Zen And The Hamster Wheel

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by goofyfish, Apr 18, 2002.

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  1. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

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    When a hamster rolls in its little hamster wheel inside its cage, does it think it's getting anywhere?

    I used to think not. But the other day, I made a loud noise to get the attention of my nephew’s hamster, which ended up being much louder than I thought it would be. It scared the bejeezus out of the little guy! His reaction? He froze for a second, then scampered all the way to the other side of his cage, jumped into his little wheel, and ran as fast as he could for several seconds. Then he stopped and looked around, as though to see if the coast were clear, hopped out, and went about his business.

    So, I could be totally anthropomorphizing - but it sure seemed like he thought he was running far away from where he had been to get away from the scary loud noise. Which would mean he thought he was actually going somewhere when he ran in his wheel.

    I’ve also noticing a few things since: it seems to stop periodically specifically for the purpose of checking out its surroundings, to see where it is; quite often if it runs in the wheel in one direction for a while, it will then turn around and go back in the opposite direction for a while.

    Has anyone done research on this? Do hamsters understand the concept of the wheel, or do they actually think it leads somewhere?

    [Diana Ross voice]
    Do you know... where you're going to...
    Do you like the things that life is showing you...
    Where are you going to... Do you know?

    [/Diana Ross voice]

    Didn't know I could sing like that, didja?

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    Peace.
     
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  3. kmguru Staff Member

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    Reality is relative...There is Hamster reality and there is Human reality....then there is certain sciforum member's reality (you know who you are...)...

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  5. ImaHamster2 Registered Senior Member

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    Certainly hamsters use wheels to traverse our territory. Often it’s the only way to reach that special place. Don’t people use cars for the same purpose? (Sad to watch an old hamster sitting on a wheel. confused, unable to remember the path to the great seed horde.)

    (Or the cat looking for the "Door into summer".)
     
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  7. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Hamster wheels are really Made by a secret alien pact, a hamster gets into the wheel and it creates a time distortion, you think that hamsters only live a few years, but in reality it's hundreds of years all compressed into each turn of that little wheel.

    When you scared him, he secretly dived into the wheel, ran it up to generate the wormhole, informed the alien race on the opposite side of the universe about your actions and then came back so as to assume its hamster role and make you think nothing else happened.


    Clever creatures those Hamsters.
     
  8. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

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    Ok ya bastards! I guess I asked for that with the title.

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    I've been searching for related info but have come up nil. Interestingly, hamster wheel-running is so reliable and predictable, that the activity is used in experiments involving biological timing, circadian rhythms and such. I can't believe that some bored scientist somewhere hasn't thought to himself - "I wonder what the little critter thinks he's doing?"

    Peace.
     
  9. kmguru Staff Member

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    Talk about rhythms - does anybody know why we have a 28 day cycle?
     
  10. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Okay Goofyfish

    I've given it some serious thought, I think it's simple...

    You go Boo! The hamster wants to run as far away as his little legs can carry him, One snag... He's in a cage, there isn't enough distance to run, so he makes some distance... That wheel and runs.

    Edit:

    I realise he jumps in his wheel and runs because in the hamsters mind, his Psychology is that If I'm moving I'm alright nothing can get me. Being in a cage though theres no where to run, so he hops in the wheel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2002
  11. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    He doesn't think, he just do it. It's natural action that provides peace in someone's mind (or a hamsters mind...).

    Unless...

    Are Hamsters logical? If what you are saying is, if he believes he is going somewhere, it seems that he has logical thinking... I honestly don't know... but I bring up the queston... What do ya say?

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    Love,
    Nelson
     
  12. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

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    Hamsters are very different from gerbils, but I found a tidbit that suggests you could at least investigate the idea scientifically. About 30 years ago, a study was performed on gerbils to investigate their wheel-running behavior:

    SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE ON GERBILS
    Compiled by Julian Barker, Vera Brueckmann, Fred Petrij & Karin van Veen
    Unfortunately, I cannot find the full text, but if "wild" hamsters in flight mode exhibit behavior which is similar to a caged hamster "escaping" on a wheel, I agree with you that it might be reasonable to conclude that the hamster thinks it's actually running away from danger. I don't think you'd have any trouble setting up a scientifically valid study, but I couldn't find any evidence on the Internet of such a study for anything other than gerbils.

    Peace.
     
  13. Neutrino_Albatross Legion of Dynamic Discord Registered Senior Member

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    I bet it does think its getting away my sister's guinea pig is the same way. Whenever a noise scares him he runs around his cage several times not to the other side. Half the time when he's done running hes on the side that the noise was closest too

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    I think that when hamsters/guinea pigs are running they don't know where they are going just that they're getting there fast.
     
  14. Merlijn curious cat Registered Senior Member

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    Stryder wrote "his Psychology is that If I'm moving I'm alright nothing can get me."
    You may very well be right here! If you were Evolution it may be smartest to design the animal to run if in danger ... not to a particular target, just run. In normal situations that would do the trick.
    I think it a smart move of you to distinguish "moving" from "moving to".
     
  15. Xenu BBS Whore Registered Senior Member

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    Running on the wheel could be a way the hampster copes with anxiety. It's hard to tell why they do it since we can't talk to the little guys.

    -Xenu
     
  16. sjmarsha Registered Senior Member

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    You can talk to them...

    They just don't understand and cannot reply

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  17. Neutrino_Albatross Legion of Dynamic Discord Registered Senior Member

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    Well mabey they don't understand you but I have frequent conversations with hamsters. Not very interesting though. Very limited vocabulary.
     
  18. anim8er Registered Senior Member

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    Run away! Run away!

    I don't think hamsters "think" at all, well not in the way we "think". They have certain behaviors and react with specific responces to certain stimuli. The hamster's reaction to the loud noise was to run. The place for him to run is in the wheel. I don't think he is aware that running is taking him away from danger, instead I think he runs because that's his "programmed response" to danger. He does not understand the purpose in the running, just that it's what he is supposed to do.

    Often humans are just as ignorant about why they do things. Certainly advertisers, government, religious leaders and anyone else in a position of power tries to exploit such nature.

    DLF
     
  19. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

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    You, or the hamster? :bugeye:

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    Peace.
     
  20. Neutrino_Albatross Legion of Dynamic Discord Registered Senior Member

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    Both im afraid

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  21. Xenu BBS Whore Registered Senior Member

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    What constitutes a "thinking" for you?
     
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