We’ve all seen cute little hamsters racing around a room in one of those hamster balls.
Naturally, it would be just as adorable if a chinchilla did it.
But don’t go out and buy a chinchilla exercise ball just yet.
Chinchillas are not hamsters. Their unique physiology makes the use of exercise balls extremely dangerous.
Plus, most of them are designed for hamsters or other smaller rodents. Chinchillas are too big to use most standard exercise balls anyway.
Keep reading to learn why hamster balls are so dangerous for chinchillas and what types of alternatives you should be considering instead.
- 1 Chinchilla Exercise Balls: Can They Use Them?
- 2 Why Chinchillas Should Never Use Exercise Balls
- 3 Alternatives To Exercise Balls For Chinchillas
- 4 Chinchilla Exercise Balls: Final Thoughts
Chinchilla Exercise Balls: Can They Use Them?
Chinchillas can physically use exercise balls, but you should never let yours use one. There is simply too much risk involved.
For one, exercise balls can cause a chinchilla to overheat. Second, many balls have slats, which can catch the tiny feet and break them or some toes. And when it comes to hamster balls, or ones made for other rodents, chinchillas are simply too large for them.
In short: at no point, should you ever use an exercise ball with your chinchilla.
I’m sure this leaves you curious as to what other options you have. Breath easy.
I’m going to cover that all in this post. But first, let’s get into more detail on why you should never let your chinchilla use a hamster ball, or even a larger exercise ball that is the correct size.
Why Chinchillas Should Never Use Exercise Balls
Exercise balls (often referred to as hamster balls, even when they are larger) pose several unique dangers for your chinchilla. For that reason, you should avoid them completely.
A chinchilla is not a hamster. They do not need to be using hamster balls or balls intended for other rodents. They should not even use exercise balls made specifically for chinchillas (a product that should not exist, to be honest).
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons exercise balls are so dangerous for these little rodents.
Chinchillas Overheat Easily
First and most importantly, if you aren’t aware, chinchillas can overheat very easily due to their dense fur. You can read about this in my post that discusses how chinchillas must remain at ideal temperatures.
It will help you to understand the dangers of a chinchilla being in environments that are too hot or humid. Not understanding this and using toys like exercise balls can easily cause heatstroke with a chinchilla.
Hamster balls/exercise balls are enclosed and don’t allow much air to flow. The only air that penetrates a hamster ball is through small slits in the ball itself. It is not enough and those small slits are actually another big danger.
Chinchillas Have Small And Fragile Bones
This is when you run into more issues allowing a chinchilla to use an exercise ball/hamster ball. Chinchillas are unique in the sense that they have very small and fragile bones, not only their ribs and legs but also in their feet.
Well, if you have ever seen hamster balls designed for rodents and how they are constructed, I’m sure you can understand why this may pose an issue for your chinchilla.
Exercise balls have a clear enclosing shaped like a circle that requires the rodent or hamster to run to get the momentum and movement started with the ball.
In order to allow the animal inside to breathe (barely), it has small openings, or slits, on the shell of the ball. These slits are a recipe for disaster with chinchillas.
Their feet are simply too fragile and small. If a chinchilla’s toes slip into one of these slits, they could easily break or dislocate. The slits can also cause numerous other injuries to your chinchilla’s feet or body.
Another less known injury that an exercise ball can cause to your chinchilla involves its body structure. Hamster balls have been known to impact a chinchilla’s back and hurt several other areas of the body, due to the small bone structure and how chinchillas sit inside of the balls.
Overall, it’s just never a good idea to trust a hamster ball, or any type of exercise ball, if you want to keep your chinchilla healthy and injury-free.
You have plenty of other safe alternatives that make much more sense. In fact, you can refer to my post that details the best chinchilla toys here. You can also check out my post about the best chinchilla accessories here.
I would highly recommend something more along the lines of the Chin Spin 15 Inch Wheel (see those posts for more on this toy) for your chinchilla, instead of exercise balls.
