Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Victoria's Potty Training (part 1)

With all the new modifications and additions, Victoria's cage is getting increasingly difficult to clean. One evening she even decided to turn her observatory into a lavatory and I woke up to find 4 evenly-spaced puddles of hamster pee in each of the nodules. Eew. Ok, that was it. It was time to get Victoria potty trained again. Her previous owner claimed that she had potty-trained her as a wee baby ham, but hadn't provided me with any litter or a box.

Hamsters already have a tendency to pee in only one spot, so litter-box training them is supposedly very easy. So last week I went to PetSmart and bought her a hamster toilet and some litter, cleaned out her cage, put in some soiled bedding in the toilet, placed the toilet in her former potty corner and waited to see what happened. Unfortunately, the toilet doesn't quite cover the whole corner because it's rounded, so she kept peeing in the corner and ignored the toilet. In fact, she started kicking the litter out of the toilet into the corner to cover it up. Tricksie. Very Tricksie. Once I even saw her go into the toilet and carefully position herself so her butt was sticking out so she could pee straight into the corner. Hmmm. I will need to come up with a better solution. Will keep you guys posted on her progress!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cage additions

For Valentine's day, my boyfriend gave me/Victoria a new den for her to play in. I designed her new roof to be able to take add-ons and I'd been eying some of the cool-looking Habitrail mazes as a good alternative to her current "observatory." As soon as I hooked it up and let her in, she immediately started to utterly butcher the cardboard insert, which is fantastic because I've been trying to find new chew toys she likes better than on the corners of her hutch. Yay for Valentine's Day! Thanks sweetie :)

"I don't care if these berries aren't real. OM NOM NOM NOM NOM...."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wheel modifications

After many a night of waking up to the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) noise of "squeeeeeeek" from the wheel in Victoria's cage, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Vic uses the same type of wheel as Lizzie did (the Wodent Wheel, which is supposed to be one of the more quiet wheels out there and super safe for little hammy feet), but she runs faster for longer periods of time and I guess the cheap bearings on the wheel just couldn't take it. Temporary relief could be had by liberally applying vegetable oil to the axle, but that would often only last a few days at best. So finally, after a couple weeks of seeking relief at my boyfriend's place (much to the detriment of the hammy, who as a result wasn't let out as much to play), it was time to make some fixes.

The main causes for the squeaking were probably the following: 1) metal rubbing on metal and 2) loose tolerances in overall wheel design. So what is a MechE to do? I decided to replace the crappy bronze bearings with new PTFE (better known by its brand name, Teflon) ones. I figured going with a plastic would help reduce the squeaking and PTFE is super low in friction, which should hopefully reduce the amount of oil I'll need to put on and compensate for the increase surface contact with the shaft. These were flanged to replace the old plastic washers and much longer in length to get better coverage on the wheel shaft to compensate for the bad tolerancing. A hand drill, a hammer and a screwdriver later and it was good to go! Victoria seems to like her modified wheel and has been running happily at night.