M. Giant's
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010  

Wheels Go Round

Everyone knows hamsters have to have a wheel in their cages, but I always thought that was only so when one of their rare urges to exercise strikes, it's ready and waiting for them. It's not like a hamster can signal, "Garcon, my wheel sil vous plait."

But I always assumed that those wheels spent most of the day sitting idle. Maybe because they're so damn squeaky. Or maybe that's how they got squeaky. Chicken/egg, you know? All I knew is that I never saw a hamster spending any significant amount of time on its wheel, either at pet stores or at friends' houses. If I was lucky enough to see one jog a few steps, it was a rare spectacle on the order of a transit of Venus. While on Venus.

That has not been the case with Bucky. Maybe it's just different because we live with him, and don't experience him in three-minute morsels of time like with every other pet rodent I've ever met. And it might also be different because he lives in M. Edium's room. Where the baby monitor is.

No, I know we don't technically need a baby monitor any more, now that M. Edium is six freaking years old. In fact, it stopped being a baby monitor some years ago and became a delivery system for M. Edium's imperious (and yet futile) post-bedtime requests. But with Trash and I working on the main floor in earshot of the receiver, it also became a way for us to hear when Bucky was on his wheel. Or, on rare occasions, when he wasn't.

It was most remarkable in the first few weeks after we brought him home. The monitor would transmit and amplify the noise if his wheel (plastic, and thus not squeaky, thank God) into our workspace so steadily that only his infrequent pauses for breath kept it from fading into background noise. Trash kept sending me up to check on him, thinking he was going to have a heart attack. Like, what as I going to do, check his blood pressure with a cooked pasta ring, or defibrillate him with a nine-volt battery? I checked anyway.

During one of these look-sees, it occurred to me that a lot of energy was just going to waste. I looked at that wheel spinning incessantly, and I thought, that's a lot of energy that's going to waste. Isn't there some kind of hamster-wheel generator you can buy?

Well, no, but you can build one. That is to say, it's been done, by people more technically savvy than me. After finding that site, I saw how much work it would be an almost immediately lost interest.

It's the "almost" part that worries me. Because after finding out that it was possible, Bucky's wheel stopped sounding to me like RrrrrRrrrrRrrrrRrrrr and more like RrrrrloseRrrrrrloseRrrrr.

I mean, I know he's not going to light the city or anything, but in exchange for the food we give him, could he at least charge my cell phone?

First thing's first, I guess. Maybe getting power out of his hamster wheel isn't as much of a priority as figuring out how to make him stop crapping in it. A spinning wheel is cute. A "centri-poo-ge" is not.

posted by M. Giant 9:55 PM 1 comments

1 Comments:

When I was a child in the 1970s, my hamster's metal wheel squeaked at just the right frequency to stand in for the remote control for our tv. We would never have known, since the hamster lived in the basement and rarely ran in his wheel when anyone was around, except that my older sister moved home and had to sleep down there. The tv randomly turning itself on and off though the night freaked her out completely.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

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