Before going to bed last night after getting home (and boy, was it cold scooting here from the carpool dropoff! Full-face helmet time, folks), I cleaned out Chloe's house. One place that especially needed cleaning was the opening top area - shaped like a top-opening box about four inches square and two deep - which she has made into her nest; she builds her nest out of toilet paper and t.p. rolls all chewed up and spit out. It turns out that hamster spit is not so stinky, but she likes to poo beside her nest. Ew.
Anyway, so I lured her into the lower part of her cage with some new paper and a tube, then cleaned out this top-opening box. I then replaced the box (which as an opening from a tube below) and went to bed.
Flash to 5am or something: *scratch* *scratch* and the sound of tiny claws on a screen.
I woke up and listened for a moment. Couldn't hear it any more. Went outside onto the back patio, turned on the light out there, and looked for a mouse climbing the screen. Nothing. Went back inside and back to sleep.
*scratch* *scratch* (Note: I'm compressing the incidents; there were several more that I mostly tried to ignore.)
This time it sounded like a mouse in my bedroom chewing paper or something. It figures, because it's gotten really cold at night here and warm inside. Must have found a way inside. I turned on the light and searched in a bleary-eyed way. No mouse to be found. I invited Tatsuko to help in the search. She was happy to be stroked but showed no interest in looking for a rodent in the house. Some predator. Back to sleep.
Now I woke up with a worrying thought: Could it be Chloe the hamster? If so, perhaps setting Tatsuko to the task of helping find the intruder wasn't a good idea. I went into the living room and turned on a light to reassure myself that Chloe was tucked away in her little nest.
Yep, you guessed it: no Chloe. And the top of her little nest-box was part-way open. It seems that when I replaced the box, I didn't get the top latched down properly.
I became very awake and returned to the bedroom to look for my adventuring hamster. I had visions of a ravaged and bleeding little hamster-girl. Soon she revealed herself beside the washer, in the narrow space between it and the wall. No way to reach in there and grab her. Tatsuko, resting under the bed, just watched, still disinterested.
Apparently, the sight of someone who feeds her lured Chloe to a place where she could be grabbed... and in a flashing *swoop-grab* she was on her way back to her cage. Status-quo restored. She squirted a little pee in response to the moment of grabbing, but settled down right away. Tatsuko watched with absolutely no interest except to walk into the human bathroom to point out that her bowl was empty. So even though she was hungry and a prey-sized rodent was loose in the house - just feet from where she slept! - she didn't attack.
My theory? Chloe smells the same as she does when roaming the house in her Ball of Speed Magnification, which makes Tatsuko a bit nervous. So here comes something that looks like a tasty morsel but smells like the Scary Ball, and she just stays out of the way.
Well, now I know that if a mouse ever does enter the house, I'll be able to humanely remove it to the out-of-doors.