Hamster Wheels for Hamsters, Gerbils and Mice

Hamster wheels, also called running wheels, are essential for your hamsters, gerbils or mice. These small rodents are born to run. Hamsters can run up to five miles in a night while looking for food. Running in a hamster wheel strengthens the heart and muscles. Hamsters that have hamster wheels in their cage are less likely to chew on things they shouldn’t. And scientific studies show that mice given free access to hamster wheels are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

So a hamster wheel is an important part of your pet rodent’s environment. If you have multiple hamsters, gerbils or mice, you will need to buy multiple hamster wheels. That way, they don’t have to take turns.

Hamster Wheel Specifics

See a selection of Hamster Wheels at Chewy.com

It’s very important that your hamster wheel diameter is large enough so that your pet rodent’s back is not arched while running in it. Running in the wheel should not be much different than running on flat ground. Obviously the size of the hamster wheel will vary depending on the size of your pet.

The running surface should be solid. It can have some minimal texture in order to avoid slipping, but there should be no openings, cracks or holes that can catch tiny feet. Do not buy a hamster wheel with metal rungs and gaps in between. Your pet rodent’s legs can be easily injured and broken if they slip into the gaps. These types of hamster wheels are especially dangerous for gerbils and mice because their tails can get caught in the gaps as well.

Look for quiet hamster wheels, especially if you sleep within earshot of your hamsters, gerbils or mice. Rodents are generally nocturnal creatures and your pets can be quite active when the lights go off. Some will run several miles at night. Many hamster wheels on the market advertise that they are silent. If your Hamster wheel squeaks, you can try adding a few drops of vegetable oil to the noisy parts.

Pet hamsters, gerbils and mice need hamster wheels almost as much as they need food and water. You are already have one in your new pet’s cage when you bring it home.

Wild Mice Like Hamster Wheels, Too!

Some animal rights activists claim that wheel running is neurotic behavior caused in by living in a cage. But researchers set up hamster wheels and video cameras with infrared motion detectors various outdoor locations with food to lure nocturnal visitors. Over 700 cases of mice using the hamster wheels were recorded. They ran from 1 to 18 minutes sometimes jumping off and back on again. And they came back to run in the wheels even when no food was present. It seems that the mice were running for fun!

2020-02-12T15:16:06-06:00August 17th, 2018|

Is a Pet Gerbil Right for You?

A pet gerbil is an attractive option for those looking for a small animal companion. Gerbils are small, weighing only about 2.5 ounces, and their care is relatively inexpensive. But a pet gerbil does come with some special needs.

There are over 100 species of gerbils in the world today. They were originally called “desert rats” because they are adapted to arid climates in the wild. Gerbils back legs are much longer than their front legs, making them great jumpers. They love to dig and make tunnels. They are intelligent, curious about their surroundings and very social. Gerbils hate being alone and wild gerbils live in groups. Male gerbils make very good fathers and help to raise their offspring. A pet gerbil is typically non-aggressive and rarely bites unless provoked.

What is Needed

gerbil in cage

  • A 10 gallon glass aquarium because you’re going to have more than one pet gerbil, right? And an escape-proof wire lid to cover the top. An aquarium is less messy than than a wire cage as your gerbil will kick up a lot of bedding while digging. The aquarium needs to be kept away from direct sunlight. If you prefer a wire cage, consider one with a solid wall on the bottom like the cage on the right.
  • The bedding material can be hay, soil or peat. You can buy bedding at your local pet supply store or on Chewy.com.
  • A water bottle needs to be available at all times. Change the water daily and clean the inside of the bottle once a week to avoid slime build up.
  • A heavy, ceramic food dish.
  • Commercial gerbil chow along with limited amounts of vegetables and fruits. Your pet gerbil can chomp happily on apples, oranges, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, melon, cauliflower and pumpkin. Some things gerbils CANNOT eat are grapes, raisins and potatoes. This is not by any means a complete list. For more check MyGerbil.
  • An exercise wheel – for fun and exercise!
  • Sand – in a wide, flat container. Try a clay flower pot bottom.
  • Chew toys – gerbils are voracious chewers, so buy acceptable chew sticks to satisfy this desire.

Do You Have Time for Your Pet Gerbil?

As mentioned before, your pet gerbil is a very social creature. So you should make time to interact with it daily. Also, consider getting another gerbil for company (of the same gender, of course, unless you want a population explosion). Introduce them slowly and carefully to make sure they get along.

Your pet gerbil’s home requires a weekly cleaning and change of bedding. Use a solution of water and 3% bleach to wipe the entire inside walls and floor, then dry completely before adding fresh bedding. You will need to remove any wet spots daily.

One final note: Gerbils are illegal to own in California, Hawaii and New Zealand where they are considered to be a potentially invasive species.

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2020-02-12T15:16:56-06:00August 17th, 2018|

Lizard Habitat 101

A lizard habitat, displaying plants, rocks, moss and branches, can be a beautiful addition to any room in your home. A 20 gallon aquarium can serve as a suitable lizard habitat, although larger lizards may require more room. You will need a secure, escape-proof cover no matter what the size of the enclosure.


Most lizards require some form of full-spectrum lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day in order to satisfy their vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium needs. A full-spectrum incandescent light bulb can also serve as a basking lamp while a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb can replace sunlight in some cases. But natural sunlight is best, of course!

