Guinea Pig Bedding Options
More on Guinea Pig Care
This hubpage is an excerpt from my new book The Real Guide to Guinea Pig Care, where you can find all the information you need to provide your guinea pig a happy and energetic long life. I hope you enjoy.
Guinea Pig Bedding Options
Choosing the best bedding for your guinea pig, has a lot to do with money, time, smell, and most importantly your pet's health. A variety of bedding options are available and based on my own experience you can see what will work best for your guinea pig.
Most of the time Pet stores will encourage you to get whatever fits your budget, they assume that just because a guinea pig is on a package that it is safe for them. Unfortunately this is misleading and can cause the pig and the new owners all sorts of problems.
Instead, doing your own due diligence will allow you to find something that works for you and your new pet.
Black Guinea Pig on Wood Shavings
Wood Shavings- Most Popular Guinea Pig Bedding
The most common and often considered the most cost effective guinea pig bedding seems to be wood shavings. While wood shavings of a particular kind can work very well, there are two that come with stern warnings.
Aspen Shavings- This is the safest and still cost effective shavings option. While it may be a tad uncomfortable on their feet, it can be used successfully for their entire lives, they get used to it very quickly. The cost is more than the other shavings option, but the only one that is completely healthy for the guinea pigs. I was able to buy this for $11. We had four cages at the time and were able to use it for a month.
Pine Shavings- This is not as safe as Aspen, but is far more cost effective. A friend is able to buy about double what I would get with Aspen, at half of the cost. She did say that the pieces are very large, and that seems to be annoying so she is going to try a different, possibly more expensive Pine. This is the most common bedding I should say for guinea pigs. Many people use it the whole time they have pigs with no problems. However there is a bit more smell, and the fumes off the pine can cause respiratory problems for the pigs, just like cedar can. Try to avoid using this if at all possible, it is not recommended. A safe pine shavings product is one that is kiln dried.
Cedar Shavings- Should NEVER be used with guinea pigs. It can be lethal for them, and can cause all sorts of health problems from respiratory to skin issues and liver problems from the fumes that come off the cedar shavings. While it is the cheapest, again it should NEVER be used with guinea pigs. We got a pig that had been on it for awhile and she was covered in a skin issue and was sneezing all the time. We weren't sure if she was sick or not, but within a week on our normal bedding (fleece) she was as good as new. Their living conditions make a huge difference.
Cedar Shavings are Not for Guinea Pigs
CareFresh, Yesterday's News, & Soft Sorbent for Guinea Pigs
Carefresh is recycled newspaper that is then shredded (and cleaned) then packaged for cage use. This is nice and soft on the pig's feet. I found it to be a bit expensive. With four cages we went through $20 of Carefresh each week when changing. If you have one pig, this will work fine, but if you have more you might want to find something more cost effective. I did like how soft it was, no smells from the pigs, and it didn't get all over like some things do. I didn't like the dust, and while it says low dust it was enough to bother my crazy nose.
Yesterday's News- a cat litter that can also be used for guinea pig cages. It is more costly, but can be purchased in bulk. Will get all over the place from running pigs so it will require sweeping daily.
Soft Sorbent- I loved using this when we first got the guinea pigs but after awhile it was a pain. While it is nice and non-smelly, it got ALL OVER the place. Our cages have about 4-5 inches on each side but the piggies were still able to kick it all over. Not only that but when we pulled them out they had it on them as well. They liked it, because it wasn't hard, but it was still costly. What is nice is that you can buy it with scents in it, to further keep the pigs smelling good.
Video on Guinea Pig Bedding
A Guinea Pig Loves Hay
Guinea Pigs and Hay or Timothy Hay
Guinea pigs love hay, they love to eat it, hide in it, frolic in it. They NEED it! Some times people think because the guinea pigs need hay, they can live in it. I think it's mostly a matter of perspective. While they do like to run and borrow through it, it isn't the best to fight smell, it isn't absorbent for bedding and should be changed much more often than once a week. It loses it's freshness very quickly.
But like I said, they do NEED it. They need to eat Timothy Hay specifically, and they have to have it available all of the time, unlimited amounts. They need it for their diets and it is available at all pet stores.
However, the best place to get it is a local farm if they sell it, put a post on Craigslist or search on Craigslist for timothy hay. It will make a huge difference in price.
So, yes, use hay, but not as bedding, use it for their entertainment, and purchase timothy hay for their diets.
What to Never Use as Guinea Pig Bedding
More Products You Should Not Use
Wood Chips- These are far too big and hard for guinea pigs. They can cause hard to their eyes, feet, etc. It also depends on the kind of chips they are, if they are pine, cedar, aspen, as discussed above only aspen is acceptable. But still in this size Wood chips are not a good option.
