While exercise wheels or balls are popular among many small animals, you might be thinking of using them for your guinea pigs. But, should you use exercise wheels or balls for guinea pigs?
In this article, you’ll know whether you need to use these toys for guinea pigs and what are the alternatives for them.
Do guinea pigs need exercise wheels?
Because guinea pigs’ spines aren’t designed to bend into a U shape, you should never use an exercise wheel for them. As a result, if they run on a wheel, they will suffer from a spinal injury.
Furthermore, they have sensitive feet that are susceptible to injury from the wheel’s surface.
For these reasons, it is advised to avoid using exercise wheels and instead provide other forms of exercise for the guinea pig.
Do guinea pigs need exercise balls?
You can’t put your guinea pigs in an exercise ball. The reason for this is the same as putting them in a wheel: their backs aren’t supposed to bend into a U shape, therefore being confined within the ball could result in spinal injury.
Moreover, it can suffocate the guinea pig as it will have no room to move its head.
So, exercise balls are not a good option for guinea pigs either.
Also, check out my other article on exercise toys for guinea pigs.
Why shouldn’t guinea pigs have exercise balls?
There are a few reasons why guinea pigs shouldn’t have exercise balls.
1. Different anatomy
Guinea pig’s spines are not designed to support the constant running motion, and this can lead to serious health problems.
2. May easily roll over and hurt themselves
As guinea pigs are running on the ball, there is a chance they may roll over and fall off. This can cause bruising, cuts, or even broken bones.
3. Too much exercise is bad for guinea pigs
Guinea pigs that get too much exercise can end up with health problems.
4. May cause overheating and becoming dehydrated
If they are left in the ball for too long, they can overheat and become dehydrated. This can be very dangerous for your guinea pig.
5. May become anxious and stressed
Some guinea pigs may become anxious and stressed from being in the ball. This can lead to them not wanting to eat or drink, which can be dangerous.
6. May suffocate the guinea pig
Using an exercising ball can also cause the guinea pig to suffocate as they are unable to get enough air.
Moreover, they may roll over on their back and not be able to get back up again.
7. It’s just not necessary
Exercise balls are not necessary for guinea pigs. They can get all the exercise they need by running and playing in their cage.
Overall, it’s best to avoid giving your guinea pig an exercise ball.
Why shouldn’t guinea pigs have exercise wheels?
Although guinea pigs are active creatures, they shouldn’t have exercise wheels for several reasons.
1. Sensitive spinal structure
The guinea pig’s anatomy isn’t like other rodents. Their back isn’t able to bend back in a U-shape. So, running on an exercise ball may cause spinal injuries. This can even become life-threatening.
2. Get anxious and depressed
Guinea pigs are social animals, and they need to interact with other guinea pigs (or people) to stay happy and healthy. Exercise wheels can actually cause them to become anxious and depressed.
3. May injure their delicate feet
Guinea pigs have very delicate feet that can be easily injured. The wire mesh of an exercise wheel can cause cuts or abrasions.
4. Get caught in the wheel
Exercise wheels can be dangerous, as guinea pigs can get their legs caught in them.
5. May cause respiratory distress
Guinea pigs may also suffer from respiratory distress while running on an exercise wheel. This is due to the fact that they have a high rate of respiration and they may not be able to get enough oxygen while running.
6. Lead to dehydration
Dehydration is another concern for guinea pigs that exercise excessively. They can become dehydrated quickly, and this can lead to serious health problems.
7. May be too much exercise
While guinea pigs need some exercise, too much exercise can actually be bad for them. It can lead to health problems such as joint problems.
8. May cause overheating
Guinea pigs can also overheat while running on an exercise wheel. They are known for having heatstroke in hot weather, which can be fatal.
9. Become noisy
Exercise wheels can be very noisy, and this can disturb both the guinea pig and the owner.
If you want your guinea pig to get some exercise, consider giving them a small ball to play with or taking them out for a supervised walk on a leash.
10 Alternatives to exercise balls and wheels
There are many alternatives to exercise balls and wheels that are safe for guinea pigs.
A playpen is a great way to let your guinea pig explore and get some exercise. You can put their food, water, toys, and bedding in the playpen so they have everything they need. Just be sure to supervise them so they don’t escape.
2. Tubes and tunnels
Tubes and tunnels are another great way to let your guinea pig explore and get some exercise.
You can buy these at pet stores or make your own out of cardboard tubes.
3. Small ball
A small ball is a great alternative to an exercise ball toy for your guinea pig. Just be sure to supervise them so they don’t get hurt with it or get it stuck somewhere.
Make sure the ball is not too large. Also, it shouldn’t be too small as they can chew it.
Your guinea pigs can push it around with their nose, throw it in the air, or roll it around.
4. Chew toys
Chew toys are great for guinea pigs as they help keep their teeth healthy. Just be sure to get ones that are made specifically for guinea pigs as some toys can be dangerous.
5. Hide and seek
Hide and seek is a great game you can play with your guinea pig. Just be sure to make the hiding spots guinea pig-friendly so they can’t get stuck or hurt.
6. Obstacle course
You can create an obstacle course for your guinea pig to play in. But, ensure that you use safe materials that they can’t chew or eat.
7. Supervised walks
Supervised walks are a great way for your guinea pig to get some exercise.
Just be sure to use a harness or leaches designed for guinea pigs, but ideally, you should avoid it to avoid any injury.
Never pick them up by their back legs as this can injure them.
However, it’s better to let them walk inside a playpen than to walk with them outdoor.
8. Play with them
The best way to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy is to play with them every day. Just be sure to use safe toys and handle them gently.
9. Get them a friend
Guinea pigs are social animals and need to interact with other guinea pigs to stay happy and healthy.
If you can’t play with them every day, consider getting them a friend. Just be sure to introduce them slowly and watch for signs of aggression.
10. DIY exercise toys
You can make your own exercise toys for your guinea pigs. Simply use safe materials that they cannot chew or eat.
Guinea pigs are active creatures and need to exercise to stay healthy. But, there are many alternatives to exercise balls and wheels that are safe for guinea pigs.
Playpens, tubes and tunnels, small balls, chew toys, supervised walks, hide and seek, and obstacle courses are all great options. Just be sure to use safe materials and supervise your guinea pig while they play.