breeder told me that ALL wheels are somewhat bad for hedgies - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default breeder told me that ALL wheels are somewhat bad for hedgies

I spoke recently with a breeder / vet tech who told me that, because of the angle of a wheel, running on a wheel is unnatural & bad for hedgies.

She said that their backs / shoulders aren't meant to bend in that direction, nor are the muscles a wheel works in the shoulders meant to be built up in a hedgehog. In nature they run close to the ground, flat, but on a wheel there is the obvious incline. She said that she can spot a hedgie that has run on a wheel "too much" right away, based on its "unnatural" build. She thinks it is so unhealthy for them that she recommends limiting wheel time, by removing the wheel from the cage on some number of days per week.

have any of you ever heard something like this and, if so, do you limit wheel time for your hedgies?

I'm thinking of trying to create a hedgehog treadmill, to use instead.
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Old 05-02-2016, 07:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Fair enough on the angle, but as most people can't give a large amount of space to their hedgehog for more natural running time around the cage, a wheel is the best option. It is natural for them to run miles in a night, and taking a wheel away is unfair to them. It can also be dangerous as many hedgehogs will try to climb the cage or completely trash their cage without a wheel & risk hurting themselves. If you can create a flatter option for them to run on or can give them a very large cage (I would say a minimum of 16sq ft, at least), it may be okay to limit or not use a wheel, but otherwise I completely disagree with your breeder. This is also the first time I've ever heard anyone express these views, I haven't heard of anyone else with the concern, vet or otherwise.
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Old 05-02-2016, 01:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Unless they get free roam the entire night in a big room it is unfair to take their wheel away; if you disagree with wheels and think they're bad for them you shouldn't limit their only way of exercise (they run miles at night in the wild) but either give them free roam or a bigger wheel -- or don't keep hedgehogs at all. You can't fix a 'problem' by just removing the object and not replacing it with something else. These animals need both physical and mental stimulation which they get from cage enrichment, free roam, handling and this also includes the wheel.

Either way; if they have to arch their back the wheel is too small.

Last edited by Draenog; 05-02-2016 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 05-02-2016, 02:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I would suggest trying a saucer as an alternative. Now I have no clue if a hedgehog is uncomfortable running in a wheel compared to a saucer but my hedgie stopped using the wheel the second I got her a saucer to try. Part of all this is trying to balance the positives with potential negatives especially sense hedgies seem to be very different. My hedgie is a runner. She never plays with her toys. The only time they are moved is when I pile them on the saucer. Removing a running device would effect her more than it may another hedgie who is more into moving toys around, etc.

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Old 05-02-2016, 05:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have heard people talk about it being unhealthy for hedgies to arch their back when they run- easy solution is to have a big enough wheel. I think the standard advice is it must have at least a 12 inch diameter. Charlotte has a CSW and it is big enough that her back is straight when she runs.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If the wheel is well made they should not have to run on an incline, it should turn easily enough that they are level. If you watch a hedgie running on a CSW they definitely don't give the appearance of climbing, it looks effortless. As long as it's big enough it really shouldn't be a problem. I get where the breeder is coming from, but if wheels were dangerous it would be much more common knowledge and they would not be so heavily insisted upon.

If you want to see what I mean, watch the video below (: The spine isn't bending and the hedgehog doesn't look like they are running uphill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xTiS2e17bM
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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thanks for you replies all. yes, i aam a littl sceptical of what that breeder told me. It does make sense on some level, but it's good to know that maybe a larger wheel would help. Someday when i get really bored I may still try to invent a hedgie treadmill, though.
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