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Help! Novice guinea pig owners, baffled by sheer volume of information online!

(24 Posts)
mintymellons Mon 25-Mar-13 19:49:51


We're just about to venture into the world of guinea pigs. We're getting two baby females in a week or so. We're planning to keep them indoors and have a bought a large cage, but what I'm struggling with is the whole cage lining/bedding side of things. I've read a lot about using fleece, but not sure about it.

What do other piggie owners use in their indoor cages? Do you put different material in their sleeping area? I was hoping to avoid using too much hay (i.e only having that as food and not bedding aswell), but presumably they need some sort of snuggly thing to sleep on?

My mind is spinning with all of the info out there! Please can someone help me with the basics so we can get things set up for our new arrivals.

Thanks in advance smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 25-Mar-13 20:18:31

Hi minty there are oodles of guinea- bedding threads on here.
Some owners use fleece sucessfully.
VetBed is another popular one (expensive but available online) and washable.

Find out what your baby pigs are sleeping on at the moment. They'll settle better if you keep things familiar for a while .This includes their food as well.If you change their pellets (and pellets are adviced rather than the muesli type as they can't be picky with it)

My boars live in and out.
Indoors they have a 4'x2' cage. I put cardboard, newspaper and hay (usually the hay in a cardboard box) If it's a decent size they'll happily share it. Sometimes I'll give them one each.
You can give them hay in a rack to keep it clean. Mine CBA walking all that way so I give them fresh hay every couple of days.

What's the trouble with the hay?Is someone allergic to it in your house?
They love a haypile to fight through.
I give my boys a deep pile haybed outside (they are in their Pighouse in the day with a heater)

I think it's more natural for them . IRL/ In the wild they would live in tall grass or oppurtunistic burrows (they don't dig holes tthemselves - not with those delicate little paws)

Also they need hay. Vital. They need to eat constantly to prevent gut stasis and liver failure. In the summer, when they can do some serious grazing they'll need hay at night.

Fleece seems to attract hay and it's a nightmare to brush off.


I've tried everything known to mankind for the boars (don't use sawdust or shavings though)

I've settled on :
indoors- cardboard, newspaper and hay indoors (and a little fleecy catbed that they're ignoring at the moment hmm )

outdoors-wooden catlitter (furry friendly) rubber carboot liner ,lots of carboard (no sellotape or stables) newspaper (no staples) and lots of hay. I put soft barley straw at the back to insulate but not for baby pigs.

FernieB Mon 25-Mar-13 20:43:06

Hi minty and welcome to the wonderful world of pigs - you'll love them.

My boys are indoor pigs and their cage is lined with a layer of newspaper and then on top of that we have furry friendly litter/hay. You can try to just give them hay in a rack to eat, but IME they just drag it out and spread it everywhere anyway. As 70 says, they need hay and they love it - nothing makes them popcorn more than a pile of hay. I know a lot of people use fleece etc, but my lads are so messy I'd be washing it every day. It's just far easier to deal with newspaper/hay etc.

My lads have a small house each in their cage (boys sometimes need time apart) but as they have a tendency to move these houses around the cage, I don't put anything special inside them. I do put a blanket over the top of their cage at night for extra warmth (especially in winter).

fortifiedwithtea Mon 25-Mar-13 22:24:04

The reasons given ^against wood shavings is it dries their skin and they breath in the dust and is very bad for their delicate chests. Guinea pigs are prone to upper respiratory infection.

Having said that my hutch is lined with newspaper topped with wood shavings and then a layer of hay. But I would never use saw dust. The house constantly looks like a barn yard and the hoover works overtime.

I've used towels to line a hutch but they need changing daily. I had to shake hay and poo off and wait until I had a 5 day batch to make it worth putting through the washing machine at 90 degrees < vom>.

Guinea pigs love a clean hutch. I find if I give them a big pile of hay they do a dance in it until its just where they want.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 25-Mar-13 22:57:03

Make sure your baby girls ARE baby girls (been there)

And BTW very envy of little baby guineas.

