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#1
Old 04-21-2007, 10:28 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Guinea pig exercise balls - dangerous?

I bought a 'superpets run-around ball' for my guinea pig from petco. On the way home, I see on the box copy that it is a 'safe carrying container' for the pig. It says it makes 'good exercise' for the other animals it can be used for (ferrets, chinchillas).

What the heck? I put the pig in it and he was unresponsive and still. He usually just sits around in his cage, so I thought it was normal. I look online and it some folks are saying (amazon reviews, no source) walking in the ball can actually harm his spine. I took him out immediately. Another page said some pigs liked it, others didn't. What is the straight dope? Should I return this $20 piece of plastic with added venom?
#2
Old 04-22-2007, 02:02 AM
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Location: Santa Barbara
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I think they're dangerous. A friend of mine had one for a hamster. Somehow there was an open door and the little guy must have rolled out the door. She lived on a hill and never saw her hamster again. I still imagine him running happily along. It's been 15 years so he must be getting hungry.
#3
Old 04-22-2007, 02:05 AM
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Lict
I think they're dangerous. A friend of mine had one for a hamster. Somehow there was an open door and the little guy must have rolled out the door. She lived on a hill and never saw her hamster again. I still imagine him running happily along. It's been 15 years so he must be getting hungry.
Must be the one that keeps rolling through the Malcolm in the Middle scenes.
#4
Old 04-22-2007, 03:05 AM
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I'm not sure how they could be any worse for your poor guinea pig's back than walking up a slight incline would...
I know back when I was rather young we had gerbils and they loved the things. They'd run around for hours (and get kicked and rolled... I was a mean little kid) without getting hurt.
As for why your pig didn't do anything I'm guessing he either didn't understand what he was supposed to do (how long did you leave him in there?), or he was just being lazy.
#5
Old 04-22-2007, 11:07 AM
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I know he didn't do anything because he is a lazy pig and that is what he does all day. Is there a good reference site for learning about guinea pigs or other small animals that isn't wikipedia? Most of what I come across are geocities pages.
#6
Old 04-22-2007, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gentle Robot
I know he didn't do anything because he is a lazy pig and that is what he does all day. Is there a good reference site for learning about guinea pigs or other small animals that isn't wikipedia? Most of what I come across are geocities pages.
http://guinealynx.com/ seems pretty good, but IANAVeternarian. The woman who runs it is often cited and has articles published on other sites, though, which is a good sign.
#7
Old 04-22-2007, 12:39 PM
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Former guinea pig, hamster, mouse, rat, and gerbil owner checking in here.

If you still have the receipt, I'd definitely take it back.

In the wild, guinea pigs spend their time in runs that they construct through tall grass, where food is abundant, and thus they don't need to travel far to find food. Hamsters, OTOH, live in deserts and evolved to travel for long distances to find food, so they really need that exercise wheel. And mice and rats also travel to find food, so they benefit from exercise wheels, too. And gerbils can learn to use them and have a good time in them, although their big back feet kind of hamper them.

But a guinea pig doesn't need *that* much exercise, and actually, it can be very bad for his back to be artificially curved like that; they aren't really very flexible critters. Going up an incline doesn't bend a quadruped's spine back on itself.

There is a wonderful website here that has marvelous suggestions for guinea pig enrichment activities. I can vouch for the basic "hidey place box" as your #1 toy option, and for the "big pile of hay" as a close second.

And for exercise, you have "run around on the floor" time. Tip: use leaves from the dining room table, or baby gates, to block off rooms where you don't want him to end up.

Last edited by Duck Duck Goose; 04-22-2007 at 12:41 PM.
#8
Old 04-22-2007, 12:59 PM
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Location: Chicago's Northside
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Going up an incline doesn't bend a quadruped's spine back on itself.
They're probably talking about the transition from level ground to incline (and vice versa) which would bend the back a bit.
#9
Old 04-22-2007, 03:55 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 371
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Former guinea pig, hamster, mouse, rat, and gerbil owner checking in here.

If you still have the receipt, I'd definitely take it back.

In the wild, guinea pigs spend their time in runs that they construct through tall grass, where food is abundant, and thus they don't need to travel far to find food. Hamsters, OTOH, live in deserts and evolved to travel for long distances to find food, so they really need that exercise wheel. And mice and rats also travel to find food, so they benefit from exercise wheels, too. And gerbils can learn to use them and have a good time in them, although their big back feet kind of hamper them.

But a guinea pig doesn't need *that* much exercise, and actually, it can be very bad for his back to be artificially curved like that; they aren't really very flexible critters. Going up an incline doesn't bend a quadruped's spine back on itself.

There is a wonderful website here that has marvelous suggestions for guinea pig enrichment activities. I can vouch for the basic "hidey place box" as your #1 toy option, and for the "big pile of hay" as a close second.

And for exercise, you have "run around on the floor" time. Tip: use leaves from the dining room table, or baby gates, to block off rooms where you don't want him to end up.
Thanks for all the advice. We got the ball because we thought he'd enjoy a bit more freedom, and usually letting him out involves him pooping all about (though we let him out frequently anyway). I returned it this morning.

That site is really cool. I know he really likes paper bags (always purrs when he gets one) but I didn't know there was so much around-the-house stuff he'd enjoy.
#10
Old 04-22-2007, 09:32 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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I have seen a couple of caves due to hyperthermia after spending time in a ball.
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