According to a fascinating article in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, providing an exercise wheel for your hamster is essential for its physical and mental health.
So, to keep your pet happy, you’ll need to equip its domestic habitat with a means of satisfying its natural urge to be active. And the best way of doing that is to provide your pet with a safe, well-made hamster wheel.
Also, hamsters without an outlet for their energy can become highly destructive and frustrated, even to the point where they tear out their fur or break their teeth by gnawing on the bars of their cage. The regular stimulation and excitement of running on a wheel can relieve boredom and prevent these unwanted behaviors.
In this guide, we review four of the top hamster wheels that are currently on the market so that you can choose the perfect hamster exercise wheel for your furry friend.
4. Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner (9”)
The Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner hamster wheel is a best-seller. The wheel is exceptionally well-made and has a safe, solid running surface so that your pet won’t slip while it’s running.
The axle-free design removes the center axle – reducing the risk of a trapped tail or snagged fur, a curvature of the spine, and other injuries. The wheel uses dual-ball bearing technology; ensuring that it glides silently and smoothly so that you won’t be disturbed at night when your hamster is exercising.
The wheel has a heavy-duty metal stand that’s safe and stable but also allows a certain amount of flexibility – protecting your hamster from joint pain and spinal injuries. The running track on the wheel is textured, providing superb grip and eliminating the danger of slipping.
To clean the wheel, you can disassemble it completely; ensuring that there are no nooks and crannies that might trap feces or fragments of bedding. The wheel has a solid back wall for safety.
The wheel measures 11″ high (on the stand) x 3″ wide x 9″ diameter. The Silent Runner is quite a large wheel so you must measure your hamster’s cage before ordering.
- Silent running
- Non-slip running track
- Safe, injury prevention design
- Not recommended for hamsters that like to chew
- Not suitable for small and dwarf hamsters
3. Ware Manufacturing Flying Saucer (3282) (7.25”)
The Ware Manufacturing Flying Saucer exercise wheel is hugely popular among hamster owners – thanks to the fantastic running experience it provides for their pets.
The Flying Saucer has a solid running surface to prevent slipping. The wheel’s design removes the risk of your hamster’s tail and feet becoming trapped as it runs. The wheel is constructed with silent gears so that you won’t be disturbed by the annoying squeaking that accompanies some cheaper hamster wheels.
The mechanism of the wheel is so silky smooth that your hamster will find running easy and effortless; making this wheel an excellent choice for small, lightweight animals that may have difficulty operating a larger wheel.
The Flying Saucer measures 7.25″ W X 7.25″ D X 4.25″ H.
- Silent running
- Safe, non-slip running surface
- No danger of injury to hamster’s tail or feet
- Can be tipped over by heavy hamsters or multiple runners
2. Kaytee Silent Spinner (6.5”)
Kaytee is a very well-known and popular manufacturer of pet accessories and its Silent Spinner Hamster Wheel is a top-seller.
Traditional exercise wheels can be noisy, but the Silent Spinner features an enclosed spinner hub that dramatically reduces the noise made by your hamster when it’s exercising. The spinner is very easy to move; making it ideal for tiny, lightweight hamsters that might struggle to get going on a larger, heavier wheel.
The durable textured plastic running surface inside the wheel will prevent your hamster from slipping as it runs. Hamsters’ tiny feet can easily be damaged, but the high-quality track of the Silent Spinner keeps running comfortable and safe for your furry friend.
You will need to clean your hamster’s wheel from time-to-time to remove feces and urine. The Silent Spinner is made from plastic and has no tiny cracks where dirt can accumulate – making it very quick and easy to wipe clean.
The Silent Spinner comes in three sizes: mini, regular, and giant. Choose a mini Spinner for dwarf hamsters and a regular size for larger breeds.
- Silent running
- Multiple sizes to choose from
- Safe, textured running surface prevents slips and falls
- Easy to clean
- Variable batch quality
- Very lightweight hamsters may have difficulty getting the wheel to spin
1. Kaytee Critter Trail (6.75”)
Our number one hamster wheel is the Kaytee Critter Trail exercise wheel. This comes in an assortment of bright colors and forms part of the Kaytee Critter Trail accessory range.
The wheel saves precious space within your hamster’s habitat; thanks to its smart snap-on fixing design. Just clip the wheel to the bars of your hamster’s cage and your pet is good to go!
You can further enrich your hamster’s environment by connecting the exercise wheel to tunnels, tubes, rings, and hideouts that form part of the Critter Trail accessory range. You can even design a safe hamster playpark that extends beyond the confines of its habitat into your room!