I've been perusing the Gumtree furry pages (no idea why) and I get really angry at all these people 'rehoming' their single adult pigs. (Not that I'm looking you understand)

You are definately doing the right thing getting two. They are lovely but guineas need guineas.

123rd Mon 25-Mar-13 23:23:16

We have two males and they live indoors during the winter....& spring ATM!! We have newspaper then a mixture of shredded paper and wood shaving stuff then a pile of hay that they munch through v quickly. When they go outside they have the same pretty much. Try and put random cardboard objects or boxes in with them too. They seem to like it.

superfluouscurves Mon 25-Mar-13 23:39:17

Hi Minty great choice - you will love your pigs and be surprised by the strength of their characters! [I have moved on to rabbits now but had two lovely female gps a while back]

I live abroad and used to use this for my gps (still use it for rabbit litter tray). Don't know if there is something similar in UK - sure there must be. It's compressed pellets of wood shavings but they retain their shape when wet so are safe to use for furries, and they also cut down on odour. So cage used to be (1) lined with newspaper, (2) surface covered with Cats Best, (3) big ball of good quality hay.

As others have said, gps love hay and need to be able to eat it constantly.

I tried fleece but couldn't get on with it. As 70isalimitnotatarget said, the hay goes everywhere and I kept finding it in the washing machine and all over the laundry.

Will they have access to grass during the summer? They love to graze and to get out and about. This company (although not cheap) provides some great cage/tunnel configurations here Look at these run set-ups ... rabbits are featured, but excellent for gps too!

friendlyface12 Mon 25-Mar-13 23:42:32

Newspaper, hay, wood sticks for gnawing, meadow dried grass/hay as treat as not able to go out in bad weather.
I tried towels too but need to get poo off and then wash (I wash mine in a horse tack cleaning washing machine bag (bought from vet online store) so as not to get the bits in washing machine.
Clippers,brush,water bottle.
Also, if you are in / near Cambs become a member of The Cavy Trust and you get free nail clipping, worming of all pigs and advice - costs £35 p.a. Vedra (the vet) is amazing!
Read Peter Gurney's books.
They're lovely pets, I got two last year and got another a few months ago and they all seem v happy in a little group!
Just be wary of vet treatment and make sure vet has training in piggies because sometimes they don't give the medication a pig needs to save it, for example, a direutic if it is wheezy.
Enjoy your new additions!

superfluouscurves Tue 26-Mar-13 00:01:57

[sorry for hi-jack]

Friendlyface12 could you please link to horse tack cleaning washing machine bag when you get a minute?

mintymellons Tue 26-Mar-13 08:12:41

Thank you all! In a rush but will read later!

friendlyface12 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:22:34

Sure asuperfluouscurves- Pet hair washing machine filter bag - got mine from Viovet_uk on EBay for about £10.

superfluouscurves Tue 26-Mar-13 17:19:08

Thank you friendlyface - much appreciated!

Curlybrunette Wed 27-Mar-13 21:10:26

I used to use fleece with conti pads underneath, but found I could never get the fleece clean. I have got a pet hair washing bag and although it may stop the hair getting into the washer the fleeces still look dirty I thought the bag would somehow magically make the fleece utterly spotless

I now use easibed with a foam matting on top, ace, the hay/hair brushes off so easily. I still use fleece under their houses so it's soft but I'm still finding the same problems of not feeling they ever get properly clean. I'm working on that problem...

Enjoy your piggies, we've only had our girls since November but I'm so in love it's unbelievable. I started with a cage. Then moved to a C&C. Have now built and extension. May extend further nothing is too much for my pampered angels

mintymellons Fri 29-Mar-13 19:51:26

Thank you for all of your hints and tips.

Well, we are now the proud owners two 8 week old boars. We have opted to use newspaper, Carefresh and hay as a starting point and we'll go from there and tweak as necessary.

