Guinea pigs can show unexpected, destructive behaviors at any time. This behavior may include chewing on cage accessories, clothing, furniture items, and other household items they can reach. But are guinea pigs destructive? Or is there something that triggers such behavior in your guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs mostly show destructive behaviors due to a lack of stimulation, health issues, and lack of space and enrichment areas. These behavior types are more common in single guinea pigs, probably lonely and depressed as they don’t have enough space to play and exercise.
Bad behaviors can be managed by putting some effort like encouraging guinea pigs, providing toys to them, playing with them, and or offering things to chew.
Guinea pigs should be rewarded with sweet treats, love, enjoyable activities, and surprises for their positive behaviors.
Get your guinea pigs neutered. It will help them to reduce their aggressive behavior like pulling their fur or chewing things around.
Causes of destructive behavior in guinea pigs
|Pulling Out Fur||-Stress|
|Eating A Lot||-Boredom|
-Lack of exercise
-Lack of stimulation and play
|Chewing Destructively||-Not enough access to hay|
-Not enough chew toys
-Not enough exercise
Guinea pigs enjoy chewing things up. It turns into a problem when they chew excessively and start damaging carpets, furniture, and other items in the house.
The worst part is guinea pigs may chew electric cables and wire that indirectly put them into the danger of getting an electric shock.
To prevent this kind of happening, keep all the wires out of the reach of your guinea pigs and be sure these electrical wires are covered with protective cables in case they get access to it.
Also, guinea pigs find pleasure in chewing on rubber, so keep the tv remotes away from them.
Guinea pigs who live in cages like to chew the cage bars an other items in the cage in some cases.
That seems dangerous because then guinea pigs can mess their enclosure.
Realizing this at an early stage and offering plenty of hay, toys for fun, and some exercise can stop their destructive behavior up to some extend.
Guinea pigs can sometimes escape out of the cage and access other things lying around in the room. For that reason, the area around the cage has a high risk of destruction. If guinea pigs can reach any item or object placed on the surface, they will chew it.
Nearly all those guinea pigs who live indoors prefer to pick out spots on their own for sleeping.
Get your guinea pigs a blanket or towel so that they can rest on it when they finally choose a place for resting down.
Now this will make it sure that your guinea pigs will only chew blanket instead of fleece hideouts and bedding.
Do not try to block the entrance and exit of the spot where your guinea pigs lie down. Also, if your pets face difficulty entering their place, they will start gnawing to make the path wide open.
Also, guinea pigs have fun while chewing on wooden furniture, like the legs of a table. This usually happens during their floor time.
In addition to this, they offer them some other attractive enjoyment like a piece of apple or willow wood to stop them from destroying your furniture.
If that does not appear working, then cover the portion from where they nibble with duct tape, cardboard, or wooden tube.
Your guinea pigs will enjoy making holes by digging on carpets. Put some covering on those areas where they like digging from a blanket or cardboard. However, they will start nipping even at the covers also.
Age and gender
Female guinea pigs have a higher interest in digging holes. But, that does not mean male guinea pigs do not show any signals of destructive chewing ever.
Guinea pigs, before turning to 2 years old, should be neutered/spayed to put a stop on showing aggressive and destructive behaviors towards one another and other objects in their surroundings.
You have to wait for some time if your guinea pigs are spayed/neutered recently, and they continuously keep on chewing. It may take a while for their hormones to settle down.
Your guinea pigs are less likely to show such destructive behavior once they mature. Though, if your guinea pigs are neutered and mature, but still continue to chew then their chewing might not be because of hormones.
Nature of the guinea pig
Your guinea pigs are trying to seek your attention might be the reason they are chewing on objects in the house.
This usually happens if you have a single guinea pig or you are housing your guinea pigs in different cages.
Guinea pigs who find pleasure in chewing are mostly smart, clever, loving, and intelligent. They carry strong desires for attention.
However, if you cannot offer much-required attention to your guinea pigs, try something else to remove their feeling of boredom. Maybe, getting a partner for them will help in eliminating boredom away.
To overcome boredom, guinea pigs see eating as a treatment of it. So, if you place food in front of your pets, they will eat it because they do not have anything else to do instead of munching.
As a result, it can create issues like weight gain and obesity, especially if the foods include a lot of dry pellets, veggies, and sweet fruits.
Luckily, guinea pigs cannot overeat hay. Therefore, it is better to offer them plenty of hay to fulfill their nutrition requirement and keep their dental health in check.
Even if you are providing them pellets to eat, choose the one which is made up of timothy grass. Almost every high-quality hay consists of only 14% protein with no animal fat.
Guinea pigs are herbivore creatures; they can enjoy a healthy living very well if offered sufficient hay and veggies in a controlled manner.
Grooming a lot
Guinea pigs enjoy grooming, as it has been observed that they groom themselves multiple times in a day.
Moreover, the fur they gather after grooming usually does not cause any harm to them.
Though, if your guinea pigs groom excessively due to boredom, it can result in hairballs, which affects the digestive passage of guinea pigs very severely.
Offering plenty of hay and chew toys to guinea pigs can prevent them from getting bored and keep their digestive system healthy as well.
Fulling the fur out
As per the studies, intact female guinea pigs who experience phantom pregnancy have been observed pulling their fur.
