Guinea pigs spend most of their time inside their habitat. Which is why they need a comfortable place to rest. As such, as a guinea pig parent you need to invest the best substrate material for your guinea pig to ensure that they are comfortable.
A good substrate for guinea pigs should be soft, comfortable, safe, absorbent and one that has good odor control. Additionally, a good substrate should be easy to clean and maintain. A substrate material that is also biodegradable is excellent as it is gentle on the environment.
We have prepared this article to help guide you in choosing what is best for your guinea pig(s).
What bedding is best for guinea pigs?
There are several substrate options that are good for guinea pigs that you can choose from. These include fleece beddings, paper-based beddings, cloth beddings, and wood-based bedding.
Guinea pig fleece bedding
The use of fleece bedding as guinea pig substrate has become popular especially for indoor guinea pig habitats for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that fleece bedding is very soft which makes it an excellent bedding material. This bedding is therefore gentle on guinea pig’s sensitive feet and thus provides a comfortable resting ground for your guinea pigs.
The other reason is that fleece bedding is reusable. It is therefore gentle on the environment. Additionally, the ability to wash and reuse this bedding repeatedly makes fleece bedding cost effective in the long run unlike other types of bedding materials.
Additionally, fleece bedding is dust free and guinea pigs are unlikely to chew on it.
Lastly, this bedding material can be very absorbent if treated correctly. Furthermore, depending on the fleece bedding that you choose, some fleece beddings are made of several layers that makes them very absorbent and leak proof.
However, fleece bedding has its downside when used as a substrate for guinea pigs. First, fleece bedding is very costly initially.
Additionally, fleece bedding has poor odor control. As such with this bedding, you may need to have a good under layer such as puppy pads or towels to absorb urine and for odor control.
The other downside of using fleece beddings is that changing the guinea pig bedding is time consuming and tasking. This is because you need to thoroughly clean and dry the fleece liner before reinserting it to the guinea pig habitat.
There are several types of guinea pig fleece beddings available in the market today that you can use. Our top pick include.
Paper-based guinea pig bedding
Paper-based bedding is another excellent bedding material that is used as a substrate for guinea pigs. There are several reasons that make paper-based beddings a go-to choice over other bedding materials among many guinea pig owners.
The first reason is that paper beddings are soft and thus gentle on guinea pig’s sensitive feet.
The other reason is that paper beddings are highly absorbent and absorbs urine well which makes it an excellent bedding material for guinea pigs. Paper-based beddings also have good odor control unlike other bedding materials.
Additionally, paper-based beddings are made from recycled sustainable sources and are biodegradable which makes them friendly to the environment.
On the other hand, there are several cons to using paper-based beddings for guinea pigs.
Unlike other types of substrates used for guinea pigs, paper based beddings are more dusty. The amount of dust however varies differently depending on paper bedding brands. Dusty beddings when used as substrate for guinea pigs tend to cause a lot of health problems including allergies and respiratory problems.
Although paper-based beddings have very good absorbency rates, newspapers when used as beddings crumble easily when wet and clump together leaving areas of the cage uncovered.
The ink used as print for wastepaper used to make paper-based beddings varies with some being potentially toxic to pets. We recommend using paper-based beddings that do not have ink or any additives.
Furthermore, guinea pigs may be tempted to chew on some of the paper-based beddings which could potentially lead to intestinal problems.
Lastly, unlike other bedding materials, you need to change paper-based beddings regularly which makes them costly in the long run.
Cloth bedding for guinea pigs
Cloth bedding is another popular choice of bedding for guinea pigs. This bedding is essentially the cheaper version of fleece bedding. This is because most cloth bedding used for guinea pigs are towels or bed clothing that have been repurposed to use as substrate for guinea pigs.
Cloth bedding make good substrate for guinea pigs because they are soft providing a comfortable living space and are gentle on guinea pig sensitive feet. Additionally, they are dust free and nontoxic making them safe for guinea pigs. Furthermore, you can reuse cloth beddings which makes them budget friendly.
The underside of using cloth as bedding for guinea pigs is because they have very poor odor control. Additionally, you need to change and wash cloth beddings regularly which is time consuming and tasking. Furthermore, depending on the material, some cloth bedding may not be good at wicking moisture away.
You can also use wood shavings as a substrate option for guinea pigs.
Wood shaving have traditionally been used as beddings for guinea pigs because they are absorbent and cheaply available. Additionally, they are biodegradable and compostable and are thus gentle on the environment.
However, wood shavings tend to be very dusty and can cause respiratory problems on your guinea pigs. Additionally, wood shavings have a low absorbency rate unlike other types of beddings. Therefore you will have to change the beddings more frequent which makes them expensive in the long run. Lastly, wood based beddings have poor odor control which makes them poor beddings.
Wood shavings made from aspen or kiln dried pine are safe to use as substrate for guinea pigs. However not all woods are safe, wood shavings from woods such as cedar and pine produce a toxin that could potentially cause health problems for your guinea pig.
Kiln dried pine is safe because it has undergone special treatment to remove odors and volatile oils. These oils are potentially toxic to guinea pigs. We however do not recommend using any substrate made from pine. This is because it may may contain toxin residues that could harm your guinea pig.