You might have watched Guinea Pigs do stunts with exercise wheels in ‘G force’ movies or might have watched funny videos of rodents running in an exercise wheel. It does look like fun, no? When you see such things, do you wonder, can your Guinea Pig also do so?
Well, exercising is as good for your Guinea Pig as it is for you. So, if you are considering offering your Guinea Pig exercise wheel and giving this question a final thought- do Guinea Pigs need exercise wheels? Then let me warn you. Guinea Pigs doesn’t need exercise wheels. In fact running on an exercise wheel can be proved fatal for your Cavy. So be careful before making your Guinea Pig run on an exercise wheel. Give this article a full read to understand why exercise wheels are detrimental and good exercise options for your Guinea Pig.
Though many rodents like- hamsters, rats, and gerbils use exercise wheels with no complications, the case is not the same for Guinea Pigs. Despite being a member of this pocket pet family, Guinea Pigs have somewhat different physical features. Their anatomy doesn’t allow them to use exercise wheels and balls. Here are the health complications your Cavy might face if you make them run on exercise wheels and balls.
1) Spinal Injury
A Guinea Pig’s back isn’t as flexible as other rodents. When a rodent runs on a wheel or exercise ball, the object’s concaveness makes its back arch. However, Guinea Pigs back isn’t designed to bend that much. Guinea Pigs can’t take the stress of turning on their spine. Bending their back in an unnatural position can lead to severe spinal injury to a Guinea Pig.
2) Troubled Eyesight
Unlike other rodents, Guinea Pig’s eyes sit further on the side of their heads.This is another reason why your piggie won’t like the experience of running on a wheel like it’s fellow rodents. Because of their eye position, they have a forward vision. They will not be able to see the wheels in front of them and get disoriented. The whole experience isn’t enjoyable for a Guinea Pig at all.
3) Damage to Feet
Guinea pigs are to have firm, sturdy steps. Running is not their thing. Their feet are too sensitive to run on a metal wheel. Such running tasks are unnatural for Guinea Pigs. It may cause your pet discomfort. There are risks as well as getting their feet trapped on the wires. Therefore, even if you buy a Guinea Pig cage with wheels, you won’t see your piggie going around it.
4) Heat Stroke
This case is typical for exercise balls. Exercise balls have similar functions as an exercise wheel. It, too, has the risks as mentioned above for exercise wheels. But exercise balls are enclosed structures. There might not be a proper ventilation system in an exercise ball. As a result, the heat inside an exercise ball can rise. Guinea Pigs can not withstand extreme heat.High temperatures inside an exercise ball can cause heatstroke to a Guinea Pig.
So, you see, exercise wheels aren’t suitable for Guinea Pigs at all. Guinea Pigs don’t even like to run on it. So, don’t think of treating your Guinea Pig like other rodents. Even if you see any exercise wheel advertised as Guinea Pig exercise wheel or Guinea Pig exercise balls, don’t get confused. Just know wheels or exercise balls aren’t the things Guinea Pigs should be offered.
Follow the tips in this buying guide for choosing the best guinea pig toys within a limited price range:
Types of Exercise for Guinea Pigs:
Exercise wheels are harmful to Guinea Pigs. But there is no harm in doing exercise. In fact, exercising is excellent for Guinea Pigs for staying fit and agile. Exercising helps them to avoid health risks like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Besides physical benefits, exercising provides Guinea Pigs with mental stimulation as well, which is incredibly essential.
But how much exercise does a Guinea Pig need? A daily 1 hour of exercise is all your Guinea Pig needs to burn off some steam and stay healthy. But remember, Guinea Pigs aren’t athletic animals. Making them do very complicated exercises is not wise.
So, how can you make your Guinea Pigs do exercise? And which activities are right for your pet. Here is a small guideline for you.
1. In Cage Exercise
First of all, you need to provide your Guinea Pig with a well-spaced large cage. Ideally, a Guinea pig cage should be at least 7.5 square feet. When your pet has enough space to move around, your Cavy itself will play around and run inside the cell.
Next, load the cage with things for Guinea Pigs to play with. This will ensure some movements for your Guinea Pig.
You can incorporate some other playing objects bar, hoop, tunnel, pole, etc. rain them to do bar jump, closed tunnel, open tunnel, hoop jump and weave poles. Trust me; your piggie will love these games. And nothing can engage them in more physical activities than these games.
2. In House Exercise
If you have a spacious room not overcrowded with furniture and staff, you can release your Guinea Pig in the place to let them play around. Make sure there are no harmful objects in the room. Then you can scatter your pet’s toys around and hide some treats around the room. This game will keep your Cavy active during the hour running here and there looking for the goodies and playing with toys.
3. Outside Exercise
If you have an open lawn space, do let your pet play freely sometimes. Guinea Pigs love being outside. However, it would be best if you kept him under supervision. You won’t want your Guinea Pig to run away. For that, you can keep him inside a sturdy and secure exercise run or playpen. You can build some wooden obstacle courses. Guinea Pigs adore such adventurous
games. They will be happily playing outside if provided with such attractive playing options.
Here are some things you have to be aware of before letting your pet play outside.
➢ Guinea Pigs can’t withstand extreme heat. Don’t take your Guinea Pig outside for playing on a hot and sunny day. The ideal temperature of the weather should be 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
➢ Do not take Guinea Pigs outside if it’s raining. The weather should be dry.
➢ Make sure your piggie isn’t exposed to toxic plants. Naturally, Guinea Pigs will willingly chew on greeneries they’ll get in gardens. But not all plants and flowers are suitable for them.
➢ Make sure there are no other animals that can pray over your pet. Domestic Guinea Pigs aren’t very good at keeping themselves safe you need to have supervision when your pet is playing outside.
➢ Know beforehand what kinds of toys Guinea Pigs play with. Not all toys amuse Guinea Pigs and can engage them. Know your pet’s favorites and offer that. You will have your piggie ecstatic and active.
The Bottom Line
Guinea Pigs might have similar features like other rodents, but their needs and capacities aren’t the same. Guinea Pigs tend to be more sensitive than most other animals. So, whenever such a question comes across mind “do Guinea Pigs need exercise wheels” before taking action based on assumption, understand your Guinea Pig’s capacity and take action accordingly, being a caring pet parent.