Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheels? Mystery Solved!

When you bring a hamster to your home for the first time, you realize that it's not like any conventional pet. You will see your hamster behaving oddly on multiple occasions. Many first-time owners get confused upon seeing their hamster's addiction to running on the wheel. Later, those who consider this a child-play get worried about their pet's mental health. Are you one of these hamster owners? Read this post till the end to learn all about this phenomenon.
Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheels

So, why do pet hamsters feel the need to spend half of their lives running on hamster wheels? There are two main reasons behind this seemingly odd behavior. First of all, hamsters are highly energetic animals. Due to this fact, hamsters need some activity to stay fit. Other than that, hamsters run on the wheels to keep themselves entertained in their limited habitat.

The whole concept might seem very clear to you now, but there’s more to it. As a responsible pet owner, you must understand your hamster wholely. Stay tuned till the end to find out what you should do and what you should avoid in this regard.

Reasons Why Hamsters Run On Wheels

People started keeping hamsters as pets not so long ago. To this date, pet hamsters carry most of their natural tendencies. Running is one of these instincts. However, running on the wheel has multiple other reasons as well.

Let’s discuss all the reasons behind hamsters running on wheels: 

Hard-Wired For Running

The answer to the question “Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheels?” lies in the history of domesticated hamsters. In the wild, hamsters don’t have an abundance of food, unlike our beloved pets. Reports state adult hamsters can run up to 5 miles in one night only for the sake of food. 

Thanks to evolution, hamsters’ bodies are designed to run away from danger and towards food. Running is in their natural tendencies. First of all, they are prey animals, and on top of that, they are food hoarders. This unconventional combination makes them Olympic-level sprinters of the wild.

You might also wonder about the hamsters’ speed of running. According to nature’s classification, hamsters are prey animals. Whenever they search for food, they put their lives at stake. Hence, they truly run for their lives. It helped little hamsters survive for centuries.  

Although pet hamsters are not prone to such dangers, they run on the wheels because of their natural instincts.

To Burn Excessive Energy:

Hamster’s ideal diet usually contains several high-energy items like nuts and seeds. Due to this reason, it is very common for hamsters to become hyperactive. Remaining hyperactive for a long duration is not healthy for the hamsters, and they know it. 

It is why our furry friends choose running over the wheel as a medium to normalize their energy levels. If they don’t do this they can fall prey to multiple health conditions like obesity.

To Defeat Boredom:

Imagine this; you are stuck in a room. There’s nothing in that room except a treadmill. What will you do when you get bored of the situation? You will definitely start running on that treadmill, won’t you? 

The same is the case with the hamsters. Hamsters often run on the wheels to kill their need for entertainment.  

To Relieve Stress:

Another reason why you will hear noises all night because hamsters relieve stress by running on their wheel. There are a lot of factors that can stress out your hamster. For instance, if you have changed your hamster’s cage, he might face difficulty in adjusting. 

Moreover, even the presence of people around your hamster’s cage can easily stress him out. It is why you should also worry about the mental health of your hamster with its physical well-being.  

When To Worry?

In most cases, you won’t have to worry about your hamster, even if he spends a great amount of time running on his wheel. However, keep a keen eye on it because sometimes this can be harmful.

In the following conditions, running on the wheel becomes dangerous for your hamster:


It isn’t a good sign if running on the wheel has become an addiction for your hamster. A running wheel is only a good thing until your hamster uses it to kill boredom and stay fit. When your hamster starts abusing the running wheel, it becomes a hazard. 

If you see that your hamster is hurting himself only for the sake of running, remove the wheel from the cage.  

Neglecting Babies

Another situation that is as dangerous as running addiction is when a mother hamster spends most of her time running on the wheel instead of taking care of the babies. Note the routine of your hamster if she has recently delivered babies.

If the mother focuses more on running than taking care of the newborns, remove the wheel from the cage. If you don’t do this on time, you might even lose the babies


We have gathered some useful questions and their answers that will help you in dealing with the situation:

How To Prevent Running Wheel Addiction?

You can do several things to keep your hamster from running wheel addiction. First of all, start by buying a bigger cage for your hamster, preferably a multi-story one. After that, consider buying different chew and play toys for your hamster. It will divert its mind into other things as well.

Why Do Hamsters Run On Wheel At Night?

Hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means that they are more active at night as compared to the day. It is why you will find your hamster running on the wheel mostly at night time. 

Hamsters Running On Wheels Answered

Hamsters belong to the rodent family. Being prey animals, hamsters have to be very vigilant. Inactivity can cost them their life. If you study hamsters, you will see that these little critters run a lot naturally. Sometimes they are saving their lives from predators, and the rest of the time, they are searching for food.

To mimic the same routine in order to stay fit and healthy, pet hamsters run on the wheels in their cages. 

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a little about me
Hi, im Sofia
Hi, im Sofia

I'm a mother of 2, hamster enthusiast, animal lover, and blogger. I have had five hamsters in my life, each with their own personality!

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