There are certain supplies that all pet guinea pigs need so that they stay healthy and happy. They need a safe habitat, food, water, and hay, as well as a spot to hide. There are a lot of other accessories available, including wheels and balls. However, it is important to understand that a running wheel or a ball is dangerous for guinea pigs, and you should never use one.
Reasons Why You Should Not Get Wheels
While small rodents including mice and hamsters might enjoy an exercise wheel or ball, they are deadly for guinea pigs. Don’t let any packaging that claims they are safe fool you. Guinea pigs are built differently from these smaller rodents, and they can injure themselves easily with one of these toys. Take a look at three reasons why you should never get wheels for your guinea pig.
It Can Injure Their Backs
The main reason not to get a wheel for your guinea pig is a matter of its anatomy. Guinea pigs are structurally different from mice and hamsters, and using a running wheel can severely injure their backs. The wheel causes the guinea pig to curve its back in an unnatural way, which can damage its spine. Guinea pigs’ backs are not made to curve in a “U” shape.
Guinea pigs do need exercise, and they will exercise on their own in a large enough habitat. They love to scurry around, explore, and go in and out of hiding places. You can also hide treats or give your guinea pig balls to chase and push around. These are safe ways for it to get some exercise.
They Don’t Need to Run
You may have noticed that your guinea pig scurries around, but it doesn’t spend a lot of time actually running. Mice and hamsters, on the other hand, do run and cover long distances. Guinea pigs spend their time exploring and scurrying from one hiding spot to the next, and they don’t have a need for the kind of exercise provided by a wheel.
Your guinea pig will be happier with different objects for stimulation, and it will move from one thing to the next, taking a rest in between. They don’t need to burn off energy the way that a smaller rodent would.
They Might Chew and Eat the Plastic
Because guinea pigs spend more time exploring than they do exercising, they may use the wheel as a chew toy. Most exercise wheels are made of plastic, and the guinea pig has no trouble chewing through it. It can easily break pieces off, and it could choke on it or swallow it. This can lead to abdominal issues that can be very painful.
It is better to provide your guinea pig with a large habitat and a lot of different areas where it can hide and safely explore. Make sure that there is plenty to keep your guinea pig entertained so that it doesn’t get bored.
Should I Get a Guinea Pig Ball?
You should not get your guinea pig a ball for many of the same reasons. When you see a hamster or a chinchilla running around in a ball, it looks as though they are having fun. However, your guinea pig doesn’t have the same anatomy, and it can be very dangerous. Hamsters can arch their backs without any trouble, but it could cause serious spinal injuries for your guinea pig.
Another issue is that guinea pigs can overheat easily, and the exercise ball is enclosed. If the temperature gets too high inside the ball, your guinea pig can suffer from a heatstroke. Guinea pigs aren’t very athletic by nature, so they can’t handle exercise the way other rodents can.
So What Can Your Guinea Pig Play with?
There are plenty of toys that are wonderful and safe for guinea pigs to play with. They are very curious by nature, and you can set up an obstacle course for them. Choose equipment that is low to the ground and safe for guinea pigs. You can get a hoop, an open tunnel, a closed tunnel, weaving poles, and more. Use a treat to teach your guinea pig how to navigate the course.
You can also get a ball for your guinea pig to push around. Make sure that it is a simple ball without anything attached to it, and they can enjoy pushing it around the cage. Cardboard boxes also make great toys for guinea pigs. They enjoy playing hide and seek, and they will run in and out of the boxes. They are great because when the guinea pig uses them up, you can throw it away and give it a new one.
You may have seen other small rodents running on an exercise wheel, but they are deadly for guinea pigs. You should stay away from exercise balls as well, and let them enjoy toys that bring out their natural curiosity.