Why Is My Hamster Not Using Its Wheel? 12 Possible Reasons

Last updated on January 22nd, 2023 at 06:40 pm

Hamsters use the wheel every day for exercise and run a few miles in the evening. An exercise wheel is one of the most important items they have in their cage and they enjoy using it.

The exercise wheel allows them to be in top shape, to have enough fitness, to get rid of stress, not to be bored and other benefits of the wheel.

But sometimes hamsters stop using the exercise wheels, which is a big problem that must be investigated to see what is causing your pet’s behavior.

Hamsters may avoid using the exercise wheel if they are sick, if the wheel is broken or the hamster is injured, when the hamster is already very old, as well as other possible reasons.

In today’s article, you will learn why hamsters avoid using the exercise wheel and what to do to convince your hamster to return to the wheel and exercise as before.

Why Is My Hamster Not Using Its Wheel?

As we said at the beginning, hamsters sometimes do not want to use the exercise wheel, which is certainly not good for their health.

So let’s look in detail at each of the reasons why your hamster avoids using the exercise wheel.

Improper exercise wheel design

Depending on the design of the wheel the hamster will either enjoy running on it or will refuse because it causes injuries and is not suitable for him.

The best exercise wheels for hamsters are those made of solid wood, cork, or plastic. it is very important that the wheel does not have any bumps that will affect him when he runs in it.

When the exercise wheel is not well designed the hamster can get injured or it makes it difficult for them to run on it.

If the exercise wheel has gaps or wire bars it can cause sores and cuts on the hamster’s feet and they will refuse to use it.

When hamsters are sick or injured they don’t want to use the exercise wheel

If your hamster is sick that is another reason why he refuses to use the exercise wheel.

Hamsters usually refuse to see them when they are sick because that is how they are taught by nature to protect themselves from predators and not to show weakness.

When hamsters are sick they have the following symptoms and signs:

  • lethargy
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • they refuse to eat
  • greasy fur
  • runny nose

When hamsters are injured they simply won’t be able to run on their exercise wheel, of course, it depends on the type of injury.

Especially if he has a foot injury sustained on the wheel or otherwise sustained, it will prevent him from using the exercise wheel.

The wheel does not work

When the exercise wheel is not working properly the hamsters will notice and not use it.

The exercise wheel can get stuck when turning because of a piece of bedding or something else and make it difficult to turn.

So when you notice that the hamster does not want to use it, first check the wheel to see if it is working properly.

If everything is fine, then the problem is for some other reason.

Change in temperature

If the temperature in the room where the hamster has kept changes it can affect its exercise on the wheel.

Specifically, if it gets too hot or cold the hamster will have a change in his energy and he will be less active and not want to use the wheel.

That is why it is important that the temperature in the cage is always optimal, that is, from 65-75 degrees.

New location

If you move the hamster to a new location, room, or new home, it can affect him and he will stop running on the wheel.

He will be stressed and will not want to use the exercise wheel for a while.

When he gets used to the new environment, he will be active again and start practicing on the wheel.

Not enough sleep

If the hamster is not getting enough sleep, he will not want to exercise on the wheel, because when he doesn’t get enough sleep during the day, it can affect the activity he should have at night.

Loud music, too much light, and similar things can prevent the hamster from sleeping, and then he will not want to run on the wheel at night.


When female hamsters are pregnant, there are changes in their hormones.

And as a result of those changes, female hamsters become less active and more lethargic and don’t want to use the exercise wheel.

Female hamsters like to rest more when they are pregnant and it is quite normal that they do not want to use the exercise wheel.

Hamsters do not like to use a noisy wheel

Hamsters do not like a lot of noise and if the wheel is very noisy they will not want to use it.

It rarely happens, but sometimes such an unpleasant situation can happen.

The hamster hears very well and for him, the buzzing wheel is very unpleasant and he will not want to run and use it.

Try to repair the exercise wheel or if it can’t be repaired you will have to replace it with a new one, otherwise, the hamster will not get used to the noisy wheel and will certainly not use it.why is my hamster not using its wheel

A small wheel

If the exercise wheel has a small dimension or diameter they will not want to use it.

When the exercise wheel is smaller than they need they will get a twisted back and will not be able to use it properly.

For example, for Syrian hamsters, the diameter should be at least 28 cm, while for dwarf hamsters, 20 cm.

