Being a pet parent is not always easy, especially when you have to take care of chinchillas. While being careful about their food and nutrition, being conscious about their physical activity and metabolism is also very important.
Regular feeding without physical activities can negatively impact your chinchilla’s health.
Do chinchillas need a wheel?
Ideally, chinchillas do need a wheel in their space.
Living in a small cage with only so much room to walk or run around can cause stress. Chinchillas need to have a constant source of physical activity to stay healthy.
Why Do Chinchillas Need A Wheel?
When choosing any accessory for your pet, do not just go for anything that you like or something that looks exciting to you. Rather, try to understand the needs of your pet and then make a decision.
Read and learn about how they live in their natural habitat. With this in mind, you can make the best choice for your pet.
When we look at the way chinchillas live in their natural habitat, we come across a lot of running and jumping. Chinchillas have a very active lifestyle. They are all the time running around in search of food and hiding from predators.
They love hopping from one rock to another. All this movement and exercise makes chinchillas an active group of rodents.
Now, let’s look at things a bit scientifically. This active lifestyle is not just what chinchillas like but also what they need.
A major portion of their diet consists of fiber which needs to be digested. All the energy they get from their fiber-rich diet needs to be expended. For that reason, chinchillas need to have a good amount of exercise throughout the day.
Exercise not only keeps their gut healthy, but it also keeps them stress-free. Inactivity and the feeling of being confined in a small place can make your pet stressed.
Keeping such an athletic rodent in your home confined to a cage asks for a lot of care and attention. Along with their diet, you need to take care of their exercise as well. They need to have some kind of activity throughout the day to stay healthy and happy.
Wheels are the best way to exercise for pet chinchillas. Wheels allow them to run and keep fit. Wheels provide an impressive alternative for natural running.
Staying in their cage for most of the day can make chinchillas exhausted. And keeping them out of the cage all the time is not possible.
In such conditions, the exercise wheel comes to the rescue. Chinchillas can burn that extra amount of energy by running on their favorite wheel.
A wheel will help your chinchilla stay healthy both physically and mentally. This also makes them more mentally active and conscious.
Otherwise, living without a wheel or with no physical activity can make your pet chinchilla unwell. Their health is very much dependant on the amount of exercise they get. The more they exercise the happier they will be!
How to Train a Chinchilla to Use a Wheel
Chinchillas will need some instruction on how to use their wheel, as they do not come across exercise wheels in their natural habitat. So getting them to exercise can take some time and effort.
The time it takes to adapt also varies with each chinchilla. Some are quick to learn, while some take some time to adapt.
To begin with, you can just place the wheel in the cage and wait for your chinchilla to notice this new item. After a few days if it is still not trying to get on the wheel itself, then you may need to intervene.
You can place some dust on the wheel, to get your chinchilla’s attention. It will make its way to the wheel while sniffing the dust. And as it steps on the wheel, it will discover this new item moves.
If this does not work, you can place a treat on the wheel to lead your chinchilla to it. You can also place the chinchilla on the wheel yourself and then let it explore for a while.
There is a possibility that during the first few times the chinchilla won’t be able to get out of the wheel itself. For the first few times, you can help the chinchilla until it can control its exercise time on its own.
How to Choose the Best Wheel for Your Chinchilla?
After deciding on getting a wheel for your chinchilla, do not get just any wheel in that moment of excitement. You need to be aware of a few things before purchasing something.
The basic things you need to think about include the wheel’s quality, size, material, maintenance, noise factor, and last but not least, your budget.
- Quality: It is better to invest in nothing than investing in something of poor quality. You must consider the best quality products to eliminate any risk factor and to save money as well.
- Size: Getting a wheel which your chinchilla fits in well is very important. Never confuse a hamster wheel for chinchilla’s, as both are very different. Getting a smaller wheel can affect your chinchilla’s back. The perfect size of a chinchilla wheel would be around 14-16 inches in diameter.
- Material: You will find three types of wheels: plastic, wood, and metal. Plastic wheels are not recommended as your chinchilla can nibble on it, leading to health issues. We would recommend wheels made of wood or metal because of their high safety ratio.
- Maintenance: Choose a wheel that is easy to clean and maintain. Go for the simpler ones and avoid buying any fancy wheels for your chinchilla.
- Noise Factor: Chinchillas being active during dawn and dusk can disturb you with the sound of their wheel. Always choose less noisy wheels to avoid any disturbance.
- Budget: Always consider your budget. Investing in a good quality and long-lasting wheel will be better for your pocket as well.
- Do not let your chinchilla exercise more than it needs.
- Do not go for the wheels with slats or mesh.
- Always keep the wheel nice and clean.