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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, March 06, 2014

medieval hamster

courtesy discardedimage. 'Oscott Psalter', England ca. 1265-1270.  British Library, Add 50000, fol. 35r
Whatever this funny creature may actually have been, it probably wasn't a hamster, as those pouchy critters were unknown to the Western world till 1774 and not much then.  Not till the early 20th century were these plump golden rodentia in any way a familiar sight in European / American parts.  Before then, hamsters were busy wreaking havoc upon crops in the Near East, earning themselves a local Arabic name that meant "Mister Saddlebags."  Now they keep you up at night with their squealy wheels and entertain you with the how-many-sunflower-seeds-in-your-face game, when they're not selling cute cheap cars.  The story of how they got over here is interesting - Smithsonian magazine will tell you all about it.

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