It’s fun to watch a hamster run on a hamster wheel, but the activity is more than just entertaining. A hamster burns off energy and gets vital exercise and mental stimulation when running on a wheel. Some small-animal cages have built-in wheels, but for those that don’t, models that stand alone or attach to cage wiring are available.
Although beneficial, a wheel can be hazardous to a pet if it’s the wrong size, made with wire or mesh or is poorly designed in general. For a durable, quality option, the Niteangel Super Silent Hamster Exercise Wheel will keep your pet active, happy and safe.
Hamsters need exercise for their health and well-being, and most of them can’t resist running on a hamster wheel. The bad news is that using an unsafe wheel can result in injuries, including irritated feet and tails, broken bones, amputated limbs and injured backs. Serious injuries can even cause death. However, a few simple precautions will make these issues far less likely to occur.
- Make sure the size of the wheel is compatible with the size of your hamster — the larger, the better.
- Choose a wheel that’s durable with a stable base.
- Check that your wheel is assembled properly.
- If you attach a hamster wheel to the cage, make sure it’s secure and doesn’t wobble.
- Pick a wheel that has a solid track to run on. Wire and mesh wheels, for instance, can injure a hamster’s feet.
- If you have more than one hamster, monitor their activity around the wheel. A hamster wheel can cause injury to a hamster that runs under it while it’s in motion.
The majority of hamster wheels have an upright design that a hamster spins as it runs. They may be made to be fixed to a cage, stand on their own or both. An alternative design is a flying saucer wheel that attaches to a base. A hamster runs over the surface to get it to spin; however, they are more likely to fly off of this style of wheel and potentially be injured.
Just as you clean your hamster’s cage, you’ll need to keep their new wheel clean, too. Wipe bedding and debris from the interior and exterior of the wheel. Use a wet cloth or sponge to remove stuck-on dirt. When simply wiping the wheel doesn’t get it clean, or if it has urine or feces on it, disassemble it from the cage and wash it with warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry the wheel thoroughly before putting it back in the cage.
Most hamster wheels are made of rigid plastic that holds up well to repeated use. Wooden models are available but may show wear over time from exposure to moisture. Some wheels are made of metal but aren’t recommended if they have open mesh-like tracks that can trap and injure tiny feet.
The tracks of a hamster wheel should be solid to keep little feet from falling through small crevices and provide traction to keep them from slipping. Most tracks have ridges, patterns or cork surfaces to keep small feet secure while they move.
Small, medium and large hamster wheels are available. The best option for your pet depends on its size and breed. A Syrian hamster, for instance, should have a wheel that’s at least 10-12 inches, while a dwarf hamster can use a wheel that’s 8-12 inches. There’s no such thing as a wheel that’s too large for a hamster; as long as the hamster can run on it while keeping its back straight, it’s a good choice. Never choose a wheel that is too small, as it can cause back injuries.
Hamster wheels are available in different fun colors and color combinations. They can be mixed and matched to complement a hamster cage.
Hamster wheels range in cost from about $7-$35. Larger models with specialty features cost more than small, basic wheels.
A. A hamster wheel is an essential item for your hamster to have to keep it healthy and fit. If you have two hamsters in an enclosure, it would be best to have two wheels to ensure they both get plenty of exercise and don’t fight over it.
A. Yes. If your hamster appears to struggle to use the wheel, or its back is curved unnaturally while it runs on the wheel, it’s too small or too large for your pet to use comfortably or safely.
Niteangel Super Silent Hamster Exercise Wheel: available at Amazon
Our take: This bestselling wheel is extra quiet, durable and safe for hamsters to run on.
What we like: The solid base minimizes wobbling and provides ample support for your hamster. The height can be adjusted. The track is solid and safe. You can order it in one of three sizes: 8.2, 10 or 11 inches. It comes in a dozen fun color options.
What we dislike: Like most hamster wheels, it needs to be oiled occasionally to prevent squeaking.
Wodent Wheel 11-Inch Running Wheel: available at Amazon
Our take: This large, quality wheel features a shield that makes your hamster feel more hidden and safe.
What we like: It’s a quiet model that works well to give your pet plenty of exercise. It has a solid track that’s safe for your hamster and is affordably priced for the size.
What we dislike: It needs to be disassembled to thoroughly clean it.
Silent Runner 9-Inch Hamster Wheel: available at Amazon and Chewy
Our take: The Silent Runner is a quiet, well-made wheel that’s challenging to clean, but worth the effort.
What we like: A silent spinning mechanism and a textured, slip-resistant track make this hamster wheel appealing to hamster owners. It has a partially enclosed design and durable construction with a strong base.
What we dislike: The wheel has crevices that are somewhat difficult to clean. Although a minor concern, the color looks slightly different in person than online.
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Jennifer Manfrin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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