Yes, guinea pigs need to stay active in order to maintain their health, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need things like exercise wheels or balls for that purpose!
Wheels and balls are actually pretty bad for your guinea pigs, and in some ways are pretty dangerous as well.
Despite other small pets like hamsters being known to run around on exercise wheels for hours a day, our piggies shouldn’t be doing the same. In fact, guinea pigs don’t have the anatomy that is required to run on a wheel safely like hamsters can.
What we mean by this is that their spines aren’t meant to bend in a way that is necessary for a wheel. This makes them prone to back injuries if they were to use an exercise wheel, and these injuries can be life threatening.
These wheels can also injure their sensitive feet. Running on these wheels can also put too much pressure on their feet as the wheels are usually made of plastic and other materials that aren’t gentle on them. They can get their legs and feet caught in the mechanics of the wheel.
Running on exercise wheels can also cause problems in the form of overheating, which can be dangerous for guinea pigs, as too much stress on their bodies can be dangerous.
Piggies are also easily scared by noises, and even the sounds from the wheel can startle and scare them away from wanting to use the wheel in the first place.
Similar to exercise wheels, guinea pigs’ bodies are not built for running in the balls either.
They’re also likely to get overheated in the ball as well, as the enclosed space doesn’t allow for proper air circulation that they need. They might trip and roll over in the ball, hurting themselves in the process!
In general, things like exercise wheels and balls aren’t necessary for guinea pigs, because they get their exercise in other ways.
How can guinea pigs get exercise?
Guinea pigs can get adequate exercise just from running around in their cages!
This is why it’s important to get the correct size cage for the number of guinea pigs that you have.
The Humane Society recommends 7.5 square feet at bare minimum for one guinea pig. However as guinea pig parents we know that guinea pigs need companions to thrive, so that means at least 10.5 square feet is required.
The bigger the cage the better!
It’s also important to keep the floor of their cages cushioned, especially if they’re going to be running around a bunch! Try out the GuineaDad Premium Liner and the GuineaDad Liner for the best and safest option.
You can also give them supervised floor time in a safe part of your home where they can run around. It’s important to keep toys around that will encourage them to be active. Tunnels and hideys set in different spots of their cages and during floor time can encourage them to run to and from them. It’s especially great to have toys for when your piggies have the zoomies!
In general, there are lots of safe things that you can do to keep them moving without utilizing exercise wheels or balls!
Check out our blog post here for more ideas!