How to Make Sure Your Hamster Gets Enough Exercise

by VetDepot on May 10, 2013

cute hamster editedLike any pet, your hamster needs regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Obviously, a small cage doesn’t provide much space for physical activity, and you’re probably not taking your hamster out for walks around the neighborhood. Still, it’s easy to ensure your hamster gets all the daily physical activity required.

Exercise Wheel

An exercise wheel isn’t an optional accessory for a hamster, every one of these fluffy rodents needs one. Wheels provide entertainment and physical activity, staving off boredom and extra pounds. Many hamster cages come with wheels that mount on the side, but if your cage didn’t, be sure to pick one up for your pet’s habitat. Hamsters can’t safely use exercise wheels with wire bar rungs, so choose one with a solid plastic or mesh bottom. If your hamster’s back arches while running, the wheel is too small.

Tunnels

Hamsters love dashing through networks of tunnels, making them a fun way to encourage physical activity. Consider buying a hamster cage that comes with attachable plastic tubes. You can even purchase supplemental sets of tubes and compartments that allow you to connect a second cage to the first for a large habitat your hamster will love and be able to move around in freely.

If you don’t own this type of hamster cage, or if you’re looking for other ways to encourage exercise by creating a tunnel network, lay out a maze of empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls in your hamster’s secure play area. PVC pipes work well, too.

Secure Play Area

Your hamster should have a secure play area outside its cage to move more freely and run around. Out-of-cage time is exercise time, but it also provides your pet with a stimulating change of environment and offers you an opportunity to clean the cage. Your best bet is to buy a hamster playpen. Add a few toys to the play area, including something your hamster can roll around for a good workout.

Hamster Ball

When used responsibly, hamster balls are a fun form of exercise for your pet. Pick one with ventilation holes, but make sure they’re small enough that your hamster’s feet won’t become stuck. These rodents have poor vision, so go with clear rather than tinted plastic. Don’t count on the door to always stay closed while your hamster runs around; secure it with a strip of tape.

Place your hamster ball on a carpeted floor, since hard surfaces allow the ball to roll too quickly and your hamster might end up being flipped around. A ball that’s too big can have the same effect. Make sure the room is secure and there’s no way your hamster might roll down steps. Keep young children and other pets out of the room, because they’ll be tempted to kick, throw, or bat the hamster ball around. Take your hamster out of the ball after a maximum of 20 minutes to prevent stress.

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