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Guinea Pig Toys

Discussion in 'Housing and Enrichment' started by Laura-CCC4, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Laura-CCC4

    Senior Guinea Pig

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    Guinea Pig Toys
    Guinea pigs get bored too!


    Guinea pigs can be affected by boredom, which can be easily prevented by providing just a few interesting and stimulating accessories. Signs that a guinea may be bored include:-

    - Reduced activity
    - Little interest in surroundings
    - Overeating and excess weight gain
    - Barbering (chewing the hair of themselves or another guinea pig)
    - Cage bar biting

    Such behaviours can be destructive, particularly barbering and biting the cage bars, and could prove stressful for the guinea pig and any cage-mates.

    There are things other than toys that can prevent boredom. The most important ones are:-

    - A friend of the same species. Guinea pigs should only live with other guinea pigs. Try to find a pair whose personalities match, and ensure the grouping situation is appropriate i.e. 1 neutered male and one or more females, 1 male and one or more spayed females, two or more males, or two or more females.
    - Hay, and lots of it! Ensuring the hay supply is consistent and “unlimited†can significantly reduce the chances of boredom.
    - Fresh fruits and vegetables, at least once daily. Providing a good variety, ideally offering something different at least twice a week, can stimulate and interest guineas.
    - A large cage, at least 2x4ft for two guinea pigs. Younger piggies especially need this space to run off some of their energy! A larger cage will also stay cleaner for longer, automatically brightening the area and naturally sparking a little interest in their environment.
    - Regular floor time. This may be in a run in the garden, or in a piggie-proofed room in the house. Make this exercise time regular, aim for at least an hour a day – guineas can get bored sitting in the same cage or hutch day in, day out! The smaller their housing, the longer they should be allowed out of it.
    - Regular handling. While some guinea pigs will do anything to avoid having a cuddle with their owner, there are also many who show enjoyment from being snuggled up in their owners lap, being talked or even sang to. Routinely sharing that closeness with an owner can also stimulate an interest in their surroundings.

    Even with all of the above catered for, some guinea pigs may find enjoyment from some additional accessories – toys – in their housing or in their exercise/playtime space.

    Many people say that guinea pigs don't play. Some guineas show no interest. Some guineas totally ignore anything put into their cage that is not food! Some guineas are simply happy with their roomy cage, regular exercise time and cuddles, and perfectly content with their good friend and good diet – the introduction of toys makes no difference to their behaviour.

    However there are plenty of guinea pigs that do play. They do show a happiness towards toys, they do become more active and exhibit more happy behaviours. The toy is always simple – guineas aren't as intelligent as dogs, some of whom need extreme mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Piggies may be overjoyed with something like a brown paper bag, a toilet roll tube, or even just a mirror! Guinea pig toys need not be expensive, but they are enjoyed by many piggies so it is always worth testing the reaction to a variety of toys.

    Another short note on the topic, before I move on to recommended toys: the way a guinea pig 'plays' with the toys is something to understand and learn to recognise. A piggie is unlikely to pick up a toy and throw it around – although it does happen! - and they are probably not going to run after a ball. Depending on the type of toy, the signs that suggest the guineas life is enriched by that toy may include:-

    - Cuddling up to it
    - Relaxing in or under it
    - Nudging it around
    - Delicately nibbling/nuzzling it – see note on toy safety for further information!
    - Returning to the toy repeatedly
    - Popcorning
    - Vocalising when close to/'interacting with' the toy


    Toy Safety

    Some toys are just not for guinea pigs. Some toys are fine to give exactly as they are, and some need a little modification before they can be safely given to a piggie. This section highlights any possible dangers that guinea pigs may come across with any one of their toys, and also lists toys to avoid completely.

    Avoid:
    Exercise Wheels and Balls
    These are designed for hamsters and other small rodents, not guinea pigs! A larger version of the ball just doesn't cut it - piggies are significantly chunkier than any of the smaller rodents, and their bodies are not nearly as flexible. Arching their back to fit the curve of a wheel or ball is not going to do them any favours at all, and it is not going to stimulate them nearly as much as being allowed to roam freely in a safe enclosure. They cannot interact freely with owners and their surroundings if they are cooped up inside a ball, and running on a wheel in the cage just isn't guinea pig style. If you know guinea pigs, you will know that wheels and balls are simply not suitable for this species.

    Harnesses & Leashes
    There are a number of harnesses and leashes (leads) on the market aimed at guinea pigs. It may be appropriate to harness or put a leash on a dog, and you often see ferrets being allowed a controlled walk in this manner, but it's not suitable for guinea pigs. Piggies have a flighty nature, and it could be seen as disrespecting or disallowing their natural behaviour to limit their movement so severely. If they get scared, they are going to want to run; it will terrify them if they cannot move freely to do this and the risk of injury is higher the more frightened and stressed they get. Even an observant owner walking their guinea on a leash, claiming that the piggie loves it, is not fully respecting the needs and natural instincts of the species. It is best to avoid them altogether. After all, you're not going to see a guinea pig harnessed on a leash popcorning away!


