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D.I.Y. Small Animal Wheel

D.I.Y. Small Animal Wheel

A very nice set of instructions for building an economical solid-surface, spokeless exercise wheel for Hedgehogs [and other small animals] was available at the NergHog2000 web site. These wheels have proven to be suitable for Chinchillas and Degus as well, although they do tend to gnaw away at the wheel over time. Alas, that page is no longer available. Below is a reconstruction of that page. [The first person references are by the original author.]

Hedgehog Wheel Page
This is all that is left of the Infamous NergHogs Website!
We no longer breed or sell Hedgehogs!

If you can get the buckets for free (which we did), these wheels will only cost about $5.50 each (otherwise they are around $9.00). To date, I've made around 75 of these and they work great for all size hogs. There are no dangerous spokes to hit the hedgie so are much safer than most on the market. There are only 2 downsides I've found to them. One is that the bucket will get slightly out of round. It's still usable just a bit harder to run on. You can straighten it back up with a minimum of effort. The other problem is since it is solid, the hedgehog gets poopie feet (but then they all do).


You need:
    1 - 5 gallon bucket
    1 - 1.5" nylon roller (shower or patio door wheel)
    1 - 2" long 1/4" machine screw
    1 - 1/4" wing-nut
    3 - 1/4" nuts
    4 - 3/4" long #6 machine screws
    4 - washers for a #6 screw
    4 - lock nuts for a #6 screw
    2 - 1 1/2" washers
    2 - 2" washers

Cut the 5 gallon bucket down (I used a saber saw) to approx 4.5 inches tall (slightly more if you have a very large hog) and then drill a 9/16" or 5/8" hole in the center of the bottom.

At a hardware store, find a 1.5" nylon roller wheel (look for a replacement wheel for a shower or patio door), this will have a ball-bearing roller in it. Get a 2 inch long 1/4 inch diameter bolt or machine screw and 3 nuts to fit it. Also get 4 3/4" long #6 machine screws and 4 washers and locking nuts to fit them.

Mounting the nylon roller:

Imagine a square in the nylon roller and drill 4 holes at the corners of this imaginary square with an 5/32" drill bit. (See picture above)

Drill 4 coresponding holes in the bottom of the bucket. Use a small mark to keep the orientation of the holes right. (See picture on the right)

Mount the roller to the outside (bottom) of the bucket with the 4 screws, washers and locknuts.

Then push the 2" screw through from the inside of the bucket to the outside and put the 3 bolts on and tighten them as much as you can.

The head of the screw must not touch the plastic bucket. It will cause drag. Use a knife to clear away any plastic that might be touching it.

Then put a 1 1/2" washer then a 2" washer onto the shaft. Drill a 1/4" hole throught the side of the wall you are mounting the wheel to, put the shaft through the hole. Put a 2" washer onto the shaft, then a 1 1/2" washer. Tighten the whole assembly on with a wing-nut.

Note, this assumes that the WIDTH of the wall is 1/4" or less. If the wall is thicker, increase the length of the 2" long 1/4" screw as needed.

Known modifications:

  • Instead of a bucket, use a cake cover.  You can find one at Wal-Mart or Kmart for around $8.  These tend to be 12" to 13" in diameter instead of the 10.25" that the buckets are.  The only reason I don't do this is because of the additional cost.
  • Using duct tape, line the track of the wheel.  When it gets messy just pull off the tape and put on new.  It also provides traction for those hogs that need it.

Making a Hanger:

(Extra Parts: 1 - 15" long, 3/4" wide, 1/16" thick aluminum strip)

Bend the aluminum strip as shown in the picture on the right. The numbers reflect the order that I bent them in. Feel free to do it in whatever order works best for you. I used a vice, pliers, and my hands.

Drill the 5/16" mounting holes in the center of the strip, I used a distance of 1.25" between holes. Sand the drilled area smooth and get rid of any sharp spots. See the picture to the left

Push the shaft through the front opening of the strip at the HEIGHT that you want. Tighten the whole assembly on with the remaining 1/4" nut.

Making a Stand:

(Extra Parts: 3 - washers for a #6 screw, 3 - lock nuts for a #6 screw, 3 - 2" long #6 machine screws, 1 - 11.5" long, 3/4" wide, 1/8" thick steel strip, 1/2 - patio or walkway brick)

Bend the steel strip as into an 'L'.  Make the long end approximately 7". Drill a 5/16" hole in the center of the long end, approx 1/2" from the end. 

Then drill 3 5/32" holes in the shorter end; see the picture to the right.

If you are using a long brick, break it in half.  I use ones that are approximately 8" wide by 16" long, so it breaks to around 8" square.

Mark the drill holes in the brick  Drill 3/16" holes all the way through, then drill 1/2" countersink holes.  Mount the steel 'L' to the top with the 2" screws, washers, and locknuts.  As you can now see, the screws are too long and extend out of the block.  Use a hacksaw to cut them down, then a dremel to grind them down a little more.

Push the shaft through the front opening of the 'L'. Tighten the whole assembly on with the remaining 1/4" nut (or the wingnut).

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Randy Starcher All images Copyright 1997 by Randy Starcher. Permission granted to make these wheels, but you may not sell, copy or redistribute the instructions without written permission..

1999-2007 Doyle M. STRadling, , All Rights Reserved.


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