Hamster wheels are noisy; especially at night. Doesn’t seem right when the wheel is operated by a 4 ounce pet.
If you, or someone in your family, are losing sleep because of this and other nocturnal noise coming from the hamster cage, please read on to find out how to quiet things down.
5 Ways to Make Your Hamster’s Wheel Quiet
Hamsters are nocturnal creatures. Quite often they want to be doing something, including running or exercising, while you are trying to sleep. Which may cause a few problems if the cage is close to your bed. Using one or more of the following suggestions may work well for both of you. More exercise for the hamster. More sleep for you.
1) Move the Hamster’s Cage
Most people want their new pet close to them. So you find hamster cages on dressers, chest of drawers, or the floor close to your bed. Then you find out the little rat is running on its wheel most of the night. And the wheel squeaks, or squeals, or clunks. Everything also sounds louder at 2:00 AM.
Get the noise away from your ears. As far as necessary to enable peaceful sleep. It should be pretty easy to move the cage. Across the room is good. Out of the room is even better.
If you decide that another room is going to be the hamster’s permanent home, make sure that it is light and airy. Keep the cage out of direct sunlight. You can always move the hamster back to your room when you are going to be there–just not sleeping.
2) Lubricate the Hamster’s Wheel
Generally speaking, hamster wheels are not real high-tech pieces of equipment. A stand with a horizontal pin with a wheel suspended on it. Some of the newer wheels have a ball bearing on the pin. As with virtually all mechanical equipment, the hamster’s wheel will run better if the moving parts are lubricated.
Get the wheel out of the cage where you can work on it. Remove the wheel from the stand so you can access the spindle. Apply spray silicone lubricant to the axle, hub, and any other place where metal can contact metal. Once the accelerant dries, reassemble the wheel, give it a spin or two to make sure you got it quiet, and put it back in the cage. Your reward should be a next to silent wheel.
If you do not have silicone lubricant, you can use butter, cooking oil, Vaseline, or a light all purpose oil to coat the moving parts. (Not WD-40). Beware that the little rodent may start licking any lubricant that squeezes out. So try not to overlubricate. Some products, like silicone, can be dangerous if too much is ingested.
3) Soundproof the Hamster’s Cage
Most people have wire cages for their pet hamster. Until fairly recently, that was pretty much the cage choice. Having a custom cover for the cage will help reduce the noise coming from it. You can buy covers from many pet stores or online retailers.
If you are a little handy with a sewing machine, covers are fairly easy to make. You can make the cover as simple as you like. Or become creative with windows, zipper fronts, etc. Use heavy thick material for the best sound absorption and quieter nights. Some material you can use are heavy towels or blankets. Or soundproof blankets (better known as moving blankets).
Although a fitted cage cover is nice to have, it is not essential. You can just use a large towel, old blanket, or cloth to drape over the cage. Wrap it snuggly to eliminate hamster noise. (Make sure that air is getting into the cage.
You can also buy cages that are much more soundproof. These are generally made of transparent plastic which will keep the majority of the noise inside. Another option is to use a glass aquarium as a hamster cage. Glass is very reflective and will keep even more noise inside. If you need even more soundproofing, make a cover or toss a towel over the aquarium of plastic cage. Although this should not be necessary.
4) Use a Sound Absorbent Mat
Metal cages are excellent at transferring sound to the hard platforms they sit on. That noise can echo into the room. Placing an anti vibration sound absorbing mat under the cage will eliminate echoes and the slight sound vibrations that you find annoying. Some of the material you can use includes:
- Rubber anti vibration mat. Thick, heavy, and fairly expensive. Might be a little overkill for a hamster.
- Exercise mat. Easy to cut to size.
- Puzzle mat. Use as many or as few pieces necessary to get exact size.
- Heavy towel, blanket, or sheet folded thick. Easy, quick, inexpensive, and probably readily available.
5) Replace the Hamster’s Exercise Wheel
If all else fails, buy a new quiet exercise wheel. You will find plenty of options to choose from–many of them advertised as silent wheels. At pet stores and online. Ranging in price from about $20.00 to about $80.00, they come in a range of sizes, colors, and designs. You should easily find one that suits your pet.
Most new exercise wheels use ball bearings to ensure quiet operation. Some of them have 2 ball bearings to help ensure noiseless operation and longer life.
Before shopping for a new hamster wheel, read the section below to help you get the best wheel for both you and your pet.
What Makes a Hamster Wheel Noisy?
Hamster wheel noise–or lack of noise–depends on the following 3 things.
Hamster Wheel Design
Most hamster wheels are made of a running track attached to a back plate hung on the spindle of a stand. On most of them the face is left open. Almost all of them are now made of plastic, although there are a few wood and a few wire designs still to be had. Some of them have an outer lip which will cut down noise and there are a couple of designs that have most of the outside of the running track made of plastic with 3 holes to allow entrance and exit.
The enclosed wheels will be quieter because any noise generated inside will be reflected back into the wheel. Wooden wheels are also quiet because their mass prevents sounds from escaping. Wire wheels produce more noise because they are wide open. Some reviews mention concerns about small hamster feet slipping through the wire and causing injuries.
Another exercise “running wheel” is the flying saucer design. These look like a concave plate set on a spindle at a slight angle. If you are a light sleeper and have the cage close to your bed, the noise of hamster hoofbeats could sound fairly loud to you. There is absolutely nothing to prevent noise escaping. It can actually be magnified because of the concave dish design.
Hamster Wheel Material
The material used to manufacture your hamster running wheel plays a big part in the amount of noise produced. Plastic material is usually much quieter then metal for a couple of reasons. It does not produce as many echoes as metal, and it is solid, meaning it will contain more noise. Solid metal echoes more, and wire metal allows most sound to escape.
Wood hamster wheels actually work both ways. Solid wood will produce more echoes. But solid wood will also provide more mass to keep the sound inside.
Note: Although this has little to do with noise, you should know that many wood wheels come with cork running surfaces. Which many hamsters will chew up. Also, the cork is very good at absorbing hamster pee. The cork can’t be cleaned, so you will be removing it and trying to come up with a replacement.
Hamster Wheel Speed
The more speed, the more noise. Hamster running speed is about 3 – 6 miles per hour. They average about 5 1/2 miles every night. Some hamsters run faster and further. Which makes for more noise for longer periods of time.
Quiet well maintained machines are important if you have the cage in your bedroom and a particularly energetic, fast, and heavy footed hamster.