You can also review my thoughts on other chinchilla wheels here, if you need further options. Wheels (ones without slats) are safe, quiet, and will not pose any of the dangers mentioned here when it comes to exercise balls.
They are just a much better choice and will lead to a much happier chinchilla. We will cover those shortly, but for now, let’s hit on one of the most important points. And that is to never trust your local pet stores.
Don’t Trust Pet Store Recommendations Concerning Exercise Balls
Pet store owners are mostly good people. Many of them are also very passionate about pets. But this by no means makes them qualified to recommend products to chinchilla owners.
Chinchillas are not a common pet. If a pet store does have chinchillas for sale, they sell far fewer of them than most other pets. As a result, most pet store owners and employees don’t know much about chinchillas.
They often just rely on what they see on the box. But while some items designed for other rodents might show a chinchilla on the box, that does not mean the item is actually safe for chinchillas.
That kind of packaging is misleading and most pet store employees unfortunately don’t know any better when they recommend items like that.
This can be dangerous. It can even send you down the wrong path on food choices and on safe toys for your chin to play with. For me, I personally always rely on blogs, forums, and even chinchilla breeders to get trustworthy information.
Pet stores, and even general pet blogs, don’t generally own chinchillas and don’t recognize or understand what may be best for our furry friends.
To recap, just because you see an image of a chinchilla on a play toy (or even food items) at the pet store, that does not necessarily mean it is a safe option for your chinchilla.
Always do your homework and your due diligence to make sure that a toy or item like a hamster ball is safe for your chinchilla, before moving forward. This is especially true when it comes to deciding on potentially dangerous items for your chinchilla, like exercise balls.
Alternatives To Exercise Balls For Chinchillas
If you can’t use hamster balls for your chinchilla, then what can you use?
Well, the list is honestly endless for safe alternatives. Most importantly, your chinchilla will be happy simply having a chinchilla cage that’s the proper size.
You can read our post about how to find the best chinchilla cage here.
Once you have a good-sized cage for your chinchilla, you can get creative. I like to have several wooden shelves, hiding boxes, wooden bridges, and even other fun items to play with.
For instance, you can decide to go with an item such as a hammock for your chinchilla to enjoy. You can read my post discussing whether chinchillas like hammocks for more.
Outside of these items, you can keep your chinchilla mentally stimulated by offering several chew sticks. They serve double duty in that they also help file down their teeth. I also like to order various other applewood play toys that encourage healthy chewing behaviors.
Play Time With Your Chinchilla Does Not Require An Exercise Ball
When it comes to playtime, which is always designated for time out of the cage, you have several options to keep your chinchilla happy and having a good time.
As far as toys, you don’t need to get crazy. Your company and interaction are enough and plenty of other safe items rank at the top for chinchillas favorite items to play with.
Affording your chinchilla a chinchilla dust bath during playtime is a great start. In addition, your chinchilla may enjoy a few dried oats as treats and need nothing more than time interacting and playing with you.
When I let my chinchilla out of the cage, she typically does her thing and burns off some energy for 15 minutes or so jumping off walls and climbing shelves in the room.
Following this, she likes to interact with me for the second half of playtime. This is when she will sit on my lap, jump on my shoulders, and climb on top of my head.
All of these recommendations can help you interact much better with your chinchilla all while avoiding exercise balls. It’s that easy people.
Although chinchillas are fragile animals that require a few things, they are not as high maintenance as it may seem. In fact, chinchillas are not hard to take care of at all. Keep it simple and spend time with them and you won’t have anything to be worried about.
Chinchilla Exercise Balls: Final Thoughts
You should never put your chinchilla in an exercise ball. While they can use them and will probably even enjoy it, hamster balls are simply too dangerous for these delicate rodents.
It is far too easy for them to suffer a serious injury. Stick to safe alternatives and always do your research before using items of which you are unsure.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchilla and the journey ahead of you.
Your turn to share your thoughts about chinchillas using exercise balls.
What are your thoughts on allowing a chinchilla to use a hamster ball? Do you recommend it?
Be sure to share your stories by commenting below.
As always, chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading. We will catch you next time.