You’ve probably seen cute videos of little animals running around on a wheel or playing in a little ball. I always think these animals are so cute, and they must be having a fun time in their little container. However, I’m glad I did my own research before purchasing a wheel for my guinea pig. I was surprised to learn some very important facts about cavies and play wheels or balls.
If you are a cavy owner, you should pay special attention to the information below. Not all toys are safe for your piggy. In fact, the wrong toys can cause serious damage to their spines and even result in death. We want our cavies to have fun playing with toys that are safe! Keep reading for some valuable tips about guinea pig wheels and toys.
Can guinea pigs use a wheel?
No, guinea pigs cannot use a wheel. Exercise balls or wheels are very popular toys for a lot of small rodents. Hamsters, mice, rats, and gerbils can all have a lot of fun on the toys and get their exercise in for the day. However, you should never put an exercise wheel in your guinea pig’s crate or put them in an exercise ball. While they may seem similar to other small animals, cavies have very specific needs when it comes to toys and exercise.
Why can’t guinea pigs run on wheels?
The main concern for guinea pigs running on wheels is their spine. These toys may seem harmless, but they can do considerable damage to their spines. The wheel forces their spines to curve in an unnatural position that is concave. They will likely not even enjoy running on a wheel or being in an exercise ball because it is very uncomfortable.
Your cavy’s feet are not designed to run on the mesh grating or wires of an exercise wheel either. I do not recommend buying this type of toy for your pet because their feet can easily slip between the bars and get trapped. This problem can lead to bones in their feet or legs getting broken and even more damage to their spine.
I was surprised to learn that guinea pig’s eyes sit further on the sides of their heads than other rodents. For this reason, running on a wheel can cause them to get disoriented very quickly. They will have a difficult time seeing the wheel in front of their faces, and they will not like the experience as a whole.
When it comes to plastic exercise balls, the issues are mainly the same as ones pertaining to a wheel. However, exercise balls are too enclosed. They do not provide proper circulation of air to keep your pet safe while they exercise. You may find that they suffer a heat stroke if left in an exercise ball for too long.
What does a guinea pig like to play with?
Just because you can’t give your piggy an exercise wheel, does not mean there aren’t plenty of toys available. There are a lot of options out there for toys your pet will enjoy, and they range in price. From homemade toys to high-end options, here are some of the guinea pigs most favorite toys.
My favorite Guinea pigs toys:
- Paper: I was surprised to learn that guinea pigs like to play with crumpled up pieces of paper. You probably already have some paper or paper bags at home. Just crunch up a few pieces to form fist-sized balls and drop them in your piggy’s crate. They will love to gnaw on them and push them around.
- Cardboard: This is another simple, homemade solution for guinea pig toys. You can put small cardboard boxes in their cage to create fun hideouts and give them something to chew on. Like paper, cardboard is non-toxic, so your pet can munch on it for a while. If you have extra shoe boxes at home, they can easily become toys.
- Tunnels: You can find tunnels in all sizes and made of a variety of materials. Just make sure the tunnel is large enough, so your cavy doesn’t get stuck inside. They will enjoy hiding in the tunnel or running around it for exercise. You can even stick some food pellets or hay inside for a quick snack. I reviewed the 7 best tunnels you can buy for your lovely cavy.
- Chew Balls: Cavies need a constant supply of fresh hay for their diet. You can make snack time fun by giving them a hay or grass chew ball to play with. Usually, there is a toy inside the ball that makes an interesting sound when it rolls around. They can also have a nice snack while they play. This is the best guinea pigs balls collection every owner looks for.
- Chew Sticks: Your piggy needs plenty to chew on to keep their teeth in top condition. However, you need to make sure that they are chewing on something that will not break their teeth. Chew sticks are natural options for munching and nibbling. They are typically made of wood or other organic materials that are safe for your pet. Check out my favorite cheap guinea pig sticks on Amazon.
- Obstacles: Guinea pigs need plenty of stimulation to keep their minds and bodies busy. To prevent your pet from getting bored, you can purchase or create obstacles to put in their crate. Cardboard makes great obstacles like mazes or tubes to fill their cage. I recommend this cheap natural living tunnel system that you can find on Amazon for around $27.
- Playpens: If you want to bring your pet out into your home, you will need a safe place for them to play. A small playpen will give your piggy plenty of room to run around while preventing them from getting lost or hurt out in your home. I use this cheap amazing playpen, It is easy to assemble, and can change to different shapes. It is big enough to have 3 or more guinea pigs inside.
Can guinea pigs play with cat toys?
There are some cat toys that may be safe for your guinea pig to play with. There are many types of wooden chew sticks or other small toys for cats that are suitable for cavies. However, you should pay close attention to the materials those toys are made of to ensure they are safe for your pet.
Are there guinea pig wheelchairs?
Yes, there are options for guinea pig wheelchairs or carts. If your pet is disabled, you can purchase a wheelchair online to aid with their mobility, don’t forget to check out this beautiful guide to have a better understanding of their likes/dislikes.. For pets with more serious disabilities, you may need to consider purchasing a custom-made wheelchair or cart to help your piggy stay active.
Nothing is more fun than playtime with your guinea pigs. I love to watch my cavies play with the toys in their crate or put them in a playpen for one-on-one time. However, I was surprised to learn how dangerous wheels and exercise balls can be for my piggy. The good news is that there are plenty of other toys to choose from that are safe for guinea pigs and give them something great to play with!
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.