Philosophizing hamster

I have often observed that Kevin often sits and stares either at the wall, at the corner, or at the open room, unblinking, unseeing, and unmoving. Sometimes he sits, sometimes he crouches on all four paws, sometimes he just lays down on his stomach. When I first caught him in such a pose, I can honestly say that I was concerned for his well-being. Thinking him dead or dying, I quickly reached in the cage and gently nudged him with my finger. He would drowsily come back to reality, looking at me as if to say, “Oh, hello. How long have you been here?”

I couldn’t help but think that this is the oddest behavior I have ever seen in a small mammal. Certainly, none of my other hamsters had zonked out like that. Or, perhaps, I simply had not seen them do so. Amazingly, I came across a logical reason as to why Kevin would stare at nothing. The following is an excerpt from Runaway Ralph, by Beverly Cleary, in which we find Ralph, a mouse, in conversation with Chum, a hamster. It explains everything just perfectly.

Chum also sat for long periods of time swinging gently on his wheel and staring with unblinking eyes at nothing at all.
“Why do you sit there like that?” asked Ralph, who liked to be busy when he was awake.
“I’m thinking,” answered Chum.
“Thinking about what?” Ralph wanted to know.
“I am a philosopher,” said Chum. “I think about life.”
“Life?” Ralph was puzzled. “What do you mean?”
Chum sat staring into space so long that Ralph thought he was never going to answer. Finally the hamster said, “Take you for instance. Just where do you think you’re going on that wheel?”
“No place, I guess,” admitted Ralph. “I never thought much about it.”
“See what I mean?” said Chum. “You run and you run and you’re still in the same old cage.”
Ralph suddenly felt guilty, as if he had done something wrong, but was not sure what it was.
“But I like running on my wheel,” he said, feeling that his answer was rather lame.
Chum did not bother to reply. He continued to sit, swinging, staring, thinking.


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