Can Guinea Pigs Run In a Ball? | Are They Dangerous?

If you keep a guinea pig or think about getting one, you know one of the essentials is playtime. The guinea pigs typically socialize and show off emotions and affection, so playtime is important.

They can bond with you through the toys and games you have with them on the floor. So, do you think of wheels and running balls when you think of guinea pigs? Probably yes. In this case, you need to know more if these toys are good for them.

Can guinea pigs run in a ball? Guinea pigs can run in a ball or a wheel, but they shouldn’t. The spines of the guinea pigs are not designed for moving and bending backward. Being in these toys can cause them serious pain or even irreversible damage.

This article will tell you more about the two types of balls for guinea pigs, are those balls safe for them, some alternative fun activities, how much activity they need, best activities for your pet, and some of the toy options for them.

Two Types of Balls for Guinea Pigs

There are 2 types of balls for guinea pigs – play balls and exercise balls. To explain them further, read the following sections:

Exercise Balls

Exercise Balls

The exercise balls were very famous as pet toys in the past, and everyone had them for their cavy.

People recommend these balls to every cavy owner; they always say it’s best to buy the biggest ball, made of plastic.

They might look perfect for the hamsters and guinea pigs, and inside they have lots of space to move around and freely walk or run. This is why owners instantly buy these balls at first glance and do not think if it’s a safe choice.

Play Balls

Play Balls

These are just balls to be rolled or pushed and knocked around too. They are not designed for the cavy to be placed inside.

What’s great about these toy balls is that they are made of various materials, even natural and organic materials. You can purchase a few and see which one is the cavy’s favorite.

It’s always nice to give your pet some choice in toys, among other things, right? When you browse for these toy balls, you will notice some of them are made of gorgeous natural materials like seagrass, wicker, wooden blocks conjoined together.

Remember, these toy balls last just a few weeks, and after that, they are worn down or similar.

Don’t worry, these are quite cheap and come packed in 2 or 3 at once, so if you get such a pack, it will last 2 months tops.

Can Guinea Pigs Use Wheels and Exercise Balls?

Can Guinea Pigs Use Wheels and Exercise Balls

The exercise or running ball is a big hazard and must be avoided – the same as the running wheel. Researchers claimed that the spine of guinea pigs is designed to move normally to fit their natural physical movements but is not designed naturally to bend backward. 

This is very dangerous since cavies bend backward when placed in such exercise balls or wheels. Bending causes permanent damages and severe chronic pains.

Luckily, many stores for pets and pet equipment have seen the dangers of these toys and stopped selling them. If in a certain shop this is still available, do not buy it and browse for other appropriate toys.

Never listen to the advice of the sellers who promotes running balls. Sometimes, these people recommend hamster wheels which are even worse because they are much smaller for the cavy’s body.

If you put the cavy in a hamster wheel, its back will bend even more and cause the worst pain ever.

Furthermore, if you want your cavy to get good exercise, just let it roam freely on the floor and run around.

Is Play Ball Safe for Guinea Pigs?

Is Play Ball Safe for Guinea Pigs

Generally, these balls are a safe, excellent, and fun exercise for the cavy. They are superb and not toxic, which means the cavy might munch them if it feels like it.

One good option is certain balls with a bell or food inside the middle part. However, be cautious with these! The treats inside are bad for the cavy, equivalent to ‘junk food’ for humans.

Also, the bells inside can be so small that they might be swallowed if the ball opens. Instead of this type, choose the balls that can be filled up with grass or hay.

You will recognize them easily – made of wire mesh with gaps in between.

What Does a Guinea Pig Like to Play With? | Guinea Pig Wheel and Ball Alternatives

What Does a Guinea Pig Like to Play With Guinea Pig Wheel and Ball Alternatives

Guinea pigs love cardboard and anything made of cardboard. You can get cardboard boxes, and your cavy will be thrilled. If it’s a small and light cardboard box, the cavy will run around and inside them all day long.

Also, there is some prey instinct in the cavies, so expect them to hide in corners or enclosed spaces. This is when the cardboard box comes in handy.

If you cannot find a big enough box, use the empty cereal boxes or similar ones you no longer use. Just remember, unfold the box to make an A-shape, and it’s ready for playing!

This is an economical toy because we all have cardboard boxes at home from everyday products we use.

Moreover, anything might work for some fun and games such as the following:

  • Paper bags
  • Flower pots (non-plastic)
  • Scrunched up paper
  • PVC pipes
  • Paper towel rolled
  • Old clothes or old socks you can fill up with hay
  • Shoeboxes with a hole-circle (the cavy would peep through it)
  • DIY igloos from safe materials.

How Much Activity Do Guinea Pigs Need? What Is the Best Activity for Them?

The guinea pigs are like any other pet – they like to have at least some sort of activity. Whether with you or with the other cavy, playtime is a must.

Try to play with them at least once a day, or if you can, a few times daily in brief intervals. This is a good exercise for them, both mental and physical.

Use the time when the cavy is not anxious or sleeping. This is the perfect moment to reach inside and take it out, on the floor, with its toys.

Sometimes the cavy would be restless and play for hours, and sometimes it would play just half an hour more or less. Still, it’s good to have at least one exercise out of the cage every day.

The best and most useful activities are the basic ones – running and walking on the floor, chasing healthy snacks inside play balls, going into tunnels or hiding places. All these make the cavy move, and it works up to their appetite as well!

Remember, no running balls or wheels that damage the spine.

Here is a video about some activities that your guinea pigs will love to do:

What Guinea Pig Toys Are a Good Choice?

What Guinea Pig Toys Are a Good Choice

There are way too many toys available on the market, and it can be hard to choose which one is the best, healthiest, most interesting, etc. But here are some of them:

  • In general, the default options are always safe balls to be pushed around or filled with veggies, hay, or grass. 
  • Also, regular tennis or ping pong balls to be rolled on the floor are fine as well.
  • Cardboard boxes, regular ones or cereal boxes, and the like you have at home.
  • The variety is wide, and many produce toys are made of wood, shaped with cute molds, and chewable.
  • You will also see calcium stones made of lava rocks for teeth grinding; cute, colorful, interesting shapes like fruits, for example.
  • If you still search for the ball alternative, you can also opt for the eco-friendly vine chewing balls. The cavy will love these, will roll them, chew them – but they don’t last very long.
  • Cavies love tubes, so you can either buy one or make one.


Guinea pig’s spine is quite fragile and not well developed for the exercise balls. Owners still think that the cavy is active by running inside the ball, but it is not good for them.

Many things can harm your beloved pet – from beddings to foods and even toys. It’s always good to know which toys are good for your pet, such as play ball.

This ball is a safer option, as guinea pigs will roll and push it around, and it is usually made of various safe materials such as natural and organic ones. Moreover, some good toy alternative options are mentioned above.

Related: Are Guinea Pigs Trainable? | Guinea Pig Training

List of Sources

A Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig (Cavia Porcellus)

Guidance for the Welfare of Pet Guinea Pigs – Made Under Section 13(6) Of the Animal Welfare (Guernsey) Ordinance, 2012: Guidance – Food and Water

Guinea Pigs as Pets