Guinea Pig Environmental Enrichment
Guinea pigs are lovely pets and they can be a lot of fun to interact with and keep in your home. Many people who get a guinea pig are not sure how to make sure that their pet does not get bored while they are spending time in their cage. While it can be tempting to just get some more guinea pigs to give your first pet company, this might not be the only answer to their boredom.
Guinea pigs can be entertained by many different enrichment items. You will want to be sure that your guinea pig is not bored so that they do not start to exhibit symptoms of stress or worry. Being sure that your guinea pig is getting everything that they need from their daily environment is about more than offering them food and water.
If you want to learn more about guinea pig environmental enrichment, you need to read on!
What Does a Guinea Pig Need?
Guinea pigs will need the right food and access to clean water and bedding every day. They also do not thrive without some kind of fun objects that allow them to play, interact with their environment, and do things that normal guinea pigs would do in the wild.
You can add another guinea pig to the cage to give your original pet a friend to play with, but both guinea pigs will still need enrichment items to help keep them from getting bored and being destructive. Like many small exotic pets that have to live in cages by necessity, you need to keep their environment fresh and fun every day to support their mental health.
Indoor Guinea Pig Essentials
The first thing that you need to make sure of is that your guinea pig has a place to play that is not their cage. Guinea pigs often need about two or three feet of space to have fun in each day outside of their cage. Many people will set up a guinea pig play area in their home that has a safe floor and fencing to keep the guinea pigs inside the area with ease.
These areas can include fun things like wicker baskets, small chew toys, and snacks. Guinea pigs like to burrow, hide, and then jump out when playing. You can encourage this kind of play with the right baskets and boxes that are filled with hay.
Keep it Fresh
Changing out the items that are in their cage/playpen each day will keep things fresh and keep your pigs from getting bored or bickering with one another. When providing snacks and treats, make sure that you keep the portions under control so that your pigs don’t become overweight.
Adding Enrichment Items
If you are considering enrichment items for their cage, you can add hard plastic balls, pieces of cardboard box, shredded paper, and guinea pig toys to their living space. Make sure that there is enough room in the cage for both pigs to fit if you have two and make sure that there is more than one item for them to play with so they do not fight.
More is Better
Guinea pigs can get quite territorial over toys and food items, so having more is always better than having less. Making sure that the bedding in their cage can be moved around and piled up is important as well since guinea pigs like to burrow and make nests for themselves. Always keep enough bedding in the cage to support this need.
Consider Outdoor Play
Guinea pigs love to get outside and play and if you can secure an area for them outdoors that is safe, they will benefit greatly from being outside sometimes. You can move your guinea pigs outdoors to this safe area with some toys and enjoy their antics. Make sure that it is not too cold or too hot out when you move your guinea pigs outside for playtime.
You will also want to supervise your pigs as they play outside. Hawks and other predators will consider these little guys a tasty snack if they are left unattended. You will find that pigs love grass, so if you can fence off an area of your yard with grass for them to play in, they will be very happy with this addition to their routine.
What Toys Are Not Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Always avoid toys with bells or small items that can come off and be eaten by accident. Plastic toys are usually totally safe but any toy with small parts can lead to a choking hazard or to intestinal blockage issues for guinea pigs.
Many people buy cat toys for their guinea pigs, and this is often just fine. Just make sure that you are watching them when they are playing to be sure that they are not going to run into health issues related to eating bits of toy that they have chewed up.
Your guinea pig will be more than happy to play with cardboard boxes and some hay in most cases. You do not have to get carried away with expensive toys if you do not want to buy them. Guinea pigs are pretty easy to keep happy with some hay, a box, and a little sunshine.
Guinea Pigs Can Get Bored, Too
Making sure that your guinea pig is getting the right access to mental stimulation matters. These are easy to care for pets but they can get very bored if they do not ever get a change of scenery or access to fun things like boxes and shredded paper to play in. Keeping your guinea pig mentally stimulated is very easy in most cases and you will probably find that you enjoy watching them play just as much as they enjoy getting to play.
Guinea pig care is relatively simple and giving your Guinea pig some mental stimulation is easy when you offer them a change of scenery and a new box to play in. Guinea pigs love to hide and rummage and tunnel, so just giving them new places to engage in these activities can be all that is needed for them to be happy.
Our Exotic Veterinarians Can Answer Your Guinea Pig Questions
If you have any questions in regards to guinea pig environmental enrichment, or anything related to these furry companions, our exotic veterinarians are here to help! Give the Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana a call at (504) 455-6386.
About Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana
Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana, formally West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic, is Louisiana’s only veterinarian that provides care exclusively to avian and exotic pets. From parrots to rabbits and ferrets to a wide variety of reptiles, as well as a multitude of small mammal exotic pets, we welcome them all to our practice!