Toys are especially important for the physical and mental health of small pets that spend most of their time in a cage. But for many pet owners, it is also imperative that the toys they purchase are proven safe for pets, the environment or both. Fortunately, most manufacturers of small-animal toys are heeding the demand.
Greenfeather Bird Supply, LLC, in West Hartford, Conn., is among the companies answering the call for earth-friendly toys for birds and small animals, and according to owner Dena Tucker, the company produced the first line of bird toys to receive the “certified made in the USA” designation. “There is no glue used in any of the toys that I design and create,” she says. “Every piece used in our toys is non-toxic and safe for all small pets, to be chewed on and even ingested.”
Greenfeather is not alone in its efforts to be as pet-friendly as possible in its designs. When Eric Geislinger, inventor and president of Flagstaff, Ariz.-based manufacturer Transoniq, begin designing exercise wheels, safety was among his principal goals. “Wodent Wheels feature a unique design with a safe, solid running surface and a support stand without dangerous pinch areas,” Geislinger says.
Since a lot of exercise is better for all small pets, any new product that gives pets more opportunities to exercise is a healthy thing. Alverstone Enterprises, Inc., in Rochester, N.Y., recently introduced an innovative exercise ball, the leak-proof Orbiciser. Co-inventor Jodi Aboujaoude says the Orbiciser’s sphere-in-sphere technology uses the pet’s rolling action to draw waste into the outer ball. The outer ball has chimney-type airways allowing healthy airflow, while keeping pet waste trapped. This protects floors and carpet while the pet is playing.
Ware Manufacturing, Inc., is also giving small-pet owners more pet-safe toy options to choose from. It recently launched a line of Critter Toys designed to provide fun and fitness for hamsters, gerbils, mice and small rats. The new toys include the Barrel Roller, a toy that encourages healthy activity through rolling action; the Bobble Barbell, a wobble toy that is safe to chew and encourages healthy play; and the Critter Totter, a see-saw-style toy that offers climbing and chewing fun. “They are made of solid wood that has been dyed with USDA food-safe colors to create playful, colorful toys that are also a safe outlet for instinctive chewing activities,” says Heather Cappel, creative coordinator for Ware Manufacturing Inc.
Marshall Pet Products, Inc., is another company that has focused on providing entertainment for small pets with products that are also designed to be safe and inviting. “Our new Pop-N-Play Ball Pit is a hit,” says Linda Cope, new media marketing manager at Marshall Pet Products. “Ferrets love jumping in and out of the holes and tunneling through the colorful balls. It’s also a great toy for other pets such as guinea pigs, rats and chinchillas. A Velcro tab attaches the toy to furniture, cages or playpens to prevent tipping.”
Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the animal field since 1982. She is the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and, her most recent book, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.