If you’re getting a new hamster, you need to get the right toys and accessories, right? After all, we all want our pets to lead long, healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives. One way you can keep a hamster happy is to keep them amused and stimulated – and that’s just where the humble hamster wheel comes in.
Today, I’m going to answer all your burning hamster wheel questions, so why don’t we go for a spin? (Did you see what I did there?)
Do Hamsters Need Wheels?
They’re squeaky, annoying, and really loud in the middle of the night – but that hamster wheel is essential to keep your furry little friend happy. Unless you’re willing to provide a hamster-proof, fully supervised running track, the wheel is pretty much your only option.
Hamsters run. They love to run. Golden hamsters – one of the most common species in the pet trade – are said to run up to five miles in one day, and that’s in captivity.
If we were back in the days before those cheeky little chappies were domesticated, we’d see them running around like loons in the wild. In fact, we probably wouldn’t see them because they’re pretty fast. If you’ve ever tried to catch a rogue hammy that’s managed to escape their cage, you’ll already know that for yourself.
The hamster cage might be suitable for your pet to live in, but it’s probably nowhere near big enough for them to happily run around in. Without access to exercise, your hamster will become depressed and unhealthy.
So, yes, your hamster does need a wheel.
Does Hamster Wheel Size Really Matter?
In this case, yes, size does matter.
If you buy a hamster wheel that is too small for your furry friend, there’s a good chance they’ll get injured when they use it. A leg will get stuck somewhere because the fat little body wouldn’t fit in the small space. Either that or your pet will avoid the wheel altogether, which defies the point of installing it in the first place.
A 12-inch hamster wheel for a tiny dwarf hamster will be too big. If they can’t keep up with the pace of the wheel, they might fly off and get injured. If they do keep up, they can quickly become exhausted and dehydrated.
Thankfully, you can buy a hamster wheel in pretty much every size these days. You’ll even find them for cats, so I’m pretty sure you’ll find one to accommodate your hamster, no matter how big you think they are.
Dwarf Hamster Wheel Size
Dwarf hamsters, which are just as small as the name suggests, are suited to a wheel that is 6.5 inches or bigger.
Wheel Size for Syrian Hamster
A bigger hamster, such as a Turkish or Syrian hamster, will require a bigger wheel because they are a bigger animal. For a 7/8-inch-long hamster, it is recommended to get a 10-inch hamster wheel or bigger.
How to Tell if Your Hamster Wheel is Too Small
There’s not really an easy way to ask this, so I’m just going to come out and ask it:
Does your hamster floof over to the sides when they run on the wheel?
If yes, the wheel might not be wide enough for them. As well as thinking about the diameter of the wheel, you must also think about depth. Height also plays an important role. If the wheel is too high, your hamster might struggle to climb on it.
How much does your hamster bend over when they run on the wheel? They should be able to run relatively flat-bodied. Curling up to run will cause a multitude of problems including very painful injuries.
Who knew there were so many things to think about?!
If you’re not sure whether or not your hamster is getting along with their wheel, it’s time to take monitoring action. Petcube’s range of interactive pet cams will let you keep an eye on your home… and also on your hamster.
You can even talk to your furball, with two-way audio; clip little snippets of funny video footage to share with their loyal social media followers; and get notified when something moves in the house. Could it be that your hamster has escaped?
Hamster Wheels: More Types Than You’d Think
There are significantly more types of hamster wheels than you’d probably think, especially if you take a look on the internet.
External Attachment Wheels
These are, as the name suggests, wheels that are attached externally. The wheel sits inside the cage, attached to the bars from the outside of the cage.
These are pretty primitive and awkward to install, remove, and clean. You may also be restricted as to where you can install it.
Ferris Hamster Wheel
Rather than being attached via the outside, this wheel is on its own stand that you can simply pop in the cage. This one needs to be on a flat surface otherwise your hamster could pull it over, but you do have more freedom with placement.
Flying Saucer Hamster Wheel
These ones aren’t vertical like other hamster wheels. Instead, they are diagonal, like a flying saucer tipped slightly on its side.
Flying saucer wheels consume more space than other types, but your pet does have more surface area to play with. This can make it easier for older or disabled hamsters. You will miss out on the hamster flying upside down on the wheel, though.
If you’ve ever had a squeaky hamster wheel, you’ll be happy to know that a silent hamster wheel exists. With ball bearings, ergonomic designs, and state-of-the-art technology, manufacturers really have gone to great lengths to stop the squeak!
Hamster Wheel Materials
Metal wheels can be too cold for your hamster during the winter and too hot during the summer, especially if the cage is near direct sunlight. It’ll be loud and ‘clangy’ during the night, too… which just so happens to be when your hamster will be more awake and active.
Wooden wheels might seem like a great idea, but if your hamster likes to chew wood (which many of them do), they likely won’t last for long. Little Hammy might even get injured if they chew through the wheel and end up falling through it or getting stuck!
Plastic wheels can also be chewed by your hamster, but it is the more traditional and commercially available material. These are usually cheaper to buy and come in more formats.
How to Choose the Best Hamster Wheel
You might find this journey involves a little bit of trial and error. You won’t know that a wheel squeaks maniacally all night until you get it home and install it. Just like you won’t know that your hamster is going to chew right through the expensive wooden wheel you bought for it until you place it in the cage.
Sometimes, even with all the best will in the world, pet ownership won’t quite go how you want it to.
Make sure you’re buying a safe product from a reliable and reputable source, and the wheel is big enough to accommodate all your hamster’s dimensions.
What size wheel for a Chinese hamster?
You should choose a 9, 10, or 11-inch wheel for an average Chinese hamster.
What size wheel for Robovorki hamsters?
An 8-inch or 9-inch hamster wheel will be suitable for Robovorkis. It is always best to be a little too small rather than too big.
Why is my hamster always running on his wheel?
Hamsters would naturally run 5 miles per day and upwards if they had the opportunity to. These furry family members tend to run on the wheel less when they have a large enclosure to explore and run around in, but this isn’t always possible. If you want to substitute the wheel, you’ll need to have a big enclosure with lots of tunnels, compartments, and things to investigate.
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