When we suspected that Pip (our 5-month-old Panda Bear hamster) was attacking his same-sex sibling, Squeak, we went on alert and paid closer attention.That's when we noticed a small piece of Squeak's ear was missing (torn or bitten off). A few days later we spotted a mysterious patch of baldness on Squeak's upper back. Finally, we were convinced that Pip was hurting Squeak when a hairless chunk of raw swollen flesh was exposed on his back. Intervention time.
I separated the hamsters. I set up two cages of generally equal size and accommodation. We cleaned Squeak's cut as well as possible and hoped for the best. In truth, I anticipated that Squeak would be dead within days from infection. I even started preparing the kids for that possibility. We cried over the situation and about how sick Squeak was. I felt guilty that I didn't separate them sooner and that now we would lose our meek, nervous hamster due to abuse and harassment by his own sibling.
But a strange thing happened. Within 24 hours, Squeak, the victim, appeared to be resting better than ever. But there was poor Pip, a shadow of his former self; withdrawn, melancholic, not eating, anti social. ...
What a surprise. Pip was always the extrovert and, it turns out, a bully. That's why we were so confused to find him, the Alpha of the brothers, dead just 48 hours after separating them.
What killed Pip? Was it the separation from Squeak itself? Or was it some other odd virus? Who knows, his sickness might have been what caused him to attack in the first place.
We buried Pip in the yard, R.I.P. The whole thing makes me wonder about bullies and what they feel when they lose access to their victims. Meanwhile, Squeak thrives. His wound is almost completely healed. He sleeps well, plays well and eats well. He is nearly 50% larger since we separated him from Pip; his healing has begun.
More pet stories:
Fish hospice and other pet tales that hurt
The kids want a puppy