What do you need to put in a guinea pig cage?
Guinea pigs are easy to take care of. Just purchase or build them a nice cage and you’re good to go. It gets better with the fact that guinea pigs can thrive both indoors and outdoors. So it doesn’t really matter where you put the cage.
As long as you provide the right environment for your guinea pigs and feed them well, they will do just fine. But once you have acquired the right cage what should you put inside it? Read on to learn more.
The Cage Liner
The rules are simple here. Since guinea pigs have small and delicate feet, you must ensure the liner you go for is smooth, without ridges, nails and certainly not meshed. Note that guinea pigs are more or less like humans. Their chests and feet are not fury. This means they need a warm and comfortable surface to run around on.
The liner you choose for your guinea pig cage will be dependent on the type and size of the guinea pig cage. It should have an absorbent layer in the middle so as to keep your guinea pigs dry. Be sure to also go for a liner that is machine washable. If you have two or more guinea pigs go for a liner with a thick absorbent pad.
I wrote more on The Best Guinea Pig Fleece Cage Liner here.
The Water Bottle
Water bowls are ideal for cats and dogs, but when it comes to guinea pigs, things change. Guinea pigs for instance tend to knock dishes and bowls over quite often. The best you can do is to go for special water bottles designed for guinea pigs.
Choose one that is leak free and has a zero drip feature. Pay attention to the capacity as well. Guinea pigs do not drink lots of water, so yours should be fine with a water bottle that can hold at least 11.2 ounces.
You’ll note that the market is full of guinea pig water bottles with many different designs. Whatever you do, stick to a water bottle that is simple in design and user friendly. Go for one with screws on the bracket. That way, you will have an easy time securing the water bottle on the cage wall.
You will also have an easy time refilling the water bottle or removing it outside the cage anytime you want to wash it. Pay particular attention to other factors too such as the nozzle size as well as the water bottle material. The nozzle shouldn’t be too big or too small for your guinea pig. For material, stick to clear plastic or glass as they are easy to wash.
I wrote more on The Best Guinea Pig Water Bottle here.
The Food Bowl
The first thing you need to keep in mind here is that when it comes to food bowls for guinea pigs, size matters. What you choose should be wide and shallow. This means the cage should also be spacious enough to give ample room to your guinea pigs, their food bowl and water bottle.
With a shallow bowl, your cavies will have an easy time reaching for their food. As for width, cavies have a habit of scattering food as they eat. A wide bowl will mean they will scatter food within the bowl and not outside on the liner. A wide ball will also be steady, so it won’t topple over or flip.
The material of the food bowl you choose also matters. With options such as ceramic, glass, wood or plastic, you should have an easy time choosing a food bowl for your guinea pig. Avoid plastic though for one main reason.
Guinea pigs like to chew on things. It won’t be long before your guinea pig chews on the plastic food bowl you bought. This can be dangerous for your guinea pigs teeth and digestive tract. It can also create sharp edges which can injure your cavy.
Hay is a key part of your guinea pig diet. It is therefore important for you to make sure your guinea pig has enough hay all of the time. But you cannot just toss a fistful or a handful of hay in your guinea pig’s enclosure and assume that’s all you need to do to feed it. Contamination by feces, spilled water and urine will occur with this approach which is essential to avoid.
These contaminants will allow fungi and bacteria to grow on the food. The hay may start decomposing and eventually make your pet sick. The cage will also stink. To avoid this, choose a good hay rack for your guinea pig.
The first thing you will notice when looking for a hay rack for your guinea pig is the wide range of sizes and designs available. You will also notice that some hay racks can hold both hay and pellets while others will only hold hay. Whichever option you go for, make sure what ends up in your guinea pigs cage is easy to clean. Then keep in mind that your pet’s safety is important.
