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7 Best Rat Wheels 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Kristin Hitchcock

rat on wheel

Rats were designed to run miles a day in search of food, shelter, and a mate. In captivity, they don’t have this much room to run. Therefore, they need a wheel to expend some of their energy. If they don’t, they may develop health problems or behavioral issues. Bored, excited rats may become destructive.

However, not all rat wheels are made the same. Some are of higher quality than others. Certain ones are better for multiple rats, while others are perfect for smaller cages. No matter what you’re looking for, we’ll help you find it in this article.

Our reviews will help you explore particular models, while our buyer’s guide will help you determine which option may be best for you.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Kaytee Silent Spinner Small Animal Exercise Wheel Kaytee Silent Spinner Small Animal Exercise Wheel
  • Quiet
  • Easy to clean
  • Made of sturdy, safe plastic
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel
  • Quieter
  • Safe running surface
  • 5” wheel suitable for rats
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Exotic Nutrition 43673 Silent Runner Exotic Nutrition 43673 Silent Runner
  • Solid running surface
  • No central axel
  • Quiet
  • Ware 3283 Flying Saucer Exercise Wheel Ware 3283 Flying Saucer Exercise Wheel
  • Inexpensive
  • Solid surface
  • Somewhat quiet
  • Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel
  • Tail-shield
  • Inexpensive
  • Partial wall
  • The 7 Best Rat Wheels – Reviews 2021

    1. Kaytee Silent Spinner Small Animal Exercise Wheel – Best Overall

    Kaytee Silent Spinner Small

    For most rats, we recommend the Kaytee Silent Spinner Small Animal Exercise Wheel. This wheel is specifically designed not to make noise when your rat uses it, which is particularly useful if the rat’s cage is in your room. Rats are primarily nocturnal, so they will ride on their wheel at night. The surface is made out of quality plastic for durability and safety.

    Your rat’s feet will stay protected thanks to the high-quality design. This wheel can be used free-standing or attached to a wire cage. There are many sizes available, but the mini size is suitable for rats in particular. Because of its design, this wheel is also straightforward to clean. It spins quickly and doesn’t bump around, making it easier for rats to run around on it. It also encourages a suitable back position while running, which can prevent injuries.

    Pros
    • Quiet
    • Easy to clean
    • Made of sturdy, safe plastic
    • Many sizes available
    • Encourages an appropriate back position
    Cons
    • Larger wheels are somewhat unstable

    2. Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel – Best Value

    Kaytee Comfort Small

    The inexpensive Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel is the best rat wheel for the money. It is inexpensive but still suitable for many different rat cages. It doesn’t make loud creaking noises, which is essential because rats often run at night. If you’re particularly sensitive to noise, this can be quite useful. It has a safe running surface that won’t catch your rat’s tail. It can be attached easily to a wire cage or used as a free-standing wheel.

    The 8.5-inch wheel is suitable for rats and other small animals. The larger one is better for rats and larger rodents.

    However, because this exercise wheel is cheaper, it lacks some quality. While it is quieter than other options, it isn’t as quiet as some other options on the market. Once the wheel starts moving quickly, it can be pretty loud.

    Pros
    • Quieter
    • Safe running surface
    • Can be used on a wire cage or free-standing
    • 5” wheel suitable for rats
    Cons
    • A bit louder than some other options

    3. Exotic Nutrition 43673 Silent Runner – Premium Choice

    Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner

    If you’re looking for the absolute best exercise wheel, you should check out the Exotic Nutrition 43673 Silent Runner. The 9-inch size is perfect for smaller rodents, including rats. The running surface is solid with textured tracks, which prevents your rat’s tail from becoming stuck. They provide lots of grip without the potential for injury. The wheels are made without a central axel, which also lessens the chance for a spinal cord or tail injury.

    The innovative ball-bearing system allows the wheel to be much quieter than other options. It also provides a smooth-running surface, allowing the rats to run easier. The wheel mounts directly onto the cage, so you don’t need to use a free-standing wheel.

    The beam openings make exits easier and prevent your rat from accidentally falling out. It encourages your rat to run against the solid wall, which can prevent the rat from falling out as well.

