When you are setting up your guinea pig habitat the product that you should choose carefully is the bedding. Your guinea pig will spend almost all of their time in, around, and even under it.
There is bedding that is designed for rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, rabbits and more, but just because one type is good for one animal it does not mean it works for another.
This is where research is important. Do not trust your cavies’ health to someone who may not be familiar with their needs.
Bedding to stay away from
Pine and cedar shavings
Pine and cedar shavings smell nice and even help mask odors that are caused by a guinea pig’s urine. However, they can be highly irritating to your cavies’ respiratory system and can even cause an allergic reaction.
That reaction can develop into a chronic skin problem. It stems from the aromatic oils that are used in the shavings to kill insects. Those oils can cause liver damage.
You also do not want to use corn cob bedding. It is prone to mold growth and because they are small and round, they can accidentally get lodged in your guinea pig’s anal or genital area.
They may also mistake the small pellets for food and ingest them. The problem is that the pellets swell when mixed with water and could cause an intestinal blockage.
Too raw straw
The raw straw will not absorb the moisture or ammonia that a guinea pig produces when they urinate or defecate. It also does not make a very comfortable bed lay in because it can be stiff and hard.
There is also the possibility that they can splinter easily and cause injury to the cavies’ eyes or nose.
It seems silly that someone would consider using cat litter as bedding for a guinea pig but it does happen. They’re uncomfortable and have a stone-like quality.
It is also very dangerous if they are ingested and the clumps can get tangled in the guinea pig’s hair.
Since they spend so much time in their home they require excellent bedding material that is not only soft, cozy but also highly-absorbent.
Good bedding choices
Fleece bedding has grown in popularity over the recent years. It is very soft and comfortable for your cavy. If it is pre-treated properly and you have a suitable under layer, you will find that it is quite absorbent.
It is natural for your guinea pig to be curious about their new bedding and you may notice that they will chew on it.
That is just their way to get to know what this new item is. As long as they are not ingesting a lot of it, give them time to get used to it. If you are worried that they are gnawing on it too much try replacing it for a day and putting it back in.
If you stick with it, you will notice that in the long term it is cheaper because it is reusable. It is also better for the environment because you are not throwing it away.
However, you will find that what you save in the environment and money you will spend in time and energy changing the bedding.
They require more washing and making sure they are thoroughly dried before they can go back into the cage.
Great underlayers that do a fantastic job at absorbing urine and preventing odors are towels, puppy pads or even u-haul pads.
Pros of fleece bedding are:
- There can be burrowing sleeves
- Extra absorbent
- Helps prevent diseases and infections
- Made from natural material like bamboo
- Waterproof bottom
Cons of fleece bedding are:
- Special pet-friendly detergents are needed
- Lots of laundries
- Depending on how dirty the padding is it can soil and even damage your washing machine
- It is time-consuming and requires multiple sets to minimize change time
One of the best fleece liners on the market is the GuineaDad Fleece Liner 2.0 on Amazon. Out of over 600 reviews, 84% of them are 5 stars.
It wicks moisture and messes through the fleece layer into the absorbent underneath bamboo fiber. The underneath is waterproof. It is easy to use. There is no wood, no paper, and nothing to DIY.
It helps to prevent the most common types of guinea pig diseases like bumblefoot, URI’s. and urinary infections. The liners are anti-bacterial and dust-free.
Each layer was specifically chosen for its ability to absorb and protect, unlike U-Haul furniture pads.
Natural Paper Bedding
This has become the go-to choice for many cavy owners. It is absorbent, good at odor control and soft. Just like anything else, there are different brands that have different quality and types.
If you choose one that is too rough and uncomfortable your pig will not be happy, find one that is not very absorbent and it will leave your pigs’ cage stinky and find one that is too dusty and you can cause your pig to develop allergies or respiratory difficulties.
It also makes cleaning more difficult. A big con on paper bedding is that guinea pigs may eat pieces of the bedding. This can be very dangerous and even lead to death if a large wet ball develops in their stomach.
If you notice that your guinea pig loves to nibble on their bedding this is not a good choice for your cavy.
Pros to natural paper bedding
- Comfortable and soft
- Great odor control
- All-natural paper
Cons of natural paper bedding
- Can break down into a mushy substance if it is not changed every 5-7 days
- Inferior brands tend to be dusty
- Not a good choice if your guinea pig loves to chew on their bedding
This is one of the better paper beddings on Amazon.
This bedding is ideal for guinea pigs. It is made without any harmful chemicals or additives. It is comfortable, soft and super absorbent.
The paper expands 3x in volume and is made from pure unbleached never been printed paper.
White unbleached paper bedding
Another paper option is white, unbleached paper bedding. This bedding is all-natural and 100% biodegradable not only great for the environment, but it is also really comfortable for your guinea pigs.
White papers offer great quality bedding at an affordable price. It does feature a few more pros than the previous paper bedding choices.
- Great odor control
- Super absorbent
- 99% dust-free
- Sludge free
- Easy to clean up
- Expands to 3x the volume
- White color makes messes easy to see
- Soft and comfortable
Cons of white, unbleached paper bedding
- Can have a strong paper odor, depending on the brand
- The white color of the paper can make the cage look messy if it is not cleaned regularly
- The level of absorption depends on the quality of the brand
There are two great options for white non-bleached paper bedding 1) Small pet select unbleached white paper bedding you can check the price on Amazon 2) Kaytee Clean & cozy white small animal bedding check the price on Amazon.
Aspen is a safe bedding option and is often recommended by vets. It is a non-aromatic wood so it will not bother your piggies. It is great at being dust and scent-free but it does not lend itself at being very good at odor control.
You will find that you will need to clean the cage more often than you would care to. There are two different options for aspen bedding, kiln-dried shaving, and regular shavings. Both are equally fine to use.
Pros of aspen bedding
- Not toxic
- No chemicals
- It is eco-friendly
- They are dust-free
- They are scent-free
Cons of aspen bedding
- It can be more expensive than other types of beddings
- It is not as absorbent as paper-based and fleece bedding
Here is a great option on Amazon for Aspen bedding. This aspen bedding expands to 8 cu ft in total. It is all-natural with no additives.
This is just a taste of all the different bedding types out there for guinea pigs. Before you try any bedding or try introducing any new bedding to your guinea pigs make sure you do your research.
Check out brands, types, prices, reviews, and you might want to try talking to your vet also. Pick what is going to make your cavy the most comfortable, the safest and give them the best quality of life.