Your tiny gerbil is a very active creature that can run at a speed of up to 10.8 kilometers per hour in the wild. Your pet gerbil will need all of the room it can get to stretch those little legs.
Do gerbils use exercise wheels?
Gerbils need a running wheel for mental stimulation and to get enough exercise. Choose a wheel with a solid surface that measures at least 10 to 11 inches in diameter. A metal or wooden wheel is best, as your gerbil will not chew through it.
Aside from a running wheel, what else can you put in the enclosure to get your gerbil to exercise?
Coming up next in this article, we’ll be considering more innovative ways for you to get your gerbil to run around and keep him stimulated in his cage.
So let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Do Gerbils Need A Wheel?
You love your pet gerbil and want to make sure it lives the best and most exciting life possible.
But are wheels essential for gerbils?
Gerbils need exercise wheels because they are very active pets.
Buying the right wheel for your gerbil is really important as not all wheels are suitable for these small pets. Coming up next, we’ll show you the best gerbil wheel options and types.
Gerbil Wheel Material
What’s the best material for a gerbil wheel?
Gerbils like to nibble on things in their cage, so you need a running wheel that is chew-proof. Gerbils will easily chew through plastic wheels, so these are not suitable for them.
Instead of plastic wheels, opt for metal or even wooden running wheels. These materials are chew-proof and will not endanger your gerbil’s health.
Exercise Wheel Size
How big should a gerbil wheel be?
Your gerbil’s wheel needs to be the right size so your pet can run without curving its back. If your gerbil were to run on a wheel that is too small, it could injure itself.
Ensure you purchase the right size wheel for your gerbil. It must measure at least 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) in diameter.
If your gerbil is larger than average, you will need an even larger wheel.
We recommend a large wheel like this one on Amazon.
Solid Gerbil Wheels
What type of gerbil wheel is best?
The bottoms of your gerbil’s feet are sensitive. They could easily suffer damage when walking on metal rungs, which is why we always recommend you keep your pet in a cage with a solid surface, not one with bars or mesh flooring.
The same principle applies to your gerbil’s wheel. To protect its feet, it needs a solid wheel, not one with bare rungs.
Metal wheels with rungs are also dangerous because your gerbil's tail or feet could get caught in them and cause your little munchkin a lot of harm. Always choose a gerbil exercise wheel with a solid running surface.
Metal and wooden wheels with solid surfaces are best.
We recommend a wheel with a solid surface like this one on Amazon.
What are the best attachments for your wheel?
Gerbils need a running wheel that you will be able to firmly secure to the side of the cage. A wheel with a solid attachment will ensure the whole thing doesn’t topple over and injure your gerbil while he runs on it.
Some metal wheels come with a nifty attachment that will help you to secure the wheel right onto the cage bars so it won't fall over.
Free-standing wheels are also good, but you must ensure they are very sturdy and will not fall over when your gerbils hop on and off of them. Remember, if you have a large gerbil, your wheel will need to be even more sturdy.
The Best Wheel for Every Gerbil Owner
What kind of running wheel is best for your pet and you?
Some gerbil owners are reluctant to put running wheels in their gerbil’s enclosure. This is because the traditional wheel tends to be kind of squeaky and irritating.
The constant squeaking of the wheel as it turns is frustrating, especially when your hamster cage is inside a bedroom.
But you’ll be happy to know that there are running wheels that are silent. One such wheel is called the silent spinner, which rotates without making any noise.
The silent spinner and other quiet wheels are perfect for gerbils to run on all night without disturbing you.
Which kind of hamster wheels will help keep your gerbil safe?
We have already discussed some of the dangers of certain hamster wheels. You must avoid wheels with rungs so your hamster’s feet and tail are not in danger.
The danger you cannot avoid with an open wheel is that your hamster could fall out of it while running. One way to prevent this from happening is to get a completely different style of hamster wheel.
A closed wheel is a great choice as it is much safer than your conventional wheel. Here are some of the common features of this type of wheel.
- It does not have any pinch areas. Your gerbil will not be able to get a limb or its tail caught in the mechanism.
- It is completely enclosed asides from a couple of holes which your gerbil can use to climb in and out of. Your gerbil will not be able to fall out of the wheel while it runs.
- It has a solid running surface. It is the perfect wheel to help protect your gerbil’s feet and tail.
The enclosed sides of the wheel prevent your gerbil from falling off of it.
Note: The Wodent wheel is not a good choice for gerbils as it is made of plastic.
Benefits of Gerbil Wheels
Whenever you walk past gerbil cages in pet stores, you will always see them kitted out with an exercise wheel.
But do gerbils like wheels? What are the benefits of them?
Gerbils love running on spherical running wheels. Not only is it something they love to do, but it is something they must do.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
How does a running wheel help keep your gerbil healthy?
Gerbils are very active animals, and they love to run around. Gerbils need to get enough exercise to stay healthy.
In the wild, gerbils are constantly running long distances and are able to get all of the exercise they need. But this can prove more tricky for them in captivity as their cages are not big enough for them to run as fast as they need to.
Gerbils must be able to run on an exercise wheel to prevent weight gain. They must run for at least 30 minutes per day.
Putting an exercise wheel inside your gerbil’s cage will encourage it to get the exercise it needs.
How does a gerbil wheel affect your gerbil’s mental health?
To keep your gerbil happy, it needs things inside its cage to keep it occupied. A running wheel is a perfect way of providing your gerbil with a means to entertain itself to prevent it from becoming bored and depressed.
