After you've decked out your furry friend's habitat with the coolest decor and playful toys, you might wonder if they need time outside their playground-like enclosure. Does my rabbit need exercise? How do I keep my hamster healthy? Will my guinea pig benefit from playtime in the yard? We love these questions and have some insight for you.
Do small animals need exercise?
We know an afternoon walk helps us shake off the day's tension and boost our mood. But what about our small furry pets? Do they also benefit from playtime or gentle handling? Of course!
Interacting with our pets outside their habitats moves their bodies in a beneficial way to stretch their muscles beyond their usual everyday movements. It also promotes bonding and mental connection with us — their favorite humans.
Veterinarians believe exercising your pets helps them maintain proper weight, making them less susceptible to obesity and weight-related health issues. It also improves the functioning of their digestive systems, builds up muscle, keeps the circulatory system running smoothly and reduces chances for constipation.1
Exercise helps to reduce boredom and frustration, improving their mental health.2 And this leaves your pet feeling happier — and ultimately healthier!
How to Boost Your Pet's Wellness
When it comes to exercise for small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, chinchillas, rats, mice and gerbils, you don't have to try to get them to balance on a treadmill or join you for yoga. Instead, simply engage in playful activities together. You'll both enjoy the connection, and they'll reap the physical and mental benefits of the exercise.
1. Find a place to exercise.
Transport hamsters, gerbils, mice and small pets to your living room floor, yard or park using the Kaytee Come Along Carrier with mesh air vents and a convenient zipper closure. Find somewhere away from the pet's usual environment to give them a change of scenery. This change in environment will help pique their curiosity and engage their senses of smell and sight, much like when you take your pup for a walk.
2. Set up a safe space.
Use the Kaytee Pet-N-Playpen for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and Ferrets to create a fenced-in area to contain larger pets, so they can't run away. Small pets should be held or secured in a play space with a bottom they can't escape from, like a Kaytee Crittertrail Playpen With Mat. Always supervise your pets during playtime. Even the best-behaved fur babies can be sneaky and scurry away!3
3. Choose an exercise activity.
Now, let the fun begin! We love combining both physical and mental activity by playing a game of "catch" with a Kaytee Premium Timothy Roll 'n' Toss. Simply roll the edible treat just past your pet so they have to chase (exercise!) and follow the toy (to sharpen their mental skills), let them nibble a bit (reward time!), then retrieve and toss it again for them to enjoy.
4. Watch and enjoy.
Sometimes it's fun to simply observe your pet. You can let your pet exercise himself by offering up a foraging treat, such as Kaytee Food From The Wild Treat Medley. This encourages the pet to engage their natural instincts to sniff, forage, dig and find delicious treats in their new playtime environment. This exercise works their brains and bodies and fills their tummies!
Exercise Benefits Your Small Animal Pet
Just like us, pets need exercise.4 Plan to make one-on-one time with your pet part of your daily routine. This gives you the chance to bond with your pet and give them some much-needed movement and mental stimulation away from their habitat. Exercise framed as playtime promotes positive health, reinforces your bond and can also be a great way to teach responsible pet care to children in your home.
Explore more fun ways to spend time with your furry buddy in "Kicking off Summer with Activities for Your Kids and Your Pet." Snap a pic and tag us on Instagram. We'd love to see you and your small animal having fun!
1. Fitzroy Vet Hospital. "The Benefits of Exercise for Your Pet"
2. McClure, Diane, DVM, PhD, DACLAM. Merck Veterinary Manual. Modified October 2022. Providing a Home for a Rabbit.
3. John Gardiner. University of California, Davis. April 11, 2019. "Hamster Care."
4. Quesenberry, Katherine E., and Donnelly, Thomas M. Merck Veterinary Manual. Modified October 2022, Providing a Home for a Guinea Pig.