02_ Sofo’r Pets – The Small Animals Room

March 8, 2018

Lena, enjoying a carrot
Golden hamster “Lena” having a carrot 

Instead of stuffed animals, this is a living toy. Not as demanding as a dog or cat of course. Doesn’t live for that long either, doesn’t need walking or that much food. It won’t be any expensive veterinary bills (if it doesn’t die from natural causes it only cost you 265 SEK to put it down).

In the Small Animals Room, the hamster is locked up in a cage designed for a miniature human. The wooden house has a pitched roof, a little window and a door opening. Actually they even have a bathroom placed in one of the corners– filled with special sand to absorb unpleasant smell. ”Hamster” is written in ceramic letters on the food tray. Perfectly anonymous, but still addressing the owner. The hamster wheel compensate for the lack of space. Here the animal can run for an eternity, stupid enough not to realize they’re not going anywhere.

How did this creature end up in the ”Small animals room” in Sofo Södermalm?

The term ”hamster” refers to about 24 species of small rodents. Hamsters are chunky-bodied, think-furred, short-limbed and short-tailed rodents with large cheek pouches. The name ”hamster” comes from the Middle High Germana word ”hamstara”, which basically means to store. 1

The golden hamster – named after its golden fur – originates from Syria. It’s probably more likely to find a golden hamster forgotten in a corner of some childrens bedroom than finding it in the wild, since IUCN estimates that there is only 2500 mature individuals left of the global population. 2

In Syria, a golden hamster in the wild are considered a vermin who destroys harvests and farmings. In Södermalm though, we buy them as pets – give them names and decorates their cages with wooden houses. Nature is only accepted if we can tame it, force it to behave in our human way: domesticate it. For centuries, human kind has distinguished itself from nature. Untamed nature behaviour is ”a natural disaster”, because the planet orbits around the human being. By putting our self on top of nature, we alienate us from it – somehow forgetting that our survival depends of nature.

Readings:
1. Bartlett, Patricia. ‘The Hamster Handbook’, 2003.
2.UCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <www.iucnredlist.org>
3. Colebrook, Claire. ‘Introduction’ in Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, vol. 1. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press, University of Michigan Library, 2014.

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