    Things to Look Out For – Guidelines on Maintaining Toy Safety
    It is only natural for toys to get a little wear and tear on them over time. There may be some slight risks with particular toys that get worn, so stick to the following guidelines to ensure your piggies are not put at risk by their toys:-

    - Dispose of any wooden toys and wooden hideys/logs if they splinter, or if your guineas get a very infectious medical problem such as ringworm.
    - Remove all labels, ribbons, buttons, tassels and unnecessary “fluff†(e.g. small patches of artificial 'hair' on a soft toys head) before giving to your guineas.
    - Ensure all seams on soft toys are very secure. If you are unsure, replace all stuffing with a safe alternative e.g. white vegetable parchment bedding or your normal bedding.
    - Ensure there are no frayed edges on any toys, especially blankets or towels.
    - Try to stick with toys manufactured specifically for animals or babies – these are less likely to contain anything dangerous, and will have been made with safety in mind.
    - Wash all soft toys regularly, at least once per month.
    - Wash all plastic toys (e.g. “pigloosâ€) regularly, at least once every 3-6 months.
    - Replace all wooden toys regularly, at least once every 3-6 months.
    - If the guinea pig is a gnawer and is determined to chew on any toys you offer, then stick with toys that can be safely chewed e.g. wooden toys, cardboard, toilet roll tubes, newspaper, brown paper bags.

    Now that the important information is out of the way, here's the bit you have really been waiting for – what toys to try offering! Do try a variety of different toys – most piggies enjoy something to snuggle in and something to chew on, for example. The most playful piggies will build quite a collection of exciting, interesting and stimulating toys!

    Continued below...
     
  2. Laura-CCC4

    Senior Guinea Pig

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    Toys to Hide In

    Hideys are good to use out on the floor or in the run to help encourage a feeling of safety, which in turn encourages more exploration. A lot of owners believe strongly in never giving a guinea pig hidey toys, as they feel a guinea pig who is allowed to hide away will struggle to get used to their environment. Many dispute this claim, saying that it is in a guinea pigs nature to run from anything they perceive as a threat, so to take away their safe places (hideys) is unfair and increases the fear the animals feel. These owners say they experience far better results when the animal has been allowed the opportunity to exhibit their natural behaviour, and the guinea pig settles quicker into a new home if allowed to feel secure in the early days. The provision of a hidey house or two is personal choice.

    • Plastic step stools
    • Cardboard boxes
    • Box shelving (found in DIY stores)
    • Upside-down bucket (entrance hole cut into the sides)
    • Bent-grid tunnels (made by bending a C&C grid)

    • Igloos/cocoons (affectionately known as “pigloos” in the guinea pig world)
    • Bendy wooden logs (Fiddlestix)
    • Wooden huts/log cabins
    • Plastic 'waffle' huts
    • Wigwams (fabric)

    [​IMG]


    Toys to Snuggle In

    Whether it is just a blanket on your lap during your cuddle time, or next to a soft toy in their cage, snuggly toys are becoming increasingly popular as more and more owners realise that their guinea friends can find significant comfort and happiness in all things soft.

    • Blankets – fleece or cotton (can be put in a large pile to create a 'blanket mountain' for them to burrow under, or a small piece of material for them to snuggle against)
    • Flat pillows/cushions
    • Soft teddies – little and large!
    • Soft beds aimed at cats, dogs and rabbits
    • Winter hats (human)
    • “Cuddlecups” or round “beds” aimed specifically towards guinea pigs
    • Small-animal sized chairs and beds
    • Piggie “sleeping bags”, “cosy sacks” or “snuggle pouches”

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Toys to Chew...And Other Fun Toys

    Some of these toys are so simple that you may not imagine a guinea ever being stimulated by them, or you can't imagine them ever being interested in something so “not guinea pig”. Try some of them with your guins and see – you may be pleasantly surprised!

    • Brown paper bags
    • Newspaper balls
    • Newspaper tents
    • Kitchen/toilet roll tubes
    • Empty pots and containers – lightweight and not easy to chew, but good enough to throw around!
    • Tennis Balls
    • PVC pipe – minimum 4 inch diameter...bigger if the butt is bigger!
    • Hanging bird toys
    • Bird bells
    • Mirrors
    • Willow toys, vine balls
    • Not forgetting, arguably the most fun and natural toy to a guinea pig...an enormous mound of high quality hay! Alternatively, try stuffing hay in a toilet roll tube or in a brown paper bag to provoke further interest from your guineas.

    [​IMG]

    EDIT (S_B)
    Another great toy has been made by @Shauny and is a piggie maze made from cardboard, have a look at this great idea below. You can hide treats around to encourage you piggie to explore

    [​IMG]


    Have fun finding something that interests your guinea – sometimes it intrigues them when you play with the toys yourself too!​
     
    #2 Laura-CCC4, Jan 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2014
  3. ILoveGilbertTheGuineaPig

    Senior Guinea Pig

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    just wanted to say i love the pictures x) :(|)
     
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  4. Abi-snail

    Abi-snail New Member

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    Cute

    Such cute pictures! I never thought of giving cuddly toys to my piggies.
     
  5. Cavy Corner

    Cavy Corner Junior Guinea Pig

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    Great advice and fab pics
    What gorgeous guineas!
     
