Guinea Pig Fun
No Top on Rack
Hay & Shavings
After the cage is set in the chosen location and the bedding has been added, it's time to add water bottles and feed bowls and hay holders if you choose to use them. If you use a hay rack make sure that it is one that is safe. Guinea pigs are prey animals who love a hiding place or two in their habitat. A towel may also be draped over a corner of the cage. Some guinea pigs love the various handmade cage accessories that are made for sale or that you can make yourself. Some like hanging parrot toys and some like mirrors. For those that chew there are wooden cage items. I prefer a step stool to the plastic igloos that are sold since they provide more ventilation and allow for more interaction with the surroundings. Whatever you use to enhance your guinea pig's cage make sure that you wash and dry the items periodically to keep them clean and your guinea pig healthy.
The frequency of how often you clean your cage will depend on several things: the size of the cage, the age of and number of the occupants plus their health. The rule of thumb is to spot-clean daily and totally clean as often as needed which could be daily up to a week's time. If you swap out mini fleece cage pads in high-urine use areas then the larger fleece cage pad or fleece/towels will remain drier and cleaner longer. However, some occupants like Bif and Albert on the right, will make a mess of the cage and so it may need to be totally cleaned daily or every other day. Cleaning the cage involves removing the soiled bedding with a small dust pan or rolling it up if the cage base was lined with newspaper before disposable bedding was added. Next I clean the cage base and any washable cage accessories. I use Dawn liquid dish soap but some people prefer to use white vinegar and water or water with a bit of bleach. Whatever you use make sure that you rinse it and dry it well and wait for any odor to dissipate before adding the clean bedding and accessories and guinea pigs.
The location should allow you to keep an eye on the guinea pigs in case any illness symptoms should arise or if any squabbles break out among the cage occupants, something that would be harder to catch right away if the guinea pigs were housed outdoors in a hutch or a shed. Also, housing your guinea pigs outdoors can allow the caretaker to easily forget them since they are out of sight out and possibly out of mind. Pets housed indoors miss the problems that some caretakers have with housing their guinea pigs outdoors: mice, rats, flies, maggots, predators such as foxes, cats, dogs, birds of prey, and even humans who take animals housed in outdoor hutches. Being housed indoors also eliminates them from being stuck in a hutch during extreme weather conditions, such as warm temperatures and freezing rain or snow, that could compromise their health and well-being. What else is a benefit for an indoor-only guinea pig? You and your love and interaction! Think about it. Would you want to be housed outdoors in a hutch during the pounding rain and freezing snow or hot temperatures and isolated from those you love? Probably not. If you do decide to house your guinea pigs outdoors please check this web page out for great information on outdoor habitats.
There are various bedding choices available for cages. Popular choices are recycled-paper bedding, fleece, hay, and wood shavings (Aspen only; no cedar or pine). Shavings can get caught in long hair and cause mats. Recycled-paper bedding, hay, and shavings are easily disposed of once the cage is cleaned whereas fleece bedding must be washed and dried, something to consider if you don't like to do laundry or have limited time. Disposable bedding tends to stay drier longer if one spot cleans daily but fleece allows one the opportunity to create a visually appealing cage. Really important no matter what the of bedding you choose, a clean cage normally does not smell. Also, important is that a clean, dry cage is necessary to maintain the health of your pet.
Once you have the largest that you can make or buy, there are other things to consider when you set up a habitat for your guinea pigs. The first is location, location, location.
Where are you going to house the guinea pigs? Guinea pigs are small companion animals who thrive on the interaction of humans so it is best to house them where they will be interacted with regularly. This can be a family room, living room, kitchen, or other similar room that has enough foot traffic from the caretakers to allow and provide the interaction needed. Since guinea pigs are sensitive to loud noises, that would eliminate any room with excessive noise from a TV or stereo or family members. The cage or location should also be safe from family pets and young children so that they won't end up injured or worse, end up dead. No garages since the carbon monoxide from cars could easily kill the guinea pigs.
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