There are many options available when you choose bedding for guinea pigs. However, not all the available options are equal. Some may negatively affect your guinea pig’s health. Others may require significantly more cleaning. In the end, though, the guinea pig bedding you choose needs to work for you.
Wood shavings are typically easy to get ahold of. However, you need to be incredibly careful which varieties of wood the shavings come from. Only aspen shavings are entirely safe as guinea pig bedding. Other woods have two issues.
Many people like the idea of cedar or pine on account of the smell. When guinea pigs pee, this bedding releases a scent. The downside is those smells. Guinea pigs have a remarkable sense of smell, which links into their respiratory system. The agitation caused by the smell can cause some distress.
The other factor with wood shavings is the oils. Particularly in longer haired guinea pigs, the oils can catch their hair. This addition can offset their natural oil balance, which can, in turn, can affect their skin and overall health.
Paper is a highly absorbent option for guinea pig bedding. The trick is that this paper needs to be dye, ink, and chemical-free. Otherwise, these products may leak into your guinea pig’s environment. Your guinea pig may even eat the bedding, which can cause longer-term health issues.
You can choose shredded or pelleted options with paper guinea pig bedding. Both are absorbent possibilities, though pellets tend to be better. The downside is the dust and may be expensive. You can also make your own if necessary.
Fleece and Guinea Pigs
Fleece has been gaining popularity as bedding for guinea pigs. This method is reusable and more sustainable than the other bedding options. However, it is also more labor-intensive to prevent smells. You can create your own or buy from a reputable source. The fleece must not be synthetic.
With fleece bedding, liquid waste goes through the top layer and the middle layers absorb it. Solid waste sits on top of the fleece, and you need to remove it daily. The fleece also needs to go through the washer regularly for sanitation.
Composite bedding combines two of the abovementioned methods. Most commonly, this includes reclaimed wood and paper. Composite bedding for guinea pigs is often used for the combination of benefits it brings. In most cases, these beddings have exceptional absorbency and odor control.
Bedding to Avoid for Guinea Pigs
There are options for guinea pig bedding that should be avoided if possible. These options are not beneficial to the guinea pigs and may even cause long term problems.
Some cages market a wire bottom, in which waste falls through the wires into the actual pan below. While this makes cleanup more manageable, it can also harm your guinea pigs. Guinea pig feet can sustain damage in this arrangement and can even experience foot deformities in the long term.
Straw may sound like a good bedding idea for guinea pigs since it’s warm. However, there is a danger your guinea pig will injure its eyes on the stiff pieces. Additionally, straw does nothing for guinea pigs nutritionally, even though they may eat it as they would hay.
Corn is not suitable for guinea pigs. Using corn cob as bedding is an extension of that. Guinea pigs cannot digest corn, regardless of which part you feed out. In the case of corn cob, the pellets can become lodged in their digestive tracts. The corn cob can also become lodged in their feet.