Sources : Hamster

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.26): The hamster, says the Liber rerum, is a small animal in Apulia, about the size of a squirrel. It has a variegated head, white and black in color, bright on the belly, red on the back. Its fur clings so tenaciously to the skin that it could be broken off more easily than pulled out. It digs dwellings for itself in the earth, from which it cannot be easily extricated, unless you pour boiling water into the caves themselves. And this animal signifies the greedy and the covetous, from whom it is true that what they have can be taken away by force, but they cannot be induced to distribute their surplus for Christ. That the hamster cannot be extricated from the earth except by hot water, signifies the avaricious or covetous, who can scarcely be recalled from love of earthly things, unless by chance adversity befalls them, which compels them to return to the contempt of the world and the love of God. Hence, when a certain despoiler of the poor had been robbed of a large part of his money by a cruel master, he restored the remainder which he had to the plundered man, and thence turned to his master and did penance. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]