Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheels?

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen your hamster running on the hamster wheel. And they can certainly run, usually for a very long period of time.

Have you ever wondered why do hamsters run on wheels? Are they trying to run away from captivity?

Why do hamsters run on a wheel even though it gets them nowhere?

Why Do Hamsters Like Wheels?

Hamsters do not like wheels for the product itself. They like wheels because of what it can do for them.

Let me explain.

Hamsters are energetic and active animals. They have a natural instinct to run and exercise. In short, they are born to run.

As they are cooped up in an enclosed hamster cage, they have limited space or room to meet their running needs. Running on a hamster wheel allows them to expand their energy and achieve their “runner’s high” feeling.

Essentially, hamsters just love running. They do not like wheels per se.

Put it this way, if your wheel is not functioning and they are not able to run on it, you will not see them playing with the wheel.

How Far Do Hamsters Run?

Hamsters may be small, but they can run further than most humans. According to research, they can run up to 5.6 miles (9km) in just one night!

That is easily 3 times more than I can comfortably manage.

Credit: Hamster Wheels UK

Not impressed? A shop in the UK named Hamster Wheels actually did a handy comparison to help put things into perspective.

Basically, your hammy needs just 1 night to climb Mount Everest. Mind blown.

Do Hamsters Need A Wheel?

Yes, definitely.

Hamsters can survive without a wheel, but we should not deny them the one thing they love the most – which is running.

By having a hamster wheel, not only are they able to relieve boredom, but they can also be mentally and physically stimulated.

However, be sure to pick the right hamster wheel to prevent injuries.

Are Hamster Wheels Safe?

Hamster wheels are very safe as long as you pick the right wheel for your hammy.

You need to pick the correct size and fit with a solid track surface.

In particular, wire-style wheels should be avoided at all costs. Just look at that. It looks like an accident waiting to happen. The gaps are too huge for your little furry friend and it could lead to potential fractures or even dismemberment.

How Long Do Hamsters Run on Their Wheel?

Now that we know the capabilities of how far a hamster can run. But how does that translate into running on a wheel?

We need to take into consideration various factors such as their age, gender, breed and physical condition.

Typically, you can expect your hammy to run for at least 4-8 hours on their wheels everyday, usually at night.

Why Do Hamsters Run on Wheels at Night?

As hamsters are usually nocturnal or crepuscular, they are mostly active at night when we’re asleep. Since they are awake at night and simply love running, they run on wheels at night out of pure enjoyment to get a rush of endorphins.

Is It Ok to Remove Hamster Wheel At Night?

No, hamsters need a wheel at night. Hamsters have a natural instinct to run and they need to keep active during their waking hours. By removing the hamster wheel at night, you will be depriving them of their most basic need.

Even if you have bought a larger hamster cage, the space is still not big enough for your hammy to clock his hours of running.

How to Make A Hamster Wheel Quiet?

I understand that a hamster wheel can get rather noisy and disrupt your sleep. The very first thing you can choose to do is to place your hamster wheel in a separate environment from where you sleep.

If you prefer not to or if you don’t have another spare room, you can consider getting a silent wheel instead.

However, do note that your hamster will still be very active at night and may create other noises apart from the wheel.

Key Takeaways

  • Hamsters are born to run and they can cover a large distance up to 5.6 miles.
  • They need a wheel because they will not be able to clock in their miles in a hamster cage.
  • Hamsters like wheels as it allows them to run.
  • Hamster wheels are safe as long as you provide the right size and fit.
  • Since they are active at night, they generally run for around 4 to 8 hours every night.


How fast can a hamster run on a wheel?

Typically, a hamster can run about 3 to 6 mph (4.8 to 9.6 kph). In comparison, the average human jogging speed is 4 to 6 mph.

Why my hamster doesn’t know how to run on the wheel?

If your hamster is not using the wheel, it may not mean that he doesn’t know how to run on the wheel. Afterall, their natural instinct is to run. Usually, the main reason is because the wheel is too uncomfortable for him. Pick the correct size for your hamster and he will start using it in no time.

Why is my hamster always on the wheel?

If your hamster is always on the wheel even when he is not running, you can encourage him to roam around the cage by providing more toys such as tunnels, tubes, ladders, and exercise wheels.

How to make your hamster stop running on his wheel?

It is not encouraged to stop your hamster from running on his wheel. He needs (and loves) to run. You don’t have to be concerned about him over-exerting. Your hammy will know when to stop and take a break.

Why is my hamster sleeping on his wheel?

One possible explanation is that he just finished a run on the wheel and he is exhausted. Perhaps he’s too tired to get up from the wheel and sleep. 

If you notice your hammy sleeping on his wheel almost every day, he could be implying that he doesn’t like his space. He finds his living environment to be uncomfortable. Switch things up and provide him with a suitable environment.

Why does my hamster pee in his wheel?

Similarly to dogs, hamsters pee in their wheel to mark territory. Even if your hammy lives alone and pee in his wheel, he wants to claim the wheel as his because he likes it. When you notice urine in the wheel, you should clean the wheel as soon as possible to prevent ammonia burns on his feet.

Why does my hamster poop in his wheel?

Hamsters are not exactly the brightest animals. It is normal if they have no dedicated spot to pee or poop. However, take note that hamsters tend to poop when they feel scared. Monitor if he is showing any signs of discomfort the next time he runs on the wheel. Maybe the wheel is too shaky or maybe the sound of the wheel frightened him. Hamsters are cute and quirky like that.

Why does my hamster run on top of his wheel?

Hamsters running on top of the wheel is not normal and is dangerous. They know it, but if they still do it, it is a sign that something is wrong. The inside of the wheel is too small for your hammy to run comfortably.

Why does my hamster keep falling off his wheel?

Just another day of hamsters doing silly things. They look really adorable when they get flung off the wheel while running. This is quite common and usually causes no harm to them, especially if they land on soft bedding. However, sometimes it could also indicate that the wheel may be too small.

Scroll to Top