    Pros
    • 9” size suitable for rats
    • Solid running surface
    • No central axel
    • Quiet
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Ware 3283 Flying Saucer Exercise Wheel

    Ware Manufacturing Flying Saucer

    The Ware 3283 Flying Saucer Exercise Wheel is a suitable exercise wheel for smaller pets, though it is more significant than some other options on this list. It is safe for your rate’s toe and tail. It is a solid surface, so you don’t have to worry about your rat’s tail or toe being injured. While it is larger, it is not suitable for larger pets, as it isn’t made to hold much weight. Instead, it will snap if too much weight is put on it. A rat is tiny, though, making this a suitable option for them.

    This wheel isn’t as quiet as some other options. For instance, it tends to squeak from friction after a short period of use. This product also isn’t durable either, so it likely won’t stand up to all that much use. Again, though, rats are tiny, so the wheel should be able to withstand quite a bit of use from a rat. We wouldn’t recommend it for anything much larger.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Solid surface
    • Somewhat quiet
    Cons
    • Not very durable
    • Not as quiet as other options

    5. Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel

    Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent

    Though the Suncoast Sugar Gliders Wodent Wheel is larger than most rat wheels, it can be suitable for some rats, especially if you have more than one. It has a tail shield on both sides, so your rat’s tail will not become injured. It is pretty inexpensive for its size. However, it is more expensive than smaller rat wheels. The partial wall on one side helps rats feel more secure while they’re exercising and prevent the rat from falling out while exercising.

    The wheel is difficult to clean. You have to completely take it apart to clean it properly, which isn’t designed to be done. It is difficult and involves getting many pins out of the back and putting them back in, which is extremely difficult. The running track is a bit flimsy. It is difficult to put it back into the groove if it happens to fall out. This makes taking it apart even more difficult.

    This wheel is also gigantic for a rat, but it may be helpful in larger cages.

    Pros
    • Tail-shield
    • Inexpensive for its size
    • Partial wall
    Cons
    • Difficult to clean
    • Difficult to assemble
    • Quite large

    6. Ware 3275 Tread Exercise Wheel

    Ware Manufacturing Metal

    If you’re looking for an average exercise wheel, the Ware 3275 Tread Exercise Wheel is about as average as it gets. It is made with the usual mesh-metal running surface. This is safe for your rat’s tails and toes, though it isn’t quite as comfortable for rats to run on as other exercise wheels. The surface is not solid like others. It is powder-coated for durability. It is incredibly durable, in fact, and can easily withstand most usage by rats.

    This wheel is exceptionally cheap. However, there are problems with that. For instance, this wheel is not adjustable, which means that specific rats will not run correctly. It will bend under some weight, especially if you have multiple rats running at the same time. This wheel is likely to fall off the base, as well, which can harm your rat if they’re using it when it happens.

    You may wish to purchase a more expensive wheel that will withstand more weight in many cases.

    Pros
    • Powder-coated steel
    • Inexpensive
    Cons
    • Less sturdy than other options
    • Wheel cannot be raised
    • Wheel often falls off

    7. Prevue Pet Products SPV90013 Wire Mesh Wheel

    Prevue Pet Products 90013

    The Prevue Pet Products SPV90013 Wire Mesh Wheel is relatively inexpensive. The metal mesh is tiny, making its tail and feet safe. However, it is not solid, so it isn’t quite as comfortable as other options. It does provide exercise if this is all you can afford. But there are better options out there that are just as inexpensive. We recommend purchasing those instead.

    This wheel is available in four different colors, so you can choose one that matches your rat’s cage. The wheel can be hung on the sides of a mesh cage, as well as used free-standing.

    The rats will be running directly onto the mesh wire, which can harm their paws over time. The mesh is not fashioned perfectly onto the wheel. This leaves exceptionally sharp edges, allowing them to poke your rats and cause injuries potentially.

    Pros
    • 4 different colors available
    • Can be hung directly onto the cage
    • Inexpensive
    Cons
    • Made of mesh wire
    • Difficult to clean
    • Sharp edges

    Buyer’s Guide

    Every rat needs an exercise wheel. But the exercise wheel you choose is essential. They are not all made equal. Many are high-quality, but others aren’t. Choosing the incorrect wheel can result in sore feet and even injuries for your rat. Plus, you may have to put up quite a bit of noise and spend hours cleaning if you go with a poor-quality wheel.

