It is believed that hamsters can run up to eight kilometers in a single night. Having them cooped up, therefore, inside a cage is doing them a serious injustice. Thus hamster lovers have found a way to keep hamsters as pets and yet provide them with the opportunity to run. Result – the Hamster Wheel!

The hamster wheel is exactly what it says – a wheel for the hamster to run on. It looks a lot like a ladder bent into a circle with side bars for support. Most wheels are made from good durable plastic or metal mesh with small openings. It has to be small to ensure that the hamster’s tiny feet or toes does not get stuck in it. The metal or plastic wheel should be comfortable to prevent injuries so that the hamster really enjoys running on it.

Today there are several variations to the traditional wheel, with toys which look like racing cars but which are actually wheels available in the market. What is also important is whether the wheel is a freestanding one or an attachable one. A freestanding one would mean that the hamster is free to run around outside the cage. This provides the hamster with real independence and freedom while a wheel inside the cage is an option for a hamster which is either very shy or is easily frightened.

Since hamsters are nocturnal creatures, most of the running happens at night and if the wheel is a creaky one, it is sure to keep you awake. Hence, it is important to choose the right wheel for your pet hamster.

Wheels come in different sizes and the smaller ones are suggested as options for dwarf hamsters, but if the wheel is too small it might be uncomfortable and hence it is better to get a wheel which is large enough to provide excitement without causing injuries.

The options available are metal and plastic wheels. The advantages of plastic wheels are that they won’t cause injuries to the pet hamster. They are light and easy to be handled. However, on the flip side, hamsters have very sharp teeth and they really like to chew on something or the other. The result is the wheel is most likely to be chewed on. Metal wheels on the other hand are longer lasting as they are safe from the hamster’s sharp teeth. However, one needs to carefully examine the wheel before buying it to ensure that there are no sharp ridges or corners which could injure the hamster.

So which is better – a difficult choice and it depends on individual owners. Metal tends to produce a creaking noise but can be quite strong, plastic may not be as creaky but chances are that it won’t last long.

Thus, the best option is to choose a metal one, if the room in which the hamster cage is kept is in a part of the house where the noise of the wheel won’t cause disturbance to the housemates. If however, the hamster cage is close to the sleeping area of the housemates, a less noisy one is suggested.

Either way, the important factor to be kept in mind is the finish and quality of the wheel as both with metal and with plastic, sharp corners or ridges could cause injuries to the hamster.

Source by Chris Short

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