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The Fun Mouse: Mouse Information: Mouse Wheels

Contents


What kind of wheel should I get?
man on wheelThere are many different kinds of wheels on the market today. Every mouse deserves to have a wheel in their environment. Since they are cooped up in a small tank (compared to how they would be in the wild) they need to wheelget their exercise. A wheel is a good option. When selecting a wheel, safety is the key. I will go into that a little more below with each individual wheel. After that you need a wheel that fits your needs best. You need a wheel that fits the size of your mouse. A mouse should not be cramped in their wheel. Their back should be flat when running and they shouldn't have to hold their head high so their nose doesn't hit the wheel. Small wheels can also make "wheel tail" worse. This is when the tail of the mouse curls up over the back to an extreme. When in doubt, get a bigger wheel. As long as your mouse can make the wheel spin it isn't too big. When selecting wheels, know that they all have their pro's and con's. Select the wheel you think is safest and most functional for your mouse.

plasticbarPlastic "bar" wheels
I don't recommend flimsy plastic wheels (pictured here in blue). Mice can devour these in a matter of days, leaving you with a mouse belly full of plastic and a wheel in a million pieces. They also don't spin very well at all. They are less expensive but you will be spending much more on them in the end from replacing it all the time. Additionally, they are not safe. As with metal bar wheels (below) these wheels can break limbs.

wire barWire Bar wheels
Some wheels can be hazardous. Wire wheels with bars can be extremely fun for mice but they can also be deadly! The most deadly wheel is a wire one with bars (shown on the left and in silver). If you have more than one mouse in a tank together then these wheels become even more deadly. What happens is while one mouse is running on the wheel the other tries to jump on, the one getting on can easily get its head caught in between the 2 bars while it's spinning. This can brake your mouse's neck and/or back! Mice can also squeeze threw the small bars (that they run on) and if another mouse starts running it can cause serious injury to the mouse who's wiggling threw the bars. These wheels are also dangerous to single mice. A mouse can get its tail stuck in the cross bar that holds the wheel up. This can break their tail. I recommend avoiding these types of wheels.

Ware SaucerSaucer Wheels
Saucer wheels are the safest wheels on the market to date. There is no risk of tail injury in bars, small wheels, gaps, etc like some other wheels. Those that are concerned about "wheel tail" needn't worry with these wheels. A mouse can run in his/her natural form in these wheels. More than one mouse can run on these wheels without a risk of one getting caught, stuck, or hurt because of design. Since there is nothing to hang onto, these wheels are not able BIO Serv Saucerto send mice flying to the extent of other wheels either. Some brands of saucer wheels even have a built in house (such as the one on the left), which is great for single fancy bucks. This opens up more floor space for other toys!

meshMesh wheels
If you still wish to have a wire wheel because they are more fun for the mice then try a wire mesh wheel (pictured here in blue). When getting a wire mesh wheel try to get one with an arched bar that holds up the wheel. Look at the difference between the support bars in the wire bar (the silver one in the paragraph above) wheel compared to the mesh (blue) one. See the difference in the support beam? The mesh one is in an arch which helps prevent a mouse from getting its head or body stuck in between. Mesh wheels also have a larger gap between the arched bar and the spinning wheel. This greatly helps prevent a mouse getting caught in there. I also recommend stretching them out some, to allow even more space between the arch and wheel. Mesh bars are also very comfortable for a mouse to run on compared to the bar ones. If you choose to get a wire wheel make sure that the support bars (where the base hold up the wheel) are also spaced far apart. The more room the better. The closer the bars are together when they pass each other, the more dangerous they are.

Straight Crossbars
Don't get a wheel with a cross bar that goes all the way through the wheel (these may not be on the market any more). This can be very dangerous to your mouse's tail. They can get their tail wrapped around it and it can cause serious injury.

Additionally, don't get a wheel with a straight support bar that is close to the wheel itself. This can cause tail, neck, and back injury (including death) if the mouse gets between the bar and the wheel. This is especially dangerous when there are more than one mouse per environment. Note that with some wheels you can bend the support bar out, to give more space for the mice to pass through.

plastic EnclosedCritter Trail/SAM cage wheels
These wheels can be hazardous with more than one mouse. If both mice run at different speeds, one mouse may flop around in there while the other one runs. A mother with babies in a wheel like this can be very hazardous. The mother will get running much faster than the babies. Because she is to much bigger, the babies will go flopping all over the place, possibly causing injury. The babies will find it difficult to get out, if not impossible, because it is in motion.

