Pet rodents compensate for lack of kids' affection with more D and more time on the wheel.
ILLIONS OF pet hamsters across the U.S. are beginning the familiar ritual of increasing their dosages of Vitamin D to coincide with the beginning of another school year.
"I've been taking more D starting in September for three years now," said Mitzie the hamster of Portland, Oregon. "That, combined with more runs on my exercise wheel, helps me to curb the effects of SHAD (Seasonal Hamster Affective Disorder), when my owners, Sophie and Charles, return to school. Although," Mitzie added, "nothing can adequately replace cuddles."
Hamsters who do not increase Vitamin D dosage have been shown in lab studies to become lethargic and irritable, according to Dr. Bernard Carroll, a specialist in SHAD.
"By November, low-D hamsters are only walking on their wheels, if that," said Dr. Carroll, "and owners report more hamster nipping. Of course, weight gain soon follows, accompanied by loss of confidence and then shame during extra Christmas cuddles as children tell them how fat they've become. It's a vicious cycle."
"I don't mind telling you how close I was to calling it quits," recalled Yoda the hamster of Biloxi, Mississippi. "I put my neck right up against the cage and insulted Roland the cat, hoping he would claw me to death. But luckily my cousin Trixie came to visit and told me how much D had helped her. Now I run the wheel three hours a day and I've lost seven ounces!"
The hamster vitamin market has responded quickly to increased demand. Vitamin D production for hamsters is up 1200 percent, one of the only sectors to see steady growth in an otherwise sluggish U.S. economy.
Dr. Carroll said hiring cuddlers would also boost the economy and keep hamsters happy, but, knowing as he does that "the best cuddlers are children," he acknowledges the idea would quickly run afoul of child labor laws.
Hamsters are quick to agree that children are the best cuddlers. Said Ralph the hamster of Tucson, Arizona, "Adults just hold you up in the air like you're a human baby and coo for awhile. What good is that?"
© 9.1.10 Kate Heidel