Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hamster Exercise Balls - Safe or not?

Over the years of me owning hamsters, I have heard many debates about whether these exercise balls are cruel. Personally I think that if you use the balls properly, and make sure you don't leave your hamster in there too long and you frequently check up on them, that these exercise balls are safe. I have had a many hamsters over the years and all of them enjoyed exploring and running around in their ball. However, there are still many people who think that these toys are cruel. So I have decided to share my views on hamster exercise balls, using some common arguments of people who think they are cruel.
No offense to the people who said these comments is meant, I just wanted to show my opinion through examples.






Hamster balls aren't see-through enough so the hamster can't see where he's going.
To be honest hamsters have really bad eyesight anyway, and they can only see a few inches in front of them. If an owner is really worried, then you could buy a clear ball instead of a coloured one, as this would solve the issue.

Hamster balls don't let air circulate.
I personally don't think this is true. If you buy a properly made hamster ball, and not some hideously cheap one, then they have perfectly acceptable ventilation. In fact, I think their ventilation systems are quite clever, as they are designed so that your pet has fresh air, but cannot get their toes stuck in any of the gaps.
Hamsters should not be in their balls for long periods of time, so they are not in their balls long enough for ammonia to build up to cause breathing problems. Hamsters also live in burrows in the wild, which also have little fresh air and ventilation.

When a hamster ball crashes into something, it's like a car crash for hamsters.
Well, hamsters are going not nearly fast enough to hurt them if they crash or cause big problems with the hamster. Most hamsters get better at steering their wheels anyway if you give them time. The impact is no where near what a car crash is like.

Hamsters don't like using the ball, but run because they have no-where else to go.
Some hamsters don't enjoy using exercise balls, I agree. When hamsters are bored they stop running and  go to sleep, chew on the sides of the ball or start eating food from their pouches. You should supervise when your hamster is in the ball anyway, and you should be able to tell whether he/she enjoys it or not by your hamsters body language. If you can not read your hamster's body language you should try to, as then you can understand what they want or feel better. After a while it isn't that difficult to tell when a hamster is unhappy.

Playpens are better for exercise than hamster exercise balls.
I think this is just a matter of preference  as playpens are just as good for your hamster as exercise balls. The ball allows them to explore further and in a safer environment while time in the playpen is just a good time to play around outside of the cage. Both need to be supervised too. Some hamsters may prefer the safety of the ball, whereas others may prefer the freedom without it. It all goes down to preference.


I have found that people against hamster balls simply misunderstand, or are put off by stories they have heard about hamsters who have been allowed to run around in a dangerous place and fallen down stairs, or have been left in their ball too long and unsupervised.

Overall I think that hamster exercise balls are great toys to provide physical stimulation- provided that they are used in a safe and sensible manner. You can make sure your hamster is safe by supervising it while it is in the ball, getting rid of or blocking any hazards (such as stairs or things that could tumble over and trap your hamster), making sure you leave your hamster in it's ball for no more than 30 minutes, buying a well made ball and ensuring that you watch for signs of stress, discomfort or general unhappiness in your hamster.

Hope this helps any hamster owners who weren't sure!

Coloured hamster exercise ball picture from here.
Clear hamster exercise ball picture from here.


3 comments:

  1. A great common sense post if only everybody was like that when it comes to pets,xx Rachel

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  2. I had two hamsters who loved being in the balls so much that it is hard to get them out after that! But definitely need adult supervision.

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