What material should you choose for chinchilla wheel?


As a chinchilla owner, you need to make sure the running surface is as comfortable and safe for their tiny feet. You’ll want to have a big running wheel inside of a big chinchilla cage.

Another important consideration is the material of your chinchilla exercise wheel. The main types of chinchilla wheel materials are: metal, wood, and plastic.

Providing a strong running surface is vital to the health and safety of your chinchilla. Plastic wheels, while much more common, lightweight, and usually silent, are unfortunately a major hazard for your chinchilla.

The plastic material is easy for your chinchilla to chew through and is of course not digestible. It is also porous, allowing lots of bacteria to build up, which can create a pretty bad smell.

It is even more important to avoid a plastic wheel for younger chinchillas, as they have extra difficulty passing any type of plastic. As a general rule, you should avoid putting anything plastic in your chinchilla’s cage. We advise going with either a metal or wood exercise wheel.

However, make sure you do not use metal wiring type exercise wheels. Regular wheels used for hamsters or other pets have bars which your chinchilla’s foot can slip through.

Metal wiring also can cause your furry friend’s foot to get caught, possibly breaking a leg or otherwise hurting themselves. You also want to avoid mesh type exercise wheels as well as they can trap your chinchilla’s feet.

Make sure to choose and safe and chew-proof material for your furry friend. Choose materials such as wood or metal to avoid injuries and ensure durability. The more durable your exercise wheel, the safer it will be for your chinchilla in the long run.


Wood vs. Metal

Whether you want a wood or metal material for your exercise wheel will largely be a matter of preference. Both materials have their upsides, and either will provide your chinchilla with an effective exercise accessory.

With metal exercise wheels, they may be a bit nosier, however they will likely have the longest lifespan. Metal exercise wheels are the most popular among chinchilla owners, and your chinchilla will not try to chew through it.

Metal is also very easy to clean. Metal exercise wheels will provide the support your chinchilla needs because they are harder, stronger, and heavier.

Because they are metal, your chinchilla cannot bite through it, meaning it should last quite a while. Also, many metal wheels come with a small grip on it, allowing for even easier running for your chinchilla.

If choosing a metal material, be sure to check that the edges of it are not too rough and/or sharp. The edges should be folded and smooth. Also, choose a reinforced or coated metal type that does not have holes, spacing or grating in order to ensure your chinchilla does not get injured.

Wood exercise wheels provide a quieter option but may not last as long as a metal exercise wheel. Wooden wheels may have small grips, making it easy for your pet to run.

A con of the wooden wheel is it is easier for your chinchilla to chew through; however the risk is not as great as with plastic as wooden wheels should not cause issues if ingested, it may just cost you more money in the long run when you have to replace it.  

Something else to consider in looking at a wooden wheel is to ensure the wheel does not have gaps between the slats, which can cause the same issues as mentioned above with regard to your chinchilla’s foot getting stuck.  As with plastic, wood is porous, so some bacteria may build up over time and make cleaning more difficult.

A good happy medium are the wheels with a wooden backing and metal wheel for the chinchilla to run on, such as the chinspin. This way, the wheel is quieter, the chinchilla is not able to chew the wood, and the wheel’s lifespan is as long as possible.

Chin Spin 15” Chinchilla Exercise Wheel

A perfect example of this happy medium is the Chin Spin 15” exercise wheel. The company, Quality Cage Crafters, has been around for years.

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They hand-make all of their products in the USA and pride themselves on making the highest quality products made with utmost care. Their mission is to make sure your chinchilla has the best quality cages and accessories, without cutting any corners along the way.

That is why the Chin Spin 15” exercise wheel checks all of the boxes. It is made out of all metal construction with a wood backing, so there is nearly no way for your chinchilla to chew on it or injure itself. The metal is also smooth and safe on the edges, so neither you nor your chinchilla will get injured by the wheel.

The construction and duel ball bearings make for a durable and long-lasting exercise wheel, that will easily mount right to the back of your cage.

In addition to easy installation, the chin spin is pretty quiet when in use and comes with an extra set of bearings in case of any issues. The wheel is made for chinchillas, meaning there is no axle to worry about.

The size of this exercise wheel fits right into the sizing guide we provided above, with 15” inches with a 6 1/4” running space, leaving your chinchilla lots of surface area to safely exercise. Along with ample space, this wheel is powder coated to provide a light grip so your chinchilla can easily run.

chinchilla running on wheel

Another fun feature of the Chin Spin is the multiple colors it is offered in. You can choose from silver to pink, even an American flag. This ensures that your chinchilla remains interested and use this as a toy. That is also why you need a running wheel in the first place.

Saucer vs. Wheel

There is also a new type of exercise wheel that has been making a splash among chinchilla owners and should definitely be in the running as you consider which exercise wheel to purchase.

The saucer basically replicates the natural way a chinchilla runs, and many chinchilla owners swear their chinchilla prefers it to other exercise wheels. It very much resembles a plate and allows the chinchilla to run with a fuller length stride, at almost three strides per second, all on a much flatter surface than a traditional exercise wheel.

It is also quieter (which is important due to the crepuscular nature of chinchillas) and easier to clean. The saucers can be mounted to the cage wall just like a regular exercise wheel.

The openness of the saucer allows for plenty of room for their tail, with no risk of injury to their tiny feet. Because the saucer is designed to mimic the way the chinchilla runs, it is less likely to cause any kind of spinal injury that may be associated with an exercise wheel.

The saucer also gives an unobstructed view of your chinchilla running, which is enjoyable to see. If your chinchilla takes to the saucer, it may be getting more exercise than ever as the comfort cannot be matched.

The saucer wheels are offered in metal, so they will have a longer lifespan. The only con to the saucer is the extra space it takes up. Again, even though these are offered in plastic also, try to avoid using any type of plastic in your chinchilla’s cage.  

Compared with a traditional exercise wheel, the traditional exercise wheel still works just fine. As a chinchilla owner, you just need to ensure the proper size is chosen, no smaller than a 14-inch diameter.

Final Words

I am pretty open-minded when it comes to selecting the materials for my pet. It can be metal or wood or any other natural material that is harmless for my chinchilla.

However, there is one thing that i will not compromise and that is to never use a plastic toy on my chinchilla because the little savings is never going to compensate for the harm it brings to my pet’s well-being.

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