Guinea pigs are small, sensitive pets that come with a lot of responsibility. One of the most important things to know is what guinea pigs need to feel comfortable and safe in their new home.
Now, do guinea pigs need bedding in their cage? The answer is yes, of course, they do. Letting a guinea pig sleep in a cage without bedding is like leaving a human sleep on the floor. Of course, bedding is really important for both guinea pigs and humans as it helps both of them.
First of all, guinea pigs are prey animals. They are used to hiding from danger and over time, they got to the point where they love to hide. Bedding is something very nice for them as they can hide in the bedding. This is an entertaining way for them to spend their time.
Secondly, it is not a surprise that guinea pigs prefer having some type of bedding. No one likes to sleep on hard material, especially guinea pigs as their cages are made out of metal. Guinea pigs also have a high body temperature, and they enjoy keeping it that way. This is why they love the fluffy bedding. It is also very cozy and comfortable.
Another reason why it is better for the owner to buy bedding is that it collects urine and wet substances that can be found in a guinea pig cage. It is a lot easier to take out the wet bedding and replace it than to scrub out the cage every day. This method is called spot cleaning, and you can spot clean every day with a minimum effort. This way you can scrub the cage once a week so it is much more convenient.
Why are some Beddings Better Than Others?
That is a good question. A rational owner searches for great absorption and no odor when they are looking for bedding for small pets like guinea pigs. There are a lot of brands on the market, and I am not going to talk about any of them, I will just talk about beddings in general.
There are some types of beddings that you will read more about later in this article. Many brands make every single type of bedding. You need to keep in mind that the benefits or disadvantages of a type of bedding might vary from brand to brand. This is why some things that I will say may not be applied to every bedding. I will try to generalize as much as I can.
Following this idea, I think it is important to mention that multiple layers are also important and can play a big role in the absorption process. They can also make the cleaning last a lot shorter.
Related: Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs
Types of Bedding for Your Guinea Pig
It is obvious that any pet would prefer soft bedding rather than harsh materials on the floor of their cage. Usually, guinea pig cages smell like urine, and this is normal. Beddings can help with that if you choose odor control one. However, odor control beddings contain a lot of chemicals to keep the air fresh, so it is probably more irritating for guinea pigs’ sensitive skin. It is definitely up to you, but it is good to know that there is such an option on the market.
A type of bedding that was frequently used in the past is wood shavings. It was frequently used, but it isn’t used anymore because technology evolved and it was discovered that some wood shavings (cedar, for example) contain some oils that can get your guinea pig sick. Wood shavings are not a good option in general because they are not very absorbent, so you will need to wash the cage more often. They don’t offer any odor control over the cage. I guess it is not pleasant at all to sleep in a wet smelly cage.
Another very common bedding is paper bedding. A lot of companies produce it, but it differs very much when it comes to different brands. Some may be more absorbent than the others, some may be more comfortable, but still, in general, paper bedding seems to be a little harsh, and it doesn’t seem to do a good job at absorbing urine. Bad paper bedding can cause respiratory problems, allergies and it can make cleaning the cage a real nightmare.
When it comes to paper bedding, it is all about the brand. Be careful though, most of the brands put the paper bedding in small packages, so you think you need to buy a lot more packages. It is actually enough because it expands after you take it out of the package. Finally, if you find a good brand of paper bedding, it will be more expensive than wood shavings but it will be more useful, and it cannot possibly affect your guinea pig’s health.
A very useful type of bedding is fleece. It is undoubtedly the softest one, and it is perfect for a good night sleep. If it is pre-treated correctly and layered over properly, it is very absorbent. Bonus point: it is reusable, so it’s also good for the environment.
A well-known alternative for bedding is hay. Hay is also food for guinea pigs, and it is also some kind of toy for them. They love to hide in the hay. They love to eat hay, and I don’t think that it’s a good idea to have your guinea pig confused about the use of hay. Another point I have to emphasize is that it doesn’t seem to be a good thing to let your pet eat their bedding.
Recommendations on the types of bedding
Most of the people use wood shavings or paper-based bedding in their guinea pig cage. As long as it isn’t cedar, sawdust or pine, it is completely fine. The disadvantage of these types of beddings is that it can get very messy and they aren’t very absorbent. With these beddings, your guinea pig is going to live in a dirty cage. Also, wood shavings and paper bedding are not reusable, so they are not good for the environment and they can get very expensive (even if they are not the best choice).
The newest and the best type of bedding so far is the fleece. It is definitely a lot cheaper and also eco-friendly. This fleece is magical because it allows spot cleaning so you can go longer without cleaning the whole cage. You need to put a towel under the fleece. The urine will pass right through the fleece and it will be absorbed by the towel. You can wash that towel periodically and the fleece will be dry to touch.
Don’t make the mistake of using newspaper as bedding. Besides the fact that the cage will be a total mess, guinea pigs will certainly eat the newspaper.
Do not buy something you have no idea what it is and always be careful about what you want to do for your guinea pig. They react to every single change, or should I say bad changes, and sometimes it might be something serious (like allergies and respiratory problems).
I would definitely choose fleece. It seems to be the most efficient bedding of all. Fleece can be washed and reused so it is good for the environment. It requires one or two layers of towels. This is not a problem: towels are also reusable and it keeps the cage much cleaner because of the many layers of bedding. The fleece is also very comfortable and because it allows spot cleaning, you can even put little fluffy pillows in your guinea pigs cage without worrying about them. This is a simple thing, but it’s exciting for them to have a special place in their cage where they can really relax.