Oregon Chinchilla Rescue

Live. Love. Rescue.

Click HERE to return to Basic Care

Chinchilla Wheels

First thing we need to address about wheels and any form of chinchilla exercise does not even involve a wheel. But it is one of the most important things that you can learn, and that is EXERCISE BALLS ARE NOT AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR WHEELS AND SHOULD NEVER BE USED FOR ANY LENGETH OF TIME, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. 

A lot of people like to grab these cute and color balls from their local pet stores, however these are one of the most unsafe items that can be purchased for a chinchilla. They are often referred to as "Death Balls" by breeders and rescuers.

People erroneously think that if they have an an air-conditioned/temperature controlled environment that the chins will be safe in them. However, due to the balls lacking proper ventilation the cool environment does no good and makes chins prone to overheating, having a heat stroke, and dying.

Aside from these reasons, many people will purchase an incorrect size which can damage a chins spine. And when a chinchilla is in the ball they will poop and pee inside it resulting in a nasty slurry that will get all over the ball, the chin, and your floor.

Selecting A Proper Wheel

Should a chinchilla have a smaller sized cage or built up energy then a wheel may be of use (provided the chinchilla is over 8-12 months of age). This will allow them an outlet for their energy since their cage may not have adequate room for them to jump and play. But, if your chinchilla has an overly large cage, then it will more than likely not require a wheel.

While there are many wheels out there that pet stores (and their employees) will tell you are suitable and safe for chinchillas, the majority of them are not and it's best to assume that all pet store wheels aren't safe. Here's a list of important things to keep in mind when you're selecting a chinchilla wheel.

  • Age of Chin: Baby and adolescent chins should not be given a wheel to run on, at this age they need to focused on growing into adulthood. Wait until the chinchilla is 8-12 months of age before giving them access to a wheel.
  • Plastic Free: Chins are born to chew and therefore having a plastic wheel is a very big no-no. Not only can they chew on the plastic (which will make the wheels unstable), but they can also create holes where their toes and legs can get stuck and potentially cut and/or broken. Intestinal compaction and other issues are also a concern and will typically require vet care.
  • Solid Running Surface: The running surface on any chinchilla wheel should be solid and lacking any holes. This means that grates, wire, or plastic slats are not acceptable. These holes/gaps can, and have resulted in expensive vet bills from broken toes and legs.
  • Diameter of Wheel: With chins being a larger rodent, the wheel diameter is an important factor to consider. A selected wheel should have a minimum of a 14" diameter for saucer style wheels, and 15" to 16" diameter for upright wheels. This will give a chin adequate space to run with the least likely chance of causing injury to their necks or backs.
  • No Spokes: Spokes of any kind (plastic, metal, wooden, rod, single, or double) should be avoided on chin wheels. This is because they are known to cause a variety of issues; lacerations, broken legs, broken tails, broken necks, and death. These typically occur when the chin goes to jump off of the wheel and a body part gets stuck in the spokes.
  • Easily Cleaned: Cleanliness is always an important thing to factor in for chins. If a chinchilla gets sick or a water bottle leaks (creating a mess on the floor and on a potential chin that then gets on the wheel), it's really important that you're able to properly clean and/or disinfect any surface that they come into contact with.
  • Easily Repaired: Replacement of essential ball bearings (or other parts) should be easily accessible for maintenance or replacement.

If you know of a wheel that meets all of our requirements and it's not on our recommended list below, please Contact Us. Include at least the name or photo of the wheel. We will look into it and add it to the list if we deem it acceptable and safe.

Our Recommended Wheels

Leo-Braun Wheel

Many years ago there was a "Leo Braun Chinchilla Wheel" that was very popular, it was however discontinued many years ago, but sometimes you can still thankfully find them used (or ones made similar). This wheel is still by far my favorite and the silence this wheels have when being used by a happy chin is priceless. Because of their solid construction, the cleaning and sanitization is done quickly and effortlessly. 

Wheels like this are hard to find a long-term vendor for, but it's worth taking a look around to see if you can find one locally.

[Photo taken by and property of which has closed down many years ago]

MeowChin's Stainless Steel Exercise Wheel (Large)

This beautiful 16.2" diameter stainless steel wheel features ball bearings and a solid running surface. They are handmade by Erika and they have wonderful reviews.

This wheel is available at MeowChin's Etsy store for $100.

Click HERE to open a pop-up browser to her store.

