Richard III's Hamster Skeleton Also Excavated, Still in Wheel

Royal rodent "died in better shape than his master."

Die vergleichende Osteologie (1821) Cricetus cricetus
photo credit: via Wikimedia Commons

MID THE flurry of excitement over the recent positive identification of King Richard III's bones, a little-known piece of the fantastic story has just come to light: the small bones of the king's royal hamster, Nigel, were found only yards away, well preserved and still inside its royal hamster wheel.

Archaeologists estimate Nigel's age between four and five years, and with chemical analysis completed on the royal hamster's bones, researchers have concluded "he died in better shape than his master."

"Hamsters often were buried alongside their masters in the 15th century," explained one researcher. "In Richard's case, he must have taken little Nigel into battle with him."

Although Richard's skull bears evidence he was brutally attacked and killed in battle, the king's enemies spared Nigel's hamster person and buried him fully intact near Richard III.

"They even placed some food pellets in Nigel's grave. Quite touching, really," another researcher observed.

The hamster wheel, made of larch wood and held together with tiny iron nails, is further evidence the human bones are those of Richard III, since the nails bear a miniature version of the familiar "T" mark for "Tony," Richard's royal blacksmith from Old Jersey.

Archaeologists suspect the cause of death for Nigel was "HHA," or hamster heart attack.

"Nigel was probably running in his wheel when the king was struck down, and what he saw was simply too much for his little heart," said a clearly moved researcher.

"Hamsters don't display outward emotion very often, but they're actually very sensitive creatures, as we can see in this tragic instance," he added.

Richard III's successor to the throne, Henry VII, named his own hamster "Nigel" in honor of the rodent's deceased predecessor, a stunning move considering it was Henry who had vanquished King Richard in battle.

As the lead scientist on the digging team was heard to say, "Nigel is dead. Long live Nigel."