For such a small creature, Edward-the-Hamster causes upheaval of epic proportions. As you may recall, last fall, Edward dove off our second story deck onto the gravel below and survived a night in the woods.
It was only due to the heroic efforts of our cat, Maddie, that Edward was saved. (She discovered him wilting near a corner of the house.)
Edward’s latest adventure again takes him to the brink of disaster.
This time the scene of his near death experience was a 25.4 cubic foot side-by-side refrigerator. Inside it sported spill saver shelves and a gallon-size door storage to keep everything fresh…even hamsters. This giant food saver looked innocent enough. But for Edward it became a 300 pound trap of stainless steel and impact and corrosion-resistant plastic.
One tiny hamster. One huge refrigerator.
To understand how this happened, you have to peer inside Edward’s brain. He is a lover of tiny, cramped spaces. He burrows. He squeezes into impossibly small gaps. There are plenty of irresistible slits and slots in a refrigerator. For Edward it was love at first sight.
Day One. Edward disappears. Gone from his cage. It was determined later that a door had been left unlatched.
A room by room searched turned up nothing.
It was 11:00 p.m. when I discovered my first clue. Down in the basement where the stainless steel monster gleamed, two cats sat gazing at it lovingly.
Tiny scratching echoed from deep inside. I dropped to my knees and peered under the refrigerator. No hamster.
“Edward?” I called. Silence. A minute later, the scratching resumed. With a flashlight I peered into the dark recesses. There did not appear to be any obvious openings where he could have squeezed through. But there was no doubt, Edward was in the refrigerator.
I gingerly opened the side-by-side doors dreading the appearance of a chilled rodent. There was no sign of him.
I pushed the fridge out of its nook and aimed the flashlight. Just the usual dust bunnies. Where could he be?
Pressing my fingers along the back of the appliance, I searched for any crevices he could have slipped through. I have never taken a moment to look at the back of a refrigerator. But I will tell you. It’s a vault. A sheet of steel with a small plate screwed into the lower side. How could a hamster possibly get in here?
I leaned back and sat on my heels. There was a now a new sound. The grinding noise of a hamster possibly chewing his way through a variety of wires and cables that power this machine. It was not pleasant.
I picture it in my mind and realize he could be sizzling at any moment. I pull the plug and shut down the refrigerator. The munching noises continue.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I shoo the cats and prepare a dish of hamster delicacies. A morsel of American cheese, a grape, apple slices (his favorite), and a dollop of his hamster chow. The presentation was sublime.
I leave the dish and hope for the best.
Two hours later, no hamster.
All is silent in the now shuttered refrigerator. It’s also broad daylight. But that’s not surprising. Hamsters are not diurnal (active during the daytime, like humans). Neither are they nocturnal (active at night, like owls). But in fact they are considered “crepuscular”, which means they are most active during the twilight hours.
So Edward was sacked out inside the fridge probably for another good eight hours.
The food was untouched.
I decide to freshen things up before evening so he will be tempted to come out. But the evening hours tick by and no hamster. At 9:00 p.m., the chewing resumes. Crunch, crunch, crunch. I am imagining the innards of our fridge being slowly dismantled by three ounces of fur.
Day Three. Despite repeated rescue efforts by Terry and me, we cannot free the hamster from the fridge. He’s not eaten (unless you count refrigerator wires) or had anything to drink in two days. We have to get him out. I now believe he can’t make his way free because we hear him trying to come down to us. We estimate he’s about halfway up the refrigerator.
Terry unscrews the small panel located near the bottom of the back of the fridge.
A light is shined inside. It is wall-to-wall circuitry. It doesn’t seem possible he could have squeezed through. The sounds of scratching comes from above us, but we can’t see him. The decision is made to leave the panel open and put the plate of food out. Surely he’ll figure it out.
No such luck. It is now Day Four. Edward is going to perish in the refrigerator if we don’t figure this out. It’s apparent the whole escape thing is too complex for him.
This time we pull the fridge completely out into the middle of the floor. Terry works his hand through the coils and wires attempting to clear a path. Up ahead, Edward watches. We still can’t see him, but we can hear him. I hand Terry tiny scraps of American cheese and he flags a path for Edward to follow. It’s the old Hansel and Gretel trick. But for Edward we eschew the breadcrumbs for cheese nuggets.
It’s a good thing T has the hands of a pianist. They slip and slide gently moving apparatus out of the way so Edward can find his way. The scent of cheese is wafting upwards. Edward is on the move.
We finally see him pinned behind a wall of wires. But he has a renewed determination. If he can clear the first hurdle, we’ve created a path for him to get out. It’s now all up to him.
Edward pushes one way and then the other. Finally he finds a gap. His nose breaks through. He presses forward. For one heart stopping moment, it appears he isn’t going to make it. He’s caught. We would have to destroy the fridge to get him out if he can’t free himself. But the little guy is determined. He’s a fighter. Edward finally pulls free and drops into the space cleared by Terry. He winds his through the maze of tubes and wires following the yellow cheese road until he leaps into my hand.
I have his cage close by and gently put him inside. He first finds his water bottle and then his bowl of veggies and fruit.
It takes Terry an hour to put the fridge back together, plug it in, and replace it in its cubby.
Edward is passed out in his hammock. He has lived to see another day.