Last Updated on 02/07/2021 by Veronica Jones
The chinchilla is one pocket friend that requires plenty of exercise time, which is why you may want to look for the best chinchilla wheel for them.
However, the problem with the variety of choices in the market is that many of them aren’t exactly safe for your pet.
There’s also the common mistake that buyers might get a wheel that’s too big for their chinchilla enclosure or too small for their pet to run.
That causes hassle and discomfort for your furry friend, and it might even become a risk for accidents.
Unfortunately, with the plethora of options in the market, not all of them adhere to the correct requirements of a chinchilla exercise wheel.
For instance, some of them are too big or too small, while others don’t exactly have a durable material when it comes to construction. Some of them were made with low-quality shaping, so they don’t spin evenly.
If these faults end up being in your newly-bought chinchilla wheel, it could cause your pet to have accidents later on or even make them feel uncomfortable.
Therefore, to avoid inconveniences like that, you should buy the right kind of chinchilla wheel that’s not only safe but also fun for your pet to play with.
Plastic is a Dangerous Choice
As mentioned above, what we should look for when it comes to the best chinchilla wheel is durability. Plastic is, in the general sense, not exactly the right material to fit the description.
Choosing a strong and durable material for your chinchilla wheel is highly important to make sure that they have fun in the safest way possible.
Along with choosing a durable cage or enclosure for them, chinchillas deserve only quality materials for their wheel, in which plastic is a poor choice.
Here are the reasons why you shouldn’t choose plastic for a chinchilla exercise wheel:
They will chew it up (and it’s toxic to them)
The main reason why we think plastic isn’t an ideal material for chinchilla wheels is that chinchillas are likely to chew it up when they’re not doing anything.
Unlike other materials, such as wood and metal, plastic is not a natural material that will get digested by any living being properly.
If your little friend does end up chewing and nibbling parts of the exercise wheel, their stomach is going to have a tough time recovering – think of those whales in the ocean accidentally ingesting plastic!
To avoid having to take your pet to the vet (and spending a lot on medicine), you should consider a plastic-free playing and living environment for your chinchilla, and that means no plastic on their exercise wheel, no matter how budget-friendly it is.
Plastic isn’t durable and can cause accidents
One reason why plastic isn’t a dependable chinchilla wheel material is that it is not that durable.
Compared with wood or metal, an exercise wheel that is merely made of plastic material will easily deteriorate in bad weather conditions or by being chewed by your chinchilla (as we mentioned above).
Since chinchillas love to run almost endlessly on a wheel, they’ll need something highly durable and dependable.
Something that will not break easily will keep your little pocket friend as safe as possible.
Sadly, most plastic materials out there are not exactly on the tough side, especially if you live in a warm climate where plastic is most likely to warp and crack.
We’re also aware that the chinchilla is a pocket pet, which means their body parts are fragile. That’s why we need them to have a safe toy as much as possible.
When accidentally broken down, plastic will cause sharp edges to protrude and possibly get your chinchilla injured.
Plastic is more susceptible to bacteria build-up
Another possible harm that plastic could have in the future is the bacteria problem.
Because plastic is a porous type of material, it will cause bacteria to settle there. This will be a problem for your chinchilla if they accidentally ingest some of the plastic material through constant chewing.
If you want to avoid getting your chinchilla to the emergency room due to bacterial infection, a chinchilla exercise wheel that you should give to them is something that isn’t made of plastic.
Choose a Durable Material
Now that we mentioned how bad or unsafe it is to use plastic for chinchilla wheel material, what exactly is the best material for such an exercise wheel?
Here are the most common materials that you can find in the market that are great alternatives for a plastic wheel:
The traditional way of creating an exercise wheel is using wood. Here are the benefits and drawbacks, as well as what to expect when you choose wooden wheels for your furry little friend:
They run quietly
The plus point about wood exercise wheels is that they don’t make a lot of noise. This is important for the chinchilla’s nature of wanting a less stressful environment to exercise.
When you compare wood to plastic and metal, it is the quietest of all, so if your chinchilla is quite meticulous with wheel noises, it’s best to get them a wooden exercise wheel.
They have a small grip
This makes it easier for a chinchilla to run properly, even if they are new to exercise wheels. This is especially the case if your pet is still very young and have yet to try a wheel for themselves.
Having a small grip also helps them get into the wheel easier and allowing better motivation to work out rather than sit around and become afraid of the wheel.
Your pet can still chew them
Although they aren’t toxic, unlike plastic, wood can still be chewed away by your chinchilla.
At the very least, it won’t cause them stomach upsets, but you do have to replace the exercise wheel more frequently because of this.
Wood is still a porous material
This means that it is still prone to bacteria build-up eventually, so you have to clean it properly.
