Blue Cross have provided a warning against small hamster wheels. They Say “Important – Some cages are sold with wheels included but these are not always suitable. A hamster should be able to use an exercise wheel without curving their spine or raising their head, as this can cause back problems.”
“Often, hamster wheels sold along with a hamster cage are too small. Despite this fact, hamsters will continue to use the small wheels and over time it can cause damage to the spine. Therefore, these wheels should be replaced with a suitable alternative. Any wheels with spokes or mesh should also be replaced, due to the risk of feet getting caught.
A suitable wheel is one that is large enough for your hamster to run in with a straight back and without having to raise their head, but small enough that they can rotate the wheel easily. It should be upright and have a solid running surface.”
We are pleased to display the recommended hamster wheel size on our hamster wheel page.
HamsterWelfare.com have campaigned against small hamster wheels since we launched in 2021. Our advice has been based on TVT Veterinary research from Germany who also say: “Tierärztliche Vereinigung für Tierschutz (TVT) recommends wheels should be at least 20cm (8″) for Dwarf Hamsters and at least 30cm (12″) for Syrian Hamsters, since smaller diameters lead to permanent spinal curvatures, especially in young animals. ”
It is likely that pet shops ignore the need to sell large wheels because a large wheel won’t fit in the cheap tiny cages that they often sell. Instead pet shops ignore the animal welfare advice provided by Blue Cross and other organisations. We often find that in a pet store care guide it’s more a case of what they don’t tell you! And they don’t make the public aware of the need to provide a large wheel. Instead the public are being misled into breaking The Animal Welfare Act which requires a keeper to “provide a suitable environment” and for the animal “to be protected from pain, injury and suffering”.