A hamster wheel is a popular addition to many hamster cages. But what are hamster wheels for? What types of hamster wheels are available? And should you get a wheel for your hamster?
Hamster wheels allow hamsters to run even though they don’t have a lot of room in their cages. In the wild, a hamster can run for several miles in a single night, but they obviously can’t do this if they’re confined to a cage. At least, not without a wheel…
With a wheel, your hamster can run surprisingly long distances without ever having to leave home. In fact, hamsters running in wheels have been known to run more than 5 miles in a single night!
All this running is great exercise for your hamster, which means they’re more likely to stay fit and healthy and not get too fat! It’s also thought that hamsters enjoy running as it goes some way towards replacing exploring, which they would do in the wild but can’t do in a cage.
Studies have found that hamsters with running wheels will gnaw on their cages less. And it’s even been found that female hamsters with running wheels give birth to more pups per litter than those without!
Hamster Wheels – Should you get a wheel for your hamster?
What kind of hamster wheels are available?
Both metal and plastic hamster wheels are available and each type has its own pros and cons.
Metal wheels are likely to last longer than plastic wheels. Metal is a stronger material than plastic so hamsters are much less likely to damage metal wheels by chewing on them.
However, metal wheels are usually made with rungs rather than as one solid piece (like a ladder and like the wheel pictured in the cartoon above). Unfortunately, hamster legs are quite fragile and can easily get injured if they fall through the gaps between rungs while running.
Plastic wheels are often made from one solid piece of plastic – rather than rungs – which is safer for the hamster, as there are no gaps for their legs to fall through.
How big should a hamster wheel be?
We recommend a minimum wheel size of 6.5 inches for dwarf and Roborovski hamsters and at least 8 inches for larger hamsters, including Syrian hamsters.
It’s really important that you don’t give your hamster a wheel that is too small for them. The larger a wheel is, the less the hamster has to arch its back and the more similar it is to running on flat ground in the wild.
Running with an arched back is very bad for a hamster’s health. If you ever see your hamster arching their back while running then you should buy a larger wheel for them as soon as possible.
Are hamster wheels noisy?
Not always. But, unfortunately, it’s true that hamster wheels can sometimes be noisy!
And remember… hamsters are often active at night. If your hamster wheel is noisy then you’ll probably be disturbed by your hamster’s running, as they’ll want to run when you want to sleep!
Although it may be tempting to avoid putting a wheel in your hamster cage – or remove it if it gets too loud – this is definitely not a good idea. As we’ve already explained, a hamster wheel is an important part of your hamster’s physical and psychological health.
Instead, think carefully about where you place your hamster cage. Can you put it in a room that is far away from where you sleep?
Also, when purchasing a wheel, look for one that claims to run silently. It’s worth paying a bit extra to get a quiet wheel rather than a noisy one!
And finally – if you can still hear your hamster’s wheel spinning – try adding a bit of olive oil where the wheel meets the spindle. This should lubricate the joints of the wheel and reduce squeaking and rattling.
Recommended hamster wheels
If you’re looking for a new hamster wheel then we’d recommend the following three examples:
Pet Exercise Wheel
Ware Flying Saucer Small Pet Exercise Wheel
Kaytee Hamster Silent Spinner
But don’t forget: you must choose a wheel that is suitable for your hamster’s size!
3 best-selling hamster wheels
- AmazonBasics Pet Training and Puppy Pads, Regular – 100 Count
- Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter, 40 pound bag ( Pack May Vary )
- ARM & HAMMER Clump & Seal Platinum Litter, Multi-Cat, 40 lb