How to enrich your guinea pigs lives

How to enrich your guinea pigs lives

How to enrich your guinea pigs lives

Many people have the misconception that guinea pigs are easy pets, who require a small cage for their small size, and all you have to do is feed them each day…. However this is a MYTH and despite their small size, guinea pigs are actually very intelligent critters. In the wild, guinea pigs spend much of their day foraging and interacting within their herd, so as responsible piggy owners it is up to us to ensure their physical, mental and social needs are met. It is extremely important to provide enrichment and mental stimulation for our guinea pigs to lead fulfilling lives, as otherwise they can develop severe boredom and loneliness, resulting in several health and behavioural issues.

Why is providing enrichment to our guinea pigs important

Encouraging exploration and foraging behaviours not only mimics their natural instincts, but has a positive effect on both their mental and physical health. Guinea pigs who are bored with no enrichment are more inclined to sit in the one spot all day, increasing the risk of health conditions such as pododermatitis (bumblefoot), obesity, and many other health conditions that are secondary due to obesity and inactibity, including cardiac and respiratory impairment, diabetes, faecal impaction, dental disease and many more.  

Providing enrichment also reduces boredom and the development of other behavioural issues – guinea pigs who are bored will try and find their own entertainment within their surroundings and may include obsessive behaviors such as cage chewing, aggression, over-grooming, excessive drinking and playing with their water bottle to name a few.

Providing Enrichment

The first and considerably one of the most important aspects to consider when providing your guinea pig with an enriched and simulated life, is to provide them with enough space to interact, run and popcorn around their home.

Ozzy cages are a great housing option as not only do they provide large floor space for zoomies, you can expand with a ramp and loft for added space, and customise it with many fun toys and accessories. Storage boxes underneath are also a great option to store your accessories as you re-arrange and swap them regularly.

Another fun aspect of the Ozzy Cage, is the new clear panels. These panels have already enriched the lives of many Aussie pigs, allowing them to ‘see out’ and watch and interact with their human family.

The recommended cage size depends on the number of guinea pigs in your herd. The table below is used as a guide, but if you have the ability – bigger is always better!

In the wild, guinea pigs are prey animals, and spend much of their time hiding from predators. Therefore they are generally not huge fans of wide, open spaces and feel much more happy, comfortable and confident when they have many places to hide. You may notice your guinea pigs gain more confidence and become more active as they run from one hiding place to the next within their home.

Guinea pigs are social animals, and prefer to be kept in pairs or larger groups. They rely heavily upon social interaction and spend a lot of their day playing, zooming and socialising with their cage mates. As prey animals guinea pigs rely on one another to warn of potential dangers, and will gain more confidence and explore more when they have ‘safety in numbers’.

Enrichment Ideas

Providing enrichment for your guinea pigs doesn’t have to be expensive and there are many affordable ways to stimulate and enrich their lives, and re-arranging their home regularly is great to change up their stimulation.

Guinea pigs love to forage, and in the wild spend most of their day foraging for food. You can easily replicate this behaviour by hiding pieces of fruit, vegetables and treats throughout their home for them to find, rather than it being served up in a bowl, in the same place each day. Placing food at various heights, and in different feeding modalities such as hay bags and treat holders will also add some dexterity required to reach the food.

Recycled items around the household can also be used for enrichment purposes, including cardboard boxes to hide in and chew, toilet rolls stuffed with hay and treats, piles of shredded paper and piles of hay with hidden treats. Creating a ‘treat clothes line’ is also another fun idea.

Guinea pigs Australia has a wide range of treats and cage accessories available, as well as bundle packages for ultimate enrichment. Haypigs toys are one of our teams personal favourites and we encourage everyone to check them out! 

Don’t forget to visit our social pages on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Youtube for more fun enrichment ideas for your piggies!