If you own a guinea pig you may notice some strange habits, such as chewing on the wires of their cage, and you’ll wonder, why do this? I decided to conduct some research into the topic having been perplexed for many years myself. I would like to share that information with you here today.
So, why do guinea pigs chew on their cage? Guinea pigs chew on their cage for multiple reasons, the main ones being boredom, lonliness and a way of trimming their teeth. Other factors involved could include a lack of toys to chew, an inadequate feeding schedule, the cage being too small, seeking treats or a lack of time outside the cage.
As you can see its not black and white and what may be the cause for you and your guinea pig may differ to other cavys and their owners.
Let us now examine these reasons in more detail along with some practical takeaways and things you can do to limit this behaviour.
Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Chew On Their Cage?
Guinea pigs are sensory animals and get satisfaction from chewing all kinds of objects. Their teeth grow throughout their lifetime, and chewing offers relief to their sore gums, but it’s good for their teeth – it makes them strong.
If your little pig chews on its cage, there really is no reason to be concerned.
Many guinea pigs do this, and its an issue that can be rectified quite easily. Let’s look at 7 reasons why your guinea pig chews on its cage:
- If you feed it treats through the wires of the cage, your pet will get chew on the cage to signify that it wants more treats.
- Your pet is feeling lonely or bored and wants attention from you.
- That there aren’t enough toys to chew on on or perhaps they are bored of the toys that they already have.
- Their cage is too small and chewing the wires is there way of trying to make an escape.
- It’s teeth are not trimmed well enough and the wires are effective at trimming it’s teeth.
- Not getting sufficient time out of its’s cage to explore.
- It lacks a proper feeding schedule, so your guinea pig feels like it has to beg for food each time.
All of the reasons listed above, should be easy to fix by making some simple adjustments in it’s daily activities and routine.
Do Guinea Pigs Need Chew Toys?
Yes, guinea pigs need chew toys, as toys help to keep their teeth filed down.
If their teeth grow too long, it prevents them from eating properly, and it’s just very uncomfortable for them.
They need lots of toys and accessories inside their cage and around your home for when they have floor time. Make sure that you replace any worn toys with new ones.
Toys designed for guinea pigs allows them to keep their teeth at a manageable length, they also keep their mouths clean and healthy, and the interesting shapes and colors provide them with some fun too.
There is a wide range of chew toys available in the market; many of the toys are made from hard materials with good resistance to constant chewing.
You must get toys that have a strong abrasive surface this helps to wear down their long, sharp front teeth. This is my personal favorite bundle which offers plenty of variety that you can get for a great price over at Amazon.
You can also benefit from homemade toys too, they love natural materials, like wood, cardboard, apple tree branches and twigs. They love tunnels – so they will enjoy running inside an empty paper towel roll or empty oatmeal container just the same as a tunnel purchased at a pet store.
You can fill a clean sock with hay to make a soft toy, you could make lots of them and place them inside their cage and around your house, wherever your pet likes to wander.
How Do I Get My Guinea Pig To Stop Chewing On His Cage?
If you refer to the 7 reasons why guinea pigs chew on their cage, it is clear that many of the problems are related to boredom, hunger, and lack of a structured feeding routine. You may however need to upgrade their habitat or make their toy range more diverse but thankfully these are easy to fix.
Let’s look at some proactive ways to stop your guinea pig from chewing on his cage:
- Feed them at the same time every day, being consistent with the feeding schedule should stop them from begging and preempt their impulsion to chew the cage.
- Let them out of their cage and around the house often throughout each day, they will be too busy exploring to want to chew metal wires. If you want to keep them contained to an area, or if your house contains a lot of dangerous items like cables and wires, you can always get a play pen.
- Make sure that their cage is large enough to accommodate their size, guinea pigs are very active and playful and need sufficient room to run around and be themselves. If you’re in the market for a new cage, this is the one to get from Amazon.
- Make sure that you provide lots of chew toys inside their cage and around your home, make sure that you replace any worn out, and old toys, with new ones. Chew toys not only provide recreation and play, but they help to file down, long, pointy teeth and keeps them at a manageable length.
- Be generous with the amount of attention you give them, they love their owners to pick them up and hold them close, and they love to be petted. Make sure that they have one or more guinea pigs to play with, as they enjoy the company of others.
Can Guinea Pigs Chew On Wood?
Yes guinea pigs can chew on wood, many toys designed for guinea pigs are made from durable natural wood, the rough surfaces help to keep teeth short, healthy, clean and strong.
Wooden shelters and tunnels are a particular favorite of many guinea pigs, as they have lots of edges and corners to chew on. These structures are heavy and stable so won’t move around like other toys.
You just need to be careful with the wood and ensure that it does not easily splinter and that it has not been painted or has been treated with chemicals. These can cause issues in Guinea Pigs and health problems so be sure to opt for natural wood. If you are not sure, or cannot find any, either purchase it having researched for good options or avoid.
Can Guinea Pigs Chew On Cardboard?
The digestive systems of guinea pigs are designed for grazing, so pulpy fibers, like cardboard, are okay for your guinea pig to chew on.
You need to be careful as large pieces of cardboard can become a choking hazard. Cardboard is not a dangerous material for them to graze on, but, it is highly processed and it’s not as good as natural wood. Its also a nihhtmare to clean up!
Hay is a much better alternative to cardboard, however, it is more expensive.
Again, you will need to be careful and wary of any treatment that had been applied to the cardboard. Some cardboard may also have celotape or other packaging wrapping material still attached. You need to ensure that all of this is removed and that they cannot swallow materials like this.
Can Guinea Pigs Chew On Plastic?
Guinea pigs should not chew on plastic. There is a reason that toys for cavys are generally made from hard, natural materials.
Plastic is not as resistant as wood so will wear down faster. It can also become sharp and cut the inside of their mouths.
Plastic is also not good for your pet to swallow, because it’s toxic and harmful to your pet. Avoid toys with plastic parts for the same reason. Plastic, is also not effective at filing down teeth, so there is no reason to purchase a plastic toy for your pet.
As you can see, there are many potential reasons why your guinea pig could be chewing on their cage. Its usually an indication that something is up and is not quite right.
Thankfully there are a lot of things you can do and its fully within your control to rectify.
At the end of the day, if you own a guinea pig it is your responsibility as their guardian to provide them with the best habitat and environment. It will make their lives much happier and more fulfilling and it will also help you bond with them and reward you in many ways too.
If you need to invest a bit of money in some toys, or even a new cage, then you should do so. While it is a cost now, its an investment in the wellbeing of your guinea pig and will save your ears too!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.