Hamsters are often the first pets people get as children. They’re small, cute, and require minimal care. They also make excellent class pets as school students adore them.
We all know hamsters have the unique habit of running inside their wheels for long periods. It’s probably the first image that comes to mind when we think of a hamster.
Have you ever wondered, though, why do hamsters run in wheels?
This question seems to puzzle many hamster owners, so we’re here to answer it in detail. If your hamster seems to run endlessly on those wheels, keep reading to find out why.
We’ll also answer some of the most common questions about hamster wheels. We’ll give you some care tips to provide the best environment for your furry friend.
It’s truly amusing how much hamsters love to run. It seems like they can run for hours without getting tired. There are several reasons behind their love for this activity.
Hamsters are naturally active animals that need stimulation and exercise. Hamsters living in the wild run around 5 miles every night. They run either looking for food or escaping their predators.
When hamsters are in captivity, they don’t have the same opportunity to run and explore. However, their natural tendencies still kick in, and they need to run long distances.
So, this is where the wheel comes in. It helps the hamsters satisfy their instinct and run as they please in a small cage.
If you love running, then you’ve probably experienced runners high before. Exercise releases endorphins in animals the same way it does in humans.
When your pet hamster runs on its wheels, its body fills with endorphins. This makes the little rodent happy and mentally stimulated.
So, now you know why hamsters love their wheels, but do they need them?
Wheels are important for hamsters’ well-being. Without them, a hamster could become bored, depressed, lethargic, or aggressive.
An aggressive hamster could develop compulsive behaviors such as bar chewing. Believe it or not, a hamster could simply die because of boredom.
Without a wheel, a hamster wouldn’t get any exercise, which puts it at risk of obesity. Obesity could lead to other health issues such as diabetes, heart problems, and a shortened life span.
As essential as hamster wheels are to them, as noisy as they can sometimes be to us. Those squeaking sounds can make it hard to focus on work or enjoy a quiet night.
However, there are ways in which you can make hamster wheels quiet. First, there’s always a good chance that the wheel needs to be lubricated. Remove the wheel from the cage and add some olive oil, coconut oil, or butter to it.
Run the wheel a few times, make sure it’s not making a sound, then put it back in the cage. Don’t use any lubricant sprays that may have harmful chemicals because your hamster might lick parts of the wheel.
Another option is to change the wheels themselves to quieter ones. You can choose plastic or wooden wheels. Both are smooth and almost noiseless. They also come in lots of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Finally, you can soundproof the cage by adding a thick blanket underneath it. If you try this method, along with changing the wheels, we guarantee they won’t bother you with noise anymore.
Sometimes it seems like hamsters run endlessly on their wheels without getting tired. So, how long do they run, exactly?
Hamsters run on their wheels several hours a night. The exact number of hours will depend on their breed, age, environment, and distinct personality.
Most hamsters can run up to 5 miles per night in a single run!
You can track your hamster’s activity level by attaching a pedometer to the wheel. This trick is sometimes done as a class activity so students can learn about hamsters.
Hamsters are speedy runners. They can reach speeds up to 5.6 mph (9 km/h). This speed is not constant and changes according to factors such as the type of wheel and the hamster’s weight and breed.
Some breeds have natural abilities to run faster than others. For instance, dwarf hamsters are known to be faster than other breeds due to their small size.
Hamsters run so often and so fast on their wheels that it seems like they could die from the high activity level. So, you might be worried about your hamster dying or passing out from continuous exercise.
Don’t worry, though; running won’t cause your hamster to die. Though the amount of running may seem excessive to you, it’s normal and healthy for the hamster.
Hamsters are aware of their bodies and can tell when they’re tired and it’s time to stop running.
That said, you still need to provide your hamster with enough water and a balanced diet. These two things are important to ensure it doesn’t suffer from dehydration or under-eating.
Hamsters love to run on their wheels. So, if your hamster has stopped running on its wheel, a few things could be wrong.
The wheel size should be big enough for your hamster. If the wheel is too small, the hamster will arch its back. Eventually, the wheel will become uncomfortable and your hamster will stop using it.
Observe your hamster’s posture while running and look for signs of discomfort. Opt for a larger wheel if you find the current wheel is too small.
If your hamster is sick or has an injury, it will stop running until it feels better. The hamster might also be unwell because of insufficient nutrition.
The hamster needs to be in good health and have enough energy to run. So, you must observe your hamster’s health and eating habits to know when a problem occurs.
If you don’t know how to tackle the issue, it might be a good idea to take it to a vet.
The older a hamster gets, the less energy it will have to run. Your hamster’s activity level could decrease because it’s getting old.
However, this doesn’t mean that older hamsters completely stop running. Some older hamsters actually still run as much as younger ones.
You can encourage your hamster to stay active by providing it with a larger cage and some exercise toys.
A hamster’s wheel is more than just an exercise toy; it’s part of its living space. Sometimes the hamster might use it as a place to eat or as a toilet. In such cases, you should clean the wheel so the hamster can safely run on it again.
To clean the wheel, remove it from the cage and give it a good scrub. You can also wash it with antibacterial soap. Dry it before you put it back in the cage so your hamster doesn’t slip.
You should also check the wheel for any damage each time you clean it. Hamsters sometimes chew or scratch on the wheels, or they simply break after some time. If you find any broken parts or cracks, replace the wheel with a new one.
Wheels are a staple exercise tool for hamster owners. However, several other alternatives could also provide exercise and stimulation to them. Moreover, these options allow hamsters to run more freely than in a confined wheel.
One option is a hamster ball, which is a plastic ball with an opening at the top so the hamster can get in. The hamster is then enclosed in the ball and can run inside it as it keeps rolling.
Since hamsters need exercise, the more space you give them, the better. A great option would be an obstacle course in a large cage. These courses include tunnels and ramps so the hamster can enjoy different activities.
You can purchase the obstacle course online or DIY it with materials such as cardboard.
Hamsters are naturally active creatures that need exercise. Wheel running helps the hamster stay active and get the needed exercise from its cage. It’s also a source of stress relief, as running releases endorphins and keeps the hamster happy.
A hamster can run amazingly fast and for a long time. So, you need to ensure that you provide it with good-quality wheels. Plastic or wooden wheels are durable and wouldn’t bother you with squeaky noises.
If your hamster has stopped running in its wheel, there are likely reasons for this. It could be because the wheel needs to be changed or your hamster is not feeling well. If you notice signs of distress in your hamster, it’s better to take it to a vet.
Make sure the wheel is safe, comfortable, and the right size for your hamster. You can always try other options, such as hamster balls or an obstacle course.
Finally, always provide your hamster with enough water and nutrition so it stays hydrated and energized.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.