It is always a must to have a hamster wheel whenever you get a pet hamster. This is advocated by veterinarians, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the old-timer hamster owners themselves.
Some habitats in the market even offer an installed hamster wheel together with the cages. But really, do hamsters need a wheel?
Hamsters are naturally active and energetic mammals. They are big on exercise since they are biological runners by origin in the wild. They run to forage food and thwart predators since they are usually seen as prey due to their size.
Hamsters can run as fast as 5 miles a night which is most probably at a minimum when they’re out in their natural habitat.
It’s in Their Genes
Simply put, hamsters just really love to run. This is the main reason why hamster wheels are always present in the needs section of a hamster supply list. Hamster wheels are especially helpful to hamsters in captivity since their cages limit their running space and this is where the wheels come in. They provide the basic health necessity of hammies which is exercise.
Using a hamster wheel will keep your hamster happy and devoid of boredom since it is also its way of playing around. It can also prevent possible mental problems such as cage rage and severe aggression.
Studies have shown that hamsters who don’t get enough playtime at a young age suffer weak coping mechanisms to outside stress factors when they grow older. Hamsters are known to get a low immune system whenever they get stressed.
Not only in hamster pets but interestingly, one research showed that wild animals go crazy for hamster wheels in a natural setting as well. The result of the study opposes the notion that hamsters do it as a form of neurotic behavior. The result simply suggests that running on a wheel is fun and is rewarding by itself.
Hamsters that live in small cages and those that don’t have wheels to run around are at a higher risk of having paralysis. These animals lose the feeling of not being able to move freely if not given the right amount of exercise or are unable to run around. If a hamster wheel is added, this may reverse the paralysis and get the hamster back on its feet.
Hamster wheels come in various designs and colors that would probably get you interested more than the others. There are a lot of hamster wheels in the market right now, so how do you choose the right one?
Choosing a Hamster Wheel
There are several factors to consider in selecting the suitable hamster wheel for your pet to keep it up and running. Probably the most important one is the hamster wheel size because of serious physical injuries that your hamster may end up with if it continuously runs in the wrong wheel.
Appropriate wheel size should be one where the back of your hamster is not arched when they are running. A small-sized wheel compared to your hamster’s size may cause joints and fatal skeletal injuries because of the arched back.
It is recommended that the Syrian hamster wheel has a minimum of 12-inch wheel diameter while an 8-inch wheel would be suitable for dwarf hamsters. The bigger the wheel, the better for the hamsters to run around.
Another factor is the type of wheel based on their material and the available wheels are either made from metal or plastic. A metal wheel is more durable and is less likely to be chewed on by your hamsters.
The disadvantage, however, is that most metal wheels are designed as rungs or ladder-like which has gaps. These gaps may cause bruising to hamster’s paws since their legs can easily get injured while running.
Plastic wheels, meanwhile, are often made from one solid wheel structure with textured flooring to keep the hamsters from slipping. It is better for hamsters to run on a solid surface to prevent injuries.
Plastic wheels are usually shaped like a half tube or are just flat. They are quite easier to clean as well if you compare it to metal wheels.
A good hamster wheel should also be stable. You may choose from one that comes in a stand or the type that attaches to the side of the cage. You have to make sure that it is secure and won’t fall down whenever your hamster does its thing.
The hamster wheel should also produce little or no sound at all. Remember that hamsters are creatures that usually run at night so it might be a bother if the wheel goes squeaky when you are sleeping.
There are options of silent spinner wheels that you would want to choose to keep your sleeping habit in peace. If the hamster wheel still produces a sound, try putting in olive oil by the spindle to reduce the noise it makes.