Houdini of Hamsters

Houdini of Hamsters
I left the hamster in the washing machine the other night. It’s his fault. He’s the Houdini of hamsters. The first time he escaped we took the blame, the next time we wondered. The third time my daughter watched him stretch up to the air vent, unscrew it with his paws and teeth and pull himself out.
We ensured air flow and put weights on all escape routes.
We have always found him.
The first time, though, we battled tears at the certainty of his loss. The next day, when I was alone, I heard an awful gnawing and scratching behind the refrigerator. I figured it was the hamster. I hoped it wasn’t a rat.
Being a good mother, I slid the refrigerator forward on its casters and looked – into the dark eyes of a fur ball hissing “I’m one mean, wild critter.”
I thought he looked like Houdini. As I grabbed a kitchen towel (in case he wasn’t) I wondered where I could go to resign as a good mother.
My teenage son saw him sneaking across the floor after one escape. Teenage boys don’t mind leaning over and scooping up moving fur balls with bare hands.
The longest escape began the night Houdini’s squeaking exercise wheel got him exiled to the garage. I left the cage on the workbench without securing the escape routes. I thought he lacked places to climb out.
I was wrong.
The garage door was partially open. We assumed he had achieved his goal. I promised to buy another hamster when the summer trips were over.
Like a bad penny, he showed up in the middle of the summer as we were cleaning the garage. He had been living behind some sheets of plywood. My daughter had already prepared his cage for another hamster.
He was furious! He hissed and puffed out his fur until he looked twice his normal size.
My husband and son captured him and fought him back into the cage. His paws kept grabbing the edge of the lid as he frantically resisted capture.
Over the next several weeks, he gnawed away a significant portion of the plastic cover. We replaced his plastic cage with an old glass aquarium, with heavy books to hold the cover in place.
He escaped out the hole beside his water bottle.
This time he hid under the dishwasher. That appliance is NOT easy to move. When the springs and electrical wires had to be reattached my husband wondered where he could go to resign as a good daddy.
So when my daughter handed me Houdini to hold while she cleaned out his cage the other night, I knew I had to keep him secured. Ten times he wiggled his way between my fingers looking for FREEDOM! I was trying to be a good mother when I noticed the empty, dry washing machine. Deep sides, room to move, hard to chew. I dropped him in, watched him discover the impossibility of escape and went to clean up my cage – I mean house.
I didn’t think about him again until the next morning as I started to stuff a load of towels in the washing machine. I remembered, pulled out the towels and checked.
He wasn’t in there.
I checked his cage.  Whew!
My daughter had heard him scratching at the metal tub, had lefted him out of the wash machine tub and returned him to his cage. He is still there, plotting, planning, preparing for his next great escape.