What kind of wheel should I use?

Different Types of Wheel

There are many different types of wheels available, some good, some bad and some atrocious. Below is a list of good and bad wheels for hedgehogs. Each wheel has its pros and cons, and when in doubt ask!

So what should I be looking for in a wheel.

Mesh. Wheels with mesh of any size are dangerous and can catch toenails, toes or legs. Rungs are also dangerous and can break legs.

Cross bars. These are dangerous as hedgehogs usually step off the wheel while it is still moving. The hedgehog could hit the crossbars as he steps off and cause injury. Cross bars and angled frames are especially dangerous as the animal can get trapped between the crossbar and frame as they step off.

Narrow Wheels. A running tread of at least 10cm is recommended as anything narrower than that is too difficult for a hedgehog to run on. 12.5cm or 15cm is ideal.

Centre bars. These are not advisable as the bar can hit on larger hedgehogs back as they run.

Usable wheels

Flying Saucer

pPETS-3766196t400The flying saucer wheel is a commercially made wheel and available in 3 sizes, only the large wheel should be used for Hedgehogs.

It features a flat running surface with indents that allow for grip for your hedgehog. The wheel does not have any bearings, and it’s on a metal rod that extends from the base. The wheel is very low laying, but for a hedgehog you will need the 12″ size.

Pros

  • Easy to clean.
    • The flying saucer wheel comes apart very easy, and for even the dirtiest of hedgehogs, with just a soak in the tub it cleans itself.
    • Surface is hard plastic making it very easy to clean despite the grooved surface.
  • Very low height.
    • It can fit in the lowest of cages, as it only stands 15cm tall at its highest point.
    • It is ideal for Zoozone 2 cages
    • All you can hear on the flying saucer wheel is the pitter patter of hedgehog feet. As long as the wheel isn’t too close to the edge of the cage, it is virtually silent.
  • Gripped running surface may help some hedgehogs who tend to “slide” on wheels.
  • Easily available you will find them in most pet shops.

Cons

  • Takes up a large area of floor space.
    • Hedgehogs love to hide under it.
    • It takes up much more room than other conventional wheels.
  • Takes time to learn how to use.
    • Because of its tilted running surface it often takes a while for older hedgehogs to get a hang of running on it, but once they do, they often run in different directions.
  • Ribbed and hard running surface may hurt the hedgehog’s feet and have a tendency to run their feet raw.
  • Due to the running angle it causes the spine to twist sideways when running, this could cause spinal injuries.
  • Large hedgehogs may not be able to use the wheel.
  • Could fling poo and wee all over the cage.
    • This may not happen if they are litter trained.
  • Colour of the wheel may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.

Good Wheels

Bucket Wheel

s316768604068141_p7_i1_w829Bucket wheels are just as the sound, they are the bottom half of a bucket connected to a bearing that often hangs off a PVC stand. The bearing is connected to the bucket, and does not come apart easily. The wheel needs to have a 12″ diameter and is therefore very tall and like all wheels are covered in poo and wee in the morning. All bucket wheels are Home Made.

DIY

A bucket wheel can be made very easily as a Do It Yourself Project. Instructions are listed on our websites.

A quick Google search will also find many instructions on the internet or how to build DIY bucket wheels, they are not hard to make.

The list below shows the pros and cons of the bucket wheel, but you need to remember that these bucket wheels are to all intense and purposes DIY home made wheels, you may be buying from a website but you are most likely buying from a breeder that just happens to make wheels, they are not generally designers, engineers or have insurance, so this list assumes that the pros and cons list assumes the wheel is properly made.

Pros

  • Level running surface, there is no twisting of the spine.
  • Almost silent. Usually all that is heard is the little pitter patter of tiny feet.
  • Only noisy if they bang against the side of the cage, when placed too close to the side.
  • Takes up very small amount of floor area.
  • Solid running surface with no risk of catching toes or toenails.
  • Wide running surface which is comfortable for even the largest hedgehog.
  • Wide stable base will not tip over.
  • White and some coloured surfaces show up any discolouration in urine or faeces.
  • Easily washed surface.
  • Angle adjustable to allow urine to run off.
  • With proper care and regular greasing of bearing, this wheel will last for years.
  • Many Breeders sell their own home made Bucket Wheels.

