Cavy Tips - Housing
Contributed by Shireen Lim
There are various options of bedding and flooring. In this section, we hope to share with you some of the bedding/flooring options that you could consider for your pigs, highlighting our experience with each, particularly for Singapore’s climate. The list is by no means comprehensive, as there will always be new and innovative bedding/flooring solutions on the market. In addition, there are some bedding/flooring options which, from experience, are simply best to avoid. We will add to this list as and when new solutions are tried and tested.
They are made up of recycled or processed paper pellets or pulp. Depending on the output of your guinea pigs – largely determined by your cage size and number of guinea pigs – you may be required to completely change this bedding once or twice a week. To prevent growth of mould or fungus, daily spot cleaning is also recommended for areas that are particularly soaked.
Common brands in Singapore are:
- Breeder’s Celect
- Asan Pet
- Tom & Pus
- Daily Scoop
Advantages of paper products:
- Hassle-free when it comes to cleaning
- Brands such as CareFresh and Asan Pet are also very soft and comfortable for the guinea pigs and gentle on your piggies’ naked feet
Disadvantages of paper products:
- Can be dusty (might exacerbate respiratory problem in guinea pigs)
- Expensive to maintain
- Turn smelly very fast
- Guinea pigs might ingest the paper-based bedding which may be a cause of concern if consumed in large quantity
Wood Pellets or Shavings
Typical products include aspen shavings, cob pellets, pine shavings or pine pellets. A common brand in Singapore is Vitakraft (pine shavings) and Pee Wee. Reasons why cob and wood/pine shavings are not recommended for guinea pigs:
- Tend to mould fairly quickly, given the humidity of Singapore’s climate
- Corn cob pellets are hardly absorbent and will not work well to absorb the pee to keep your beloved pigs dry
- Non-kiln dried shavings contain volatile oils (phenols) which may cause harm to the liver or lead to respiratory issues
Pine shavings/pellets should only be used in open, well-ventilated housing. The least smell it has, the better it is. It is also recommended to air the pellets or shavings in the open before use. Aspen shavings can be used for guinea pigs.
Fleece and Towels
Multiple layers of fleece and towels could be used to line the cage. Typically, these layers of towels and fleece are placed over a layer of bedding (either one of the abovementioned bedding) or an absorbent sheet (also known as an underpad, or pee pad).
Advantages of fleece and towels:
- Comfortable for any pig. We are hard-pressed to find a pig who does not love the snuggly, soft texture of fleece
- Good for their feet (prevent bumblefoot, scratches etc)
Disadvantages of fleece and towels:
- Maintain fleece/towels as bedding can be fairly time-consuming
- Prior to using the fleece as bedding, you will need to “season” the fleece by washing it several times. This would then increase the porosity of the fleece, allowing moisture to wick through
- Need daily cleaning to clear out the poos on fleece to prevent smell
- Fleece and towels should be changed to a fresh set every 2 - 3 days as they retain moisture easily. Moisture will cause bacteria to breed, which might cause Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- From our observation, fleece seems to exacerbate upper respiratory infection (URI) in the pigs
- Moisture from the pee tends to retain in the fleece/towels in the high humidity climate, leading to higher amounts of ammonia in the air in the cage moisture from the pee tends to retain in the fleece/towels in high humidity. Inhalation of ammonia for prolonged period may cause harm to their lungs
UNSUITABLE BEDDING – must avoid!
While hay should be made readily available for your guinea pigs’ consumption all round the clock, it should not be used for bedding. Hay is non-absorbent, so it will not absorb your piggies’ pee. In addition, the unabsorbed pee would result in mould that would be very harmful for your pigs’ health. So hay should only be fed; never used for bed.
Cedar shavings are toxic to guinea pigs as they contain phenols (aromatic oils) which can be harmful for guinea pigs’ liver and respiratory system. So avoid it in all forms of bedding.