Gerbils & Hamsters/Hamster Balls?


Hi Sheila,
I had a few questions about hamster balls.  I recently got a Syrian hamster and bought all the supplies except a hamster ball.  Are hamster balls safe for them to use?  I have heard that they could get their feet stuck in the holes and/or have back problems?  I know that's the case for guinea pigs because I have owned several.  Also, I have researched that the smallest size for a Syrian should be around 8 inches to prevent back arching.  Do you know of any good sites online that sell them around that size?  All the pet stores around me sell only 7 inches and under and then it jumps from 7 inches to like 12 inches and that is way too big!  Any help would be appreciated.


Hi Cristie

Thanks for your question.

I always put my Syrians in hamster balls - they love them.  Mine are only around 7 inches/18cm and these are fine.  There are the much smaller ones which are designed for dwarf hamsters.

The important thing is to tape over any joins in the ball as they do have a habit of opening if they bang into furniture.

Apart from the one for dwarf hamsters, and the giant ball which is more for rats or ferrets, I'm not sure that I've seen exercise balls any other size for hamsters. I'm sure this size is fine for them.

The issues come with small wheels - the standard wheel that is in most cages is far too small for a Syrian adult.  These need changing with larger wheels as they would need to arch their back to run in the smaller ones. With the smaller wheels the hamster tends not to use it but instead climb around the outside.

I've never come across any issues with running in the exercise balls.  Just make sure you don't leave them unattended or near othe animals (i.e. cats or dogs) in these balls as they might think it is a game.

I hope this helps you.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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