'Hamster Bowl' provides rodent fans with some pre-'Big Game' fun

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Tue., Feb. 4, 2014
All Pets Club manager Rosey Dumais (left) and assistant manager Allie Thompson oversee the Hamster Bowl at the North Windham location on Feb. 2. Photos by Melanie Savage.
All Pets Club manager Rosey Dumais (left) and assistant manager Allie Thompson oversee the Hamster Bowl at the North Windham location on Feb. 2. Photos by Melanie Savage.

First there was the Super Bowl. Then Animal Planet introduced The Puppy Bowl. Geared toward animal lovers, the show, aired annually pre-game on Super Bowl Sunday, features adorable puppies romping around on a miniature football field replica. This year the Puppy Bowl celebrated its 10th anniversary, and competed with knockoffs on National Geographic Wild (Fish Bowl) and The Hallmark Channel (Kitten Bowl). But for animal lovers looking for more local pre-game fun, there was the Hamster Bowl at All Pets Club in North Windham.

Actually, all four All Pets Club locations in Connecticut were hosting simultaneous Hamster Bowls, with rodents and their handlers gathering at the Wallingford, Southington and Branford locations as well, according to North Windham assistant manager Allie Thompson. “This is something for the kids and parents to do on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Thompson, noting that the store has hosted other hamster races.

While any type of rodent was welcome (previous hamster races have drawn rat competitors), the Feb. 2 North Windham event drew only hamsters, though in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sage, age 9 and from North Windham, came with her family and their two dwarf hamsters, one grey, the other a light golden brown. Other competitors included a hefty, dark brown Syrian hamster named Rhino (after the hamster character in the Disney animated feature, “Bolt”), and a black Syrian named Timmy. One parti-colored fellow, plucked from a pet store cage (participants could “borrow” a hamster if they didn’t have one of their own), went into the exercise ball with huge, distended cheeks, having stuffed his pouches previous to being chosen for the race.

“Go, Nugget,” urged Sage, as her diminutive brown rodent attempted to navigate his way around a track in a miniature exercise ball. Although the track was no more than 2 feet long, races took some time, as the indecisive animals continually reversed their direction of travel. Winners of each race drew from a goldfish bowl featuring a number of prizes - all rodent-related. Hamster treats, a hamster cage - even a live hamster - were among the potential prizes available to each winner. All entrants received a small gift, which featured selections for the rodents as well as their human handlers. 

While the actual Super Bowl ended up being somewhat of a disappointment (final score 43-8, Seahawks), there was plenty of enthusiasm generated by the Hamster Bowl. “It was awesome,” said Sage, as she visited post-races with an energetic Newfoundland puppy. “It was really fun.”

All Pets Club, located at 351 Boston Post Road in North Windham, will host hamster races on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Other rodents (mice, rats) are welcome. Children can “borrow” a pet store hamster for the competition, and exercise balls are provided.

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