There is minimal ventilation in critter trail wheels. It is best to have open ventilation, especially when doing "exercising". Hygiene is also a key. Mice can get filthy in these wheels, even if they are cleaned daily. The pee has no where to go other than splattered all over, including on the mouse. Lack of ventilation and filth can cause serious illness.

Mice can also get their tail and feet pinched between the wheel and side.

open plasticComfort wheels
A very safe wheel is the comfort wheel (pictured to the left in purple). These are extremely safe wheels that can go in almost anything. They can be attached to a cage or left on a stand. These wheels are very comfortable for a mouse's feet and it eliminates almost all of the risk that other wheels have. There are no bars or open parts to get caught in. The down fall to these wheels is cleaning and silence. These wheels get really gross fast! Cleaning them isn't that easy, compared to mesh wheels. In addition, these wheels are actually quite noisy! They are very quiet for a little while, but after the mouse has broken it in (only takes a couple weeks) they rattle a lot louder than any other wheel!! They also sink to the bottom of the bedding while the mouse runs. This causes it to clunk, clunk, clunk on the bottom of the tank. Mesh wheels are a LOT quieter (when "oiled" with Vaseline, veggie cooking oil, or chap stick) than any plastic wheel out there.

plastic free standing silentSilent Spinners
Silent Spinners, contrary to their name, can become quite noisy. They might be quiet at first, but they often loosen and rattle with age. They also tend to wiggle to the bottom of the bedding, clunking loudly on the bottom of the tank. They tend to wiggle down to the bottom of the bedding faster and more often than most other wheels on the market today. Silent spinners are safe by design, yet they have a flaw. Some Silent Spinners have a gap (click for picture) in the wheel where the 2 main pieces of plastic come together. If the 2 main pieces of plastic loosen, that gap becomes a large hazard. It can catch a mouses tail while running (there are reports of this happening). As the mouse runs, the tail gets in the gap and then wedges between the 2 main pieces of plastic. Usually the gap itself is fine (though small mice can get feet caught in there while running), but it can catch the tail easily if it loosens at all. This can cause major damage (including tail amputation) and pain to the mouse. If you purchase one of these wheels, check this potential gap to insure the plastic lines up with no gap. Also check it regularly as they have been known to loosen in time. If you wish to have a wheel similar to this, you may want to consider Comfort Wheels (shown above).

plastic orbitOrbit wheels
This wheel spins and orbits (pictured here in orange, red, and black). As long as the mouse can escape easily without getting caught on any bars (some kinds do have bars they can get caught in) the wheel is okay but I don't recommend them for numerous mice in one tank. There is potential for a mouse to spin another mouse around in it, potentially causing injury. These wheels also get messy quickly. For one mouse this wheel can be quite fun because it makes them feel as if they are going somewhere. However, hygiene in this wheel is not good. There's no where for the waste to go and it often gets all over the mouse.

globeWheel/Ball combo
Lastly there's the wheel/ball combo (pictured here in clear and green). It is similar to the critter trail enclosed wheel. I don't recommend them for more than one mouse. All enclosed wheels have the same hazard and that's one mouse can spin the other around and it will not be able to get out. The ball wheels also have very limited ventilation and make quite the mess. Please refer to the Critter Trail/SAM cage wheels for additional info on this wheel as it relates.

Run About BallRun About Balls
Lastly I would like to add a small comment on the run about balls even though they are not technically wheels. These balls can be a whole lot of fun for our little guys! It is great exercise and gives them a chance to see new surroundings. I recommend that when using these balls that you tape the lid on. You obviously always need to supervise them when running around in there but the lid can pop off so fast and your mouse can be gone in a flash! I've found that many of these balls have loose lids. This is very disappointing since the ball only has 2 functions, to roll and stay closed. However, many times it can't even stay closed. If you add just a touch of clear tape to the lid on 2 sides it will stay closed. But again, you must always supervise them in the ball because they can chew out! Also be sure that there are no stairs around for them to fall on. Your mouse can seriously injure itself if it falls down the stairs! These balls have limited ventilation. Try to limit the time your mouse is in a run around ball to around 5-10 minutes. Letting them run in it for shorter time frames but more often is a great solution. Make sure you clean the wheel after every use. These wheels can get messy quickly. After cleaning, dry them fully before using them again.

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