The exercise wheel features a comfort grip on the running surface that’s safe and gentle on your hamster’s delicate feet. The durable, chew-resistant plastic wheel is built to last and spins freely – ensuring that even the smallest hamster has a smooth, fun ride.
Once the wheel is spinning, it’s virtually silent so your hamster can exercise to its heart’s content without disturbing you. For easy cleaning, there’s a waste collector cup integrated into the exercise wheel’s design.
- Silent and safe running
- Has a feces collection cup for convenient cleaning
- Compatible with other Critter Tail accessories
- The wheel does wear out eventually and begins to squeak
- Too small to accommodate larger breeds
How to Choose the Best Wheel For Your Hamster?
A hamster wheel is a perfect addition to your pet’s habitat, allowing it to indulge its instinct in running and being active. Exercise keeps your hamster’s muscles, bones, and organs in great shape; helping to extend its lifespan.
But how do you choose?
- Size matters
First of all, you must choose the correct sized wheel for your hamster. Why?
Well, hamsters vary in size according to their age and breed. For example, a Syrian hamster can grow to be five to seven inches long.
Compare that with a Dwarf hamster that could reach just two to three inches. You can see that the eight-inch wheel that would be perfect for a large species would overwhelm a smaller one.
For a hamster to enjoy healthy exercise without sustaining an injury, the wheel must be the right size. A hamster running on flat ground in its natural, wild habitat would never run with its back arched.
And that’s what your hamster would have to do if its wheel was too small. So, to avoid spinal injury to your hamster, you must supply it with a wheel that’s large enough.
- Safe running surface
Never buy an exercise wheel that has a slatted or ladder-style running track. The surface should be solid and textured to prevent your hamster from slipping and injuring itself.
Typically, metal wheels have a ladder structure that can cause a nasty injury if your hamster’s feet or tail become trapped in the gaps between the rungs. Plastic and wooden wheels usually have a solid, one-piece design without any gaps – making them the safest choice.
- Silent running
Your hamster won’t care if its wheel squeaks, but you will, especially if your nocturnal furry pal’s cage is in your bedroom!
To avoid unwanted squeaks, choose an exercise wheel that operates using ball bearings. Ball bearings ensure a smooth, silent wheel and will also make the mechanism more durable and long lasting.
- Safety features
In addition to a safe running surface, a solid back wall is preferable to an open one. Hamsters generally feel more confident in a wheel that has a solid rear wall, and there’s no risk that your pet could fall out of the wheel.
Some wheels have a partially closed front wall too, for the same reason.
Avoid a wheel with support bars attached to it. These can cause serious injury if a hamster’s leg impacts with the bars.
- The stand/attachment
For a hamster wheel to be safe and to work correctly, it needs fixing to a safe and sturdy stand or cage attachment. Many wheels have fixings that attach to the bars or walls of a habitat. This design keeps the wheel stable and is also great for saving valuable space.
Other wheels come with a stand, rather than an attachment. The main drawback with a stand is that a heavy hamster or multiple riders could tip the wheel over.
Why Won’t My Hamster Use Its Exercise Wheel?
Did you know that your hamster regularly runs about five miles every night? And no matter how many toys you use to enrich your pet’s cage, its exercise wheel will always be the go-to choice when your hamster feels the need to get busy.
In the wild, hamsters are naturally extremely active little creatures. They spend much time and energy digging burrows, exploring their environment, foraging for food, and avoiding predators.
For captive hamsters, there are many benefits to running on a wheel. Running keeps them weight under control, as well as strengthening their lungs, heart, and other vital organs.
Using an exercise wheel can even increase your pet’s life expectancy because a hamster on a wheel is far less likely to suffer from a condition called “cage paralysis“.
Cage paralysis is a severe condition where inactivity causes atrophy of muscle tissue and bone degeneration in hamsters. In the long-term, your pet could lose the use of its back legs or even become completely paralyzed.
Almost all hamsters love running on their wheel. So, if your hamster won’t use it, you’ll need to find out why as soon as possible.
Sometimes, a new wheel is stiff and awkward to turn. Try applying a small amount of Vaseline to the spindle on the wheel to free it and make turning smoother.
Hamsters can be picky creatures. Check that the wheel is the correct size for your hamster to run comfortably with its back reasonably flat. Look at the running surface to see that it’s not slippery or uncomfortable on your hamster’s paws.
If your hamster seems generally lethargic, ask your vet to check your pet for illness, arthritis, and even pregnancy if your hamster is female.