May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

My first computer was an Apple ][+; it was a wonderful little machine. I got it when I was 5 or 6 years old and started me on what has been a successful life in technology. Part of the reason I started to use a computer was as a compensation to my abysmally bad and slow handwriting. It was thought at the time that if I could type my work, I would learn faster. Did it work? I have no idea, but it did get me coding and typing at a very young age and at a point in time (early ’80s) when very few people had computers. I graduated to an Apple //e and then a //c later on, but until right before college I still used those trusty machines.

An advantage of doing things on computers is that I still have some of the files from those days. Well, the disks at any rate. So a few years back I bought what seems like a Frankenstein of technology, an expansion card for my //e (yes, I still have it) that will let you plug in a CF Card and make it appear like a hard drive (CFFA for Apple //e). This allowed me to transfer disk images of my 5.25 inch floppy disks onto more persistent and accessible storage media. While I played around with the files then, I didn’t have a great way to get at the actual file contents as most of what I wrote was using Wordstar for CP/M which I could run via the Z80 expansion card I used to, but no longer, had. This morning however, I found a new emulator Virtual ][, that emulates that card as well as a printer that generates PDFs. So, I can now get easy access to all of my old files.

And to make this more interesting for all involved, I thought I would share some of the choice gems with you, my readers. The first installment comes from I think 6th or 7th grade, when I attended the Madison Middle School in Trumbull, CT. This was from my science class where we apparently had to “study” an animal. My group had a hamster, aptly named Teddy. This particular file was not written in Wordstar, but in Bank Street Writer, which, let me tell you, is quite the piece of software to play with now. But it runs in the emulator and I got the file out.



Our group chose a Teddy Bear hamster because it was small, cheap, and easy to care for. Our hamster, whose name is Teddy, is a male, 3 inches long, and light brown.

The Teddy Bear hamster is part of the rodent family. Rodents range in size from 2 inches to 4 feet in length. Some rodent fossils have been traced back 56 million years.

The hamster is a common name for 11 Old World species of rodents. The hamster originates from the desert in Africa. It has four legs and almost no tail. They are roughly 2-3 inches long. Behavior

The hamster is a very smart animal and is capable of learning tricks. When we put Teddy in our maze, we ran him through once to get him used to it. The second time he went through it fine, but the third time he broke out of the maze. So, we don`t have any evidence whatsoever that hamsters can learn.

Our hamster ignored the other hamster we put in the cage and laid down. We could not test Teddy with any female hamsters because there were not any available.

When we left him alone all he did was eat, run, and sleep.

While we had Teddy, we did not have any indications of what he did when he was in pain, hungry, thirsty, or content. When he was in danger of being taken out of his cage, he backed away from our hands.

One interesting aspect of the hamster`s behavior is that it uses its large cheek pouches to carry its food home.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a hamster is between 2 and 3 years. A full grown hamster is 2.5 inches to 11 inches long, depending on species.

Rodents are able to reproduce at 60 days. The gestation period is 16-22 days, depending on species. A hamster has 4-18 babies per litter, again depending on species. The hamster is not hatched, it is born. When the young are born, they have no fur and their eyes are closed. At 2-3 days after birth, the animal starts growing fur. They open their eyes at 14 to 16 days and it takes 2-3 weeks to be able to leave their mother because they stop feeding on her milk.

A wild hamster will have litters 1-2 times a year, usually in the summer. But a hamster kept as a pet can have many more litters all year-round. If another person or animal touches the babies the mother will eat them or neglect them. The hamster is not hatched it is born.

Life Requirements

The main requirement of the hamster is its need for food. It eats grain and vegetable scraps. We fed our hamster a combination of rabbit pellets, barley, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, yellow corn, oats, and wheat. The hamster also needs water but because of its desert origin it does not need much.

A hamster lives in a burrow, usually in sandy steppe lands, cultivated fields, or river banks. It avoids cold climates because it becomes sluggish and hibernates at low temperatures. Its burrows are elaborate and have many entrances. It has special compartments for food and excreting waste. They also have special tunnels for the winter which are longer and deeper. The hamster is a nocturnal animal and prefers darkness. The hamster needs 1-2 square feet of living space at a temperature of 70 degrees F. and not much humidity.

The Ecological Niche

The hamster is remarkably free of parasites, but can catch many human diseases. The hamster may not have to worry about parasites but it does have to worry about snakes, hawks, and eagles.

Gerbils, mice, and squirrels eat the same thing as hamsters.

The hamster can damage farms by burrowing underground and eating the plant roots. It can also help farmers by eating certain pests.

In the wild, the hamster eats insects, frogs, nuts, grains, vegetables, and apples.


Hamsters are somewhat afraid of people. The golden hamster is the most common to Humans It can be an extremely friendly pet.

The hamster is be dangerous if it bites you because it can transmit diseases.

Some people don`t like rodents, but you should act friendly to them - unless you see the 4 foot rodent, then run.

If you have a hamster or meet one, you should pet it lightly, not squash it. If you pick it up, you should support it underneath and not hold it too tight.

In the past, the guinea pig was used as a test animal, but, after the discovery of hamsters in 1927, the scientific community switched to hamsters because they were more prone to human diseases, and they reproduced faster.


I liked this unit very much because I like handling and playing with animals and observing them.

I didn`t the planning for the animal or feeding it, because the hamster scattered its food all over and I had to pick it up.

Our animal was very friendly and cute. He was a little boring and did not like tests very much, and it was nice he didn`t bite.

I hope that next year we can do another Animal Care Unit.

There you have it. The Teddy Bear hamster, as told by my 13 year old self.