Temperature Control

lizardLizards, like other reptiles, depend on an outside source of heat to survive. If the temperature in a lizard’s surroundings is too low, it can’t move or even digest it’s food. Temperatures too high or too low can cause pneumonia. Lizards have a temperature sense (sometimes referred to as a “third eye”) located in a gland under a scale on the top of their heads. A lizard will thermoregulate by moving from one spot to another until it finds the perfect place.

Therefore, your lizard habitat should have a temperature gradient; it should be cooler at one end and warmer at the other. The temperature can be slightly lower at night. On the warm end, mount a basking lamp above and a heating pad underneath the aquarium. Use 2 thermometers, one at each end to monitor temperature changes.


Your lizard will need fresh water daily. A shallow dish will usually suffice, but some varieties get their water from the surfaces of leaves. For this type of lizard, you will need to mist the plants and one or two of the walls in your lizard habitat. Another possibility is a drip bottle placed at the top of the enclosure.

The Floor

Moss, cypress bark, loam, potting soil, or small gravel can be used to line the floor of your lizard habitat. Non-aromatic mulch is somewhat absorbent and allows for burrowing. Crushed nuts and coconut husks are also considered options. Consult with an expert before deciding what flooring is best for your lizard.

Places to Hide

Your lizard habitat needs to have a place for each lizard to hide from other lizards and from you! Driftwood, vegetation, rocks and even small plastic boxes made for this purpose all provide places for your lizard or lizards to retreat and feel safe.

Other Additions

Objects on which to climb, such as branches, allow your lizard to explore and exercise. Make sure that the width of any branch placed in your lizard habitat is at least one and one half times your lizard’s girth and that it is securely wedged in the aquarium. Other good additions include climbing plant vines, rocks and small logs. But remember, anything you put in your lizard’s home will need to be cleaned and disinfected.

2020-02-13T13:27:17-06:00August 13th, 2018|

Can I Keep my Rabbit Outdoors?

Some authorities say you should never keep a rabbit outdoors; some say it’s okay for your rabbit to be outside during the day. Still others claim domesticated rabbits can be kept outdoors all of the time. You are your rabbit’s caregiver, so it is your decision.

If you are planning to keep your rabbit outdoors either part-time or full-time, it can benefit from fresh air, sunshine and the freedom to dig, burrow and more space to hop about. But, there are dangers to consider and preparations to make.

Some dangers of keeping a rabbit outdoors are:

  • Predators – Rabbits are prey for coyotes, hawks, owls, dogs and even cats. Also, other wild animals such as raccoons may try to break into an out rabbit enclosure to eat the food. Rabbits have weak hearts and can die of fright on seeing or hearing a potential threat.
  • Harmful vegetation – A rabbit outdoors loves to explore and may find plants that are poisonous to it. These include geranium, mushrooms, jasmine, avocado, lilies and iceberg lettuce. This is not an exhaustive list. For more information please visit Rabbit House Society’s PDF.
  • Insects – Rabbits outdoors may be susceptible to fleas, flies and other pests. Flies can be especially dangerous as they may lay their eggs in a rabbit’s anal area. The hatching maggots will then burrow into the rabbit’s skin. This condition, called flystrike, is extremely dangerous and must be treated immediately.
  • Disease – A rabbit outdoors is more susceptible to some diseases myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease. These are spread by mosquitoes, flies, fleas and other infected rabbits.
  • Weather – Temperatures too hot or too cold can be fatal to a rabbit outdoors.

Your Outdoor Rabbit Hutch

Your rabbit outdoors needs the proper accommodations. A spacious, multi-level outdoor rabbit hutch with a separate, enclosed sleeping area is the answer. Spacious means AT LEAST 12 square feet ideally linked to a much larger area (at least 32 square feet) for play and exercise. The minimum width should be 2 to 3 feet depending on the size of your rabbit. The length should allow your bunny to take 3 or 4 good hops without bumping into the wall of the hutch. It should be able to stretch out completely in all directions as well.

For Winter

rabbit habitatThe hutch needs to be warm and dry. Adding legs helps to prevent damp and rotting wood. Cover any mesh openings with clear plastic to let in light while preventing drafts. But remember to keep some small areas open for ventilation. Turn the front opening away from the wind if possible. If not place a barrier between the wind and the hutch. Cover the top of the hutch with a blanket or carpet and cover that with a rainproof tarp to keep out wind and precipitation. Add extra bedding to the sleeping section for insulation.

For Summer
Rabbits can deal with cold better than heat and temperatures rising above 85° F can easily cause heat stress in your outdoor rabbit. Locate your outdoor rabbit hutch in the shade or bring your bunny into the house during the hottest hours of the day. Place ceramic tiles on the floor of the hutch for your rabbit to lie on and stay cool. Plenty of crisp greens provide extra water and make sure your rabbit has plenty of fresh drinking water as well. You can put a fan near the hutch to circulate air, but don’t let it blow directly on your rabbit. And keep the cord out of reach! You can also build a homemade air conditioner and your bunny will love you for it. Again, keep the cord out of reach!

In conclusion, keeping a rabbit outdoors safely is an option given the right conditions. You must take all of the dangers into consideration and determine what is best for you and your rabbit. Remember that rabbits are social creatures and you should try to spend time with your bunny every day whether you keep it indoors or out.

2020-02-12T15:18:35-06:00August 11th, 2018|
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