Why do Hamsters Like Running Wheels?

Recently, an executive director of the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums had a discussion with a first-grade primary student about hamsters. They talked about the proclivities of hamsters.

Through their discussion, we can know some basic information about why hamsters like moving around at night and why they like running wheels. If you keep a hamster and have a kid, let your kid think about these questions which can not only activate their mind and spark curiosity.

Take a look at your hamster with your kids now. It serves as the best opportunity for you to teach your kids some knowledge about animals and let your kid learn more about hamsters.


Professor Etsuo Narushima of "Animals" answers questions from Kasumi Gomi (1st grader, Shiga Prefecture).


  • Mr. Narushima: Mr. Etsuo Narushima (Executive Director )
  • Kasumi: Questioner

Mr. Narushima: Please tell us your name.

Kasumi: I'm Kasumi.

Mr. Narushima: What do you want to ask, Kasumi-san?

Kasumi: Why do hamsters like running wheels?

Mr. Narushima: Does Kasumi have a hamster?

Kasumi: I don't have one.

Mr. Narushima: Where did you see it?

Kasumi: I saw a video of a hamster running too fast on a running wheel and being blown away.

running wheels are necessary for hamsters

Mr. Narushima: I saw the video, you see. Let's ask Professor Narushima about this. Please.

Mr. Narushima: Yes. Hello Kasumi,

Kasumi: Hello.

Narushima: Kasumi-san, did you see the hamster spinning the wheel in the video?

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima Sensei: What did you think? "Did you think it was cute?"

Kasumi: Yes.

Mr. Narushima: Did you think that "I'm exercising a lot"?

Kasumi: Yes.

Mr. Narushima: Hey, that's right. Hamsters are very small, aren't they?

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima: If you keep them, you'll understand that they usually sleep during the day. At night, they wake up and start eating. To be precise, when it gets a little dark in the evening and in the morning. It seems that they often rest when it's pitch black. Do you know what these animals are called? "Animals that are active in the evening and at night."

Kasumi: …….

Mr. Narushima: Have you ever heard of it? It's called a "nocturnal animal". They are active at night, so they are "nocturnal" animals. Kasumi-san and I usually work during the day, don't we? "I wonder if Kasumi-san will go to school now after sleeping at night and waking up in the morning."

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima: Then you come home, eat dinner, study, and play, then go to sleep, right?

Kasumi: Yes.

Dr. Narushima: Such animals are called "diurnal animals" because they are active during the daytime. Hamsters are nocturnal animals, so they sleep during the day but are active at night. The reason why they are active at night is that most of them go looking for food. They go here and there to find food. They travel about 10 to 20 kilometers a day to find food.

But if you keep them in cages, we can't make a cage that big, can we? "That's why moving 10km or 20km in such a narrow space is really hard, isn't it?"

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima-sensei: But for me, I think I have to be active. If you put a running wheel in there, you can walk for several kilometers in a narrow space by turning it round and round. Isn't it going to be that kind of exercise?

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima: As expected, hamsters think "I have to go look for food" at night, or "I have to go look for food" in the early morning. But since they can't do that in a cramped space, they naturally have that kind of instinct. I did.

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima: Hamsters generally live alone. That kind of thing is called a "single person", but in the video that Kasumi saw, were there any other hamster friends around?

Kasumi: Yes.

Mr. Narushima: Ah, were you there? "Then were several of them spinning the same wheel together?"

Kasumi: Yes.

Narushima-sensei: Oh, really! "That's a good relationship." I've never seen that before, uncle. I think it's funny. Normally, I think I'm mostly monopolized by myself, and when other kids come over, I think they often get into fights saying, "I don't like it!"

Kasumi: Yes.

Mr. Narushima: Hmm, I think that's interesting. I think it's kind of rare. Usually, one animal spins one running wheel round and round. What is the meaning of this? Originally, they walk long distances such as 10km or 20km in one night in search of food. increase. Is this place okay?

Kasumi: Yes. Teacher, what would happen if there was no running wheel?

Narushima: I think I'm going to gain weight. It's the same as humans...

Narushima: Of course, I think it can move around to some extent in a small space, but it can't consume enough energy to turn a wheel, so I think it will end up being a "fat hamster". After all, moderate exercise is the key to keeping them healthy, so for that reason, for hamsters, squirrels, and so on, when they are kept in a small space, a running wheel is absolutely necessary to maintain their health. I think it will become a tool. Is it OK?

Kasumi: Yes! Kasumi, if there's anything you don't understand, please ask.

Kasumi: Yes.

Professor Narushima: Thank you for your question.

Kasumi: Thank you. Thank you very much. Goodbye.

This is the full extent of the interview. Do you understand why hamsters need running wheels in their cages? Actually, they are just like human beings, when trapped in a small space for a long time, they will feel stressed and upset. Doing exercise is good for our health and also can bring us a good mood, hamsters fares likewise.

Therefore, if you want to keep a hamster, please prepare a large wooden hamster cage for it. At the same time, you have to install some running wheels for it to do some exercise. Only when it gets enough exercise, can it keep healthy and lose some weight.


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