I guess you are here because you are trying to think of way to get your guinea pig some exercise. There are many ways your guinea pig can get the recommended daily time of exercise it needs. But do guinea pigs need a wheel in their cage?
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One of the most common misconceptions is that guinea pigs have the same needs as some of their relative rodent cousins, such as the hamster. It would make sense for a guinea pig to have a wheel if a hamster is able to have a wheel, surely.
Through this article I will delve into the needs of a guinea pig and how they differ from other rodent pets. Some of the findings may surprise you.
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So, do Guinea Pigs need a wheel in their cage?
Wheels have been used for many of years for rodent pets as it provides a great means of exercise when they are inside their cages. However, guinea pigs are an exception to this rule. They in fact do not need a wheel inside their cage.
Wheels were once previously used as a means of exercise for guinea pigs, however after time went on, veterinarians saw a huge rise in damage to guinea pigs back, and this is thought to be because of the running wheel.
There’s a lot of scientific anatomy behind this, but simply put, Guinea pigs backs aren’t as flexible as some of their cousins, therefore the unnatural bending of their backs when they are on the wheel causes stress and some serious damage over a long period of time.
Why is a wheel such a bad choice for Guinea Pigs?
If you think about a hamster when they are running on their wheel, their backs are continuously arched. While this is absolutely fine for a hamster and many other rodent pets such as gerbils, mice and rats, guinea pigs just aren’t build for this kind of bending motion.
If you were to have a wheel built, which is suitable enough for a guinea pig, then it would have to be quite big. Guinea pigs would need a wheel which is at least three times its length in order for the circumference not to be too small that it hurts their back whilst running. And unless you had a large cage, I doubt it would even fit inside.
Wheels have never been a form of exercise for guinea pigs, so even if you did have a wheel available to them, it would be extremely rare for a guinea pig to even use it. As you may well know, guinea pigs scare easily, so even the noice of the wheel would probably frighten them back into hiding.
How much exercise to Guinea Pigs need?
A guinea pig ideally needs about 3-4 hours of exercise a day. This can be in an outside run, or an inclosed garden with supervision. This can also be inside in the weather isn’t too great. Guinea pigs will explore and stretch their legs until they have had enough. Supervision is recommended at all time, however, they will usually come back to their cage when they have had enough.
The longer and more consistently your guinea pig can exercise outside of its cage, the healthier and happier they will be.
Guinea pigs are very content in their homes. They feel at most comfort when they are in familiar surroundings, so for this reason they have no problem being inside their cages for the majority of the day. Hamsters on the other hand are known to get extremely depressed when they’re not exercised enough. They commonly have way more energy than guinea pigs, so they need some for of exercise equipment available at all times.
Are there any toys I can buy for my Guinea Pig?
As long as your guinea pig has the space to run around they will get the exercise they need. There are however some toys which they like to play with, which are all “chew safe”. These range from wooden balls to tunnels and tubes. Let’s take a look at some of the top toys which your guinea pig may enjoy.
Woodland balls are a great set of toys for your guinea pig. They are make from completely natural materials which are safe for your guinea pig. Your guinea pig may spend hours pushing these balls around, chewing on them, climbing over them, and just generally having fun.
These woodland balls can also be put inside their cage as they oppose no threat of harm to your guinea pig.
Tug “N” Gnaw Toys
Tug “N” Gnaw toys are another great addition to a guinea pigs play time. Again these toys are made from completely safe materials which are great for chewing and tugging on. These toys are thought to be great at keeping your guinea pigs teeth in a healthy condition. However sometimes some threads may come loose, so its best to either cut these off, or replace the toy for a new one. You should get at least 6 months use out of these before wear and tear gets the better of them.
HayPigs Weightlifter Kebab Maker
This genius idea is great for stubborn guinea pigs which refuse to eat. This toy can be used to carry around, or used in a treasure hunt scenario, which gives your guinea pig a treat once its found.
You can put different vegetables along the bar in-between the two play balls, which acts as a ‘kebab’, so your guinea pig can chew away at their food easily. Just twist the ball off then end, fill the rod with some vegetable goodies, twist the balls back on the end, and you’re good to go.
Watch as your guinea pig runs off with it, shove it around or even play a game of tug and war.
Guinea Pig Hammock
Now this one is probably our favourite choice, the guinea pig hammock. This toy has to be hung just off ground level, so ideally inside a playpen. The hammock is make of a soft material which guinea pigs can sit in and gently swing away.
Guinea Pigs also like to knock it about when it’s not occupied, almost like a tether ball. Swing backwards and forwards as it knocks against it. It also doubles up as another place where they can hide and feel safe, so it serves two great purposes.
Tunnels and Tubes
Finally we have tunnels and tubes. These stand the test of time with guinea pigs. Guinea Pigs, like all rodents, love tunnels. Formally in the wild they would dig holes and have a large maze of tunnels beneath the ground which they would run around.
This has followed its way through tot domestic bred guinea pigs also. It’s a natural instinct for them to enjoy tunnels, so adding these into a guinea pigs play area will play dividends. They can spend hours running around, chasing each other and hiding in all the tunnels and tubes you provide them.
There it is. Everything you need to know on “do guinea pigs needs a wheel”.
Unfortunately, guinea pigs do not need a wheel. Wheels are very dangerous for a guinea pig, however there are loads of alternative toys which will be a great addition to any guinea pigs play time.
For a happy and healthy guinea pig, avoid using running wheels. Their bodies aren’t build the same as other rodents and their backs may suffer serious injuries over time, and no one wants any unwarranted visits to the vets.