What is part of the classic enclosure equipment for hamsters is not automatically provided for gerbils.
The running wheel.
In this article we take a close look at whether gerbils need an exercise wheel or whether you should rather do without it.
At the end of the article we also tell you two great alternatives.
Do gerbils need a running wheel?
Since gerbils are very active animals that like to run and can build up a lot of speed, it is not wrong to provide them with a running wheel.
However, not every running wheel is suitable for your gerbil.
However, if you consider a few things when buying the wheel, you will make your gerbils very happy if you provide them with a running wheel.
However, there are not only advantages associated with a running wheel. What exactly is meant by this, we will tell you in the next two chapters.
What are the advantages of a wheel for gerbils?
Advantage 1: Physical exercise
A gerbil needs a lot of exercise and movement.
Since the animals are very nimble and love to cover long distances at full speed, a running wheel comes in handy. In captivity, your pet will most likely not get the opportunity to exercise in any other way.
Even if your terrarium is over one meter long and one meter deep, your Gerbil has only a very limited space to really let off steam.
Your animal will be very happy about a running wheel!
Advantage 2: Promotes health
A rolling stone gathers no moss, as the saying goes – and there is a lot of truth behind this statement!
A fit and well used gerbil will be much older than a gerbil that is bored all day and just sits around in one spot of the cage.
Even old gerbils can benefit from an exercise wheel, as your animals can decide for themselves how fast they want to run in their wheel and especially for how long.
If your gerbil gets tired or just doesn’t feel like running anymore, it can simply ‘get off’ at any time.
Advantage 3: Mental balance
A physically balanced racing mouse is also more mentally balanced.
You will find that there is much more harmony in the gerbil group when your animals can satisfy their urge to move whenever they feel the need.
Cuddling is so much more fun, sleep is more restful, and life overall is much more relaxed.
Advantage 4: Stress relief
The best remedy for stress is always exercise.
Have you ever witnessed a small fight between your gerbils?
If so, you may have noticed that the lower ranking animal is shooed out of the nest and now sits stressed and maybe even a little apathetic in another corner of the enclosure.
If your gerbil has a running wheel at its disposal, it can relieve its stress here and occupy itself sensibly until the tempers on both sides have calmed down again.
What are the possible dangers of the wheel?
Danger 1: Back problems
If you’ve done some research on wheels in the past, you’ll have noticed that they come in different sizes.
Make sure that the wheel is not too small for your racing mouse. Although you save space in the cage by a small copy, but at the expense of the health of your gerbil.
The smaller the wheel, the more curved the inside is and the more your gerbil has to fall into a wooden cross to be able to run in its wheel.
That running in a strong hollow back can not be healthy in the long run is probably beyond question!
Danger 2: Unintentional takeoff
Depending on how much speed your gerbil builds up while running and how exactly it runs in its running wheel, it can happen that your animal is literally catapulted out of the running wheel.
Depending on how and where your pet lands in the cage, this can result in massive injuries.
Especially with running wheels where the running surface is not very wide, such accidents can happen quite quickly.
Danger 3: The gerbil throws off its tail
Gerbils are capable of throwing off their tails when danger threatens.
This is very handy in the wild when a predator gets a hold of them by the tail and the gerbil can simply escape without it.
However, this great ability can also become a problem in captivity: If your pet gets its tail caught while running in the wheel, it will most likely shed it.
While your gerbil is viable without a tail, it actually needs it to better maintain balance.
The tail never grows back in gerbils! So caution is advised here!
Danger 4: Eating plastic
If you decide to get your gerbil a plastic running wheel, your gerbil may not only run in its running wheel, but also gnaw it in its spare time.
Since gerbils are rodents, this behavior is completely natural.
However, if your pet swallows one or the other piece of plastic, this can seriously endanger the gerbil’s health. That’s why it makes sense to choose running wheels made of untreated wood.
Which wheel is right for gerbils?
Conventional hamster wheels are in most cases unsuitable for gerbils, as they are simply too small.
A wheel with a diameter of 29 cm is ideal for an adult, normal sized gerbil. It is also recommended that the wheel is made of 100% wood, the running surface is in one piece and falling out is prevented by a little protective wood with a few entrance holes.
However, not all gerbils accept the wheel.
Some animals want to move, but simply do not like the running wheel. Here you will find two alternatives!
Tip: the two best alternatives to the running wheel
Make your gerbil happy by securing a space and giving your gerbil exercise – if possible in an enclosure in the garden.
Here he can romp and scamper as much as he wants!
One hour a day is enough to increase the quality of life of your gerbil.
- hamster balls
If you don’t want to prepare your home or if this is simply not possible for some reason, it would be a pity for your gerbil.
Nevertheless, you can allow it to run out in this case: Pack it in a hamster ball and protect it from itself.
This way your gerbil can explore everything in peace without you having to worry about your cables and other furniture.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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