With that in mind, choose a hay rack that cannot trap your pet. The opening from where the pet feeds from should be too large to allow the whole head inside the feeder, and too small to restrict both the head and the body. The rack should also fit within the pet’s enclosure with ease. Lastly, avoid feeders with sharp and spiky edges or hardware.
I wrote more on Guinea Pig Hay Rack here.
Toy, Chew Toys
This may sound interesting but a guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing. They grow throughout their lives. This means they can become very uncomfortable if they get too long. Your guinea pigs will then have a hard time feeding.
To keep their teeth at a manageable length, guinea pigs, chew, nibble and grind on rough objects. That is exactly why you should buy your chew toys and nibblers for your cavies. Choosing a good set of playing and chewing toys for your guinea pigs should not be hard.
All you need to keep in mind is that hard and natural wood make the best choice for a good chewing toy. In simple terms, the toy’s material should provide good resistance when chewed on. It should also have a good abrasive surface which can help wear down the long and pointy teeth of your guinea pigs.
I wrote more on Top 3 Things Guinea Pig To Chew On here.
Timothy Hay Chew Sticks Get this Timothy Hay Chew Sticks on Amazon
Most are colorful but your guinea pig won’t care as long their chew toy does the job properly. Avoid plastic chew toys as they wear down too quickly. Many are also made of materials that contain traces of toxic substances. Your best bet here is simply wood.
Sweet Bamboo Chew Toy
There are two main types of guinea pig house. First, there is the main structure. It is the section that encloses the guinea pigs in safety as they rest, play and eat. Then there is the hide house, which is where the guinea pig can snooze and nest or if you may, “take a break from it all”.
This section needs you attention as much as the main house does. Note that you can purchase the hide house separately, so you can buy it and place it inside the main guinea pig cage. This means you have to take into account factors like space and safety.
Guinea pigs cannot climb very well. With that in mind, steer clear of any top mounted hide house you come across. Instead, go for a side mounted or free standing hide house. Then while you are at it, play close attention to the construction material of the hide house. Guinea pigs like to chew as already explained above.
This means the hide house should be made of a guinea pig friendly material such as glass, wood or ceramic. You also need to keep in mind sanitation. The hide house should be spacious enough for you to easily put in a liner and take it out for cleaning.
Hay, Orchard Grass, Oat Grass
Guinea pigs like hay. This doesn’t mean that you should just feed them hay 24/7. A good alternative to hay is the orchard grass. It is a flat leaf bladed cool season and tall growing grass. It is also perennial. It makes a good alternative to hay mainly because it is rich in fiber and low in protein. This means it helps support a healthy digestive tract for your guinea pigs.
There is also oat grass which is just as nutritious as orchard grass. When choosing this option for your guinea pigs, go for oat hay cut at the right time. That is, when the oat seed was already out of the milk stage. Check to see if the cutting occurred when the seeds were in the dough stage. This ensures sweetness as well as good carbohydrate content.
I wrote more on Guinea Pig Hay here.
When it comes to the guinea pig bed, avoid cedar slices which a lot of guinea pig owners considered an ideal option about a decade ago. Now there is proof that cedar can cause breathing complications for guinea pigs.
Another alternative considered to be ideal back in the day was saw dust. This is way too dusty for your guinea pig bed liner. It can cause respiratory challenges. Corncob bedding is also not ideal as it can go moldy. Wood shavings, dried grass hay and fleece material with an absorbent layer are all perfect for bedding.
Aspen bedding is yet another option you should consider apart from fleece which is popular as well. It is a non-aromatic hardwood and the shavings are ideal for sensitive cavies. It is also dust and scent free. Compared to fleece it is easier to wash.
Be extremely attentive to odor control when choosing bed materials for your guinea pigs. You can go for unscented, large granule and strange paper pellets if you have more than two guinea pigs. This is an ideal option not just for its odor absorbent qualities but also for the comfort it guarantees. It has great moisture absorption too. The pellets are also 100% paw friendly.
I wrote more on Guinea Pig Bedding here.