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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought most rodent type creatures just naturally liked wheels so I was extremely excited when I found a large-ish cage on craigslist for a decent price AND when I went to pick it up the guy threw in this big sturdy wheel, a wooden house and a few other things on the spur of the moment for free. This is the type of wheel in question. It's one of the big ones typically for Chinchillas.

Chinchilla Rodent


The girls were curious about it. They sniff, get close but then back away without getting in. Neither of the girls are scaredy-rats. They climb and sneak and explor everywhere without a second thought. I actually would be pleased if they were sometimes a little less adventurous and not so ready to fling themselves into the open and just trusting that my hand will be there to catch them if they don't quite make the jump.

Thinking maybe they'd just never seen one before (and it is quite large and intimidating) I talked gently to them as they sniffed and gently tried to coax them in while holding it still. I also tried letting them crawl onto the back of my hand and then sloooowly just placing my hand on the bottom of the wheel but as soon as my hand would settle they back away quickly onto the cage floor as if something was startling. Usually they are content to sit on my hand, arm or shoulders. I don't think it's my movements because normally I could probably do aerobics and they'd still be fine and dandy on my shoulder!

I'm currently putting various yummy tidbits in the wheel every now and then to get them to at least put their front paws in it and see that it won't hurt them. I'm hoping eventually the positive reenforcement of "yummy things=wheel=good" will happen but that's probably wishful thinking on my part. LOL They don't seem terrified but just wary enough that they don't want to risk it...whatever "it" is.

Should I give up? Take it out of the cage and free up the real estate for other things? I washed it when I got it but does it maybe smell wrong and that's what's turning them off? I'm curious. Are other peoples rats inexplicably weirded out by the wheel?
 

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I might wash it again. I dont' know about chins but some small animals, like hedgehogs tend to potty on the wheel a lot. So it could have some smell seeped in that they can detect. After that I'd give it a few days to see if they get used to it and then try it out. My girls use it a lot. My boys however, sleep in it, sometimes put food in it, and if feeling really lazy use it as an elevator to get down from a higher shelf.
 

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I have heard that most older rats, meaning anything but babies don't use them because since rats are smart they see wheels as something as dangerous. And boys tend to be lazy anyways and probably wouldn't want to use them if u have boys. i got my boys when they were 4 months old so they were babies but were a little older and never had a wheel before and they never ever touched it. they used it to hide under lol so eventually what I did since it was plastic was cut a little door in it and turned it into a cave and it is much more useful now. Then I got a baby girl eventually who was 5 weeks old and I got her a wheel and she never uses it either...so idk! lol she seems a little scared by it and it is also a little small for her so maybe she would use one if it were bigger. I think it is pretty typical for older rats not to use the wheels so I wouldn't be too surprised but you could give them a little more time to maybe warm up to it and then I would consider using the space for something else and giving up on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Saw Cleo run in the wheel briefly today all on her own!! Yay! Maybe she will teach Roxy to not be afraid of it too. LOL
 

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I would just leave it in the cage because they will get bored and eventually decide to investigate it. They may not figure out a use for it at first but one of them will and the rest will follow.

Mine sniffed the wheel once and ignored it completely for several days until Mitzy got bold and started walking on it. It was actually really interesting watching her figure it out because she was completely blind; It obviously confused her when she got off and realized that she was still in the same spot. So Mitzy would get on and walk for awhile, then check and see if she had moved at all, and then repeat. Once she got the point of it she ran and ran happily, then two of the three others caught on and followed her lead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Heh. That's funny. So far I've only seen Cleo use it. I'm still on the lookout for Roxy to try.
 

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Let us know if you get any luck! I have had one in my cage for quite a while and haven't had any luck with 3 rats. It really is only appropriately sized for my little girl though because those wheels that fit my big boys sure are expensive and they never used them when they were babies anyways so i don't want to waste my money. I just had bought this smaller one because I really wanted to have one for my baby girl since girls have so much energy and she is so young. But she has still never even touched it besides when I put her in it myself and she just jumped right out lol. So hopefully you will have luck from Roxy seeing Cleo use it. It's amazing what they can teach eachother and how much courage they can give eachother.
 
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