Cons

  • Cannot get bearing wet while cleaning or it will rust.
  • They are quite tall and do not fit in all cages.
  • May need to modify the cage if it is not at least 14″ high in order to accommodate the wheel.
  • Not available in pet stores.
  • You are never sure on what you will get, unless you are ordering from recommendations.
  • No quality assurance with the wheels, they are purchased on trust.
  • If using a coloured bucket wheel, the colour may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.
  • Some makers use inferior materials, like cheap bearings and galvanised nuts and bolts.

Things to look for in a bucket wheel

Some of the items listed below may sound trivial but it is a combination of things that make the difference between a dangerous wheel, an average wheel and a good wheel. We have seen many complaints and seen many problems with bucket wheel, but you will not go far wrong with a Carolina Storm Wheel.

  • No galvanised nuts, bolts or washers used.
  • All Stainless Steel nuts, bolts and washers used.
  • Nuts and bolts should be at least 8mm in diameter.
  • Correct spacing between the wheel bearing and the frame, this must allow the wheel to spin without catching with a hedgehog on it.
  • Check that the wheel has been cut straight and is not wavy when rotated.
  • No sharp edges where the wheel or pipe ends have been cut; also no unnecessary scratch marks where the wheel has been deburred.
  • Quality bearings used; unfortunately you won’t know this until you have had the wheel for some time.
  • Make sure that the angle is tilted back far enough that when you hedgehog is running it does not slip off.
  • Make sure that the back support that holds the wheel is not overtightened.
  • End caps are fitted to all pipe ends.
  • Fully glued frame construction, no overspill of glue to drop off.
  • Cosmetically that the pipe used matches the fittings used and that the pipe identification is not showing, after all you are paying for this wheel.

Bad Wheels

Comfort Wheel

comfort wheelThis is another commercially sold wheel for small rodents that some have used for their hedgehogs. This wheel is readily available at most pet shops, and resembles the bucket wheel, but it not ideal for hedgehogs. You will need the largest size for use with a hedgehog.

Pros

  • Available at pet stores.
  • Cheap to buy.
  • Gripped running surface may help some hedgehogs who tend to slip and on their wheels.

Cons

  • They are not suitable for large hedgehogs as the shaft in the centre can rub when running.
  • Quite noisy. It tends to bang and knock.
  • The grooves can be more difficult to clean.
  • Gripped, hard running surface may hurt hedgehogs with a tendency to run their feet raw.
  • Some hedgehogs can tip it over as the base in quite narrow.
  • When it wears, the wheel can come off the shaft and cause injury.
  • Colour of the wheel may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.

Silent Spinner

2851Silent Spinner is a wheel for small rodents. This wheel was never meant for use with hedgehogs, but some people still use it. The wheel is noisy and it has a high lip that the animal must crawl over to get into the wheel, as well as drainage holes in the bottom of the wheel for urine to run out because of its large sides. This wheel is not ideal for hedgehogs and should not be used.

Pros

  • Available at most pet shops.
  • Reasonably priced.

Cons

  • The base is not large enough and the wheel is known to tip over when a hedgehog enters or exits the wheel.
  • The centre nut can unwind causing the wheel to fall
  • Brittle, hard plastic cracks easily
  • The two piece design has slits that can catch toe nails and rip them out.
  • The silent spinner is far from silent.
  • High sides make it hard for hedgehog to get in and out.
  • Hard to clean as surface is shaped like a U and access isn’t easy.

Wire Wheels

292tv1gThese should not be used with a hedgehog under any circumstances. The spacing between the rungs could catch a hedgehog’s leg and break it causing injury. Your Hedgehog could also be caught in the 2 metal bars supporting the wheel causing severe injury or death.

 

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