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Are exercise balls ok?

MuntchkaMuntchka Lemming
edited June 2015 in General Rodent Chatter
Hi everyone
Today I come with this question about exercise balls. It's easy to find information about wheels but I can't find much about exercise balls. Are exercise balls OK for mice? I have the idea that I read somewhere they are not so good for mice, but I also read that they can be a lot of fun for them.

The thing is, my mice have a cage with plenty of space to run, and I let them have play time outside every day, but I have one girl that really is an explorer. About 1h in the playpen and the others kind of start asking to go back in the cage, but Mintaka...
She enjoys being in the playpen, and she loves when I take her out in the evening and let her be on my shoulder while I prepare my tea. But she has a strong objective in life, she just wants to be able to walk around the floor and explore the living room.
We live in a small house and the living room is where we have our books and hobby stuff, and she could get hurt if she is free, or she could nibble on our books or pee on the carpet, and then my husband would kill me.
 So although I prefer to see the mice having their fun time freely, I'm considering buying an exercise ball for her. one with 18cm in diameter could be a nice size, but I have to know if they are safe.

Here's a short video of Mintaka. She comes running as soon as I open the cage door.


  • superwolfsuperwolf Mouse
    Posts: 311
    Aww, she's adorable! <3

    I don't know about exercise balls, like you I have the feeling I've heard bad things about them for mice.  An alternative might be somewhere like the bathroom, if suitable.  I used to let my old hamster run free in the bathroom (supervised!), with a towel wedged under the door to prevent escapes.  It had lino flooring, and I made sure there were no holes anywhere or cleaning products left about that could hurt her, and she really liked having a little scurry about. :)

    Mintaka seems like a really special mouse, and I hope you and her find a suitable compromise soon! :P
  • superwolfsuperwolf Mouse
    Posts: 311
    Oh, also maybe you could try giving her the ball in the playpen, but with the lid left off?  Then she could have a go at rolling about in it, but could just get out again if she didn't like it. :)
  • MuntchkaMuntchka Lemming
    edited June 2015 Posts: 42
    I'm also considering blocking part of the living room so she could enjoy the rest but this won't be easy. And I'm afraid our tiny bathroom is not a good answer.

    With the ball I would only put her inside it if she enjoyed it. I wouldn't force her to it. But I suspect one of my other girls could like it also.

    Maybe I should make her a tiny harness with leash :P
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327

    Simple answer from me is a definite no. I don`t like them for hamsters either. Balls have been responsible for a few injuries I`ve read about only recently and to me they were brought to the pet market as a plaything to entertain owners and not the poor rodent trapped inside one. Mice especially are likely to feel nervous inside a ball and I did hear of one mouse being killed while playing in one as he crashed into a wall and the fright killed him. So that`s good enough evidence never to use one.

    Small animals really prefer seeing where they are and what`s around them. I appreciate people consider using a ball because they are there to use, but consider they were not available? They would be there to use. My advice would be don`t use one. x

  • MuntchkaMuntchka Lemming
    Posts: 42
    Thanks @racingmouse.

    I also feel they were brought to the market as a plaything to entertain the owner and not the pet, that's why I never got one. When I see videos of hamsters or mice in them, I can't shake the feeling that the animal is just trying to come out of the ball and not to explore. But I never had one or know anyone who had so I couldn't say if the animal has some fun or not.

    I only considered this now because of my explorer mouse, but now I'm setting that idea aside and I will try to find another solution.
  • superwolfsuperwolf Mouse
    Posts: 311
    Another thing she might find fun is if you get a ton of different sized cardboard boxes/egg boxes etc. then scatter treats and stuff inside them, then she can ferret about in the boxes for fun. :) Would work either in the bath or in a large storage box.
  • CritteryCrittery Overlord
    Posts: 274
    I used to use exercise bills when I was a teenager. Mainly for hamsters, but found mice tended to just toilet in them and not get so excited. A couple seemed to be energetic in them and use them well, but I'm not sure they enjoyed it and were jumpy when I got them out. I don't use them anymore, and I know some people believe that they actively scare the animals.

    I mainly use the bed or sofa (with a blanket over, or just before changing bedding!) when freeranging but it can get entertaining if you've got several out and some of them like edges too much...!
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  • AnnBAnnB Mouse
    Posts: 1,047
    I've heard all sorts of horror stories in the last few years but like Crittery, as a teenager I always used to put my hamsters in an exercise ball. My latest hamster that I gave a home to also came with an exercise ball and he did seem to enjoy being in it. In fact it was safer than having him free range on the bed because he had absolutely no sense of height and I frequently had to grab him when he got near the edge. I've never tried to put any of the mice in an exercise ball though because they don't fall off the bed during free range sessions and I do like interacting with them while they're playing on the bed too.
  • NickyNicky Mouse
    Posts: 820
    I also used balls for hamsters years ago but would not use them anymore. I have just watched the video of Mintaka and it made me laugh. What a sweetheart  
  • MuntchkaMuntchka Lemming
    Posts: 42
    Thank you all for the advice.

    I will try to make the "ultimate super mega playmat" with box labyrinths, even more toilet paper rolls and egg boxes. And tomorrow I will also try to let Mintaka walk in part of the living room in a controlled way.
  • racingmouseracingmouse Mouse
    Posts: 1,327
    A controlled play area is a safer way to allow mice to enjoy running around and you can sit on the floor too! My white male Chalky was a cheeky wee man. He would climb down my leg, onto my foot and scoot off across the bedroom floor! He made this into a game! x
  • BaggyMousersBaggyMousers Mouse
    Posts: 215
    Everybody above has said it all really. But it's so odd seeing this question, my mum phoned me tonight and asked about whether my mice wanted a ball. I told her the same thing, I was worried too much about my tiny little footed mice getting their little tootsies caught or doing themselves an injury. 

    If their cage is big enough, coming out for playtime in a pen or on a table should be more than stimulating enough. But i'd avoid the balls for little rodents. Definitely not suitable IMO.
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