Are Hamster Balls Bad for Hamsters?
Hamster exercise balls are stressful and dangerous because they create a stressful and confusing situation. Having a hamster ball that is too small will also cause damage to a hamster’s back.
What may look entertaining to us is actually very stressful for hamsters. The reality is hamsters have very poor eyesight and depend heavily on their other senses such as smell, hearing, and touch.
Once trapped in a small ball the ability to use these senses will be restricted ensuing in panic. Hamsters don’t enjoy changing environments they prefer familiarity, roaming free in a plastic ball might seem like an enjoyable experience but is most likely highly stressful and disorientating
Combine this with the fact hamsters are prey animals and have natural instincts despite being domesticated. Prey animals prefer to be hidden and certainly not in the wide open where they are vulnerable to attack. The natural instinct of a hamster will always be to seek cover or a hiding place not roam freely in an open space. Putting a hamster in a ball prevents them from doing this and will make them feel vulnerable.
Additional Problems With Hamster Exercise Balls
A hamster in a ball also has very little control over its environment and will sometimes crash into objects such as household furniture. Of course, this is dangerous and can result in injury. Hamsters are pretty delicate animals and constant crashing into things certainly won’t end well.
Many hamster exercise balls also have small air holes which can trap a hamster’s feet causing further injury. These hamster balls also often have poor ventilation and can get hot very quickly.
With a bit of common sense, we can prevent collisions but there are still many negatives which out weight the positives.
Small Hamster Balls Damage Your Hamster‘s Back
The hamster ball size is very important. Hamster exercise balls are generally too small for the average hamster. If you can see your hamster having to run with an arched back this is a clear indication that the ball is too small. Running whilst arching can cause permanent damage to your hamster’s spine. Combine a collision with a hamster in an uncomfortable, vulnerable position you have a recipe for a broken back. If you were dead set on buying an exercise ball for your hamster we would recommend at least getting one that is a decent size.
Hamster Exercise Balls Can Cause Infections
Any experience hamster owner will know that hamsters will often urinate or defecate (Sometimes even both) when stressed or scared. As we previously said being shoved in a big plastic ball flying around the living room can be a scary experience, so it’s no wonder hamsters will often wee or poo in their balls.
As you have already figured out a ball that has its interior covered in urine and feces is certainly not a desirable place to be. Exposure to these conditions can cause bacterial infections and a number of other medical issues.
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Hamster Balls Are Bad for Many Reasons
There’s no denying that hamsters will get a good amount of exercise from their balls. Many people have different views on whether hamsters actually like their exercise balls. It’s actually quite a controversial topic given the negatives we’ve already talked about.
Many owners are adamant that their hamster enjoys running in its ball whilst others simply believe they do it because they have nothing else to do. Others feel like their trying to escape or are confused.
Many people have very different views on the topic and will argue aggressively to convince you that their hamster is different or special from others.
Ultimately it’s to you decide what you think is the best for your pet hamsters. Hamsters have different personalities it’s true and what might be a scary experience for most might not be so bad for others.
We’ve listened to the arguments and we still firmly believe that hamster exercise balls are not enjoyable for the vast majority of hamsters. The RSPCA and PETA are both in agreement with this with their advice sections on hamster care.
Given the potential risks associated with hamster exercise balls, we recommend using an alternative. Of course, we still want our pets to get the exercise they need. Just because we can’t use a ball doesn’t mean there aren’t many other toys/ideas we hamster owners can use instead.
Hamster Ball Alternatives
I like hamster playpens a lot, they’re a perfect outlet and exercise environment for pet hamsters. Our furry friends are free to roam in a controlled environment without the fear of collisions or disorientation. You can also add objects for hamsters to hide in to ensure they don’t feel vulnerable. The great thing about hamster playpens is also that they’re easy to make or cheap to buy. There are many guides about how to make your own DIY hamster playpen which I think is a really fun activity to do.
Hamster Running Wheels
Hamster running wheels are obviously the most well know and most used exercise tool for hamsters. Although there can be certain dangers associated with hamster wheels with the proper care and attention a hamster wheel is certainly a value add to any hamster cage. If you want to be extra careful you can just place the wheel in when you want the hamster to run to ensure you can supervise it.
We love our hamsters and want the best for them it’s quite clear that hamster exercise balls are bad for our pets. We should strive to provide them with the best possible outlets for exercise which ensure they are safe and are not understand emotional stress.