Here are some of the signs of a bored gerbil.
- Repetitive corner digging
- Cage biting
- Loss of appetite
- Scratching the floor
Apart from a running wheel, putting an exercise ball and wooden toys inside the cage will keep your gerbil active throughout the day and prevent boredom.
How does a running wheel help your gerbil feel safe?
Gerbils are timid animals. They need things inside their cage to fill the empty space and that they can use to hide behind when they feel afraid.
A solid running wheel provides your gerbil with something to hide behind. Aside from a running wheel, put a cardboard hide box inside your gerbil's cage that it can take cover under when it feels nervous.
Other Gerbil Exercise Essentials
Gerbils love to be active. They cannot get enough of running around their enclosures.
So for the ideal cage setup, you must include enough stimulation for your pet gerbil so it will get the exercise it needs.
As we have already seen, putting a running wheel inside your gerbil’s enclosure is essential for it to run at full speed like it would in the wild. Next, you’ll see a list of some other exercise essentials that are great for gerbils.
How can you keep your gerbil safe while you clean its cage?
Gerbils need to spend plenty of time running throughout the day. Some owners like to let their gerbils outside of their cages for some extra exercise but are nervous about the dangers they might encounter around the house.
This is where exercise balls come in handy. Put your gerbil inside a secure exercise ball and allow it to play on your living room floor.
Aim for an exercise ball that is at least 8 inches in diameter. But if your gerbil is slightly bigger than average, then you will need an even larger ball.
Using an exercise ball is also a great way of giving your hamster a safe place to play while you clean its cage.
Exercise Track Loop
How can you provide your gerbil with a safe environment to run around in?
You must let your little furballs outside of their cages once a day so they can stretch their legs properly. But the environment outside their cage might not always be safe for them.
If you have other animals in the home, you will not want to let your gerbil run freely in a room. You might also feel nervous about this as gerbils love to chew and could find themselves nibbling on something they shouldn’t.
Using an exercise track loop together with a gerbil ball will help you give your gerbil the run-around time it needs without endangering it. The nice thing about the loop is that you will always know exactly where your gerbil is since it will loop around and around the track as it pushes itself inside the ball.
We recommend an exercise loop track like this one on Amazon.
Are there any alternatives to the traditional hamster wheel for gerbils?
Flying saucers make nice alternatives to running wheels. Here’s why some gerbil owners prefer them.
- They allow your gerbils to run at a more comfortable angle. The flying saucer is flatter than the upright traditional running wheel.
- They tend to be bigger than hamster wheels. They allow your pets to run without curving their backs.
- Flying saucers are usually silent. These make great additions to pet cages that are in bedrooms.
What other shapes make gerbils run?
Not all gerbils enjoy running on wheels, which is why it is a good idea to have a couple of alternatives.
Exercise tubes are fun for gerbils and encourage running. Your gerbils will also like hiding in the tubes, and they will help them feel safe.
Since gerbils enjoy chewing on things, you must avoid plastic tubes at all costs. Your gerbil could ingest the plastic pieces, and this would be very dangerous for them.
Here are some great materials for exercise tubes.
- Cardboard. Your gerbil can safely chew on cardboard tubes. Toilet roll tubes are free and easy to replace. Put a couple of tubes together to create an innovative exercise course.
- Wooden tubes. Your gerbil can gnaw on wooden tubes to keep its teeth down. It will also love hiding behind these tubes.
- Metal tubes. Steel tubes make great chew-proof options for running.
How much exercise do gerbils need?
Your gerbil needs at least half an hour of exercise a day to stay healthy. A running wheel is a great way for him to stay fit, but it is not the only method.
Your gerbil will also enjoy running on an exercise see-saw. Wooden see-saws are best as they do not present a danger to your pet if it were to chew on it.
How does the right bedding help your gerbils exercise?
Most gerbils will spend lots of time throughout the day digging and burrowing as they would in the wild. These activities are a good exercise for the animals.
But in order for your gerbil to spend as much time digging in captivity as it would in the wild, it needs enough bedding.
Here are the bedding requirements for gerbils.
- A mix of aspen shavings, hay, and paper shreddings.
- At least 20 cm of bedding for them to dig into.
- Use a cage with a deep base. A cage with a deep base is easy to fill with bedding without your gerbil kicking it through the cage bars.
Why Say No to Plastic Wheels
Plastic gerbil wheels always look like a good idea because they come in an array of eye-catching colors and because they are easy to clean. Besides, pet shops are always selling them, so what could be the issue with them?
Plastic wheels are bad for gerbils because they can chew through the plastic. If your gerbil were to chew on his plastic wheel, he might swallow some of the plastic, and this would be dangerous for him.
To prevent your gerbil from chewing on plastic, choose a wooden or metal wheel. Some wooden gerbil accessories are colored with natural dyes that are safe for your gerbil.
Steel wheels are also a great option if you are looking for something easy to wash.
The Best Wheels for Gerbils
Gerbils are very active animals that love to run around. But do they need a gerbil wheel?
This article has helped us to see that your gerbil needs a wheel in order to stay in shape, prevent boredom and depression, and even feel safe.
The most appropriate wheel for a gerbil is one with a solid surface made of wood or metal. It is at least 10 to 11 inches in diameter and has a secure clip that allows you to attach the wheel to the cage bars.
Did you find this article interesting?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about gerbils and how to give them the very best care. For more information about other small pets, such as hamsters and guinea pigs, check out our website.
Thanks for reading!