Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheels?

It is almost impossible to find a hamster enclosed in a cage without a running wheel. Some cages even come with an inbuilt running wheel, suggesting how essential the tool is to rodents. This makes most pet owners curious about why hamsters run on wheels.

Tracing back to their origin, hamsters in the wild could move long distances in search of food. Sometimes predators would attack these rodents activating their fight or flight hormones. Being tiny animals, running away would always be the best choice.

Running is, therefore, in hamsters’ genes, and in captivity, a running cage offers the same experience as in the wild. While this is a major reason hamsters need toys, we shall further tackle why these pet rodents run on wheels.

Reasons why hamsters run on wheels

Some reasons hamsters run on wheels include reducing stress and anxiety, keeping the hamster healthy, and fulfilling their natural urge to run.

Reducing stress and anxiety

One of the major reasons why we provide hamsters with running wheels is to help them release their stress and anxiety. Just like humans engage in exercises to relieve stress, hamsters also enjoy the same benefits

Hamsters enjoy running

It is natural for hamsters to run up to 10km daily due to their genetics. Being nocturnal, when the hamster is not napping, it will be running. Running releases serotonin and endorphins which are happy hormones that encourage the pet to keep running.

Keeping the hamster healthy

Hamsters running on wheels help them keep fit and healthy. You will barely find an overweight hamster if there is a running wheel in the cage. When a hamster is running, organs such as the heart and lungs are pushed to their liming ensuring they are working appropriately.

How to choose the best running wheel for your hamster

Factors to consider when looking for the best running wheel for hamsters include safety, the material used, and silence.


Before getting a running wheel for your hamster, you should consider how safe it will be for your pet. Hamsters often fall or misstep when playing with their running wheel. You can therefore consider an enclosed running wheel to prevent the hamster from falling off. The distance between the steps should neither be too long nor too short so that the pet can run comfortably without getting stuck or missing a step.

Material used

Most hamster running wheels are made of plastic, metal, or wood. A plastic running wheel is always recommended due to its advantage over the other two options.

One of the reasons why a plastic running wheel we recommend a plastic running wheel is its ease of cleaning. The toy is also not affected by temperature fluctuations which may make the running wheel wobble.


Hamsters are mostly active at night since they are nocturnal animals. This means that they will be using the running wheel at night while you are trying to sleep. You should therefore consider a silent running wheel that will not make noise while you are trying to take a nap. 


How long can hamsters run on a wheel?

Hamsters, like all other rodents, find running thrilling. While on the running wheel, hamsters can run a distance that can total up to 10km on a single night.

Do hamsters sleep on their running wheel?

It is not wrong for hamsters to sleep on their running wheel. However, this behavior may increase the chances of the hamster being injured in case they fall. Sleeping on the running wheel may also suggest that the cage is not comfortable for the hamster to sleep in.

What is the benefit of a hamster wheel?

Some of the benefits of a hamster wheel include keeping the hamster happy, healthy, and less stressed.