Toys, Treats and Other Fun Things
Since so many commercially available toys and treats aren’t appropriate for guinea pigs, what are good options to enrich their lives? Fortunately there are many things you can give your pigs that are (relatively) safe – and many are items you probably already have around the house. Your pigs will love their new things and as a bonus – most are easy on your wallet! Pigs can be curious and adventurous and sometimes they can get in trouble in ways you never imagined. Whenever you introduce them to something new be sure to keep an eye on them as they use it and make sure it doesn’t present a danger to them. Hopefully your pigs will love at least some of these ideas!
- Paper lunch bag stuffed with hay. A lunch bag can provide days of entertainment for a guinea pig. I buy the XL size so evena larger pig can turn around in it. An empty bag is fine but I find stuffing a handful of hay inside makes it a huge hit! They love to play and sleep inside and will eat the hay and even the bag (eating the bag is not harmful but I would avoid bleached bags). I’ve had pigs chew holes in the side and come right through. This is a very inexpensive toy and when it gets ratty or dirty just throw it away and start a new one!
- Cardboard tubes. I cut down cardboard wrapping paper tubes into short lengths and put them in the cage (toilet paper tubes can be used but usually have too much glue for my comfort). Tubes can also be stuffed with hay but most of my pigs seem to prefer them empty. I have seen pictures of pigs stuck inside some tubes, cutting a slit down the length will keep that from happening.
- Stools of different sizes. Small plastic step stools make great hidey houses! Placed in the corner of your cage they are a good shelter and allow pigs more than one exit. Having multiple exits seems to cut down on conflicts since no pig can get “trapped” in a house. They are also relatively easy to clean; some even go in the dishwasher.
- Cardboard boxes. With the flaps cut off and one or more sides mostly cut out the boxes perform the same function as a step stool. As an added bonus, they give the pigs something else to chew on and can just be thrown away when they get too dirty or chewed up. One word of caution, I don’t use boxes that had chemicals or cleaning products in them on the chance some spilled on the box.
- Soda Carton Sleeves. My pigs love the long skinny soda cartons! I open up both ends and cut the flaps off, then also cut a pig-sized hole in the middle where the handle is and put it on the floor. They love to chase one another through the tunnel and the hole in the middle acts as an exit if they meet head on inside.
- Soft Goods. These can be beds, sacks, tunnels, huts and other hand sewn goods. There are a number of web sites with products available for sale. Some have the option to choose your own fabrics or designs. These are made with guinea pigs in mind so they are safe and machine washable. I’ve never met a guinea pig who didn’t appreciate a nice soft bed and sacks are good for keeping them warm on cold nights. Small stuffed animals can be a nice addition to your pigs’ cage too, just be sure small parts can’t be chewed off and choked on. Dog toys are usually a good choice since they are intended for animals. I “disable” any toy squeakers; I assume it would scare the pig if the toy squeaked! Also remember to inspect for damage and throw away anything with stuffing coming out, etc. Check the bottom of the article to see just some of the options for ordering soft goods items!
- Balls and Bells. Toy balls or bird bells are popular with plenty of cavy owners. Some pigs will roll the balls around the cage or ring the bells. Balls can be made of plastic or different kinds of wood. All items should be inspected regularly for cracks or sharp edges and other safety concerns. Sharp piggy teeth can create holes they could get stuck in or break off small pieces they could choke on.
- Vitamin C tablets. A tablet a day (ex. Oxbow Daily C) is good for your cavy and most of them think it’s a fabulous treat! Sometimes you run into a pig that won’t eat them but most will stand up at the side of the cage and beg for one. As a bonus, it’s great for their health.
- Floor time. Even if your guinea pigs live in a large cage it’s still a great idea to provide them with floor time as often as possible. To keep them safe, and your house clean it’s best to use a waterproof layer, an old blanket or other absorbent layer and grids or playpens to keep them in. A cheap plastic table cloth or other waterproof covering will protect your floors without costing too much.
There are too many options for me to list here, these are just some ideas I hope will get you started thinking and get your imagination working! What kinds of things do you do for your pigs?
Soft Goods Resources:
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