This is how i provided a simple and effective way to the (too)many mice that me and my girlfriend are growing. Living in a tank may not be that much fun, so mice need to have toysand exercise tools in their homes to avoid becoming way too fat.
The obvious solution is a mouse/hamster wheel, but this toy tends to be a problem since it tends to get noisy at night.
Surfing the 'Net you can find "Silent" wheels that cost about 20 dollars/euros, but that's too much IMOHO and a very nice challenge trying to do i t myself. So I decided to make my own, spending far
less money (about 3 euros) and recycling things.
I named it "Cool-Runnings", just because I think it needed a name and this was the best I came up with :-)
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
- 1 CD/DV Spindle cover, from a 25 or 50 Disk spindle
- 2 HD magnets (with metal base attached)
- 1 skate ball-bearing (20mm)
- Some nuts, washers, and bolts,
- small short wood screws
- 4cm x 15cm x 1cm wood board
- heavy duty drill (not pictured)
- hobby rotary tool
- 18mm flat wood drill bits
- measuring tape, multi tool, pencil
I paid my ball-bearing 3 euros, that is much more than what you might pay for it on line or at a sate shop. You don't need a super-ceramic extra professional one... just one that spins smoothly enough
You can get the magnets form an old HD. I need the magnets and they must be strong since I use them to fix it to the walls of the plastic tanks I use as cages. If your cages are metal bars or net
you can find different ways to fix the wheel like zip-locks or metal wire
Step 2: Prepare the Wood Board
PAY ATTENTION: this step involves the use of power tools that may injure you. Pay close attention and wear protective gear like gloves and mask
Use the hacksaw on your board and cut a piece about 15cm. The board should be at least 4cm wide (twice the diameter of the bearing) and longer than the spindle cover, but be sure it will fit inside the cage.
Using the flat wood drill bit cut a hole in the middle of the board.
NOTE: The hole will have to contain the bearing as firmly as possible. For this reason I prefer to cut a smaller 18mm hole (that tends to be 19mm) and then slowly make it larger to house the bearing.
Step 3: Insert the Bearing
Keep widening the hole with the rotary tool and try to fit the bearing inside.
Press the bearing into the hole. Note that you want to press hard to get it inside: the more strength you use the more friction you will have between the bearing and the wood, and thus the more stable it will be. Just try not to crack the board...
Step 4: Prepare the Spindle
Remove any strange shape from the CD spindle. Watch out for plastic pieces used to close the spindle cover to it's base. Those small wings might hurt your mouse when the wheel will be spinning fast !!
Also using a knife make many scratches to the inner surface of the spindle parallel to the rotation axis of the wheel, so to provide enough friction to the paws of the mice or they will just slide on the wheel
Step 5: Assembly 1
Fix the bolt into the center of the spindle. try to do this as precisely as possible since if you miss the center the wheel will not turn in it's axis. Lock the bolt with a washer and a nut on the other side.
Try to spin the wheel holding the bolt to check how balanced the wheel will be.
Step 6: Assembly 2
Now you need to fix the bearing to the bolt.
Take a small washer whose diameter is about the diameter of the inner (spinning) cylinder of the bearing, make sure the washer will not touch the outer cylinder (fixed to the board)
Put the washer over the nut, then insert the bearing. Use another similar washer on the ohter side, over the bearing, and a nut to lock things in place. Before turning firmly the nuts check again the balance of the wheel.
Step 7: Assembly 3 and Placing
Time to fix the wheel to the cage.
I prefer doing this by using magnets from old HD, but you can do what's best for you according to the type of cage you have.
Fix one magnet on his metal base to one end of the wood board using the small wood screws. Again try not to crack the board when turning the screws. I use to make a small hole in the board to help inserting the screw.
Step 8: Place It Into the Tank
Place the wheel inside the tank, let the side of the board without the magnet to get to the bottom of the cage, so that it will sustain the weight of the wheel and mice inside it.
Place the magnet on the wall of the tank and use the other magnet to fix it.
TAKE CARE: HD magnets are very strong, do not clamp your fingers or your mice
tails in between them. Hurts a lot. Really :'-(.
Step 9: Enjoy Your Cool Runnings !!
Check that the wheel can turn freely without any obstacle like bedding or such
Allow a couple of days to your mice to get used to this strange thing and to
understand how to use is.
After a few tries they will have fun and love their new toy.
If you used a 50xCD spindle sometimes mice will also run side by side... if they agree witch way to go ;-)