If the training wheel is larger than the minimum dimension that is recommended, even better for the hamsters, but it must not be smaller, but make sure that it is not too big so that it is difficult for them to turn it.

The problem is that in many stores you can find all kinds of exercise wheels that have a small diameter and are not good for hamsters at all.

Some hamster owners do not know what diameter the wheel should be and buy them, so be informed every time you need to buy a wheel or something else for your hamster.

Bad diet

If hamsters do not eat a variety of food they will not have enough strength to use the wheel and will not exercise.

Hamsters need:

  • pellets
  • seeds
  • fruit
  • vegetables

If the hamsters eat a high-sugar diet or a low-protein diet they will not be able to use the exercise wheel.


In addition to food, hamsters also need water to be hydrated enough to run and play on their wheel.

Dehydration will not only cause them to avoid running on the exercise wheel, but it is also dangerous for the health and life of the hamsters, they can die in 3-4 days without water.

Sometimes the water bottle can get blocked, so make sure everything is okay, and of course, give them fresh drinking water every day.

When hamsters get older they don’t want to use the exercise wheel

Sometimes hamsters simply cannot use the exercise wheel anymore due to old age.

This is completely normal because they have a fast metabolism and age very quickly or by the time they reach two years old they are already becoming less active.

When hamsters get older, they will move less and sleep more often, also the same happens for the exercise wheel.

When the hamster is old you should adapt the cage to its needs and you can also remove the exercise wheel and make an easier way for them to reach food and water.

Can hamsters go without the exercise wheel for long periods of time?

When hamsters get used to the training wheel they will have a hard time without it.

They can last a few days without it, but it is still not good for them, they will get stressed and may get sick.

They are used to the wheel to cover several miles every night, which is good not only for activity, it is also good for their health.

If the hamster has never used a wheel then it is fine, but if it gets used to it it is very difficult.

If the wheel breaks and you have to wait a few days to replace it with another wheel, then make an alternative such as a running bridge or a route in the hamster cage.

You need to provide a way for them to run similar to an exercise wheel.why is my hamster not using its wheel

Do hamsters get bored of the exercise wheel?

Yes, hamsters can sometimes get bored of the exercise wheel.

They enjoy using the wheel, but they must have other activities to keep them from getting bored.

In order not to get bored, they should have an additional activity that will help them and keep them always busy.

Here are some suggestions:

  • deeper bedding –  at least 5-6 inches so they can dig tunnels in it and play.
  • toys – more toys mean a lot more activity and make sure they won’t be as bored, while also helping to reduce their ever-growing teeth.
  • hide the food – more precisely put it in several places so that the hamster can explore and not get bored.

Signs of boredom:

  • sleep – they will sleep much more often and will not be active at all.
  • cage biting – because they will be bored they will bite the cage out of annoyance.
  • lethargy – because nothing will be interesting to them, they will just sit on the side and look absent.
  • they will gain too much weight – out of boredom they will eat too much because they will have nothing to do.

How to make the hamster run on the wheel?

When hamsters do not want to run on the wheel then it is very difficult to get them to use it.

However, there are several ways to encourage your pet to use the exercise wheel, and here are some of them.

Read more: How Long Can Hamsters Go Without A Wheel? (Let’s Discover)

Place the wheel outside the cage

With this procedure, the hamster can express curiosity when it sees the wheel outside its cage.

Let the hamster out of the cage and watch his reaction, he may express a desire to run on the exercise wheel.

However, it might work, and you might not get it to run with this method, but it’s worth a try, you have nothing to lose.

Read more: Why Your Hamster Is Sleeping On Their Wheel? Let’s Discover

Favorite food

If you put one of his favorite foods on the wheel, he may decide to get on and use it more easily.

He will eat the dessert, and he can start running on the wheel because he will be satisfied with the food, it is worth a try.

Read more: Why Do Hamsters Pee on Their Wheels? Let’s Discover


Hamsters run on the wheel every day and this helps to keep them healthy.

But sometimes due to illness, injury, poor diet, old age, broken wheels, and other reasons they may refuse to use it which is not good for their health at all.

Hamsters should use the exercise wheel and we should try to always have it in their cage, it is an important part of their everyday life.

By using the exercise wheel, hamsters will have better health and a longer lifespan.

Read more: How To Clean Hamster Wheels? (Plastic and Wooden)