Why Do Hamsters Like to Run On Wheels?

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Why do hamsters run on wheels?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the majority of habitats for these cute rodents actually come with a built-in hamster exercise wheel.

Why is it there, though, and what makes it so appealing to your pet?

Read on to find out!

Do Hamsters Need a Wheel?

In brief, totally! Hamsters do require the best hamster wheels to exercise. These small critters naturally have immense energy levels and a wheel acts as an outlet for all their pent-up energy.

brown hamster on top of his exercise wheels

When in the wild, hamsters have the ability to run miles without getting tired.

Of course, domestic hamsters don’t really have miles of space to indulge in a good run.

So, inside a hamster cage, these exercise wheels offer the next best alternative for hamsters to run.

At the same time, these running wheels help keep your pet in tip-top shape by giving them an opportunity to burn calories.

Many hamster owners have to deal with pets that have an ongoing issue with obesity. Among the most prominent factors are the absence of regular running time and lack of exercise in general.

Out in the wild, however, the case of obesity in hamsters is quite unheard of. That’s because, in their natural habitat, these rodents cover extreme distances to look for food. The hamsters stay healthy and fit.

Thus, in the absence of such activities, there are high chances that your cute hamster will become obese. In some cases, they may even develop paralysis and diabetes.

So yes, long story short, you DO need one. But why do hamsters like wheels? Let’s find out!

Why Do Hamsters Like Running On Wheels?

a chubby hamster exercising on his wheels

Believe it or not, that has to do a lot with the hamsters’ intrinsic behavior.

They are, by nature, active animals with high energy levels, and running produces endorphin in them.

Their natural desire to run is very efficiently taken care of through an exercise wheel.

Wheels are also effective in keeping your hamsters busy and helping them avoid boredom.

Since hamsters are curious beings by nature and love to explore, these solid wheels fulfill their desires for such purposes.

It’s crucial that hamster owners offer their pets ample opportunities to play and run around. So if you’re wondering why do hamsters run on a wheel, you have your answer.

Hamster wheels will keep your pet happy and healthy without the danger of letting your pet run wild. Also, don’t worry if you see your hamster on a wheel pacing for hours. It’s totally normal.

Concerned that the sound of a metal wheel might deprive you of sleep every single night?

Try out a silent hamster wheel for dwarf hamsters, larger hamsters, and even wild hamsters that you’re rehabilitating.

READ MORE: Why is My Hamster is Not Using its Exercise Wheel?

Are Wheels Good for Hamsters? (Benefits Of Wheels For Hamsters)

We’ve covered the basics of why hamsters like wheels, but let’s get a bit more in-depth on the overall benefits.

1. Hamsters Love to Run and Explore

As mentioned above, it’s not rocket science to really figure out the reason why hamsters love exercise wheels so much. These cute rodents just simply love to run.

In simple and plain terms, they extremely take pleasure in running. These rodents are lively and energetic, and that’s an inherent characteristic of their species.

To look for sustenance at night, adult hamsters on a wheel can run for over 5 miles, based on the ASPCA study.

Besides, if you’re curious about “Do Hamsters eat apples?” Of course, who doesn’t? The fruit is healthy and safe for your pet rodent.

2. Hamsters Are Nocturnal Animals

These rodents have a sleeping pattern that’s very similar to owls. They are nocturnal in nature.

It matters not whether you’re someone who sleeps early or not; expect your hamster to stay up all night.

Since they are nocturnal and highly curious beings, chances are that they might get bored. Thus, these wheels keep them busy all throughout the night.

3. Exercise Wheels Keep Your Hamster Healthy

As a hamster owner, if you’re wondering how to keep your pet fit physically, healthy, and happy at the same time, running wheels make for an ideal choice.

Being inside single cages 24/7, without having anything much to do, can be stressful for anyone, not just hamsters. These plastic wheels not only keep them healthy physically but also keeps them in shape mentally. 

There are many types of hamster wheels available for your pet rodents.

You have the option to choose between metal and plastic hamster wheels. You can alternatively use a squeaky wheel or a silent hamster wheel.

If you want to know more about hamster’s wheels, check out this video:


Can a hamster run too much on a wheel?

cute hamster running on her wheels

When it comes to hamsters, they tend to be self-aware. They will most likely not overexert themselves.
Your furry friend is full of energy. Therefore, it’s not unusual for it to run all day long. The problem arises when it constantly runs without adequate rest and nutrients.

Are hamsters happy when they are running on a wheel?

It’s a positive indicator if your hamster is very energetic and lively all day long. When a hamster is happy, it will want to burn high levels of energy.
Thus, having run and playing on a solid running surface like a hamster ball or wheel is perfect! 

Do hamsters run on a wheel when scared?

When a hamster is feeling anxious, it might immediately start running on its wheel. Running in the wheel calms your hamster down and helps him feel more peaceful.


Now that we’ve answered the question of “why do hamsters run on wheels,” all that’s left to do is buy them one!

Remember, they come in a variety of sizes. So, it’s vital that you pay attention and pick the right wheel based on the needs of your hamster.

If your pet belongs to the Syrian hamster breed, get a size 8 inches running wheel. In the case of dwarf hamsters, wheels belonging to 6.5 inches category are ideal.

Other than wheels, you can also offer your hamster cage accessories such as pet ladders, tubes, and tunnels.


  • Dalbøge, Louise S., Philip J. Pedersen, Gitte Hansen, Katrine Fabricius, Henrik B. Hansen, Jacob Jelsing, and Niels Vrang. 2015. “A Hamster Model of Diet-Induced Obesity for Preclinical Evaluation of Anti-Obesity, Anti-Diabetic and Lipid Modulating Agents.” Edited by Zane Andrews. PLOS ONE 10 (8): e0135634. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135634.
  • Mitrokostas, Sophia. 2021. “Vets Answer 13 Questions about Hamsters You’ve Always Wanted to Ask.” Yahoo.com. Yahoo News. June 22, 2021. https://news.yahoo.com/vets-answer-13-questions-hamsters-155310235.html.
  • “Owning a Pet Hamster.” 2021. Vca_corporate. 2021. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/owning-a-pet-hamster.
two hamsters running on yellow wheels but why do hamsters run on wheels?

Why do hamsters run on wheels? What about your pets, do they like running on them? Please share with us!

Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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