We brought them home a about three hours ago and they've been hiding in their sleeping box thing ever since, only venturing out when they think we're not in the room! They are really lovely and I can't wait to get to know them.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 29-Mar-13 20:28:21

Oooh, lucky you, boarlets grin

As they get more familiar with their new home and new people, they'll get braver.And don't underestimate food in the role of bribing guineas (they are greedy little so-and-so's).
Parsley and fresh cut grass is a favourite here.
Celery leaves, pieces of melon and strawberries .

Our adult boars have their established order which is lovely because the bolshy brother protects his little brother- provided they remember this (and I don't give them coriander which made them fight) peace reigns (99% of the time.)

GP1 is the 'marker' -even if he's had a pee he'll manage a few drops on his clean bedding. But usually produces a good sized puddle.
Luckily I can pick up copies of the Metro on the Underground (lots of Boris Johnson photos to pooh on)

mintymellons Sat 30-Mar-13 07:41:50

70 , we had to go out and buy a neswpaper yesterday, especially for them! Will have to start asking family and friends to save them from now on. Excellent idea using the Metro and having your pigs piddle on BJ!!

maxybrown Sat 30-Mar-13 20:21:52

We got 2 6 month old pigs yesterday as no one wanted them sad

We did!!

They are called Steve and Rocket

racingheart Sat 30-Mar-13 20:31:25

Oh lovely news. We have two boars too and they are soooo cute. They whistle and and hoot when I chop veg, and they climb out of the cage for cuddles if they've been left for the day while we're out.

We use grey recycled paper pellets that are great at keep ing the smell down, with wood chips and hay as bedding. (Hay does get everywhere.)

They love chewing on sticks and cardboard tubes, and need lots of fresh food.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 30-Mar-13 20:31:54

Oh that's lovely maxy it's fabulous that your pigs have been given a second chance. They'll really blossom and you've got the Easter holidays to really bond with them .

Just be on the alert, 6 months is the Power Struggle age for boars - the Terrible Teens Age (which might account for them being disowned by their previous owners)

Plenty of food, space, safe hiding spaces (by which I mean 2 doors so that one boar can't trap another) and lots of 'get out' space so that they can have some alone time if they want.

I got 2 one year old brothers so I missed the Teens (thankfully) but they have their moments.
(I went down to the Pighouse once and I could hear shrieking. Not angry, more "Help Help". My GP2 never squeaks so I knew it must be GP1.
GP2 was in the deep hay sitting on top of his brother who was buried in the hay. Their haybox is over 3'x3' so he had plenty of room. Little turd) shock

maxybrown Sat 30-Mar-13 20:49:27

They were actually from Pets at home hmm we weren't going to buy from there but we couldn't leave them and no one wanted them and Steve looked miserable and sad sad and beacuse they were in the rehoming bit apparently the money goes to charity...........

They are brothers and seem quite close at the minute but thank you - all advice much appreciated, learning as we go!!

They are indoor pigs and will hae a run for outside too smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 30-Mar-13 23:10:36

Last year my DD took pictures of the boars on her DSi and added rabbit ears and rabbity teeth and whiskers with the animation mode (our boys wouldn't lower themselves to wear bunny ears grin )

We were in a petstore toady (no guineas but they did have some rabbits. Very lazy lardy rabbits I have to say)

Guineas are good at wearing Santa hats too !

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 30-Mar-13 23:11:07

today not toady blush

bluebump Sat 30-Mar-13 23:20:28

I put mine outside in their run for the first time when I was cleaning their inside pen the other day...and they hid until I brought them inside again grin We got them in October and they have lived inside so far, I hope they like it outside eventually!

Chopchopbusybusy Sat 30-Mar-13 23:32:08

We use megazorb which is a bit like care fresh but much cheaper. A huge bag is about £7. Google your local stockist. We've tried care fresh, newspaper, fleece, towels, hay and wood shavings and megazorb does the best job.

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