Understanding if chinchillas can, should, or enjoy using exercise balls is imperative.
In all honesty, it is part of what I would consider “chinchilla care 101”
It also leads to questions when it comes to chinchillas using exercise balls.
Can chinchillas run in exercise balls?
I have been raising a chinchilla for more than 5 years and here is what you need to understand about exercise balls and chinchillas.
Chinchillas cannot use exercise balls. Chinchilla’s can’t use exercise balls due to the risk involved. Exercise balls can cause a chinchilla to overheat. Additionally, exercise balls can catch on your chinchilla’s small feet trapping and suffocating them. Chinchillas are too large for traditional exercise balls.
At no point, should you ever be using an exercise ball with your chinchilla.
I’m sure this leaves some of you newer chinchilla owners curious as to what other options you have.
I’m going to cover that in this post.
Stick around for 2-3 minutes and we will break down the dangers of exercise balls and what you need to be doing instead to protect your chinchilla.
- Chinchilla Balls and Why You Should Not Allow A Chinchilla To Use Excercise Balls
- Exercise Balls Are Too Dangerous Because Chinchillas Have Small and Fragile Bones
- Exercise Balls Can Cause Other Injuries For A Chinchilla
- Do Not Use Excercise Balls For Your Chinchillas Safety
Chinchilla Balls and Why You Should Not Allow A Chinchilla To Use Excercise Balls
Exercise balls (often referred to as hamster balls) pose a few unique dangers for your chinchilla that should always be avoided.
A chinchilla is not a hamster so they do not need to be using hamster balls or balls intended for hamsters or other rodents.
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 here.
Not understanding this or using toys such as exercise balls can easily cause heatstroke with a chinchilla.
It will help you to understand the dangers of a chinchilla being in environments that are too hot or humid.
Hamster balls/exercise balls are enclosed and don’t have much breathability.
The only air that penetrates a hamster ball is through small slits in the ball itself which causes even more danger to your chinchilla.
Exercise Balls Are Too Dangerous Because Chinchillas Have Small and Fragile Bones
This is when you run into more issues with 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 on their feet.
Well, if you have ever seen a hamster ball/exercise 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 consist of a clear enclosing shaped like a circle that requires the rodent or hamster to run to get the momentum and movement started with the hamster ball.
For the hamster ball to breathe (barely), it has small openings or “slits” inside of the ball.
These “slits” inside of the hamster ball/exercise ball are a recipe for disaster with chinchillas.
Chinchillas’ feet are far too fragile and small.
If a chinchilla’s toes slip into one of these slits, it could easily break, dislocate, or cause other injuries to your chinchillas’ feet or body.
Exercise Balls Can Cause Other Injuries For A Chinchilla
An injury that’s less known that hamster/exercise balls can cause to your chinchillas involves their body structure.
Hamster balls have been known to impact a chinchilla’s back structure and hurt several other areas of the body due to their small bone structure and how chinchillas sit inside of hamster balls.
Overall, it’s strictly never a good idea to trust a hamster ball in any fashion if you truly 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 (Link to Amazon) for your chinchilla instead of exercise balls.
You can also review my thoughts on other chinchilla wheels here if you need further options.
This is safe, quiet, and will not pose any of the dangers that we have referenced when it comes to exercise balls/hamster balls.
A much better approach 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 topics that I can deliver to you, and that comes down to trusting your local pet stores.
Not a good idea to say the least.
Don’t Trust the Pet Store Recommendations With Excercise Balls For Chinchillas
Pet store owners are certainly good people.
They are also in some situations very passionate about pets.
This by no means makes them qualified to recommend products to chinchilla owners.
You see, chinchillas are a pet that is purchased with less frequency than some of the other pets commonly sold in pet stores.
Boxes for items showing images of rodents and maybe even chinchillas can surely give the impression that they are safe alternatives but that may not be the case.
This is a dangerous game to play.
It can even send you down the wrong path on food choices and other 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 simply don’t 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 at the pet store or even food items by no means makes it a safe option to present to your chinchilla.
Always do your homework and do your due diligence in ensuring that other chinchilla owners are also agreeing that a toy or item like a hamster ball is safe for your chinchilla before moving forward.
Especially when it comes to deciding on dangerous toys and items for your chinchilla such as exercise balls.
Alternatives to Excercise Balls for Chinchilla Play Time
If we can’t use hamster/exercise balls for our chinchilla, then what can we 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 to live inside of, 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 about if chinchillas like hammocks here.
Outside of these items, you can keep your chinchilla mentally stimulated by offering several chew sticks to help file 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 Excercise 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.
First and foremost, you need to be aware that chinchillas are very social animals.
You can read my post about if chinchillas are affectionate or not here.
Time with you is enough all by itself.
Additionally, playtime needs to be safe in other ways.
This includes protecting wires and cords and fully chinchilla proofing the room where your chinchilla interacts with you.
I have a post specifically designed to break down the best practices of covering wires, so your chinchilla won’t chew them here.
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 typically 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.
Oh, and yes, look for a treat from time to time.
All of these recommendations can help you dramatically interact 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 which you can see by reading the post linked a few words back.
Keep it simple and spend time with them and you won’t have anything to be worried about.
Plain and simple.
Do Not Use Excercise Balls For Your Chinchillas Safety
An exercise ball is simply something that you should never purchase or offer your chinchilla in any fashion.
Do chinchillas like exercise balls and should they be using them?
No. A chinchilla should never be running inside of nor using an exercise ball.
It’s far too dangerous and can have serious injury and health impacts for your beloved chinchilla.
Stick to safe alternatives and always do your research before using items like this that you may be unsure of.
Chili and I wish you the best of luck with your new chinchillas and the journey ahead of you.
Your Turn To Share Your Thoughts About A Chinchilla Using A Excercise Ball
What’re 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, me and “chili” appreciate you stopping by and reading.
We will catch you next time.