The Great Hamster Disaster of '69
I think at one time or another, most kids obtain a hamster, gerbil, or some other cute little rodent. They're cheap, don't bark or track mud, and most often don't last very long.
Such was the case when my brother and I received a pair of hamsters when we were eight and ten years old. It wasn't very exciting until it turned out that they were, indeed, a mommy and daddy hamster. Out came six little pink squirmy baby hamster-ettes which was great fun for us and our friends to watch.
It turns out that mommy hamster was psychotic which was evidenced when she began to chew the arms and legs off her babies.
"Mommmm! She's chewing the legs off another one!"
"Well, quit scaring her! Maybe she'll stop if you leave her alone."
Of course, we couldn't leave the spectacle. And mommy hamster proceeded to merrily gnaw away until none of them had any limbs.
"Mommmm! . . . "
And none of them died.
They all grew up into very cute little furry hamster-balls. They'd just wriggle around in the wood shavings and get to where they needed to go. That was about the time that Star Trek had the episode about the Tribbles, so it was pretty cool that we had our very own.
Neighborhood kids would flock over to get a look.
Until one day when my aunt was visiting from Midland and she decided that the smell of eight hamsters was getting a little too foul. So, one morning she parked the hamster cage in the back yard to air out. Just for a bit.
This was in Texas. In the summertime.
By high noon, we had eight hamsters who had died of sun stroke. The little Tribble hamsters had survived a traumatic birth, a psychotic mother, and a life of being a hamster invalid. But were no match for a summer day in Texas.
A shoebox was procured . . . .