A while back, we got a call from a friend who owns a hamster. She said:
“My hamster rarely uses it’s wheel, what should I do?”
We want by the next day and the answer was immidiately clear to us: The hamster wheel was simply too small. The Syrian was running with an arched back, which is painful and can lead to spinal injuries.
Instead, we purchased our number 1 pick below and now, Cookie the Hamster, is enjoying life life to the fullest.
So, what is the best hamster wheel?
After researching more than 20 hamster wheels, interviewing vets, and seeing hamsters run on the wheels we think the Silent Runner 9″ – Pet Exercise Wheel is the best hamster wheel for most people (and their pets).
Here are the five main reasons:
- Large enough for both Syrian and dwarf hamsters (diameter of 9 inches)
- It is not just a name – it is truly silent!
- High-quality material
- Sealed off and nowhere for your hamster to get stuck
- Can be attached to a wire cage or stand-alone
We also highly appreciate that it has a safe and solid running surface with no pinch areas. Further, it is made without a center axle so there is no risk of getting the tail or fur entangled or worse, for your hammy to fall and injure its spine.
These factors, combined with its size, high-quality material, and truly silent nature makes it our top pick.
- Ideal for Hamsters, Gerbils, Mice (12" size available for Sugar Gliders, Hedgehogs, Chinchillas, Rats)
- Safe, solid running surface with no pinch areas. Textured running tracks for non-slip, excellent grip. Includes Cage Attachment for mounting.
- Made without a center axle, so no risk of spinal injury or tail / fur entanglement. Natural bean-shaped openings for safety and containment. Pet-preferred solid black walls.
- Innovative ball-bearings allow the wheel to roll completely smooth and silent. Approx size: 11" tall (on stand) x 3" wide (2.5" wide track) x 9" diameter. PLEASE MEASURE CAGE.
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11″ Diameter Wodent Wheel Dark Blue with Black(12.3″ total height)
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Silent Runner or for some reason want a wheel that is even larger, we highly recommend the Dark Wheel from Wodent.
This wheel has a lot of the same qualities as our top pick, as it is very quiet (not totally silent) and also has cover so your hamster won’t fall out of the wheel when exercising.
In the picture below it is shown as a standing wheel, but don’t be alarmed – it can also be attached to a wire cage without any problems.
If you have a dwarf hamster we don’t recommend this wheel, as it can be too small to get proper traction in the wheel.
- Safety Shield Included
- ASPCA recommended
- Exercise Wheel for sugar gliders, Hedgehogs, & other small pets
- Wodent Wheel Sr - 11" diameter, 3.5" wide running track, 2.6" "mouse-hole shaped" entry holes. Overall height 12.3". Best for lady rats, squirrels, sugar gliders, Syrian or other large hamsters and small hedgies.
Kaytee Comfort Exercise Wheel, 8.5″, Large
There are a lot of budget wheels out there that are either squeky, break easily or just plain dangerous for your hamster to run on.
The Kaytee wheel is none of those and that is why it is our budget choice when it comes to hamster wheels.
It lacks the safety shield that both our top picks has, but besides lacking these it has a lot of good qualites such as a soft running surface and nowhere for the tail or fur to get stuck.
The 8.5″ wheel below is perfect for Syrian Hamsters and if you have a Dwarf Hamster, simply select the 6.5″ wheel after clicking through to Amazon.
- Can be free standing or attached to wire cage
- Encourage healthy exercise
- 8.5" diameter
- For hamsters, gerbil, hedgehogs, or other small animals
How to choose the best hamster wheel
Now, we have just given you the short answer regarding what hamster wheel to pick. However, if you want to venture on your own and find one, or just want to figure out how we know “what is best”, we have outlined our methodology below.
Hope you enjoy it – below is an overview of the topics and you can just click these links to be taken to our research.
- Why you can’t have a hamster and not have a hamster wheel
- Finding a hamster wheel that’s large and wide enough
- How active the hamster is on its wheel
- Finding a safe wheel for your hamster
- Picking a wheel that can both stand-alone or hang on your cage
- Finding a silent wheel for both humans and hamsters to enjoy
Why you can’t have a hamster and not have a hamster wheel
You might know this already but if you don’t here’s the thing: Hamsters run – they run a lot and some hamsters run the equivalent of 4 human marathons per night!
This incredible level of activity means it’s absolutely critical to have a hamster wheel (where they can run their little marathons).
If not, your hamster will get stressed, restless and will plain simply not live the happy life you want it to have.
And if you think a hamster is not truly happy on its wheel, think again. Research has shown that even in nature, rodents will run on a wheel if given the choice because they simply enjoy the activity!
Finally, remember that you need as many wheels in a cage as there are hamsters. So if you have 2 hamsters in a cage, you need 2 wheels.
Finding a hamster wheel that’s large and wide enough
When buying a hamster wheel, you need to make sure its both large enough (measured by diameter) and wide enough (measured by the width of the wheel).
This is to ensure your hamster doesn’t run with an arched back. Running with an arched back is less enjoyable for your hammy. Further, it will likely lead to back problems for your hamster.
That’s why you should get a wheel that’s large enough and it has been a key criterion in our research.
For a dwarf hamster, a 6-7 inch wheel is sufficient while an 8-9 inch is sufficient for all but the largest Syrian Hamsters.
Finally, some wheels are simply not wide enough for a hamster to run on. This often happens, when the same wheels are sold for both mice and hamsters – mice are significantly narrower across the shoulders and can thus make do with a narrower wheel.
Finding a silent wheel for both humans and hamsters to enjoy
As mentioned hamsters run, and they run a lot. That is why it can be very stressful for the hamster owners if the wheel is squeaky or makes monotone sounds when your hamster uses it.
That is why it is very important to select a wheel that’s silent.
Also, it’s worth remembering that hamsters also have a very keen sense of hearing, so they will enjoy a silent wheel as much as its owners will.
How active the hamster is on its wheel
You can just ask a hamster: “Do you like this wheel?”
Instead, we have to make do with the next best thing, which is observing how much it uses its wheel. Of course, this requires a bit more observation, but it is key in figuring out whether the hamster likes the surface and feel of the wheel.
Finding a safe wheel for your hamster
There are many ways for a hamster to hurt itself on a wheel. Some of these include getting tangled up or hurting its spine on a rung in the middle.
Further, it can also hurt its small feet if the surface is too rough and it can also hurt itself by falling out of the wheel – especially if it’s a little bit elevated.
Finally, having sharp edges in the stand of the wheel means the hamster can injure itself on it even when not using it.
All these things point in the direction of having a plastic wheel, as most of these ills are usually not present in a plastic wheel.
Picking a wheel that can stand alone or hang on your cage
Finally, while not a key criteria, we have also recommended wheels that have the ability to both:
- Hang on your cage
While there is no right and wrong and both options are good, you probably have a preference for one or the other. Depending on your layout or the number of hamsters in your cage, you will also have more “interior design decoration” options if you wheels can do both.
Both wheels we recommend have this ability.
Summing up: The best hamster wheel is…
… which all brings us back to where we started.
Our top-rated pick for a hamster wheel is the Silent Runner 9″ – Pet Exercise Wheel (click to see the price on Amazon) and our budget pick is the Kaytee Comfort Exercise Wheel, 8.5″, Large (click to see the price on Amazon).
We hope you’ve enjoyed this and if you have any questions, just ask them below.
– From the team at My Perky Pet