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An exercise wheel is a toy used for keeping small pets active. Exercise wheels have gained popularity due to their usage in popular media such as Hollywood films. However, this popularity begs the question, do guinea pigs run on wheels?
Do Guinea Pigs Run On Wheels?
No, guinea pigs do not run on wheels. Exercise wheels are popular among other small pets such as hamsters, mice, and rats. However, exercise wheels are hazardous to guinea pigs as they have a different anatomy from other small pets.
Not to worry, as guinea pigs can exercise in a multitude of other ways.
We will discuss why exercise wheels may prove detrimental to your guinea pig’s health. The discussion will include points about your pig’s anatomy that may suffer from the wheel’s usage. We will also provide some toys that we recommend you use instead.
Why Are Exercise Wheels Not Suitable?
Exercise wheels provide a myriad of issues for your guinea pig. The wheels are not conducive to the anatomy of your guinea pig, providing for an altogether unpleasant experience. Below we will discuss the major impediment to your guinea pig’s usage of an exercise wheel.
Your Guinea Pig’s Anatomy
Your guinea pig’s spinal column naturally sits in a convex position. However, using an exercise wheel forces your guinea pig to curve its spine into an unnatural position. This forceful curvature causes untold damage to your cavy’s spinal column. Exercise wheels are also known to cause stress ulcers in your guinea pig when used repeatedly.
An exercise wheel is made up of mesh grating and wires that have huge spacing. This spacing proves disadvantageous to guinea pigs as they have small feet. Their small feet might get trapped in between the wires. Such a situation might lead to the breakage of feet and leg bones and injury to the spine in some serious cases.
A guinea pig’s eyes are situated near the midsection of its head. Owing to this, your guinea pig might suffer slight to acute disorientation from running on an exercise wheel. The eye location also poses a challenge as your cavy might strain to try to see the wheel.
The challenge arises from the wheel being placed perpendicular to its head hence being out of its line of sight.
Which Toys Are Suitable for Your Guinea Pig?
Despite our disapproval of exercise wheels, we still believe that your cavy can find other toys for its entertainment and exercise. Our toy suggestions range in price, with some of these toys being general household items. We make these suggestions while maintaining a perfect balance of your guinea pig’s safety and enjoyment.
Paper is a non-toxic option for a plaything for your guinea pig. You can crunch a few pieces of paper to create a fist-sized ball and place it in your guinea pig’s pen. Your guinea pig can then play with the paper ball by pushing it around while also nibbling on it.
It is worth noting that you should use blank paper as printing ink might be toxic to its digestive system.
Just like paper, cardboard is also a non-toxic toy. You can break up unused cardboard boxes from packaging, such as shoe boxes, and place them in your guinea pig’s pen. You could create intricate patterns for your cavy to follow around and act as hideouts.
Due to their edible nature, your guinea pig can also gnaw at the cardboard without causing it any harm. You should ensure that there is enough aeration in your cavy’s cage to prevent suffocation.
It would be best to feed your guinea pig a constant stream of fresh hay for their sustenance. However, mealtime need not be boring. You can make the meal fun by creating a hay or grass ball for them. Additionally, you can insert a toy that creates particular sounds to pique the interest of your cavy.
Chew sticks are another option for a chewable toy. Chew sticks are usually made of organic materials such as wood. The choice of material prevents your guinea pig’s teeth from breaking as they nibble on the chew stick. A chew stick also helps maintain your cavy’s teeth length by keeping them at a normal height.
Playpens are toys that create a safe playing area for your guinea pig at home or outside. A playpen achieves this by creating borders that prevent your guinea pig from going out of the pen. These borders prevent your guinea pig from hurting itself, predation, and getting lost.
A small playpen can accommodate more than three guinea pigs. Exercise in an open area tends to increase the sociability of guinea pigs.
Maintaining your guinea pig’s health entails both its body and mind. You can purchase or create your obstacle courses. The obstacle courses prevent your cavy from getting bored by engaging its brain to help solve the course while providing the necessary exercise for its body.
You can use simple household items such as cardboard to create mazes and tunnels. You should ensure the courses are large enough to allow for free movement of your cavy. As a bonus, you can place some hay or food pellets within the course as a snack for your guinea pig.
Are Running Wheels Appropriate for Your Guinea Pig?
Exercise or running wheels are really dangerous toys for guinea pigs. Though they may be popular with other small rodents, exercise wheels may cause injuries to your cavy’s spine. Guinea pigs cannot use an exercise wheel due to their anatomy that suffers under a wheel.
How Do Guinea Pigs Exercise?
Guinea pigs can exercise in a variety of ways. You can provide them with a large and safe enclosure for them to run about and play. You can also vary their immediate environment by introducing mazes and levels, introducing a level of mystery and intrigue for your guinea pigs.
We have established that an exercise wheel is detrimental to your guinea pig’s wellbeing. Exercise wheels cause injuries to your guinea pig by forcing your cavy to curve its body in an unnatural pose. However, this should not deter you from providing your guinea pig with other means of exercise.