Cage Tips for Preventing Fleece Bedding Burrowing

brick on fleeceImage courtesy of Sally

The Brick Method

Fleece is a great bedding choice for guinea pigs, although it can have its difficulties. Many guinea pigs enjoy their fleece bedding and some of them love it best from underneath: they burrow under the fleece. This can be messy. They’ll eat the newspaper or chew on whatever you have under the fleece to absorb the urine. Or worse, they’ll get down to the bare bottom of the cage and you end up extracting a sodden, poopy pig. Yuck. Even with a ton of places to hide and cozies and cuddle cups to snuggle into, some pigs just prefer to get into where they shouldn’t.

There are a few different ways to deal with this problem.

The Brick Method
An easy, quick and inexpensive way to keep pigs from burrowing under the fleece is to hold the edges down with something heavy. Bricks, a big food bowl, hidey houses or anything hard to move or get under can do the trick. I have a brick under my girls’ water bottle. It works double duty: it keeps the excess water from soaking the fleece as well as keeping the fleece from being pulled up. The drawback of bricks is that they take up room on the floor and can be obstacles in an otherwise open running space.  If you have truly tenacious pigs, any open edge is an invitation to get under the fleece, so the heavy object approach may not be practical.

Small Binder Clip on FleeceImage courtesy of Sally

Binder Clips

Small Binder Clips on Fleece
Since I started building C&C cages, I’ve discovered there are two things I can’t do without:  zip-ties and binder clips. I have two different sized binder clips on hand and I am surprised (and amused) at how many are in use (14 in one cage and several more for their pen). Binder clips are a wonderfully effective way to stop burrowing. It requires cutting the fleece large enough to run up the sides of the cage so you can binder clip it to the top edge of the coroplast. I cut mine an inch or two longer than the sides, so I can fold it over the edge before clipping it into place.  Not only does this prevent burrowing, it stymies coroplast chewing (in case your guinea pig has a penchant for scalloped edges).

I have heard of a variation of the binder-clip solution by sewing velcro to the fleece and sticking the matching side of the velcro to the coroplast.  Personally, I’d think that velcro would be hard to clean around and lose its grip too quickly.  However, it’s worth mentioning – you may come up with some nifty way of making it work.

PVC pipe frame for fleeceImage courtesy of Sally

PVC Pipe Frame

PVC Pipe Frame for Fleece
Another method to keep fleece down is by using a PVC pipe frame. It’s not a common solution, but I’ve seen descriptions of this design once or twice. The idea is to make a frame of 1/2 inch pipe that is just slightly smaller than the inside edge of the frame. The fleece needs to be a few inches larger than the bottom of the cage.  The fleece is placed over the frame, the edges tucked under, and the whole thing is placed into the cage. It eliminates any raw edges for the guinea pig to burrow under. The weight of the pig on both the PVC and fleece should hinder them from tunneling underneath.

I recently discovered a variant of the PVC frame technique: the pipe frame is replaced with a sheet of coroplast that is a little smaller than the bottom of the cage. The coroplast is covered with the fleece and binder-clipped into place, then placed in the bottom of the cage. This would be a great way to use up any large chunks of coroplast you may have laying around. It might be easier to clean than the PVC frame, too.

These are the most common prevention tactics I’ve seen. I’m sure there are other methods that people have dreamed up in order to thwart their industrious guinea pigs. If you’re lucky, your pigs have never considered that burrowing under their fleece bedding is a possibility. Keep your fingers crossed that they don’t become enlightened.


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Sally

Sally has owned guinea pigs for over 20 years and has organized the Boston Pignics since 2003. She is the CavyMadness "guinea guru" and assists guinea pig beginners on other cavy forums. Sally currently cares for a pair of sows.

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Comments
7 Responses to “Cage Tips for Preventing Fleece Bedding Burrowing”
  1. Donna says:

    I usually peg the fleece to the side of the cage but I leave some overhang of fleece so they can still hide. This seems to distract them from burrowing.

  2. Alena Loisele says:

    I know I’m jinxing myself, but so far the boys have not been interested in burrowing in the cage’s fleece. Sterling is a champ at burrowing in his playpen fleece when they are getting changed out, as I do not anchor that at all, and Lou seems to have no burrowing tendencies at all. That said, I know what I will find when I get home: both will have taken up the hobby. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Chelsea says:

    actually, bricks serve a third purpose. In 2 cages, I have one under the water bottle & one keeping the food bowl secure in a corner (my girls have strong enough teeth & necks they will otherwise pull the solid, ceramic bowl around). The third cage has bunk beds & I am using 2 differnt siaed bricks as stairs. By having the pigs run/walk/stand on the bricks, their nails stay filed down. When I had a larger apartment, I had a large pen area that had a cinder block tunnel which they absolutely loved to run through. I almost never had to clip nails (which I’m sure made them happy)

  4. wayngrove says:

    My 2 boars are ALWAYS burrowing under their fleece. They are so bad that I attempted to do bedding. Hated it, so yesterday I put the fleece back in. It took the trouble brothers about 20 minutes to find a wide enough space between binder clips to get a mouthful of fleece and start pulling. IT’S MADDENING! I currently am using 18 clips on my 2×3 C&C lower level and 10 on the 1×2 loft. Has anyone attempted to use some sort of runner to seal the entire length of chloroplast, with the fleece pinched beneath it? Should I just invest in a neverending row of clips?

    • Sally says:

      A report binder could be added as a continuous strip (I used them in http://www.guineapigtoday.com/2012/05/16/guinea-pig-cage-tips-and-techniques-to-prevent-chewing/ to prevent chewing the coroplast edges), but I’m not sure if it could be spread wide enough to go over both the coroplast and the fleece. You could check your local hardware store to see if they had anything that would be a bit wider,

      I like your idea of runner – could you make one of heavy cardboard or even a long, thin piece of scored coroplast so you could fold it over the edge and binder it into place? They could chew either of those, but it might slow them down. Or a thin piece of wood, clipped to the side?

      Pigs can be so industrious!

  5. Sara says:

    Hi! I was wondering where you can find these mini bricks. Any suggestions?

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