Exercise and Floortime
Providing your cavy with enough exercise will ensure your guinea pig remains healthy and happy. Cavies need daily and regular exercise. Providing enough cage space is part of this. However guinea pigs need additional exercise and exploration time. Cavies are naturally inquisitive and love to explore new surroundings once they are comfortable in their environment. Floor time enables cavies to express natural behaviours such as piggy trains, laps and pop corning. It also allows owners to bond with their guinea pigs and most importantly provides adequate exercise daily to keep your cavy fit and trim
Floor time should preferably be done once a day. Floor time should be a minimum of one hour, the longer the better. Guinea pigs which are housed in smaller cages will need regular floor time to ensure they remain fit and healthy as they are not receiving the recommended exercise they require within their own cage.
Choosing the correct location for floor time is just as important as choosing the correct cage location. Floor time areas should:
Provide adequate space and be considerably larger than their normal cage area
Allow supervision and interactionProvide sufficient lighting
Be well ventilated F
loor time areas should not:
Have constant fluctuations in temperature
Be isolated from family activity and adequate supervision
Overall an ideal location should be one which is easy to supervise, large, is near family activity, and provides a suitable environment in regards to temperature, light and air circulation. Avoid areas that are prone to temperature fluctuations such as laundries. Also avoid areas where chemicals and fumes may be present or have been used such as garages
Floor time Guidelines
Once a suitable location has been allocated for floor time there are some important guidelines which must be followed to protect your cavies and your household. Guinea pigs can be litter trained in some cases this will help aid in floor time activities by minimizing accidents.
It is vitally important that you always make any area where floor time is to be taken place completely safe and secure. Wires, power cords, cables and tight areas behind fridges, chairs or cupboards all pose potential risks and must be dealt with accordingly.
Phone cords, loose wires and cables must all be tied up and secured, or be completely blocked off from your cavies. Guinea pigs will tend to chew and nibble on cords and this can pose the risk of electrocution, they can also swallow the plastic coating the covers these cords/wires and this can cause internal blockages and injuries. All cables must be tied up or put away during floor time. You can either completely remove the cable from the area, block it off using wire grids, or a wall like structure that cannot be accessed by your guinea pigs or tie it up out of reach and place in a high area
Spaces behind cupboards, fridges, freezers and drawers for example can all be accessed by your guinea pig. A cavy has the ability to contract its rib cage enabling access to tight small spaces. Even if you presume your cavy cannot possibly fit into such a small space it does have the ability to do so. It is better to completely block off such areas to avoid potential injuries, or in cases where the cavy may not want to come out which is stressful for both the owner and the guinea pig when it comes time to place them back in their cage. You can block off such areas with a cardboard box with a couple of heavy bricks inside to prevent movement, wire grids/cubes, or a wall like structure. Which ever material you use to block off these areas they should be solid, restrict external movement, and above all, prevent access to the space it blocks. Supervision is also a must. Owners must always keep an eye on guinea pigs during floor time even with the above safety measures in place. Regular checks must always be done, especially if your guinea pig has floor time for a few hours. Food and water levels should be monitored, as well as the general well being of your guinea pigs.
Floors should be protected with a material that is easily disposable, easy to set up, and provides adequate protection.
Newspaper is a perfect floor time tool and should be placed on top of any flooring. Shower curtains, bath mats and extra carpeting can also be used in conjunction with newspaper, by placing on top of existing flooring. The key to having a daily floor time routine is an easy set up. Below is a method for setting up floor time.
The location is in the living room, with shower curtains and newspaper being used as materials to protect the flooring.
1) Assess and remove any potential hazards such as power cords, whilst blocking off any areas or tight spaces with wire grid walls.
2) Place shower curtains on the carpet and hold down using bricks.
3) Place newspaper on top of the shower curtains, using double layers.
4) Remove cage accessories from the guinea pigs cage and place in the living room. This will provide them with familiar items that smell like their normal environment making them more comfortable. Always provide hiding places such as igloos and tunnels.
5) Place water and hay in the living room. Cavies must have access to water and food at all times.
6) Remove cavies form their cage and place them in their floor time environment.
7) Once floor time is complete, remove pigs and accessories and place back in the cage.
8) Roll up newspaper and dispose of in a large garbage bag.
9) Fold up shower curtains and place in an area that will provide easy access