A wheel of appropriate size for an adult chinchilla needs to be a minimum of 14 inches in diameter; 15 inches is preferred. This is to keep the chinchilla from arching its back unnaturally, causing issues such as pack pain and possible permanent damage to the back.
The wheel needs to have a solid running surface. Wire mesh or ladder like running surfaces can trap the chinchilla’s toes or feet causing broken limbs. Any wheel that has a post in the center can poke the chinchilla in the side or back and be quite uncomfortable to the it. Also, wheels that have a cross member that rotates across the opening should not be used. These wheels have been known to cause severe injuries to the face, neck and limbs of chinchillas. Wheels made of plastic can be chewed and if the plastic is swallowed have the potential to block the chinchilla’s digestive system, killing the animal. Plastic wheels also break easily due to the size of the chinchilla and the rate at which they run. When they break, they can fall onto the chinchilla, trapping it underneath.
These wheels and others like them are unsafe for chinchillas for the reasons previously mentioned.
The following is a list of some of the more common chinchilla wheels that are safe for a full grown chinchilla and where they can be found. These wheels are more expensive than those offered in the pet stores, but they are well worth the money when considering the safety of a chinchilla. They are also more durable and quieter. It is not advisable to purchase an inappropriate wheel while saving for a better one. It is not worth the risk to the chinchilla and they will be fine until a good wheel can be purchased. Additionally, chinchillas do not need to run on wheels; but most do love running on them.
Flying Saucer from qualitycages.com
Mary Ann Holden Wheel (with solid running surface) from questhavenpets.com
15” Chin Spin Wheel from Quality Cages Company
14” Silver Surfer Chinchilla Wheel from Silver Surfer Wheels
15" Chin Spin from Quality Cages Comapny
Flying Saucer Wheel