Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Effects of Alcohol on Hamsters

THE LOST WEEKEND (literally): Fred, the A.W.O.L. alcoholic hamster, found in a china case eating TWIX. Jonesing.

ATTN: Editors of JAMA

FROM: Rupert Suskind, 7th Grade, Spunk Loch Middle School, Longwood, Florida

RE: The Effects of Alcohol on Hamsters

  1. I. Problem
  2. II. Research
  3. III. Hypothesis
  4. IV. Tests
  5. V. Conclusion
  6. VI. Bilbliography

I. Problem
If alcohol is given to a hamster, would it affect the hamster's behavior? If so, would it act similarly to how it affects people?

II. Research
Alcohol abuse is the number one drug problem in the United States. Estimates say that out of 95 million people who drink, nine million are alcohol abusers or alcoholics. As many as two-thirds of the U.S. population drink alcoholic beverages.

There is general agreement among experts that alcohol can be addictive. And as more and more alcohol is consumed, greater amounts can become tolerated, so the alcohol abuser will crave more and more.

Alcohol is made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Alcohol is made through the process called fermentation. Its chemical formula is 2(C6H10O5) + H2O => C12H22O11, which transferred into terms that a layperson might know, means starch plus water yields malt sugar.

The anesthetizing action of alchohol dilates thousands of microscopic blood vessels under the surface of the skin which enables blood to rush from other parts of the body and circulate quickly warming the skin, however this effect is short and usually unconsciousness prevents people from drinking themselves to death, but sometimes so much is consumed so quickly that the brain center controlling breathing and circulation becomes parlyzed before unconsciousness occurs. Death results.

Hamsters, on the other hand, are any of several ratlike, burrowing animals of Europe and Asia, with large cheek pouches in which they carry grain. They are often used in scientific experiments and cost between $5 and $11 each at the mall, depending on your proximity to the airport.

II. Hypothesis
I think my project, which is giving alcohol to a hamster, will show many changes in the animal's behavior. I think it will hurt its thinking ability in tests I have devised.

In my project, I wanted to see if hamsters would act similarly to people when under the influence of alcohol. I used two hamsters, which I will refer to as Jack and Teddy. Jack will be used as a control. Teddy will be given the alcohol.

The maze I built will serve as a test in agility and speed for both hamsters. For one, it will show me the changes Teddy might make before and after the times I give him the alcohol, and for two, it will show me how he might remain the same.

I will directly give Teddy an amount of alcohol diluted with water by using an eye dropper and giving it to him directly.

IV. Tests
Wednesday the 15th
I give the alcohol known as Black Velvet Whiskey directly to Teddy and wait five minutes. I put him through the maze. He does not run through it. He sits at a dead end and breathes heavily with eyes shut. In an earlier test that I had performed earlier, Teddy had run through the maze and had found his way out. When I put Jack through the maze, he did his usual time of 27 minutes and 53 seconds. After I put the hamsters back in their cage, Teddy falls asleep in their bowl of food. Jack stays up all night busying himself inside his play tubes.

Thursday the 16th
I put food directly in their bowl yesterday, but this morning it is gone. Jack and Teddy are both asleep this morning. Later today they awake and Teddy begins terrorizing Jack, using his head to battle ram his abdomen. I note how fat Teddy looks and how skinny Jack looks. I decide to separate them, but Teddy won't let me get near Jack without trying to attack my hand first. I decide to give an undiluted amount of alcohol directly to Teddy to subdue him. By squeezing Teddy's head on both sides, I am able to insert the eye dropper into his mouth and administer the alcohol. I could now separate my test subjects.

Friday the 17th
This morning I put Jack back in with Teddy, but it did not work out. Jack appeared to be trying to use Teddy as a ramp of sorts to finagle an escape from their cage. That night I ran a sober Teddy through the maze, and he did manage to struggle through it, although often appearing agitated, butting his head on the sides of the maze followed by brief periods of sitting. I then gave Teddy alcohol directly, who took it readily, almost eagerly.

Sunday the 19th
This morning I found out that a theory I had tossed about - that alcohol directly caused Teddy's weight gain - is partly erroneous. I see that Teddy had a litter of little Teddy's last night. SHE...seemed confused, not knowing what to do with the sickly pink horde. The hamster babies appeared extremely small. Upon checking my sources, it seems that they are indeed abnormally small for the tropical biome in which this study takes place.

V. Conclusion
In my project, I learned of many different effects alcohol has on hamsters who have been given alcohol directly, such as: violent behavior, increased drowsiness, increased appetite, poor performance at work, avoidance of family and friends, lying and pregnancy. Perhaps we as humans should recall the effects of alcohol on hamsters before we go to a bar, convenience store or wedding so as we may not directly become alcohol abusers or alcoholics or pregnant.

VI. Bibliography

Mind Drugs by Margaret O'Hyde. Mcgraw Hill Book Company. New York, NY. 1975

Alcohol: Drink or Drugs by Margaret O'Hyde. Mcgraw Hill Book Company. New York, NY. 1975

Alcohol: The Delightful Poison by Alice Fleming. Houghton Mifflin, Chicago, IL. 1977.

Regional Size Variations in the Hamster Baby by Margaret O'Hyde. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York, NY. 1953.

Watch for these other science projects to come:
The Effect of Marijuana on the Domestic House Cat
The Effect of Rufinal on the Tortoise
The Effect of Human Urine on the Aquarium Fish
The Effect of Crystal Meth on Beavers

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