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I know that it's dangerous to let baby mice anywhere near a wheel, as they can get injured.

What's the minimum age at which it's safe and appropriate to provide young mice with a wheel?

I have a group of 4 boys, nearly five weeks old, and they have calmed down a lot, the popcorn/flea stage is well behind them. Would it be safe to let them have a wheel now? I'm keen to give them the pleasure and exercise and distraction of wheel fun if possible.

I'm thinking of a solid plastic wheel, nothing with wire or bars - it's one of those silent ones as in the attached picture.

Chris
 

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I use wheels for all my mice, except newly weaned and pregnant mice due to potential health injures. Many breeders will state that it is unnecessary. I view this perspective as originating from economic and storage space interests, rather than prioritizing the health of the actual mouse/mice. The process of running on a wheel improves the cognitive, and motor abilities of the mice. They were physically/mentally more healthy and over periods of generations had greater skeletal mass- specifically in their legs. I have attached studies/articles below:

https://academic.oup.com/icb/article/45 ... -Voluntary
https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/wild-t ... run-wheels
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/articl ... ne.0082869

However, I do not recommend using solid plastic wheels. Mice will often poop and pee, especially males, inside the plastic. Resulting in you either having to clean the wheel(s) every other day, or it becoming a possible sanitary issue for your mice. In addition, the wheel may often squeak or not rotate as quickly due to the yellow plastic mechanism on the back.

Below are the wired mesh wheels that I have used for over 7 years. I have not had a single incident thus far. I recommend the largest size you can purchase because it allows more surface area for running mice and decreases the chances of upwards tail and stress on the vertebraes. The wheels are long-term (metal). In addition, you can easily apply Vaseline (never apply WD-40 as it is toxic) to remove any sounds from the wheels.

Note: Amazon seems a bit over-priced at the moment. There should be 4 sizes: S, M, L, XL (not showing). You should be able to get the L/XL for $10 - $15, else you are getting ripped off.

https://www.amazon.com/Kaytee-Run-Aroun ... dent+wheel

I recently began to have an issue with rust and the paint peeling off due to years of washing. A local breeder friend solved this by coating the wheel with another layer of paint that is less likely to peel. I am not knowledge in the solution but if it is of any interest to you.

Best of luck!
 

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I would recommend waiting until either gender is at least 6 weeks old. However, what is important is that they are not 'jumpy' and out of control, which happens right after they are weaned, known as the 'hopper' phase.

If you ever attempt to house bucks (brothers) together, which I do for spacing, I never place a wheel to avoid the encouragement of territory mentality. However, once I select a stud, he is moved to a separate tank and provided a wheel.
 
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