Chinchillas and other small animals need exercise to stay healthy, but there's only so much space in their cage to accommodate the amount that they need.
This raises the question for many chinchilla owners, can chinchillas use a chinchilla ball to get exercise outside of their cage? Keep reading to find out and find out other ways to encourage healthy exercise.
Why Is Exercise Important For Chinchillas?
The reason exercise is so important for chinchillas is both for their physical and mental well-being. When chinchillas don’t get proper exercise, they can become agitated and aggressive.
Besides the mental toll, it is also possible for your pet chinchilla to lose muscle strength and tone as a result of not exercising enough.
According to experts, a proper amount of exercise per day is 1-2 hours - whether or not this exercise is done in the cage or in a controlled exercise environment.
Nevertheless, chinchillas should get some exercise and time out of their cage in a playpen at least once a week, since being cooped up in their cage for such a long time can stress them out.
Can Chinchillas Have An Exercise Ball?
So now that we’ve established that pet chinchillas do need exercise out of their cage, the question comes to how they can get this exercise safely.
When it comes to being out of their cage, there are many things to be concerned about, such as your chinchilla getting stuck in small spaces, chewing on cords, and potentially getting into bodies of water like the toilet.
A chinchilla owner who is faced with this issue is likely to look for alternatives from a pet supplies store to letting them roam around the house without anything to confine them, such as chinchilla balls, in order to prevent any of the above from happening.
Although many small animals, including chinchillas, can fit in exercise balls, and these balls are easy to buy from the pet store, we discourage using them in any capacity. For most small animals, they are extremely dangerous. Some owners even refer to them as “death balls.”
Why Aren’t Exercise Balls Safe?
There are many reasons that pet store chinchilla balls aren’t safe, but let’s take a look at the three biggest ones.
The biggest concern when it comes to exercise balls is their lack of ventilation, this can cause most small animals to become very overheated in a short amount of time, which can be especially deadly for a chinchilla.
Having ventilation slats in an exercise ball could result in your pet's foot getting stuck, resulting in their foot becoming broken or even requiring amputation of the limb altogether.
Lastly, many exercise balls cause your chinchilla's body to contort into an unnatural posture, which may eventually lead to a number of problems, especially if it is held for extended periods over time.
In spite of the fact that you might have seen smaller pet shops and even big box pet stores selling chinchilla-sized exercise balls, many of these still have the same problems as those above, so it's better to avoid them altogether.
Are There Alternatives to Chinchilla Exercise Balls?
The good news is that there are many alternatives to exercise balls that your chinchilla can use to get exercise in a secure and safe way. Some of these alternatives can be added to your cage and some will require a little handiwork outside of their cage.
Our focus in this blog will be on two alternatives - exercise wheels for chinchillas, and a controlled exercise environment, like a playpen outside their cage.
Are Exercise Wheels Safe For Chinchillas?
Despite the fact that exercise wheels are not created equal, there are many exercise wheels that are completely chinchilla safe, and which are recommended over exercise balls because of their safety.
Benefits to an exercise wheel include their convenience of typically remaining in a cage, many of them are easy to install and can be a more silent way for your chinchilla to get exercise when it’s late at night.
What Makes A Chinchilla Wheel Safe?
The quality and safety of chinchilla wheels can vary greatly from one to another, but there are a number of things to consider before you decide to purchase a chinchilla wheel.
Generally, chinchilla wheels are safer than exercise balls since they are bigger and give the chinchilla a greater degree of freedom.
A chinchilla exercise wheel that does not contain slats in the wheel itself is the safest for your chinchilla. For the same reason as a chinchilla exercise ball, slats in an exercise wheel can cause a great deal of injury to your chinchilla if their feet get caught.
The other benefit to chinchilla wheels is the ease for your chinchilla of getting on and off the wheel, this allows your chinchilla the freedom of not overexerting themselves and being able to run in open air, both of which prevent the chance of your chinchilla overheating.
