Mice are little balls of energy who love to run. Supplying your little mouse pal with a wheel will give him the ability to run to his heart's content, even in the confined space of his cage. Choosing the right wheel shouldn't just have to do with what you think looks cute. There are some safety issues to consider when picking out your buddy's wheel.
Just like you, mice need exercise to keep healthy. Not only will it keep his muscles and heart strong, a study performed at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Group showed that daily running on a wheel helped prevent Alzheimer's disease. Since he's cooped up in his cage most of the time, an exercise wheel is the perfect way to make sure he gets the exercise he needs.
A plethora of wheels are available at your local pet store, but not all wheels are created equal. The material is an important consideration. Flimsy plastic wheels are cheap, but they'll give your little guy an opportunity to show you just how good he is at chewing things to smithereens. The wheel won't last long and it isn't healthy for him to get a stomachful of plastic. Opt for sturdy, heavy plastic or metal. Since they can be greased with cooking oil or petroleum jelly, metal wheels are usually quieter then their plastic counterparts.
Wheels that have metal rungs or cross bars can be very dangerous for mice. Their feet and tails can get hung up and injured very easily. Opt for a wheel with a mesh or solid plastic running surface. A mesh wheel is very easy to clean and safe for your little guy, as long as it doesn't have a cross bar running across the middle of the wheel. Enclosed wheels or wheel/ball combos aren't safe if you have more than one mouse. One mouse could spin his buddy around and not give him a way to escape. Make sure your mice can get in and out of the wheel safely.
Other toys promote exercise for your furry pal. A plastic ball can give him an opportunity to run around outside the confines of his cage, good for when you need to give his cage a cleaning. Put only one mouse in a single ball at a time, and always supervise his play. Tape the lid shut to keep it secure, and be careful not to let him spend too long in his ball or he'll chew his way out. Always clean the ball between uses. He'll enjoy a paper sack to play with in his cage. Egg cartons and paper towel tubes are cheap and fun for him to chew and play with. While you can find toys at the pet store, your little friend will be happy with things you can find for free around your house. Once he's fond of you, take him out each day for some supervised play. Make sure you're keeping an eye on him; setting up an enclosed playpen will keep him from getting lost.
Mice, rodents image by Yodanet Company from Fotolia.com