By David G. Imber
Posted: March 23, 2012, 1:05 p.m. EDT
Hamsters love to exercise and two great ways to allow your hamster to safely run are a hamster ball or hamster wheel. If you want to buy your hamster a hamster exercise ball, follow these easy safety tips to keep your hamster happy and healthy.
- Get the appropriate size for your hamster. A large exercise ball for a Syrian hamster may be too heavy for a dwarf hamster to maneuver. By the same token, the 7½ inch minimum diameter rule for adult Syrian hamsters applies for exercise balls, just as it does for exercise wheels.
- Keep the hamster exercise ball clean. Wash the ball after every use, and wash and dry it thoroughly between running sessions with different hamsters.
- Keep some inexpensive packing or masking tape handy, and always put a bit across the lid of the ball to keep it locked. Hamsters are awfully good at opening play balls, and if you’re not careful, your hamster will walk out of the ball and run off.
- Block off stairwells and other places where the hamster can become seriously injured. A hamster in a play ball should never be allowed near electrical wires or long drops. Places where the hamster will become stuck, such as where bare floor meets thick carpet, should also be blocked off.
- Unlike playing in a hamster exercise wheel, the hamster can’t leave the play ball for a drink. Yet exercise does dehydrate it. Start your hamster in the ball for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. If it seems happy and vigorous, you may be able to let it go for as long as an hour. But don’t let your hamster stay in an exercise ball longer than that.
- Even Syrian hamsters are tolerant of other hamsters and other pets when in the play ball, and you can set several hamsters out in separate play balls at once. But remember that accidents happen: The hamster might stop and attempt to bite at carpet or fabric through the slots in the ball, two balls might collide and crack open along a center seam (where another bit of tape is a good idea), your dog’s curiosity might get the better of it, or another family member might walk in unaware and accidentally turn the play ball into a soccer ball. The play ball isn’t a ham-sitter, so don’t let your hamster run unsupervised.
How will you know if your hamster is tired or simply doesn’t like the play ball experience? If your hamster stops moving and sits in the ball when it enters, you might want to try other types of play instead.
Excerpt from the Popular Critters Series magabook Hamsters with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Hamsters here.