As a general rule, it is important to make sure that your exercise wheel contains no plastic whatsoever, as it is going to be placed in a cage, which means that your chinchilla is prone to chewing and ingesting the plastic.
Where Should I Put A Chinchilla Wheel?
The best place for a chinchilla wheel is close to the bottom of your chinchilla’s cage, in a spot that is unobstructed.
This allows your chinchilla to easily and safely get on and off the chinchilla wheel whenever they want. This can both encourage healthy exercise, as well as prevent injuries by making sure your chinchilla doesn’t have to jump on or off at a great height.
It’s important to ensure that none of your chinchilla’s food bowls or toys obstruct the entrance to their exercise wheel, as the way they can launch themselves out could cause them to land on the item and hurt themselves.
Why We Recommend The Chin Spin
The design of the wheel is made exactly with your chinchilla in mind, and here are just a few of the many benefits you will get out of the product.
It’s Large Enough For Any Chinchilla
As a 6-1/4" circular surface and a 15" tall frame, the Chin Spin is large enough to provide a comfortable running surface for your chinchilla to run safely with the proper posture.
It’s Easy To Clean
As the Chin Spin is primarily made of metal, cleaning it up is quite simple and typically only requires a wipe-down with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water in order to get rid of any debris.
The Chin Spin has an all-metal and wood construction, making it virtually indestructible from your chinchilla or small pet chewing on it.
It’s Completely Safe & Non-Toxic
With its solid metal ring securely attached to Baltic Birch Plywood, there’s no chance of your chinchilla’s feet getting caught in any bars. Additionally, everything used to build the Chin Spin is non-toxic to chinchillas, including the powder coat applied in the colored varieties.
Comes In Multiple Colors
As mentioned above, the Chin Spin comes in multiple colors that are done with chinchilla-safe powder coats. So you can customize your chinchilla’s cage however you like!
It’s Nearly Silent
When the chin spin device is fitted properly into the cage of your chinchilla, your chinchilla can enjoy it to their hearts' content without waking you up overnight.
Due to the high-quality craftsmanship of the Chin Spin, your Chin Spin can last up to 10+ years without needing to be replaced. The only part that needs regular maintenance is the Chin Spin Bearings, which need to be replaced every 6-12 months
How Chinchillas Can Get Exercise Out Of Their Cage
While a chinchilla wheel is a great way to encourage healthy exercise, it is important for your pet to get some time outside of their cage.
You can provide healthy exercise to your chinchilla outside of the cage in many different ways. The most common and recommended of which is creating a playpen for your chinchilla.
While we have an article here on the best way to create a chinchilla playpen, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The playpen should be kept in a spot that can stay in the ideal temperature range for a chinchilla (no more than 68º degrees Fahrenheit and no less than 64º) and ideally be made from a material that is chew-proof (we recommend a dog pen with high walls.)
You can fill your chinchilla’s playpen with huts and toys that they typically enjoy, as well as a bowl filled with dust so you can also get bath time handled.
The best way to keep your chinchilla healthy is to take them out of their cage at least once a week, generally while you are cleaning their cage, and make sure they get enough exercise during this time.
There are many reasons why chinchilla exercise balls are generally deemed unsafe. Including the lack of ventilation, small size, and slats that can lead to injury.
There are many safer alternatives than exercise balls to encourage healthy exercise in your chinchillas. Whether that’s with chinchilla wheels or creating a controlled exercise environment like a playpen. Creating these kinds of ways to exercise for your furry friend will ensure they live a long and happy life.
We aim to make our blogs as accurate as possible to make sure you get the best and most up-to-date information on the care and keeping of your chinchilla.
If you're looking for other interesting articles on chinchillas, explore California legality, chinchillas and cats, are chinchillas hypoallergenic, can chinchillas get fleas, and how high can a chinchilla jump?
Have you ever used a Chin Spin? We'd love to hear about your experience, and also, we'd love to see photos if you have them, too!
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Author Bio: Morgan Mulac