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Old 08-20-2020, 05:33 PM   #1
Stella Maris
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Default Bean Goes Walkabout

Bean, my Syrian hamster wees on his wheel. Often. Not always.
His wee is no problem when it’s in his sandbox, but when coating his wheel, it’s a bit… redolent.

I thought I might encourage him to stop this habit, by replacing his weed-on wheel with a smaller, less wonderful wheel. Maybe he’d figure out that when he didn’t wee on it, the good wheel stayed, but when he did, the good wheel went away. I figured it’d work best if I exchanged wheels as soon as I noticed he’d weed - which would be when I got up in the night. (To wee. But not on a wheel.)

I also decided I’d tart up his home by adding some fabric behind the back of his bin. I just jammed it between his bin and the wall. I was cautious to not let any fabric hang down into his bin just in case he might use it to climb out. Looked fine.

A couple of nights later, as I passed his bin, my nose noticed he’d weed on his wheel. I removed it from his bin and put it in the far corner of the room, then replaced it with the smaller wheel as planned. (Since he was evidently unable to climb out of his bin, I didn’t need a bin lid. So changing out the wheels was easy.) Bean seemed to be having a nap under the substrate, as I couldn’t see him anywhere.

A while after I’d gone back to bed, I heard him running on his wheel. “Why, that cheap wheel is as quiet as the expensive wheel; perhaps I wasted my money,” I thought, as I fell back to sleep.

The hours passed and I eventually awakened and got up to greet “the boys” (Bean and Oreo). Bean’s substitute wheel was clean. (Yay!) Oreo was ready for breakfast, but Bean was…. not there. Not there??? Not there!!! Aaack! It was a 38” (97cm) drop from his bin-top to the carpet! (Or possibly a 14” + 26” compound drop, depending on what route he took.)

I looked in his favourite hiding spots in the bathroom and kitchen. No Bean. I thought, “If he’s behind the fridge or dishwasher, this could get interesting.” I was searching the main living area, when he peeked out from the corner where I’d put his (wee covered) wheel.

It was the wee-ly expensive wheel that I’d been hearing after I'd gone back to bed. He must have already been ‘at large’ when I’d changed out the wheels. He probably thought I was being particularly kind to hand-deliver his favourite wheel to him as he was exploring. Little wretch. We’re lucky I didn’t step on him.

He was (and is) fine, no damage I could see. My guess is, he managed to hook a bit of the fabric with his claw, and was able to pull himself up to the edge of the bin. From there, he probably fell into a box of files, thence, a 2 foot plus drop to the floor. What an adventurer!

The upshot is that, since I’m not completely certain how he managed to escape, I can’t be so cavalier about leaving the lid off his bin. I took down the fabric. I thought I could move his house a titch farther from the bin wall, but I read somewhere that hamsters have been known to shove stuff around their bins to make it easier to climb out. Clever critters. (And hardy, too!)

So that was Bumble Bean’s Big Adventure.
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Old 08-20-2020, 05:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

Good to hear you got him back. I expect having the smaller wheel made him a bit restless which is what led to the escape.

Hamsters don't have the ability to connect events separated by more than a few seconds together, so replacing the wheel won't help with the weeing unless you do it literally 1 second after he wees. It's kind of like rubbing a puppy's nose in its urine - it doesn't work.
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Old 08-20-2020, 06:29 PM   #3
Stella Maris
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

Hi Sushi 78

Turns out, he'd already escaped by the time I changed the wheel. But point taken. Mainly I'm just trying to get him used to having a clean wheel in the (probably vain) hope that he'll get used to it and want it to continue. He's 7 months old; still hoping he'll grow out of it. Or that he's a particularly brilliant hamster and will figure out that clean wheels are A Good Thing.
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Old 08-20-2020, 10:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

I wouldn’t hold out too much hope! Peeing in the wheel is natural behaviour for hams, I know it can be a bit smelly sometimes but I really don’t think it’s fair on them to try to make them unlearn natural behaviours, don’t over clean the wheel, the more you clean the more they pee! Once a week is fine.
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Old 08-21-2020, 12:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

Have you tried putting a pot of sand close to the wheel? It worked with mine and he peed in his wheel all night. He was fine using is toilet tray any other time but would not leave the wheel once he was running. He would poo in there too so by morning there was a lovely sticky mess coated all over. He would not take a few minutes out of his running time to visit his toilet in the far corner of his cage but he will jump out for the shorter time it takes to use the sand next to his wheel. It took him a few weeks to work out that pee, poo and sandy paws were not so comfortable for running on and now his wheel is clean most of the time.
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

Originally Posted by cypher View Post
I wouldn’t hold out too much hope! Peeing in the wheel is natural behaviour for hams
Interesting to read this, as I suspect it's what Freya is doing. There is often a slightly sticky, greasy residue on the inside of her wheel, and I had wondered what it was.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:16 PM   #7
Stella Maris
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Default Re: Bean Goes Walkabout

Thanks for your comments everyone!
I know peeing in their wheel is normal behaviour for some hammies (although Oreo has never peed in his wheels), just like it's normal behaviour for puppies to pee on the carpet . I'm trying to find ways to encourage Bean to change that behaviour. The fact that he doesn't always do it gives me hope. I'm trying your suggestion, Merlina; I've put some pre-peed sand in a container right under his wheel.
We share a room, Bean and Oreo and I, and I have a very good sense of smell, so here's hoping!
Meanwhile, I'm glad that he didn't disappear while he was at large. I was surprised (but pleased!) when he came right out when I called him. SO glad I spent some time training him to come when called!
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