet might = the end of my sanity.

  • Reply AM November 15, 2022 at 8:34 am

    impressed that your husband could build that!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 15, 2022 at 9:04 am

      I know right? I lack both the skills and the desire …

  • Reply Noemi November 15, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Fun’ Growing up in Hong Kong I had a series of hamsters. The cages there were always made of wire, with one simple platform, a wheel and a little hollowed out coconut inside for them to sleep in. I have found memories of my hamsters. I hope your kids enjoy that sweet little addition!

  • Reply Elisabeth November 15, 2022 at 9:21 am

    So fun. We welcomed Meatball Twizzler Frost into our family earlier this year. Hamsters are the right level of pet care for me.

    One time my husband and I spent 30 minutes combing the house for a mysterious noise late one night. Turns out it was Meatball going crazy on his wheel. He lives in our daughter’s room and twice since we got him I’ve slept with her because she was sick and both times I nearly lost my mind with the night activity. We have a “quiet” wheel, supposedly, but the little clicking of his paws is adorable, but also makes me go crazy at 3 am.

  • Reply Amy November 15, 2022 at 10:37 am

    I love the hamster palace! My 10yo became enamored with geckos (all lizards, really) this summer so after he saved up money and did tons of research, he got a leopard gecko named Gilbert who lives in our basement. I think this is just the beginning of pets for us though — I had two cats when I got married (both long gone now, sadly) and I miss their companionship even though I don’t miss their destructiveness. And my kids want a dog. I grew up with lots of pets and loved it, and would love the same for my children. As for the noise, mess and care — it might annoy me, but I see it as an opportunity to teach my children actual responsibility while giving them the gift of the love of a pet. I think we’ll end up with a dog eventually. Wish us luck, heh.

  • Reply Joy November 15, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    How fun! It’s a great gateway pet. We enjoyed our hamsters so much before trading up to fancy rats, who are more lovable and cuddly than you’d think.

    • Reply Amy November 15, 2022 at 6:26 pm

      Oh, another ratty lover — fancy rats really are the best!!

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