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Exercise Toys for Small Pets

Kelly Roper
Gerbil in an exercise ball

Exercise toys help little pets get the physical activity they need to stay healthy, and they also provide mental stimulation to relieve boredom and prevent them from developing destructive habits. See examples of different types of exercise toys you can swap out frequently to keep your pet's environment fun and stimulating.

Exercise Wheels

Exercise wheels are the staple of most small pet habitats. They're stationary toys designed to fit inside a cage, but they still provide pets with as much mileage as they can handle. There are two basic types of wheels - upright or flat.

Super Pet Run-Around

The Super Pet Run-Around is a good example of an upright exercise wheel. It's made of metal, so it's chew resistant. The mesh design of the running surface keeps your pet's feet and tail safely inside the wheel. For the greatest stability, attach the wheel to the side of the cage. If you find it too squeaky, just apply a little vegetable oil to the axels.

This wheel is available in three sizes.

  • Small - 4.5 inches in diameter
  • Medium - 5.5 inches in diameter
  • Large - 8 inches in diameter

Flying Saucer Exercise Toy for Small Pets

The Flying Saucer exerciser literally puts a new spin on wheel toys. The saucer lays almost horizontal and operates more like a merry-go-round. This makes it a little easier for more than one pet to join in on the fun. The wheel is solid, so your pet's feet and tail are protected from injury. It's also quieter than the average metal hamster wheel.

The Flying Saucer is available in three sizes:

  • Small for mice and dwarf hamsters
  • Medium for hamsters and gerbils
  • Large for rats, chinchillas and Guinea pigs

Exercise Cars

Put an exercise wheel in a toy car, and what you wind up with is a good time for everyone. It's really comical to watch a hamster cruise around in his own sports car, and he's bound to appreciate the change of scenery.

Critter Cruiser

The Critter Cruiser is designed to work for hamsters, mice and gerbils. The car is very lightweight, so your pet doesn't have to strain to move it as long as he's on a smooth, flat surface.

This toy operates in three different ways:

  • Putting the wheel in the top setting keeps the car stationary, much like a regular wheel.
  • Dropping the wheel down into the middle position allows the car to roll along as the hamster makes the wheel turn.
  • The lowest setting is designed for running the car around the optional Hamtrac that can be purchased separately.

Exercise Balls

Exercise balls are designed to give pets the freedom to roll around on their own while protected inside a safe environment. These balls generally twist open so you can place your pet inside, and then carefully twist the unit shut and place it on the floor. Each ball has numerous air slots so your pet can breathe easily. As with any type of rolling toy, make sure that stairs and other drop-off points are blocked for your pet's protection.

Mega Run-about Ball

Ferrets, chinchillas and Guinea pigs won't be left out of the fun with this Mega Run-About exercise ball. The smaller animals can run the ball from the inside, while ferrets may prefer to push it around and chase it from the outside.

Play Balls

Balls aren't just for dogs. Small animals enjoy playing with them, too!

Woven Grass Play Ball

Marshall's Woven Grass Play Ball gives rabbits, ferrets and Guinea pigs a chance to chase and play. The ball is especially enticing since it's completely edible. It's a great toy to use outside of the cage so your furry pal can get some extra exercise.

Burrowing Toys

Burrowing is a natural activity for rodents and many other small pets. It satisfies their need for activity, but burrowing deep also provides them with a sense of security, which is good for their mental health.

Puzzle Playground

The Kaytee Puzzle Playground is a multi-piece set that you can assemble into a climbing toy for your pet. You can change the assembly to create any configuration you want, and you can buy additional sets to make the playground as big as you like. The sets are a little difficult to put together, but customers say they are very sturdy once they're finished.

Don't Over Do It

Exercise is certainly good for your pet's mind and body, but you shouldn't allow him to play to the point of exhaustion. He can stop playing with most of the toys listed here when he grows tired, but limit his use of the enclosed toys like the exercise balls and vehicles to 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and then put him back in his cage. Keep an eye on him while he's playing and rotate his toys on a regular basis, and he'll stay active, engaged and healthy.

Exercise Toys for Small Pets