A hamster exercise ball is one of the most controversial topics in the hamster owner community. The golden questions are “Is a hamster ball safe?” and “should I use a hamster ball?”. Until today, these questions are being asked almost every day. The forums always have a divided opinion on hamster balls.
Getting a hamster ball to let your hamster exercise is part of taking care of your hamster, like getting a big cage. You can also use a hamster ball in the process of taming your hamster. This article will discuss the pros and cons of using a hamster ball as an exercise and as a toy. While we also have a post about different safe hamster beddings.
ALSO READ: Interesting facts about hamsters
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT HAMSTER EXERCISE BALL
Here are the basic but important things you need to know about the hamster exercise ball. Before you decide to avoid having a hamster or buy one, always do your research.
Don’t make the same mistake that most hamster owners make. Educate yourself as much as possible, especially when it comes to the safety of your hamster.
Are Hamster Balls Safe As Exercise: Pros and Cons of a Hamster Exercise Ball
Unfortunately, there is still very little study about the safety of a hamster ball for your fur babies. Many experienced hamster owners (who have owned hamsters for 10+ years), would recommend that the owner must decide if they will let their hamster use a ball or not, taking into consideration safety precautions.
Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons so, you can decide for yourself what is best to do:
ALSO READ: How to choose the best large hamster wheel
Pros of using a hamster exercise ball
It’s undeniable that hamster balls are actually helpful. Here are some benefits that both you and your hamster can get from using a hamster ball:
- Keeping your hamster active – hamsters run all night in the wild, it is sewn on their genetics to be able to use all their energy whenever they are awake.
- Hamsters are prone to diabetes and obesity – hamsters are very prone to diabetes and gain weight pretty quickly, keeping them active will help to avoid these diseases
- Can play around your house outside their cage – a time out from the cage is one of the most favourite activities of a hamster. Placing them in a ball while they roll and run around your house is a great way to keep your hamster from getting into tiny holes or escaping while still having fun and getting the exercise they need
- Can be used to tame your hamster – one of the easiest ways to tame your hamster and have it get used to your smell is to use the hamster ball to take the hamster out of its cage, placing the ball on your lap or your stomach and let the hamster crawl out
- Extra den – if you end up not wanting to use the ball for its purpose, you can instead turn this into an extra den. Fill it with toilet paper to make it comfortable and place it properly so it won’t roll over
Cons of using a hamster exercise ball
Before you make a decision, read the cons of using a hamster ball as well:
- Hamsters might freak out/develop anxiety – being in an enclosed spaced freaks out some hamsters, and get stressed while inside the ball
- Hamster have poor eyesight – another reason why putting your hamster in the ball can cause anxiety
- Spaces on the hamster ball can be dangerous – the spaces between the hamster ball can catch your hamster’s feet and cause injury
- Hamster ball gets dirty easily – hamsters often poo and pee while they are on the ball, this dirt is not suitable for your hamster, hence, you will have to clean it every after use
- Bump on the wall – while the hamster is running the ball, there is a big tendency that the ball will hit a wall or a hard object which can startle or injure the hamster
- More momentum in the ball than in a wheel – many hamster owners would argue that it is harder for the hamsters to break the ball from rolling compared to running on the wheel. Because of its shape, a ball keeps rolling even when a hamster has stopped running. Worse, if the ground where the ball is rolling is not even, there is no way for a hamster to break the roll until it hits the wall, which is very dangerous
- Poor ventilation – while the ball has plenty of holes around it, it is not enough for air. Being in the ball can suffocate your hamster, especially when they are trying to catch a breath after a run
- Foot injury – those holes help with ventilation. However, hamster’s feet can also get caught in it, which can cause injury
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you are still undecided about getting your hamster a ball, these facts can probably help you.
- Not all hamsters are the same – some hamsters can be easily freaked out or stressed, especially those who are improperly bred – read about different species of hamsters
- Hamster balls can break easily – depending on how often and the quality of the ball, it can break easily, which you might overlook and be dangerous for your fur baby
- Hamster balls can be made of toxic plastic – some hamsters have awful and dangerous fume
- Don’t use it to meet other pets – some owners think that you can use the ball to introduce their hamsters to other pet, but this is very dangerous
Hamster Ball Size For Syrian and Dwarf
The suitable hamster ball size for a Syrian is 12 inches or 30 cm, preferably clear in colour. While for a Dwarf, the size is 7-8 inches or 20 cm. It is essential to know that when choosing the right size of the exercise ball, the hamster’s back shouldn’t be arching and should be able to stand straight inside it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you don’t know if your hamster will like or not the hamster ball, there are some things you can do to find this out:
- Get a large hamster ball, must right size and try it out a few times and observe his/her reaction, does your hamster run on it or simply sit there?
- If your hamster is not crawling into the ball, it’s a big sign that your hamster is not enjoying and best not to force using the ball, you can use a playpen instead
HOW CAN HAMSTER BALLS BE USED SAFELY
If you decide to use a hamster ball and after you do a test run, here are the safety tips on using a hamster ball:
- 2-3 minute first-time policy -how long can you leave a hamster in a ball? For the first to second-time try, don’t let your hamster be there for more than 3 minutes to get familiar with it
- 5-10 minute rule – only let your hamster be on the ball for not more than 10 minutes at a time. Letting your hamster run for longer than 10 minutes without a source of drinkable water is not a good situation
- Wash the ball after use – make sure to wash the ball with mild soap thoroughly and dry it every after use
- Close the ball tightly – make sure to close the door very tight; however, you should use tape as well
- Use adhesive tape to close the hamster exercise ball door – the doors on the hamster ball loose easily, your hamster can escape
- Always check for cracks – the hamster ball crack or break easily, the ball must be thrown or replaced right away for safety, don’t try to patch it with a tape or anything
- Use a transparent colour – while hamsters have bad eyesight, it is important to choose a clear/transparent instead of a coloured one
- Supervise at all times – don’t let your hamster just roll around, keep an eye on them
- No stairs, no downhill – make sure that the ball won’t roll on the stairs and the ground is not downhill to avoid an accident
- Clean before and after – hamsters pee on the ball, make sure you clean it with light soap and rinse thoroughly after use, before using it again, quickly rinse it and dry out
BEST HAMSTER PLAYPEN TO BUY
Here are some suggestions on the best playpen instead of an exercise ball for your fur baby:
This plastic yard is best if you want to customise the hamster playpen. You can decide how big and how tall or what shape.
- size: 21.5 x 15 x 2.4 inches / 54.6 x 38 x 6.1 cm
- colour available: clear
Playpen with Top Cover
This playpen is suitable for any small animal, including hamsters. It also has a top cover, meaning you can make sure your hamster can’t escape.
- size: 47 x 47 x 15 inches / 119.3 x 119.3 x 38.1
- colour available: blue, black, pink
While I do love this playpen, if you have a Dwarf or Chinese hamster, you need to add mesh over the wall to avoid the hamster from escaping. The same goes for adding a top cover to stop Syrian hamsters from climbing the top.
- size: 13 x 35.83 x 8.67 inches / 33 x 91 x 22 cm
- colour available: multicoloured
Bottom line, it is your job to find out if using an exercise ball is safe or worth it, your hamster relies on you and trusts you that you will do your best to make sure they are healthy and safe.
If you decide not to take the risk on a hamster ball, your hamster is not missing anything. You can use a well-sized wheel or saucer or simply get a playpen to let your hamster run around to get the exercise they need. You can also be creative and make some DIY mazes for them to enjoy.