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Creating a fun play space for small pets

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Small pets need fun, too!

Small animals -- just like big ones -- need entertainment and recreation to live happy, fulfilled lives. Unfortunately, it's not always safe to take your small animals outside for a roll in the grass. So what can you do? Bring the fun to them, of course! Check out our suggestions for fun animal play areas indoors.

Hamster playing in wheel

Birds

We might call people who do dumb things "bird brains," but in truth birds are very intelligent creatures that need stimulation on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a simple birdcage with food, water and a wooden perch isn't enough to give your bird the stimulation it needs.

For cage-bound birds, consider creating or buying playgrounds that have different levels your bird can climb up and down. Also, put in bird-safe toys like rattles, bells and hooks for your bird to chew on and bat around. You'll be surprised by how entertained he or she'll be with just a few enhancements.

Birds that do well outside of cages, like parrots, can also benefit from freestanding playgrounds with multiple levels of perches and toys. Just be sure you keep their play areas in a space where you can watch them -- otherwise, they might start chewing on the furniture if they get bored! Also, cover all electrical cords for that same reason -- even a small electrical shock can kill a bird.

Gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits

Small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and gerbils love to play by scurrying through tunnels and burrows. Consider creating a friendly -- and safe -- play area by fencing off a small area in your home with small-animal safe gates. Next, add toys and tunnels for the small animal to play with -- the tunnels can be as simple as a paper towel roll or as intricate as the manufactured playhouses available on the market.

One note: Be sure to keep an eye on your small critters while they're playing -- they're crafty little buggers and will find escape routes in the darndest places.

Hamsters and gerbils also love to scurry around the house, so consider giving them "free reign" of the house (within reason, of course) in one of those run-about balls. That way they can tire themselves out with exercise and still stay safe.

Tell us

How do you create fun play areas for your small pets? Share in the comments below!

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