There are a lot of materials for guinea pigs that you can actually make yourself from the actual cage to bedding and more. I know it may seem better to just buy premade items but that’s not always the case, especially with cages. Plus, you can experience the joy of having a setup that is exactly what you’re looking for. Some of these DIY’s can actually save you money in the long run. Who doesn’t love that? These are some of the DIY’s I would highly recommend if you have/ are looking into getting a guinea pig of your own.
There are some wonderful cages on the market and cages that aren’t so great. Most of the basic cages that pet stores have for guinea pigs do not meet the size minimum. One guinea pig needs at least 7.5 square feet of space. That size goes up if you add more guinea pigs. Two guinea pigs would require around 10 square feet, three would require 13 square feet, etc. As you can see from the photo, there is also the possibility of combining cages to form a larger one (these cages specifically are MidWest cages). I currently have a MidWest cage and I love it. It’s big enough for two guinea pigs, it’s a popular brand that allows for many different types of bedding, and it’s sturdy. However, I’m ready to start collecting materials to build my own.
When I was a kid, my parents built our guinea pigs their own cage. We used green coroplast and grid cube squares. We even built a ramp to an upper level using a piece of wood, some Popsicle sticks fashioned to look like a picket fence for the railing, and fake grass for the bottom. I like the idea of designing my own cage for them that can be as big or as small as I like plus having the ability to easily expand if i wish to. In order to have a custom cage of my own, I (or you, if you would like to also build your custom cage) will need:
- A sheet of coroplast
- Grid cube squares that have at least 9 holes so that the guinea pigs cannot try to squeeze through and get stuck
- Zip ties
- Duct tape
When I had my guinea pigs growing up, we used traditional bedding like aspen. However, before I adopted the two I have now, I did a lot of research into what bedding options were out there and what was the best. What I discovered was the wonderful world of fleece bedding! There are many more pros than cons to fleece bedding which is great.
- It’s extremely safe to use. Guinea pigs are susceptible to something called bumblefoot, which occurs when guinea pigs walk on their own pee for too long. Their pee burns their feet and fleece bedding separates them from their pee. How? The pee passes through the fleece to a second layer, which soaks it up. The fleece prevents their feet from ever touching the pee.
- In addition to it being safer on them, it’s more comfortable for their little feet.
- Fleece bedding is, to no real surprise, reusable! Just throw it in the washer (cold water) with half of a cup of distilled white vinegar, throw it in the dryer on low/no heat, lay out overnight to dry, and it’s ready to go again!
- Something fun you can do with fleece is you can decorate it to your hearts content! You can purchase/ make your own that has festive fabric, create a color scheme, and more.
- This bedding also won’t cause issues to their eyes, skin, or respiratory systems.
- Fleece bedding has to be prepared correctly in order for it to be effective. If you’ve ever had fleece before, you’ll know that it has a protective barrier on it that causes liquids to pool on the surface. To get rid of this protective barrier, you have to wash fleece with hot water and detergent 3 to 5 times. You also need to dry it after each wash without using dryer sheets.
- You have to use an absorbent material underneath. Some people just use newspaper or they get fleece that is specially lined.
- Fleece bedding has to be cleaned daily. When I first read that, I thought it was dramatic. After living with it for nearly a month now, I can tell you that you will actually need to clean it every single day. While pee may pass through, poop does not. And it accumulates quickly. I prefer to vacuum as sweeping with a small dustpan is extremely tedious.
- If you go with premade bedding, it is not cheap. The initial cost is a little crazy. I have two sets of fleece bedding by Guinea Dad that ran me $60 each after shipping. Granted, I absolutely love the bedding and think they are absolutely worth the price but I can understand why others would disagree.
I do love the premade ones but if the price is a bit too much, never fear! There’s actually a way to hand make your own version. All you need is
- Fleece that you have measured to be slightly larger than your cage (it will shrink with use and washing)
- A UHaul pad (that will be the absorbent layer)
- A thick needle (to sew the two parts together)
Guinea pigs are prey animals, so their toys don’t consist of things like oversized hamster balls or anything. They like to hide and chew, so why not made your own hides and chews? Some of the things that you can create are:
- Fleece hammock
- Cozy beds and tents
- Hay related toys
- Using cardboard to create tunnels or huts
- Crumpling a piece of plain paper around a treat for them to forage for
- Make an obstacle course
- Creating a fleece curtain for your piggies to run through
- Wrapping string around a treat and letting your piggie chase it, as they enjoy food hunts
- Hanging fruits and veggies around the cage
There are probably more DIY’s but these are the most common and easiest ones to start with. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Just make sure whatever you use is safe for them.