Guinea Pig Activities – How To Keep Your Cavies Entertained
Guinea pigs are highly social animals that thrive on companionship and stimulation. And since a happy guinea pig is a healthy guinea pig, they need plenty of mental and physical enrichment. Toys, treats, and a playmate are just some of the key elements to enriching piggy-play.
Playtime is best spent with pals! If possible, consider adopting guinea pigs in same-sex pairs or trios. Guinea pigs thrive on social interaction, and do best when they have friends that speak their own language! If more than one guinea pig is not an option for you, be sure to engage yourself in piggy-playtime every day. Take note of what your guinea pig likes to do – are they curious and outgoing, or laid-back and shy? Do rolling balls catch their attention? Or do they prefer to chew rather than chase their toys? Knowing each guinea pig’s personality will help create the most enriching environment possible.
Serve food interestingly
Were you ever told not to play with your food? Well, the same rule does not apply to cavies! Mealtimes are a great opportunity to sneak in play and bonding time. Our Caddi Treat Holder is a fun and unique way of serving up your guinea pig’s meals and treats. Making food challenging to reach means more mental and physical reps before reward, and has the added bonus of keeping treats up off the floor. You can also hide food to encourage natural scavenging behaviors in your guinea pig. Place treats in paper tubes, or a hay rack for rummaging fun! Be sure to surround treats with nutritious hay to ensure meals are eaten before dessert!
Guinea pigs can also be fed by hand, but be sure to only offer treats long enough to keep your fingers out of accidental-biting range! Hold treats loosely between your fingertips and release as soon as your piggy has a hold of it.
Another interesting and engaging way to serve food to your cavies is by threading fruits, veggies, or herbs on a rope or skewer stick fastened with knots or clothespins. Be sure that the twine or rope is thick enough to avoid getting knotted around your piggy, and not so long that they can get themselves entangled. A blunt, metal grilling skewer secured to the side of your guinea pig’s enclosure is both chew and tangle-proof.
Guinea pigs are very food motivated, which makes exercising much easier! To give your piggy some extra steps for the day, tie some of their favorite food or toys to the end of a string and drag it along the floor for them to chase! Keep it just out of reach to encourage them to keep after it. Just be sure to let them catch their prize within a reasonable timeframe!
Changing up the menu from time to time helps alleviate boredom while enhancing your guinea pig’s health. Choose seasonal, piggy-friendly fruits and veggies such as melons, apples (without seeds!), or summer squash to add variety to their diets. Guinea pigs are also excellent lawnmowers, and would love time outside to help with the grass! Place them in a secure guinea pig run to move around each day and you’ll be amazed at how much less you’ll need to mow!
Obstacles, tunnels and tubes
Did you know that wild guinea pigs utilize the burrows and tunnels of other animals? They aren’t known for digging themselves, but they love to spend time in the safety of pre-dug tunnels! As prey animals, they have excellent eyesight – especially toward the sky, scanning for owls and hawks. Guinea pigs thrive in areas with lots of cover supplied by tubes and hideouts. Our Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System and Zippi Guinea Pig Play Tunnels allow for hours of play for your piggy and viewing enjoyment for you! Watch your piggy zoom through tunnels (or maybe even take a nap!) and weave their way through a course of your own design. Change the configuration routinely to further challenge your guinea pig. Bonus tip: hide some treats along the way, and you’ll have one happy cavy!
Make use of those shipping boxes! Guinea pigs love a good challenge, so create an obstacle course using a combination of tunnels, tubes, and cardboard boxes. Just be sure to discourage the nibbling of the cardboard obstacles!
While they feel most comfortable in the safety of tubes and tunnels, guinea pigs enjoy a good climb! They’ll routinely scout their surroundings looking for dangers, so giving them an elevated space will help them feel more comfortable. This is another place to get creative! Build platforms from cardboard tubes, boxes, or add our Zippi Guinea Pig Run Platforms to your piggy’s space to add levels of fun.
Some guinea pigs enjoy carrying or pushing small toys around. Guinea pig toy ideas include: small plastic balls, untreated willow or dried grass weaved-orbs, and small stuffed toys. Specially made guinea pig toys can be found at most pet stores, or choose small balls and stuffed toys from a selection of cat toys. Ensure that any small, glued-on accents are removed to prevent your guinea pig from ingesting something they’re not supposed to! And make sure each piggy has their own toy- they may be sociable, but not every piggy wants to share their favorite toy!
You can also leave toys in their cage for them to entertain themselves while you’re away. Bird toys, or toys made for rabbits and guinea pigs can be hung from the top or sides of your piggy’s cage to provide hours of fun! Be sure to remove any bells from bird toys that are small enough to swallow. Chewing sticks made from applewood are another must-have for cage enrichment. Guinea pigs have teeth that continuously grow, and need to gnaw on wood to keep them trimmed to an appropriate length. Applewood sticks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, most of which are perfect for your cavy to carry around and gnaw on at their leisure!
Shapeable log bridges are another great cage improvement for your guinea pigs. They can be formed into hides to run under, walkways to run across, ramps, dividers…your imagination is the limit! Untreated garden edging works too – just be sure to purchase a material that won’t harm your piggy should they taste it.
Toilet paper or paper towel rolls are great for creating treat-stuffing toys, or cut them down to create pillars for homemade platforms. Wrapping paper tubes are extra-sturdy for cavy construction projects! If your guinea pig is young or on the small side, be sure they can’t get their heads stuck inside any tubes they have access to.
Guinea pigs need to be kept on their toes for optimal health. Another simple way to create a new and exciting environment for them is to rearrange their furnishings every time you clean their cage or enclosure. Move around their guinea pig shelters, playgrounds and guinea pig viewing platforms, and they’ll set off re-exploring their territory with gusto!
After all of this exhausting play, your guinea pig will probably want to take a well-earned nap. Popular snooze-space options among guinea pigs are fleece hammocks or blankets. These cozy bed options will be a fast favorite with your cavy! Make sure to wash your piggy’s bed of choice in the washing machine or by hand to keep it fresh!
Accessories to avoid
Toys: Watch out for toys with sharp edges, small attached accessories that could pose a choking hazard, or harmful materials such as treated wood. Also be wary of materials such as soft rubber or plastic that pieces can be bitten off of and swallowed.
Exercise balls and wheels: While guinea pigs may look like large hamsters, their anatomy is quite different. Guinea pigs are not comfortable in an exercise ball or wheel, and can seriously injure their backs or feet if placed in one. Ventilation is also important for guinea pigs, and exercise balls in particular do not allow for enough airflow to keep your piggy cool.
Bridges: Guinea pigs are adorable, but not graceful! Make sure all provided bridges either have rails to prevent accidental falls, or are low enough to the ground or level below them to provide a safe place to land.
Leash/harness: A walk may sound nice, but even the most friendly and trusting guinea pigs can panic on the end of a leash. Cavies are “flight” animals by nature, and will harm themselves struggling against a harness or leash if pulled on. A better option would be playing the string-drag game mentioned earlier, or a snuggle session on the couch with their favorite human-friend!
Creating fun games and environments for your guinea pig is rewarding for both of you! Playing with your piggy builds trust, and there’s no faster way to their hearts than through food! By treating them often, playing even more often, and giving them ways to entertain themselves while alone, you’ll ensure they’re living their best life!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs