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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I was just wondering about wheels in cages- I've noticed a lot of people don't have wheels for their ratties, and wondered if that's just preference, or if they not recommended or something? We used to have wheels when my family had rats years ago, but I'll admit we were pretty amateur owners then, and just went with what the store suggested pretty much. (Luckily they were generally good suggestions!)

My two girls are still fairly young, and very active. Lara particularly doesn't seem to stop, she doesn't even go to bed, just falls asleep where she's sat on the shelf haha. And when I had them out in my hall (only safe place to run around) she was just acting like she wanted to escape, speeding from one wall to the other, digging, and jumping SO high. I got them out in the bathroom previously, and she actually jumped up behind the radiator and nibbled a hole in the dry wall, we had to buy a humane trap to get her out! So she's pretty escape focused it seems.

So would a wheel help her with these running urges do you think? :) she loves to climb, and is always hanging upside down from the roof, so I was thinking some rope toys as well maybe! I have a pretty basic cage atm a bit like a ferplast furet plus, but with two shelves, if that makes a difference.

Also, is it better to have large plastic shelves for running around space, or to try and make smaller platforms for jumping/climbing? I assumed surface area was important, but maybe it's height haha!

Sorry for the essay, I'm a bit of a rambler sometimes :p
 

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I am a huge fan of wheels. Some people say dismiss them that their rats won't use them but honestly I think they didn't try hard/long enough.

My boys do not have wheels, I'll probably try later with my younger boys but they are in a temp cage right now so eh. But all of my girls LOVE the wheel. They will run and run and run. I credit it as part of the reason my girls have such healthy beautiful slim figures :)

My first rats had no idea what a wheel was and wouldn't touch it. I decided not to give up and left it in their cage. I put treats in the wheel and they mostly pooped in it, or my one girl loved to tear up everything and stuff it in the wheel. But eventually they discoverd "oh u can run on this" and then they loved it.

I think it is easier to introduce them when they are younger. But I think any rat can enjoy it.


Cages with lots of vertical climbing space is ideal for sure. Rats love to climb. For example, I have one nice tall cage for my girls and it came with 3 shelves, I only use one shelf though. The rest of the cage is hammocks and boxes/baskets ziptied to the sides of the cage. They climb up and down and all over it lol i don't think any cage is really large enough to run around, I give mine free range playtime for that.
 

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I've found that my girls are the only ones that use the wheels. Even when introduced to the wheel at an early age and even if they do show some interest, my boys would never continue using them past maybe 3 months old. I agree that you need lots of vertical space. I currently have a DFN with the middle grate completely removed and replaced by a much small shelf and my rats love it; I don't think there's an inch of that cage that goes unused lol.
 

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My three older boys never learned to use the wheel, but training my new rat he learned exceptionally well, and he loves it! He runs on it without any treats now, the only thing is the noise the squeaky wheel makes at night, so I have him in my spare bedroom when he randomly decides to begin playing on it. :p
 

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I've had males and females use wheels. I have four females currently and I'd say all of them use the wheel somewhat, but one uses it ALL THE TIME lol. She loves it. :) I'd say a wheel is worth having because at some point, even if you don't have one now, you will eventually have a rat that will adore wheels. When I had four males, three of them used the wheel. Two of them stopped as they got older, but one kept on using it for as long as I had him.

My only male rat currently who has access to a wheel doesn't use it. My newest male hasn't seen a wheel yet, so I don't know if he'll use it or not.

Wheels are worth having.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yay, that was a really positive response! I was hoping someone would say what you guys have, cause my mum's rats absolutely adored their wheel, but seeing so many cages without them made me unsure. Definitely going to get a wheel for my little ones then!

Think I might go shopping today and try and find some new cage accessories as well, maybe take out a shelf! I actually looked at budgie cages before I bought this one, but thought they might be too tall and thin, guess they might've been perfect lol. Ah well, I can try and maximise the vertical space in this one, and eventually upgrade :) reading around it sounds like a lot of bird stuff is good for rats, so I'm going to find some toys today!
 

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Wheels are wonderful exercise! My girls use them as a stress relief as well I notice. If the vacuum is on, must run wheel. After any kind of cage remodel, run the wheel. If we have been sick and had to take medication by force, run the wheel.

I've had my boys since jelly beans and they were never convinced to use them unfortunately. I'll put theirs back in from time to time to see if anything has changed. But so far it's still just a sleepy place or an inconveniently placed litter box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I guess a wheel must help fulfill the running away instinct- also, if humans exercise as stress relief, why wouldn't other (more active) creatures! One day I'll have to get some boy rats of my own, they sound so lazy and snuggly haha :D We've always had girls because of the 'girls smell less than boys' thing, so I just got girls for myself automatically!
 

