WARNING: DO NOT EVER PUT A HAMSTER IN AN EXERCISE BALL UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
1. The hamster risks curvature of the spine if the ball is too small.
2. The hamster’s feet or toes can slip through the air holes causing injury or breakage which could lead to amputation. Many vets have stated it is the number 1 reason for leg inguries of hamsters.
3. The tiny air holes do not create enough ventilation, causing the ball to overheat easily.
4. The hamster has no access to food or water while inside the ball.
5. A hamster becomes disorientated when using an exercise ball. It is forced to move and cannot stop.
6. The hamster can be injured if it slams the ball into a wall or object, or falls down stairs.
7. The lid can open very easily, resulting in a lost hamster that could possibly be killed, especially if other pets are around.
8. If a hamster urinates in the ball, it creates a very unhygienic environment, both for the hamster inside the ball and also because the urine can leak onto the floor through the air holes.
9. Hamsters are prey animals and only feel secure when they have a place to hide. Being in a ball gives them nowhere to hide if they feel threatened by shapes or shadows, this causes them to become stressed.
10. Hamsters rely on their sense of smell and touch to navigate. Their eyesight is extremely poor, and in an exercise ball, this is made much worse (even if the ball is clear/uncoloured). The hamster cannot explore it’s surroundings properly, which defeats the purpose of letting them out of their enclosure, as the ball gives them absolutely no enrichment.
Using a playpen, an empty bathtub, or other safe, hamster-proof places is a much better way of giving your hamster time outside of it’s enclosure. It allows them to interact with you and their surroundings safely.
Hamsters do not exist for our amusement. It is important to respect an animal’s needs and see things from their point of view, rather than forcing them to do what we want them to do.
Hamsters that willingly get into an exercise ball do not necessarily “like it”. Hamsters are curious creatures by nature and will likely jump into any object you place in their cage such as a mug or travel cage. Regardless of whether the hamster “likes” the ball or not, it is your responsibility to make sure your pet is safe at all times. Being aware of the above facts and still using a ball is irresponsible pet care. There is NO excuse for using one.
The RSPCA, Blue Cross, German Vetrinary Association and many other hamster communities state that hamster exercise balls are animal cruelty.
Cages such as the Habitrail Ovo’s are the most unsuitable cages on the market. Nothing about them caters to the hamsters welfare and rights.
- They have poor ventilation, which is usually just small holes in the plastic where small toes can be injured.
- Narrow tubes that syrians could easily get stuck in.
- Water bottles that are not accessible.
- The plastic provides no enrichment.
- The colours are for the consumer, not for the hamster. Hamsters have poor eyesight.
- The overall floor-space is approximately 700sqcm in the round dome version, over 7 times smaller than the bare minimum for syrians.
- Connecting multiples of these products together isn’t sufficient, hamsters require unbroken floor-space which these enclosures simply cannot provide.
- These cages do not provide enough space to fit all the necessary enrichment a hamster needs such as a correctly sized wheel, a sand bath, deep substrate, multiple digging areas, a multi chamber hide.. the list goes on and these enclosures can’t fit any of it.
This is one of the most dangerous things currently on the market for hamsters. Whilst it’s packaged well and looks so soft and comfortable, it is actually an accident waiting to happen. The small fibres that the bedding is made of has been known the separate and get caught around a hamsters back leg, cutting off circulation to the limb, causing it to fall off. Hamsters pouch their food and bedding and with this bedding it is possible that when a hamster pouched this, it can get stuck inside the pouch causing serious issues and even death.
Metal mesh wheels are extremely dangerous to have for your hamster, or any rodent. The gaps in the mesh may look small, but so are your hamsters’ feet. When your hamster builds up speed on a wheel, it is very easy for one of their toes or feet to slip into one of the gaps and get caught. You can imagine the injury from that as the wheel continues to spin once the hamster is caught. Another issue that these wheels can cause is bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is an extremely painful condition caused by overexposure to a metal surface or wheel, causing inflammation of the skin on the feet. This leads to a bacterial infection and can even progress to deep bone infection if untreated.
Sawdust, Pine & Cedar
All sawdust, pine and cedar products are unsafe for hamsters. Sawdust contains a lot of fine dust which, when a hamster digs and burrows in, breathes in the dust. This can lead to respiratory problems and infections. Anything pine or cedar contains naturally occurring oils that can make the hamster very ill if ingested or consumed.
Instead, try using a paper based bedding such as kaytee clean and cosy, aspen shavings or hemp. Another great addition to your hamsters cage is torn up toilet roll; safe and cheap, your hamster will love to add it to their cosy nest.
Harnesses & Leashes
While a hamster harness and lead may look adorable and be marketed as a great product, it is in fact extremely dangerous. Hamsters are not designed to be on a harness or lead, and the use of such can cause serious injuries. Hamsters are delicate and if your hamster pulls or gets a fright with the harness, it can cause a fall or serious injury to its back or neck.
Small Animal Shampoo
Your hamster will not require a bath or wash of any kind, so all the small animal shampoos that are marketed for hamsters are unsuitable. Once a hamster gets wet, it can take a long time to dry, which can then cause a cold or other respiratory problems. Unless absolutely necessary and under the guidance of a hamster savvy vet, please DO NOT bathe your hamster.
Whilst salt and mineral licks look lovely as an accessory in a cage, what the packet doesn’t tell you are the dangers of using such products. Any good quality hamster food will have your hamsters’ daily allowance of salt and minerals, so they will not need any extra. If a hamster chews on these and consumes more than their allowance, this can lead to kidney and liver issues which will make the hamster extremely ill.