  6. Monkeynutz

    Monkeynutz New Member

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    Oh Laura, this is so sweet. I've enjoyed reading the suggestions, followed by looking at the piccys. They are all soo very sweet, especially the cute little white piggie and big ted. :) Thank you. Maisy has never ever had anything like this to try with previous owners, and I have tried a couple of things with her in the past, but she doesn't seem interested. I will try again with some of these suggestions. :)
     
  7. CiaraPatricia

    CiaraPatricia Adult Guinea Pig

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    I love the pic of the white pig with the teddy too :) I love how to cutest photos always end up having some poops in them! :P
     
  8. mrsir

    mrsir New Member

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    Thanks alot for this. I went on a great shopping spree yesterday with these ideas and my boys LOVE LOVE LOVE all their new toys


    SO thanks again!
     
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  9. Fudge and Rainbow :)

    Fudge and Rainbow :) Adult Guinea Pig

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    Thanks for this thread. :) I love the pictures! x)
     
  10. Only two piggies

    Only two piggies New Member

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    Just to add as a further bit to the part said about new piggies shouldn't be given too many hidey places as it encourages them to hide more (or the school of thought that says you shouldn't)
    My two piggies are new, and when I first got them I got loads of tubes etc for them to play in, they do come out in their own time and when they feel comfy about it. Now the literally hare around in the tubes (I set them up like a little speedway track and they love it!) and sit at end of them peeking out, then do a full mad dash around the run. When one starts it encourages the other to do this mad dashing, with lots of 'popcorning', squeaking and chattering too. They will seem to have a quick breather, outside the tubes, then set off again on another break neck speed circuit!

    I firmly believe in letting them have a hidey place, they come out in their own time and when they do it on their own terms seem ready and much more relaxed about it. I have had mine a little over a week now, they have already started to come sit on my knee if we have them on the sofa and love having a little head massage that makes them 'purr' like little drills! I love having them out, but when they show signs of burrowing under the cushions etc, I take that as thier sign of saying they have had enough for a little while and put them back in their run, so they can either go back in their igloo bed, or have a nice long hide in a tube. Seems to be working so far.
     
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  11. BaconsPigs

    BaconsPigs Junior Guinea Pig

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    Thanks for the fab ideas :))
     
  12. Ben and Jerry

    Ben and Jerry Junior Guinea Pig

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    Jerry particularly likes the toilet roll tube and sleeping in the litter tray. Ben is a fan of the large cardboard tube suspended in the cage and loves to make it swing. I have got two pigloos on their way along with some Vetbed for the base of the cage. I was using Megazorb but realised they like fleece and over all it will work out cheaper. I shall continue to use megazorb in the litter tray though it's perfect for that. Mine also have a few edible hangings and chewing sticks which I tied together with a piece of cotton tape and hung from the rafters as it were. Big hit with Ben. And... mountains of hay which moves around the cage with the piggies underneath it!
     
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  13. madguinealady

    Forum Donator 2015/16

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    I make cardboard tubes for mine See youtube that.s where i got the idea I also made a tube from bits of fleece i had and put fiddlesticks at one end as an entrance and left other end trailing (like a dog agility tunnel) My girls love them and will keep them warm in winter All you need to do if they soil it is take out fiddlesticks and wash fleece
     
  14. madguinealady

    Forum Donator 2015/16

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    mine wont chew on toys They do have hay constantly and get fresh fruit and veg every day Will this be enough to keep their teeth worn down properly
     
  15. sport_billy

    sport_billy Administrator
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    Hay is the perfect thing to keep teeth down, don't worry about them not chewing toys at all, it doesn't matter.
     
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  16. madguinealady

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    thank you was worried
     
  17. Silly

    Silly Junior Guinea Pig

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    Mine dont entertain all the toys eithermallethead I think I buy toys for myself really :))
    They do love cardboard boxes to chew on though.
     
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  18. hayleyface

    hayleyface Junior Guinea Pig

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    These are all fantastic ideas and have wonderful pictures too x)

    My pigs however do not find interest in anything really. That newspaper ball has been there since last night, now there is no grass left in the cardboard tube they couldn't give a damn and they would rather hide behind their cosy bed than in it mallethead

    They do however go absolutely mental when I talk stupid to them. Which is usually whenever I top up their hay. "Oh my God, it's hay time! Do you want some hay? OOOOOOH, HAY! POPCORN, PIGGIES, POP POP POP. HAY. OMG, IT'S HAY. WHAT YOU GONNA DO? LOOK AT ALL THE HAY. OH MY GOOOOD, HAYYY!" They bloody love it.
     
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  19. madguinealady

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    you sound as mad as me I talk baby talk to mine and my hubby laughs at me but I don't care. They recognise my voice now My hubby comes in from nights and lets dogs out, rattles round the kitchen and they don't make a sound until they hear my voice. Its nice to be loved
     
  20. Snu210

    Snu210 Junior Guinea Pig

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    Great ideas here. One of my guinea pigs discovered how to make a tunnel out of newspaper and creates a fresh one every now and again to hide in.
     
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