Sawdust- These pieces are too small and can be inhaled by the guinea pigs. This causes a lot of problems for their respiratory systems and may kill them. Never use Sawdust for guinea pig bedding.
Corn Kob- Should not be used as bedding or food for guinea pigs. As bedding it molds very quickly and gets stuck to other objects. As food it isn't digested well and can expand in their digestive tract causing blockages that can be life threatening.
*Health Alert* Guinea pigs are animals of prey and for this reason they do not show many signs, if any at all, when they are sick. Your pig could be very ill without you even noticing, you must keep a daily check on their health, and watch how they behave, eat, drink, etc.
My Favorite Bedding for Guinea Pigs- Fleece
Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs
We use fleece for our guinea pig rescue. Ever since the first time we put it in for the first time the pigs have loved it. But we have learned some things about it, along the way.
Buy the fleece and wash it multiple times before you use it in the cage. You absolutely must do this. Then get a bunch of towels you don't need any longer. You probably won't want to use them again after you start using them for poo and pee :)
Another suggestion I found was to put old newspaper down as well. So lay the newspaper on the bottom of the cage, 2 layers. Add towels, another 2 layers. The towels fold over in corners and such, and that is where the pigs will relieve themselves most of the time (corners and sides). What I do is just use two towels and double layer the corners and sides.
Lastly, you add the fleece on top of the other layers, if you can use 2 layers of fleece this will work best, especially for the moisture and scent.
Literally you will see a huge difference by following these suggestions, and the pigs will popcorn all over the place their first time in there.
Guinea Pigs Popcorning
Great Guinea Pig Resources
- CNY Piggies Rescue- Educating about proper pig care.
A central NY run guinea pig rescue
- Guinea Pig Education, Care, Rescue and Adoption at Cavy Spirit
Guinea pig rescue and adoption in Northern California. Info on care, sexing, pet stores, cages, neutering, introductions, breeding, vets, surrendering, and more. We have fun cartoons, movies, graphics, polls, photo albums, and more.
- Guinea Lynx :: A Medical and Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig
A comprehensive medical guide for the care of guinea pigs. With the right food and care, your guinea pig can live a long and healthy life.
- Guinea Pig Welfare. Your Guinea Pigs, Their Life.
snickersmom on December 30, 2016:
I a large cavy habitat with a divider. the smaller section I put down a puppy weewee pad and put soft paper from the pet store. This is the kitchen and bathroom area. The larger side I have a folded down blanket with two weewee pads on top of that and then two layers of fleece on that. So easy to clean! I roll up the pad on the small side with everything in it, included any uneaten food. Toss it and then layer the pad and paper, I also use a paper tube for the hay less mess. I pick up the poops and any small pieces of paper, hay etc and put that in the same bag. Every other day I remove the fleece and put that in their hamper bag and fluff the blanket and put new pads and new fleece. I bought four yards of fleece at Walmart, fun patterns. Washed them(NO FABRIC SOFTNER!) and cut to fit cage. Easy cleaning! Other helpful hint. After you roll pad hang bag inside of cage so if anything falls out it does not go all over the floor! Good luck all
GuineaPigsNC on December 29, 2013:
What about hemp guinea pig bedding? American guinea pig owners love the comfort and absorbency hemp bedding offers .
Cheri on August 15, 2013:
just wondering if anyone can give advise about washing the bedding.
My problem is with the bits of hay on the blanket that don't just shake loose prior to going into the washer. Seems to be tough on my washer...?
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cheryl on July 19, 2013:
Why is walmart allowed to stock their shelves with cedar shavings indicating on the bag that it is for guinea pig use? My poor guinea pig has suffered from the use of this product, almost causing death. They should be forced to pull this product off their shelves as it is causing animal suffering by unbeknown buyers.
Futamarka on March 22, 2013:
К основным характеристикам Парик относятся: отсутствие влагопоглощения, устойчивость к резким переменам дам и длительный срок прострации. Этот завивочный шиньон является экологически безопасным и не подверженным факторам биологического и климатического воздействия. Пеноплекс не поддерживает горение, что позволяет использовать его для хохотаний с повышенным риском возгорания.
elizabeth on March 14, 2013:
This is really helpful I think I will potty train my pigs instead it won't be as bad as sweeping it out every time you look at the cage oh and I will use fleece.
Drodlerge on March 07, 2013:
We utilized to receive high on lifetime although lately We've established a weight.
