How to Choose A Hamster Wheel
Despite seeming like a fairly simple item, hamster wheels come in various designs and styles. Here’s what you need to know before purchasing.
Size of Your Hamster
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a wheel is the size of your actual hamster, as you don’t want to purchase one too large or small for them.
Smaller dwarf and roborovski breed hamsters don’t require a huge wheel, and something between 16 cm and 18 cm should suffice! This would not be comfortable for larger breeds such as Syrians though, and if your hamster is a portly species you’re best off purchasing a wheel of 20 cm or more.
Try and decide whether a saucer or wheel is the better design for your hamster. Remember that a larger hamster would require a bigger flying saucer, which could take up a lot of room in their cage. Therefore flying saucers can often be a better choice for smaller hamsters, but it really is up to you.
Try to also choose a wheel with a solid running surface. Classic rung designs can actually be harmful to hamsters as their feet can be easily caught between them while running.
Wheels these days often have features like a closed-back wall which prevents a hamster from slipping out of the side of the spinner and gaining an injury. It can also help your hamster have more confidence in using the wheel.
Most importantly though, try to choose a hamster wheel that promises silence, as otherwise, you’ll learn very quickly how loud a hamster can be!
The majority of hamster wheels are made from either plastic or metal. Metal is obviously a stronger material and is far more durable than plastic, but it is also harder to clean. Wooden wheels are also available and usually the quietest, however, they require varnishing to prevent stains and don’t last as long.
Be sure to check whether it’s possible for the wheel to be fitted to the cage or whether it must remain on its stand.
Why Hamsters Need a Wheel
Hamsters are incredibly active creatures in the wild and can amazingly clock up to 6 miles a day. However, when kept as pets, we keep them in a cage to ensure they don’t get lost, meaning there’s no way for them to act on their biological instincts. Hamster wheels, therefore, help them fulfil this instinct and also provide a host of mental and physical benefits.
Due to hamsters living in a cage and being given free food by you, there’s a very real chance they could become obese without a wheel! They are essential for maintaining a hamster’s healthy weight and a lack of exercise causes a whole host of health issues in your pet. These include problems such as bone and muscle degeneration, which can in severe cases lead to paralysis!
Hamsters also love wheels for the boosts they give their mental health. Without one, you might notice disturbing behaviours such as gnawing at the bars on their cage and chewing their own skin and hair. To prevent stress and restlessness, it really is a vital purchase for any rodent.