Hamster Goes On Virtual Journey

Hamsters are great pets, especially for those with limited space or other resources. They are fun playful animals that are fairly easy to keep, and are entertaining to boot. [Kim]’s hamster, [Mr. Fluffbutt], certainly fits this mold as well but [Kim] wanted something a little beyond the confines of the habitat and exercise wheel and decided to send him on a virtual journey every time he goes for a run.

The virtual hamster journey is built on an ESP32 microcontroller which monitors the revolutions of the hamster wheel via a hall effect sensor and magnet. It then extrapolates the distance the hamster has run and sends the data to a Raspberry Pi which hosts a MQTT and Node.js server. From there, it maps out an equivalent route according to a predefined GPX route and updates that information live. The hamster follows the route, in effect, every time it runs on the wheel. [Mr Fluffbutt] has made it from the Netherlands to southeastern Germany so far, well on his way to his ancestral home of Syria.

This project is a great way to add a sort of augmented reality to a pet hamster, in a similar way that we’ve seen self-driving fish tanks. Adding a Google Streetview monitor to the hamster habitat would be an interesting addition as well, but for now we’re satisfied seeing the incredible journey that [Mr Fluffbutt] has been on so far.

19 thoughts on “Hamster Goes On Virtual Journey

    1. As much as that’s a really cool idea and sounds super fun to us (humans), I doubt the hamster would like that very much, since they’re crepuscular.
      I think they would get kinda drowsy looking at a really bright (O)LED display, unless you fiddle with the brightness and/or the color temperature, to give it a more redish hue.

      Fluffy is like a little bat, he dislikes light, and will go out of his way to avoid it, when he’s free roaming.

  1. My son is mildly autistic and the wife, in her wanderings, decided she “needed” to become an ex-wife and left him with me when she walked out. Of course the boy came up with behavior problems RIGHT AWAY, kindergarten, and school was complaining, so I promised him a rat if he could earn it by good behavior in school. The school helped with regular behavior reports, and my son managed to achieve the goals with good progress. He wanted that rat! So I did get a young female white lab rat from the university.

    Rats self-train to use a litterbox and they will never fail to make it unless it’s “miles away” in rat miles. Hence, she was allowed to free roam the house now that a couple extra litterboxes were placed. She always had a cage with food and water and the door was left open.

    So far, working great for my son and school! So more goals with rewards were set, and he succeeded in earning 2 more females. Everything working fine.

    Then he wanted a male rat, to try breeding, but was still earning positive behavior scores… so I cautiously went ahead with that as well. Only problem was male rats will bite you if females are around. But we had several successful litters, and the pet stores appreciated gaining some hand raised young.

    You don’t get a hamster wheel for a rat…. it’s a larger rat wheel. They don’t like their tail being banged by the wheel.

    As a child I had hamsters and mice, but rats are incredibly superior as they will actually develop their own emotional relationships with humans. An order of magnitude more intelligent. Will even come when you call them.

    1. I also had rats and hamsters and so can compare them. I’ve had mice as well. Rats are definitely the most intelligent and personable. Mice and hamsters can become tame, but rats actually seem to like you rather than just tolerate being touched.

      1. Oh! You pretty much nailed it! Bert’s favorite place to sleep was under the covers between the legs. Tried, but no way to stop it.

        Rats are the most “human” pets I’ve ever had! More human than some of my friends, and certainly more human than the ex.

        I should add that during this time of rats, I already had a black cat, Ernie. He had also been raised to personalize him, carried him in a baby harness on my chest for his kitten months. It was still hard work years later to manage to teach him to not kill. Treats and threats…. but yes in the end Bert and Ernie did get along fine. Ernie would just leave the area if Bert wanted to snuggle and groom him. His head would come up, ears go down, and zoom off instantly.

        As for the rats… in the end “Rolling Disease” came along. A brain virus that they rarely can survive. Bert passed of just plain old age, but the rest it was rolling disease.

        Son grown and gone now, successful in IT.

        My own growing up had had mice and hamsters, (from same lab), but rats have personality and pay attention to personal connections and emotions. They are far far superior as pets.

        Skunks are ok, de-scented but may bite. Raccoons as pets will still bite. Heck, even cats still bite.

        If you have children, rats are a good idea. Look up “rolling disease” before you try it though.

    2. Nearly ended up with some lab rats when finishing University, but someone else beat me to it. They were used for cognitive tests after ingesting cannabis. The idea of Rasta rats amused greatly!

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