October 29, 2015 AT 6:54 pm

Are my hamsters lazy or super athletes?

Michelle Leonhart has an awesome Raspberry Pi project to track how much exercise her hamsters get each day.  Her blog post goes into detail about how to instrument a hamster running wheel with a reed sensor so it can track how often the wheel turns.  She even goes far enough to measure the hamster’s stride so the total distance traveled can be calculated–awesome work!  Check out the blog post for all the details:

Last year, I brought two new Roborovski hamster pups into our home. They looked identical at the time, so I named them both Hamtaro. (Fast forward the 1.5 years I’ve owned them, and one has grown significantly tubbier than the other… So I’ve nicknamed her Hamtaro Grande.)

After having the Hamtaros home for about a week, one thing became extremely clear: they run all the time. At least, that’s how it feels when I’m trying to sleep through their squeaky wheel.

Curiosity led me to start researching my hamsters on the Internet. Confirming my suspicion, I read that Roborovski hamsters in particular are one of the most active hamster breeds in the world, and run “an equivalent of four human marathons each night on average.” So, it got me wondering: Could it be possible that my Roborovski hamsters are really running the hamster equivalent of four marathons a night? And if they are, what does that even mean? I mean, what even is the “hamster equivalent” of a marathon? With these questions in mind, I decided to put my hamsters to the test with some citizen science.

video about the hamster story