    In this section, we’ll help you choose the safe and suitable option for your rat. No one wheel is perfect for everyone out there. Instead, you’ll need to choose a wheel that is suitable for your situation in particular.

    Support Beams

    There are several types of support beams regularly used on these exercise wheels. You do not want to get a wheel with crossbars, which go all the way through the wheel. While running, these can cause injuries to your rat. Tail injuries are common with these sorts of bars. However, spinal injuries can occur as well and are much more severe.

    Instead, you want side support bars that are arched to the side. Your rat is much less likely to get stuck on these and get injured.

    Bars vs. No Bars

    Some wheels are made with both bars and solid running surfaces. The wheels with bars are much more common and regularly sold in pet stores. However, they can cause serious injury since your rat can lose their footing quickly and fall through the bars, which can potentially cause deadly injuries. This can also cause spinal injuries since the wheel is still spinning after the animal gets stuck in between the bars.

    These wheels are especially dangerous when you have more than one rat. One rat can push the other rat through the bars, which can result in a spinal injury. If more than one rat is running on the wheel, the wheel will keep going even when one rat falls through the bars. This is extremely dangerous and is why we don’t recommend wheels with any sorts of bars.

    Mesh Wheels

    Mesh wheels are pretty safe, though they still aren’t the best. They don’t leave any room for your rat to fall through. The rat is less likely to lose their footing as well, so injuries are less common. However, the mesh isn’t necessarily good for their feet. It can cause injuries and isn’t exactly comfortable to walk on, as you might imagine.

    Some rats do enjoy hanging on and spinning upside down, however.

    Saucer Wheels

    Out of all the wheels out there, saucer wheels are some of the safest. There is little risk of limbs and tails becoming stuck since the floor is solid. The rat can also run in their natural position. They don’t have to arch their back, which makes their exercise far more comfortable.

    These wheels are great for multiple rats.

    Comfort Wheels

    These wheels have solid floors. They are extremely safe because of this. The rat can’t fall through any holes or get stuck. Multiple rats can run in these wheels simultaneously without risking injury, so they are perfect for enclosures with more than one rat. They are very comfortable on your rat’s feet as well.

    These wheels are difficult to clean, though. You may need to take the wheel apart to clean it correctly. This can take an extreme amount of time, depending on the wheel. Most aren’t designed to be taken apart, even though they need to be cleaned thoroughly. These can also be a bit louder than other wheels, as they are typically heavier. They can be quiet in the beginning, but they get broken in quickly.

    Does My Rat Need a Wheel?

    Every rat needs a wheel. Rats are made to run in search of food and mates. When they are kept in cages that are only a few feet long, they obviously can’t do this. However, their biological need to run often and far is still around.

    The only way they can meet this need is with an exercise wheel. Otherwise, the rats will be unable to meet their exercise needs, leading to all sorts of problems. For instance, rats that are unable to meet their exercise needs often develop destructive behaviors. They will become bored and under-stimulated. They may torment other rats, which can lead to injuries and even infections.

    Do Rats Like Wheels?

    Even though they do need them in captivity, rats also like wheels. One study found that wild rats will choose to run on wheels, even without any reward present. These rats were meeting their exercise needs anyway. They had to run around for food, shelter, and reproduction. But they still chose to use the exercise wheel when they had access to it. It seems that there is some level of enjoyment rats get from exercise wheels.

    Conclusion

    Every rat needs a wheel. Out of all the wheels we reviewed, the Kaytee Silent Spinner Small Animal Exercise Wheel is the best for most rats. They are unlikely to cause an accident and are comfortable for rats to use. It is also quiet and easy to clean, which is perfect for most owners.

    If you need a budget option, the Kaytee Comfort Small Animal Exercise Wheel is also suitable. It is comfortable and solid. It is also much cheaper than other options. You can attach it directly to a mesh cage, or you can use it free-standing.

    Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide will help you sort through all of the different exercise wheels out there.


    Featured image credit:

    Kristin Hitchcock

    Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!