If you suspect that the chinchilla wheel has a lot of off-putting smell on the surface, you can either clean it thoroughly or just throw it away to avoid infection for your furry friend.
To choose a good exercise wheel that’s made of wood, here are pointers you should look for:
- Look for wheels with no gaps between the slats to avoid getting your chinchilla’s feet stuck in between.
- It should have a completely solid surface with no holes for the same reason mentioned above.
- An ideal width for an exercise wheel is 6 x 15 inches so that your chinchilla will play in its best comfort with minimal stress.
- Don’t choose chinchilla wheels that have folding or small parts.
Metal is yet another common wheel material to choose from for your chinchilla when it comes to exercise wheels. Here are its pros and cons, as well as what to expect when using and/or maintaining it:
Metal wheels are easier to clean
Due to their solid material that can’t be chewed away (more on that later), a metal wheel is more suitable for a chinchilla with a nasty habit of gnawing anything they see.
Even if your chinchilla does their bathroom business in the wheel by accident, you get less risk for bacteria buildup because of the metal construction.
However, this quality is only present if your metal wheel is properly sealed with an anti-corrosion coating.
Always make sure you buy a chinchilla wheel that has this coating in case you want a metal wheel. Otherwise, the whole point of having a durable metal wheel would be wasted.
They are more stable
Because they are made of metal, these wheels are less likely to fall out of place.
Compared to a wood or a plastic chinchilla wheel, a metal exercise wheel will be more stable and won’t wobble. Any exercise wheel that is prone to wobbling means trouble for you and your pet.
To keep your chinchilla safe and sound when they run as fast as they can in the exercise wheel, always consider having a stable material for the wheel itself, in which case metal is a great option.
They won’t become your chinchilla’s chew toy
As we mentioned above, metal is a durable material that won’t be susceptible to chewing from your chinchilla because of how hard they are.
If you buy your chinchilla a metal wheel, they will have a hard time trying to gnaw it.
Therefore, a chinchilla with difficult chewing tendencies is best off with a metal wheel that won’t risk getting foreign material in their tummies (which could cost a lot in terms of vet bills and medicine).
Metal wheels do run noisily
If you have a chinchilla that is sensitive to noises, then the metal wheel might not be the best option for you.
It does create a significant amount of noise, which could be disturbing to most chinchillas. That’s their drawback when compared with wood chinchilla wheels.
Metal wheels have more durability in general
Despite the noise levels, metal wheels will last longer if you prefer to buy the chinchilla wheel less often.
If you’re on a tight budget but want the best exercise wheel for your pet, we do recommend getting a metal type for durability, so you don’t have to worry about constantly replacing it.
When choosing metal for your chinchilla for its exercise wheel, be sure to look for the following:
- Always consider anti-corrosion coating for the metal wheel, especially if your chinchilla accidentally urinates there or gets it wet.
- Look for metal wheels with a smooth design that has no sharp edges and the like.
- Consider a metal wheel with no gaps or spaces to avoid getting your chinchilla stuck.
Since a chinchilla wheel that’s made of either wood or metal has its own set of pros and cons, most manufacturers nowadays combine two of them into one extraordinary exercise wheel.
With the wood causing less noisy parts and the metal extending the durability of the setup, this kind of wheel will be a great choice for those who want the best of both worlds.
An example of a wheel that uses both wood and metal is the 15-inch Chin Spin Wheel.
Because the wood is on the wall of the wheel, there’s less likelihood of your chinchilla chewing it off as compared to if the wood was on the outside of the wheel.
How about exercise saucers?
A variation of the regular exercise wheel for the chinchilla is the saucer, which you might have probably seen in some pet shops or chinchilla videos.
The saucer will remind you of a spinning plate (hence its name) because it spins horizontally rather than vertically.
Thus, it will make your chinchilla run faster than it would when running on a regular exercise wheel. The saucer has been gaining quite a buzz since it got introduced to most pet owners.
The major advantage of the saucer is that it creates less noise versus the traditional exercise wheel. The design also makes it easier to clean compared to a vertical wheel.
Another plus point is that it has an open design, so you’ll see your pocket pet run in 360 degrees.
The only downside to the saucers is that some chinchillas might not like them. Moreover, it is more space-consuming than a regular wheel due to its horizontal design.
Are the exercise balls safe for chinchillas?
Exercise balls are another variation of the chinchilla wheel. With that said, such exercise balls are mostly made of plastic, so we don’t recommend them to chinchillas.
Not to mention, they will likely feel exhausted inside, and they could even injure themselves inside the ball when it bounces off.
In the long run, the best chinchilla wheel should be made of durable parts (not plastic) to avoid being chewed by your pocket friend.
It should also be properly installed so that you get less risk of accidents for your chinchilla.