Q I was wondering if I should let my hamster try an exercise ball? If so, how long should she have to run around in it?

A People are of two minds, I'm seeing, about play balls. I like them, and my advice is simple:

1. About twenty minutes at a time, thirty's not dangerous.

2. A bit of tape on the lid a MUST.   What we do is buy a bunch of cheap packing tape from an office supply store and put a long, wide strip across the lid and onto the sides. It makes the hatch quite unbreachable. Hams concentrate their life's ambitions into very few things, and escaping play balls by chewing the hatch tabs is one of them.

3. Block off stairwells, etc., as well as areas that will give trouble, such as where a bare floor meets a rug - they can't get the traction to get over that, so once they go off the edge of the rug, they're stuck.

4. Don't allow contact with electrical wires, they can often bite through the vents.

5. Wash ball after every use (it inspires them to poo and pee a LOT).

My wife used to like them, but lately she represents the other camp, which is suggesting that hams really don't enjoy the experience that much, but they just roll around because they are really looking for a way out.

I don't agree with her. I have found, and I'm resolute about this, that most hams go about gleefully (to my hamster-sense), and the few I've known who DON'T like the experience just stop in their tracks, curl up, sulk a bit, and wait it out.

I say go for it.
Hamster Balls
by David Imber
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