Do Chinchillas Need a Wheel to Run on?
As a Chinchilla owner, you are always pondering how to improve the home environment for your pet, whether you have gotten good chinchilla cages, and what toys to put in their home.
Whether running around their cage, jumping or climbing around, your chinchilla has lots of excess energy that needs to be let out throughout the day. Chinchillas spend a lot of their day inside their cage, leaving it difficult for them to get the right amount of exercise.
As you probably know, it is recommended that chinchillas get at least one to two hours of exercise outside their cage a day.
For this reason, it is a good idea to provide your furry friend with an exercise wheel, so they are able to let out pent energy, stay healthy and entertained, and most importantly, happy!
Choosing an accessory for your furry friend can take a lot of work and research, with many factors going into purchasing the right chinchilla exercise wheel for your furry friend. There tons of sizes, widths, and materials to pick from.
With so many options, it can be difficult to make the right choice. That’s why we are here to provide you with the ultimate guide to buying a Chinchilla wheel!
Why you should definitely get a chinchilla wheel
Exercise wheels have been around for decades, and have long been a staple of chinchilla owners. One of the most important things you can do as a chinchilla owner, is ensuring they receive enough exercise.
Chinchillas are natural athletes, designed to run quickly and jump around. In the wild, Chinchillas would receive lots of exercise, from looking for food, running to and from its burrow, protecting itself from predators, or jumping from rocks.
All in all, these exercises amount to a serious amount of energy, and in the event that Chinchillas cannot let all this out, it can lead to health problems.
Therefore, Chinchillas have a tendency to get bored pretty easily, and an exercise wheel can help curb this boredom. The happier your chinchilla is, the happier you are!
The wheel helps your chinchilla maintain fitness and stay active as well as mentally alert. Other benefits of an exercise wheel are improvement of your chinchilla’s respiratory health, cardiovascular conditioning, and disease resistance.
An exercise wheel is the easiest, most affordable way to ensure your chinchilla is staying overall healthy, happy, and active, so if you want a happy chinchilla, an exercise wheel is a must!
A very important factor on how to choose the best chinchilla exercise wheel is to ensure you get the right size.
Many exercise wheels are not made specifically for chinchillas, causing the wheel to be a bit too small. It is important to remember chinchillas are much larger than most other rodents, so a generic wheel likely will not fit the bill for what your chinchilla needs.
Make sure you do not confuse a hamster wheel for a chinchilla wheel. If you do not pick the right size, the chinchilla may not want to use the wheel or even worse, risk injuring themselves if they do.
An exercise wheel that is too small will cause the chinchilla to arch its back, which can have long-lasting health effects. Be sure to choose one between 14-16 inches with at least a 5-inch running space.
Your choice within that range will of course depend on the size of your individual chinchilla, as all chinchillas are different. Picking a size in this range will provide enough space for your chinchilla to get their exercise, without worrying about them falling off the wheel and injuring themselves.
Along with size, one important thing to keep in mind is the axle on your chinchilla wheel. You should avoid any exercise wheel that has any kind of axle on which the wheel revolves.
As mentioned, many exercise wheels are made for smaller rodents such as hamsters.
Therefore, some wheels will have a large axle that sticks out. This axle can cause a lot of discomfort and even injury to your chinchillas as it will have to arch its back to avoid trapping their tail.
The whole purpose of an exercise wheel is for your chinchilla to be able to get exercise, so the wheel should allow it to run at full speed in as natural of a posture as possible, without having to arch its back. Our best advice to try to avoid a wheel with any type of axle that sticks out.
There are a few options on the mounting of your chinchilla wheel. Many metal and wood exercise wheels mount to the side of the wheel to the wire case.
This is typically the best option for your pet as it alleviates any worries of slipping on a wheel that is not fully secured down. Overall, mounting to the cage will provide the most support and stability for your chinchilla.
A non-mounted exercise wheel is also an option, however you run the risk of the exercise wheel falling on the chinchilla and injuring it. If you go with the non-mounted option, make sure the base is very heavy to stay secured to the floor.
Silent Chinchilla Wheels
In ensuring you are choosing the safest and most durable wheel for your chinchilla, there are also noise considerations.
As you probably already know as a chinchilla owner, chinchillas are crepuscular.This means their peak activity levels are dusk and dawn. Coincidentally, the same times you’d be sleeping. Therefore, it makes sense as an owner you would not want too much noise at these hours.
Especially so if your chinchilla lives in or close to your bedroom and/or living space. Luckily, there are tons of options on the market for silent or at least quiet chinchilla wheels if you search for them. Many exercise wheels will be marketed as silent.
Training your chinchilla to use the Exercise Wheel
As you know, every chinchilla is unique. If your chinchilla has never used an exercise wheel before, it may take a while for them to get used to it or learn how to use it.
In fact, your chinchilla may not even like an exercise wheel. If your pet is not using the one you currently have, maybe it is time to upgrade their wheel. In nature, chinchillas do not see exercise wheels, so it may take some warming up to.
A good first step is to provide an exercise wheel in the first place and see how it responds. Hopefully, your chinchilla will just take to the wheel naturally.
If this does not happen, you can always just place your chinchilla in the wheel and move it around. Hopefully your furry friend will get the hint and start using it.
If this fails, place a small scoop of dust on the wheel, when your chinchilla tries to check out the dust it will discover the wheel moves.
Lastly, the classic way to get your chinchilla to take to the wheel is with food. Just put a small treat on the wheel and start turning it, this should get your chinchilla to try it out. Last but not least, you can pair your chinchilla with another chinchilla who already knows how to use the wheel.
When should I get my chinchilla an exercise wheel?
Anytime! Except when it is a baby (under six months). It is important to check the size of your chinchilla wheel as they grow. As a baby, under six months, generally your chinchilla should not have access to an exercise wheel.
This is due to their inability to regulate their body temperature, leaving them vulnerable to overheat and overexertion. Check with your vet (as always), but after six months your chinchilla can have access to a wheel.
If they do not take to it right away, you can use some of the steps we outlined above, such as using food, another chinchilla, or just your hand.
When you first provide access though, ensure that they ease into it and do not over-exert themselves. If you are looking to save money, you may want to wait until they are fully grown in order to buy the proper size.