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You know if you do a search we all were hypothesizing on why they love them. There have been a few studies done with wild animals. They placed wheels in a rural outdoor area and set up motion camera's. Wouldn't you know it, but wild mice and rats would run the wheel too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh wow, that's so cool! I'll have to search for that and have a read :) I searched for wheel, but I think that was a bit of a vague term cause I got hundreds of unrealted threads that contained the word :p I watched a tv show once about the importance of play in the natural world, I think it's so interesting!
 

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From the rats I've had over the years females took to the wheel about 90% of the time but in various amounts and males about 5% of them tried it and all of them gave up after a month or two. ;D
 

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I think my girls would loove a wheel, but the downside to rat wheels is they have to be MASSIVE. You don't want their spine bending, or them to get wheel tail, so they need to be able to run almost fully horozontal. That makes for one big wheel. If you have the space, go for it! Everyone loves something new to play with.
 

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11 inch wheel for females and 12 inch for males. I love my wodent wheel for my girls. Out of 5 most of them have run on it at one time or another. One of my 3 boys actually took to the flying saucer which was introduced to him at a young age. Most rats don't do the flying saucer at all.
 

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My girly Raven will run on hers all night determined to make sure I get no sleep ;)
Just make sure the wheel is BIG ENOUGH, and also make sure that it's got a solid floor- wire wheels can hurt their poor feets and their tails can get caught in them :)
 

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From the rats I've had over the years females took to the wheel about 90% of the time but in various amounts and males about 5% of them tried it and all of them gave up after a month or two. ;D
So males really are as lazy as everyone says? :D I've only had females, so I always kinda wondered if that little fact was true, hehe
 

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My big female, Denna, likes to sleep in silent spinners... rendering it useless to everyone else considering how large she is. My male Kote likes to leap in the SS, causing it to shake... Everyone else gets a couple steps or leaps in before they hop off... I find that the rats like to run in mesh wheels more than smooth ones (like the silent spinner). They used the handmade mesh wheel much more than the SS, probably because they can actually get some form of a grip on it. However, my youngest and most anxious rat uses any wheel for hiding. She just mosies on under or behind it and chills out there. So I guess it depends on your rats, male or female.
 

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I'm glad someone put this thread up! My girl used to run on her wheel all the time. It was sad near the end of her time because she would try but her tumor was too big for her to run on it properly. =( Anyway, I've had my boys since March of this year and their foster mom said they LOVED the wheel. I left the wheel in there for about a month then took it out cause they ignored it. But I just put it back in after reading this. Maybe they will take to it eventually!
 

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So males really are as lazy as everyone says? :D I've only had females, so I always kinda wondered if that little fact was true, hehe
In my experience the difference is as much as night and day ;D. My girls would never stop always on the go 24/7 but my boys were more like "we need to move? but I moved last week... fine carry me then." :rolleyes:
 

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Just to add, that when we took Fuzzy Rat to the park we would set her down at the far end of the hiding trail and let her find her way back to the car, it was likely well over a quarter mile... And when she was young she could easily run the entire distance back as we jogged alongside. So given a straight distance to run a quarter mile at cruising speed is nothing for a rat. When she got older, she didn't run as much but she could easily still lead us in treks for well over half a mile....

I know we tend to think of rats as small animals living in underground burrows but in all reality they may range for miles every day to find water or food, even with short legs and tiny feet they can travel some pretty vast distances.

As to a wheel, we too Fuzzy Rat to a pet shop and put her in their biggest fanciest wheel and she just pooped and peed in it... She was housebroken and never made a mess in stores.... This was her way of saying NO WHEEL - NO WAY. She also hated her giant "hamster ball" and fought for her life when we tried to put her into it... So we've never had a wheel for our rats...

I've heard tales of rats getting their tails caught in wheels, but I can't comment on that... I do know that rats can run vast distances so a wheel seems like a good idea theoretically... as to if it will work for a particular rat I can't say... After we cleaned up the mess at the pet shop, we chose not to buy the wheel...

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So with everyone's replies, and going on a hunch, I bought a wheel the other day- it's an 11inch, and solid not mesh, so pretty safe I hope! They might need a bigger one as they grow, but it's good for now (and I can't hear it at night, which is a bonus). And, as I hoped, lara LOVES it! She will run until she's tired, sleep in the wheel, and carry on running when she wakes :D poor daisy doesn't get a look in haha. Eesh, everyone talking about boy rats makes me want to find some to bring home to me haha! Maybe one day I'll convince my boyfriend to let me have more rats, I'm already working on it, he might be persuaded by the thought of possible snuggling ;)
 
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