Exercise balls are a common toy for rodents and have been for a long time. It encourages exercise and mental stimulation.
It also leads to questions when it comes to chinchillas.
Chinchillas are a rodent but do have different needs.
Do chinchillas like hamster balls?
Here’s what I can tell you.
So, do chinchillas like hamster balls? No, chinchillas do not like 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.
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.
The Dangers of Exercise Balls for Chinchillas and Why They Don’t Like Them
Exercise balls pose a few unique dangers for your chinchilla that should always be avoided.
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.
It will help you to understand the dangers of a chinchilla being in environments that are too hot or humid.
Hamster 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.
Chinchillas Have Small and Fragile Bones, Hamster Balls Are Too Dangerous
This is when you run into more issues with allowing a chinchilla to use a 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 and how they are constructed, I’m sure you can understand why this may pose an issue for your chinchilla.
Hamster 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 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.
Other Injuries Are Known to Occur with Chinchillas and Hamster Balls
An injury that’s less known that hamster 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.
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 Hamster 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.
Alternatives to Hamster Balls for Chinchilla Play Time
If we can’t use hamster 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 a Hamster 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. 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.
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.
Final Word, Don’t Use Hamster Balls for Your Chinchilla For Safety
I get worried that perhaps some of the information in this post didn’t quite stick or sink in so I wanted to recap briefly.
Do chinchillas like hamster balls?
No. A chinchilla should never be running inside of nor using a hamster 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.
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.