Where possible, adding natural elements with an eye towards mimicking the wild guinea pig habitat is a good idea. These touches help your guinea pig stay healthy and happy. You can choose how many options fit in your guinea pig’s home.
Rocks are widely available anywhere in the world, including in the Andes, where guinea pigs originated. Running over rocks is one of the ways guinea pigs managed their nails when there are not helpful humans with clippers.
If you want to add a rock from the wild, it’s important to sanitize it. Generally, soap and water followed by a 10-to-20-minute water boil does the trick. By taking the time to do this, you’re reducing the chances of your guinea pig encountering a foreign substance that could harm them.
Trees are also an important part of many ecosystems, and guinea pigs use them to keep their ever-growing teeth in check. Unfortunately, the guinea pig digestive system cannot handle many types of wood. Additionally, you should avoid all processed woods and any varieties that may have been sprayed with chemicals.
Generally, you’ll want to stick with non-aromatic hardwoods that are also not evergreen. Consult the supplier on how the wood was grown and harvested before buying any. If possible, buy from a reputable source.
Hidey Holes in a Natural Guinea Pig Habitat
Guinea pigs are prey animals, so having enclosed spaces they can hide in helps them not be stressed. In the wild, guinea pigs burrow for safety. Supplying a house, blocking off a corner, or another structure is useful for reducing their stress.
This choice follows the same idea as the hidey-holes. Guinea pigs evolved to live in burrows, so the closed-in feeling of a tunnel helps them feel safe. Plus, tunnels are great enrichment for them to explore.
Food Treats for Mimicking Natural Guinea Pig Habitat
Guinea pigs are foragers, which gives you a mimicking opportunity to match the natural guinea pig habitat. Things like weaving green sprouts through a tunnel wall or hanging carrots from the top of the cage delight guinea pigs and help them exercise those instincts.