[Photo is by and property of MeowChin]


Exotic Nutrition's Chin-Sprint

The Chin-Sprint is a newer cage-mounted wheel on the marked. It's original version was thicker and more closely resembled a Leo-Braun wheel as it had a smooth and solid running surface.

Unfortunately, in 2019 it unfortunately was redesigned and now is more similar to the oil-pan style wheels. Buyers have not been as happy with the newer style and have reported that it makes more noise than the previous one.

For the price point of this newer design, I'd recommend going with the Chin Spin or the Treadmill Wheel. If you should however need a lighter cage-mounted, upright, coated wheel, this wheel may be with it. 

We've tried the older style and was impressed with it. We had plans to transition all the rescues onto these wheels and then we unfortunately noticed the reviews stating a newer version was being sent out to people and they weren't happy with them.

This wheel has a 15" diameter to prevent spine injuries, has a 6" running track, uses ball bearings, and is offered in Green or Black pet-safe powder coating for the price of $109.95 (shipping included). They can be purchased from Exotic Nutrition through their web site. Click HERE to open a pop-up browser for the wheel.

[Both photos are by and property of Exotic Nutrition]

M.P. Hull's Flying Saucer Wheel (13 3/4")

The Flying Saucer is a highly popular cage-mounted wheel. Although by it's measurements it is a smaller wheel, because of it's open-style chins have adequate running surface and space to run so that it won't damage their backs.

The downfall with this wheel is the amount of space that it takes up in the cage, therefore you will usually need a little bit of a bigger cage to set it up in. I have personally not tried a Flying Saucer (because of the amount of space it takes), but others have been really happy with their wheels.

This wheel comes in a variety of sizes, however even with the open style chins require the 13 3/4" wheel size.

For mounting on a wire cage wall: $74.95 (and for a solid cage wall $84.95). These wheels are available through M.P. Hull's personal web site. Please click HERE to open a pop-up screen for their web site.

[Photo is by and property of M.P. Hull]

Exotic Nutrition's 14" Treadmill Wheel

It's a great alternative to the Flying Saucer as it has a stand/base and is designed to sit on the floor of your cage. Particularly useful for those cages that can't support the weight of a traditional cage-mounted wheel. This wheel is all metal, runs on ball bearings, and has a powder coat (green or black) finish. While this wheel is also offered in an 11" version, chinchillas require the 14" one.

These wheels (like almost all wheels) have a center bearing cartridge that may need to be changed from time to time due to normal wear and tear. The number of times they need to be replaced depends on how much a chinchilla uses the wheel. It's considered to be normal to replace these items once or twice a year.

This wheel retails for $59.95, and is available from Exotic Nutrition through their web site. They also sell replacement bearings and bearing cartridges. Click HERE to view the web page in a new window.

[Photo is by and property of Exotic Nutrition]

Quality Cage Crafter's 15" ChinSpin

This is the most popular cage-mounted wheel, and it the one that we primarily use here at the rescue. It has a wood baking, dual ball bearings, and is powder coated with a silver-vein powder coated finish. It attaches to the cage with 4 wing nuts and washers.

The downfall of this wheel (in my opinion) would be the wood backing, as it's porous it can get dirt and grim imbedded within the wood over a period of time and I have seen a couple of these wheels (ones not owned by myself) develop mold after they were cleaned and the wood was slow to dry. Mold developing on the wood however is not normal. I personally just prefer a surface that would be easier to clean, sanitize, and keep looking nice for years to come.

ChinSpins come in several sizes, however due to a chins size when they are full grown, the 15" wheel would be the most appropriate size to purchase. As quoted from the Quality Cage web site, "The CS is 15 1/4" tall and needs to be mounted so that the wheel is 2" above the cage floor. It extends 8" from the wall of the cage, and has a 6 1/4" running surface. Easily, but sturdily, attaches to the side wall of your cage with supplied hardware. It comes with photo-illustrated installation instructions and an extra set of bearings."

It's very common for wheels to require the bearings be periodically replaced. Most commonly every 6 to 12 months. Quality cage sells these bearings for $5.99 (shipping included) for a 2 replacement pack.

The 15" ChinSpin is currently priced at $119.95 (shipping included) and can be purchased from the Quality Cage Crafters web site. For people with good credit you can purchase the wheel on a 3-month payment plan.

[Photo is by and property of Quality Cage Crafters]

Am I missing a Wheel?

If you know of a wheel that meets all of our requirements of being an Acceptable Chinchilla Wheel, please Contact Us. Include at least the name or photo of the wheel. We will look into it and add it to the list if we deem it acceptable and safe.