05 18 2007

Hamster training
Training was done as usual using the scoring method and using positive reinforcement (food inside attractor). A board is secured underneath the latex to ease the hamsters' running and to further familiarize them with the tank environment.

Meena runs very fast and chases the attractor very well.

J runs slowly and has begun to show signs of distraction. This could be due to the Duncan method carried out on her (consisting of forcing her in and out of the tank while undergoing training; this could have confused her of the gameplay methods). She has also developed a bad habit of sitting down and eating in the tank for several minutes. She is now undergoing special training to remind her of the gameplay.

Body Condition Scoring (BCS)
BCS was done on Meena and J in a box for the past 2 days. The box was used as a tryout to observe whether a change in assessment area will also cause any disruption towards their training results.

Meena's BCS = 2; she is rather bony-looking and haggard now. Extra food is given to prevent unwanted circumstances.

J's BCS = 4; she has quite an amount of fat and flesh at her back area.
Both hamsters are traumatized after the BCS assessment.

For demos, Meena is a better choice to show the hamster's eagerness in chasing the attractor. J would be better for camera tracking for now.

A demo was carried out on Wednesday. Both J and Meena are led out into the tank for demonstration.
As it was in the afternoon and after their daily training (food was already given in their respective food bin), they were quite tired and did not want to chase the attractor even when food was given.
For future demos,we would try not giving them as much food in their food bin or none before the demos to encourage them to chase the attractor.

They were also scared and not used to demos with lots of people around watching at them and talking. We could probably try to play recorded sounds of people talking or walking about to them during training. This could maybe change their (natural) behavior to be scared during demos. (Note: roborovskis species are afraid of humans and "unfriendly" unlike some other hamster types.)

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