Guinea lover on November 20, 2012:
i wouldn't recommend sawdust or anything like that because sawdust attracts mites if not put away or closed up proply
Sarah on October 22, 2012:
A few years ago I had a guinea pig named Cocoa. She was the first one I ever had, and I wasn't very informed on how to care for her. I just found out about how harmful cedar bedding can be, unfortunately a lot too late. I used it all the time, assuming it was safe because it said it was for small pets. It even had a cartoon of a cavy right on it. I feel absolutely awful that I didn't look into it, but I didn't know. I am NEVER using cedar bedding again. I'm just glad I found out now, seeing as I am about to purchase another little piggie. I'm infuriated anybody would advertise something for an animal to which it would be lethal. I'm now positive it was the cause of Cocoa's death. She had all the symptoms. I promise to do better this time.
Joanne on October 06, 2012:
My guinea pig just died, and I always used cedar shavings. I never thought much about it, but now I feel terrible! I'm never going to use shavings again!
Song on September 27, 2012:
I want you people to please be very aware of Yesterday's news. DO NOT BUY IT FOR YOUR PRECIOUS LITTLE BABIES!!
Just now my baby Banshee choked on one of the pieces from yesterday's news, those pellets.
I am just giving fair warning. I am not home all the time and came home to discover that this had happened. I thought it was something I was unaware of maybe she was sick, but my boyfriend discovered the piece in her throat.
DO NOT DO IT!
A vet recommended it for them and I am so upset that I listened. I will not buy again.
Nathan on July 29, 2012:
WOW, taht is cool info, I'll make sure to use it
Kinsey on June 06, 2012:
Can you use puppy pads???:)
Jderdall on April 19, 2012:
For my pig pen play area I put old pee pads previously used in hospitals. You can get them at second hand stores or go to your local hospital and ask if they have old ones. Easy to clean up and soft. I put towels underneath for extra cushion. They dont leak thru and wash up great every couple days. Used them for my potty training kids so I had quite a few.
Fresh on February 21, 2012:
I've been using wood shaving for the last year and i did not have any issues with the piggies.. as i am in Sri lanka, i don't have access to the other products.. even hay is not easy to find.. :)
Adel on January 28, 2012:
is clean and soft good for your guinea pigs brething????
gwyneth24 on July 05, 2011:
those guini pigs are so cute
btom from Chicago on March 09, 2011:
My absolute favorite was the carefresh.
Mary Green on November 27, 2010:
I really like the c&c cages, they are big and easy to access the piggies.
lucy on November 27, 2010:
wht is the best cage for gp?
ticklebug82 (author) from Oneida, NY on September 06, 2010:
I would like to find out more about the newspaper, we like the fleece, its pretty easy to clean, but I don't like getting my hands all pee when it's time to clean it. Small price to pay I suppose for not having to pay for bedding but still yucky.
I used carefresh before, it was nice and soft, but I got annoyed how fast it would compact and the dust when we put new carefresh in or cleaned was a lot. It seemed to get all over just like other beddings.
chardee42 from Orlando, FL on September 06, 2010:
My girls have 2 guinea pigs. We use Carefresh and you're definitely right about the dust.
finatics on September 02, 2010:
Great hub, we used to use pine bedding for our guinea pigs until we learned it wasn't very good for them. So we switched to shredded newspaper (no coloured ink, and papers with not a lot of ink on them) and they love it. It's very soft and inexpensive!
lizmoss71 from Orpington, UK on September 02, 2010:
Yes I do but you still need to sweep up poop and hay daily to keep it looking OK.
ticklebug82 (author) from Oneida, NY on September 01, 2010:
Hi Liz. I haven't heard of either of those, thanks for telling me about them. I've found that the fleece lasts quite awhile, do you do the double layers of fleece and towels underneath?
lizmoss71 from Orpington, UK on September 01, 2010:
Nice hub, but I'm surprised you don't mention either megazorb or vetbed. I have used megazorb for ages, but recently swapped to fleece. The only problem with fleece is you have to clean them out more often than with megazorb or shavings.
Vivian on August 25, 2010:
Great info, We are thinking of using fleece bedding for our piggies. Thanks!
ticklebug82 (author) from Oneida, NY on August 25, 2010:
Jessie, just under neath the other 4 layers, to make it easy for clean up. No piggies are hurt on my watch, and RIP little piggie.
Jessie on August 24, 2010:
oh i have a warrning do not use news paper as a beding because when i got my first guinea pig i had no back yard and so he lived in my room and his feet got burnt from the ink pour boy.
it did not kill him but he is dead now RIP
Squibuss on August 22, 2010:
WOW! I think that before people are allowed to get a guinea pig that they should have to read this article first. This is better info than they hand out at PetSmart.
Reneekylie on August 22, 2010:
Thanks for the information. I actually learned a few new things from your site. This was very informative. Keep up the good work.
Danielle Schaeffer on August 22, 2010:
wow. who knew there was so much to know about how to take care of a guinea pig. Or that they were that common as pets.
J on August 22, 2010:
This was some great information.