One of the most exciting things about getting guinea pigs is deciding how to fix up a home for them.
No matter how you set up the cage, it’s important to pay attention to the type of guinea pig bedding you use.
For starters, most owners lay down a pad of newspapers or paper towelling before they ever add anything else.
But keep in mind that no matter how much or little you spend on your guinea pig bedding, you’ve got to change it regularly and often. That will keep it free of urine, and you’ll also avoid unpleasant odours emanating from the cage.
Once you get past the newspaper layer, you’ve got to learn that there are several WRONG types of bedding.
Wrong Types of Bedding
They include corn cobs, cedar or pine shavings, and straw.
The corn cobs will get mouldy, and the guinea pigs can swallow small pieces of them that are too tough to be digested. And the texture of the cobs can be hard on your new buddy’s little feet!
People tend to think that all wood shavings are alike, but that’s just not so. Cedar shavings are more prone to come from wood that was treated with insecticide. They are also more likely to contain oils, plus an irritant called plicatic acid that will eventually induce asthma or other allergic symptoms. Pines have a very similar biochemical composition and thus provide the same irritations as cedar. Phenols used in some of these woods, which actually serve as disinfecting agents, are harmful to cavies. Many experts believe that cedar and pine shavings bring on symptoms of aging much more sooner.
Lots of people think that straw’s just the ticket. In fact, they choose it not only for guinea pig bedding but also for food! The reality is that guinea pigs are not supposed to eat straw, although you’ll find those that try.
Straw lacks the nutrients found in hay, and it’s hard on the digestive system. Plus, it makes a poor bedding choice because it lacks absorbency, and frankly with its stiff ends it just isn’t comfortable.
Hardwood shavings, on the other hand, make wonderful bedding. You can choose something like aspen, and there are sanitary chip products out on the market that are packed in bales; they contain tiny pieces of shredded wood.
Hay is a cheap material that works well if it’s replaced often, because it does become moldy very quickly. It’s best to use hay along with another absorbent bedding product.
Generally, we do not recommend wire flooring left exposed as guinea pig bedding, because their feet can be injured on the wires. But if your guinea pig is recovering from a urinary tract infection, try laying some plastic wire grids directly on the bottom of the cage during his recovery.
An Easy Bedding Start
Here’s how to build a wonderful bed for your guinea pig, from the bare floor up:
- Lay a thickness of newspapers, both for absorbency and warmth.
- Next, add aspen shavings; there are also wood pellets on the market.
- Third, cover the shavings with hay. It softens things up for your guinea pig, and he’ll love burrowing in it.
Another flooring growing in popularity is polar fleece.
Your pet guinea pig will love it – because it’s soft and warm. Buy a couple pieces and rotate them through the laundry regularly so there’s always a clean piece for his cage. Lay it on top of wood shavings so that any urine that goes through will be absorbed by the shavings. Don’t use it throughout the entire cage-just along one end or in a corner. Cotton towels provide the same comfort.
You then change this bedding every 2-3 days and in between vacuum any droppings. There will droppings… many droppings
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