Hamster Wheels: All you need to know!

Russian hamster in a fabric hideout
11 April 2022 Pets4Company

A good workout or a deadly weapon? Learn how to choose the wheel of your hamster.

Small, discreet and sleepyheads, hamsters are actually active collectors, being able to roam daily in search of seeds and other foods they hide from other competitors.

In captivity, a way to keep our hamster active and simulate this behavior was nothing less than the reinvention of the wheel!

The exercise wheel is one of the most common objects in any hamster's habitat. You can find such mythical wheels in any store in various sizes.

However, not all wheels are friendly to our hamster, and many of them can be fatal.

Syrian hamster explores nature

Among the types of wheels we can find mesh, grid and solid wheels. The first two are not recommended at all.

The mesh wheels can cause painful lesions on hamsters' paws or ulcers known as bumblefoot. Grid wheels, on the other hand, can trap your hamster's paws, causing muscular ruptures and fractures.

Solid wheels, generally made of hard plastic or wood, are more recommended and may have small protrusions whose function is to improve the hamster's traction while running.

white Russian hamster on top of a log

The size of the wheel is very important. Small wheels do not allow the hamster to maintain the correct posture when running, and can bend and injure the spine. Unfortunately, most of the wheels that we find in pet shops or that are already included in the cage are too small.

As far as the size of the wheel is concerned, the bigger it is, the better. Ideally, our little friend should keep his back as straight as possible while running. There is no maximum size but we can see some dimensions considered the minimum limit for each species of hamster according to its structure and needs. Therefore:

- Roborovski Hamster (smallest) - 15cm

- Winter White and Campbell Hamster - 15 to 20 cm

- Chinese Hamster -  20 cm

- Syrian Hamster (depending on subspecies) - 20 to 30 cm

Syrian hamster lying down eating a seed

Traditional wheel or flying saucers?

Both have the same functionality and offer the same exercise potential, however, the disc must be larger than the required wheel size because of its design. Although it may appear wider, the usable running space ends up being smaller.

Now that you know the world of exercise wheels a little better, it's time to choose the one that best suits you hamigo!

Want to know more about this topic? Just follow the video below! Hamster Wheels 101 | Everything You Need To Know from ErinsAnimals channel!