If you own a chinchilla, you’re already aware that these active creatures need plenty of room to run, or at least some type of equipment to run on. What you may not be aware of is how often the exercise wheel is misused or made incorrectly for your pet.
Unfortunately, most wheels on the market do not meet the physical needs of these unique rodents. Factors such as the material of the product, size, structure, and durability can determine whether or not your chinchilla will be safe and happy with their wheel. To avoid health issues and injury, take a closer look at your options and make an educated decision when choosing a wheel for your chin.
Fortunately, I have already selected the top 3 chinchilla wheels for you to choose from, and you can see them here.
Never Purchase Plastic Wheels
To start, make sure you purchase a wheel with a strong and durable material, as this can make a huge difference in the safety of your pet. Plastic is not recommended as your chinchilla will inevitably chew through it, destroying the wheel and potentially causing damage to the lining of their stomach. Plastic is also porous, over time it will build up bacteria and a stench if your chin urinates on it repeatedly.
Younger chinchillas may have extra difficulty passing plastic pieces, so avoid a trip to the vet and be sure the wheel you purchase is entirely plastic free. Small rodents such as rats, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, and chinchillas all have small, fragile toes and limbs. For this reason, wire cages and grated materials are also frowned upon due to the possibility of breaking a limb when running at full speed.
Use Safe, Sturdy Materials Instead
The ideal exercise wheel will be made with either wood, metal, or both. If you go with metal, choose a reinforced or coated type that won’t rust if your pet happens to accidentally use the bathroom inside of it. The surface should be completely solid, with no holes, grating, or space for your chinchilla to fall through or find their leg stuck. It should be wide enough, about five to six inches and across, and about fifteen inches in diameter.
This way your pet can run and play comfortably, without any stress to their spine. Hygiene is also something to consider, avoid exercise equipment with folding or porous materials that will allow fluid to seep in, or may be very difficult to take apart for necessary cleaning.
The Chin Spin has been the preferred Wheel for most Chinchilla owners.
If you own a chinchilla, you probably already know this – that the most recommended running wheel is none other than the Chin Spin that is fully hand-made by this maker called Quality Cage Crafters. This is one of the rare running wheel that is big enough (15-inches) and is 100% made of metal.
Other running wheels in the market are mostly produced for general use across all small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, hedgehogs, etc. That’s why those are usual uncomfortable for an adult chinchilla because the tracks are usually not wide enough to accommodate its big body, and also the wheels are usually too small which causes your chinchilla to arch its back too much, resulting in long term health issues.
Chin Spin is different because this wheel is a bespoke product made specially for Chinchillas, with all the requirements such as size, width of track, material, durability, quietness and stability in mind.
Problems with Flying Saucer
A newer product has recently hit the market that is very similar to a wheel, but the design is much more effective. It’s called the Flying Saucer Wheel, or Treadmill Wheel, and it is literally shaped like a saucer! Buyers have commented that the new design is much quieter, easier to clean, and loved by chinchillas and pet owners alike. Placed at the bottom of a cage with a built-in fixture, your pet can run for hours with less added stress to the back and a more natural curve for their comfort.
The downside is that not all chinchillas approve of the Flying Saucer, and some of them refuse to run on it. This wheel is also not very space-friendly if you plan to keep it inside of the cage. If you choose to place the saucer outside of the enclosure, make sure it faces angle so that your chin doesn’t end up flying across the room if they happen to trip or miss a step.
Your Chinchilla May Not Take To the Saucer Right Away
If your chinchilla is refusing to use their current wheel, you may need to consider upgrading. While you may feel hesitant to spend more money on another piece of exercise equipment, remember that chins are accident prone animals. If you’re using an item that was poorly constructed or made from cheap materials, your chinchilla could be seriously injured or thrown from the wheel. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little bit extra if it means keeping your beloved pet safe.
You can help them learn to use their new treadmill by placing a treat inside of it; once they hop on, they’ll realize it moves! You can also show them by very slowly pushing the wheel forward and allowing your chin to get used to the movement. If you don’t see them using it during the day, your pet may be using the wheel to run at night while you aren’t awake to see it. Most rodents are nocturnal, so don’t be surprised if your chinchilla gets all their exercise at night.
Plastic Balls Are Never Recommended for Chinchillas
Although you will also find that there are Chinchilla Balls on the market, these are never recommended for a number of reasons. The first being, exercise balls are rarely large enough for rodents, even when they’re design for a specific species.
When chinchillas run, their bodies move in a motion that looks similar to flying, all limbs leave the ground at the same time. If your chin is running fast, their step may not be aligned with the motion of the ball, causing them to fall, and possibly injure themselves while the ball continues to roll. These animals are also known to overheat, stuck inside an exercise ball is not where you want your chin to be when he or she starts to get hot from all that running.
Make Sure Your Pet Has a Routine
You should also keep in mind that these animals do need at least one to two hours daily of activity outside of their cage. They also need a routine, so that they know when it’s time to play, and when it is time to rest. The best thing to do for your chin would be to give them a schedule to live by that will be more conducive to your work week and sleep needs.
Allow your pet out of their cage for some free-running time inside a large and open area that is safe from hazards while you get ready for work. Let your chin know that it is time for a meal by placing their food within their cage. While you’re gone, your pet will be content on their wheel until you come again and repeat the process. Remember, safety should always be your priority when buying an exercise wheel!