Also known as a false pregnancy can be experienced by many female guinea pigs, even those who live alone. It lasts for 16-17 days, and your guinea pigs can show some destructive behavior at this phase including digging and fur pulling.
Guinea pigs might chew each other’s fur due to stress and boredom, which is called barbering.
So, to prevent this, get your guinea pigs neutered/spayed and provide enough hay, toys, fun activities, and help get rid of their boredom and stress.
How to stop destructive behavior in guinea pigs?
Their destructive behavior might appear major issues but can be resolved in simple ways.
Here are some methods you can follow to stop your guinea pigs from getting into destructive mode:
Provide enough hay and veggies
Guinea pigs do not only bite at things because they are fond of doing so but also because they require chewing.
Teeth of guinea pigs grow continuously. So, if guinea pigs stop chewing, they may experience overgrown teeth, which can be injurious for mouth and jaws.
Overgrown teeth are a severe medical issue that is painful for guinea pigs. Hence, if your guinea pigs are chewing too much, then it is in their nature to prevent overgrown teeth.
The leading cause of destructive chewing behavior in guinea pigs is too little supply of hay. Your guinea pigs should have access to at least 100-150 grams of hay every day.
It might appear a lot of hay, but guinea pigs should get 70-80% of good quality hay daily. Pellets, veggies, and fruits should be offered in small quantities only.
If you observe that your guinea pigs are denying eating the same hay every day, try offering them other kinds of hay.
Nearly all experts suggest timothy hay for guinea pigs. You may go for providing them the same hay from different companies. Additionally, some guinea pigs might be selective about their hay.
To handle your guinea pigs’ chewing behavior, place toys in their cage. This way is too cost-free and straightforward.
You can even make temporary toys at home and offer them to your guinea pigs. Your pets will be more encouraged to play instead of chewing things around in their cage.
Try out some boredom buster ideas
Several guinea pigs chew more due to boredom. Your guinea pigs will munch on objects in their contact or consume lots of pellets, veggies, and fruits, which leads to obesity. Therefore, hay is the best option for your guinea pigs to chew continuously.
Giving your guinea pigs an enhancing environment also clears the issues connected with chewing. Your guinea pigs will get diverted to other enjoyable activities in this environment.
Preparing an encouraging environment for your guinea pigs is very easy and cost-free sometimes because you can use household things like cardboard boxes or plastic containers (cereals, noddle, tables).
Fill some crumpled newspaper or hay in these boxes and keep it in a sufficient space or a room where your guinea pigs can pick out pieces.
Putting treats into this filling of cardboards can double the enjoyment of this homemade toy. To spot the gifts out of the hay, your guinea pigs will tear the box apart. Playing with empty paper rolls stuffed with hay is also an enjoyable and fun activity for guinea pigs.
Get your guinea pigs surrounded by lots of toys in their space. Several excellent and possible alternatives are soft cotton clothes, stuffed toys, or cardboard boxes cut with one side for entering and moving out of your guinea pigs.
But, be sure that they should not eat the object that guinea pigs are playing with if they are not made up of hay or paper.
Keep old towels or towels with loose threads away from your guinea pigs because it can make your guinea pigs suffer from digestion issues.
Also read: How to keep your guinea pigs happy
Spaying or Neutering your guinea pig
Unnecessary chewing can be the result of hormonal imbalance also. Guinea pigs who turn 6 months old should be neutered/spayed after the consultation of a vet to stop them from behaving aggressively.
Additionally, intact female guinea pigs can experience ovarian cancer before or after turning 5 years old. Spaying them can help prevent the same and also helps in developing a calm attitude in your guinea pigs.
If you got your guinea pigs spayed/neutered in recent and still observe hints of the bad behavior of chewing, be patient and give them some time.
Almost all guinea pigs get rid of their act of excessive chewing in a few weeks after being spayed. Like kittens and small puppies, younger guinea pigs have a lot of energy and they are likely to chew more than what a mature guinea pig would.
Provide some floor time daily
Once the weather gets pleasant, and the area is super safe for guinea pigs, you can take your guinea pigs out for playing and keep an eye on them.
The best way to keep your guinea pigs mentally energized and stimulated is to take them outside and let them play and bounce around.
Leaving guinea pigs outdoors allows them to dig, to chew, and to do anything they wish. Once they come inside the house after playing, they will need to eat, sleep shortly instead of chewing.
Safe play area
Remember that guinea pigs cannot live in high temperatures. Consult with a vet about which temperature is best suited for your guinea pigs.
As per studies, the average body temperature of guinea pigs lies between 102-104 degrees of Fahrenheit.
For nearly all guinea pigs, mercury level above 90 degrees Fahrenheit is harmful and can lead to heatstroke. Long-haired guinea pig breeds carry a higher risk of overheating in the summer season.
Except if you have a cool shaded area in your house, you do not need to put your guinea pigs outside in summers. Get a thermometer so that you can know the temperature both inside and outside the shaded space.
Be sure that your guinea pigs have enough space to hide and feel protected while they are playing. Any simple thing like a box with an onside cut or a cage with one open door can make the hiding activity more enjoyable for guinea pigs.
The fences you put around your garden should be secured so that they do not dig under it. These fences should be fixed to 6 inches underground from the top, stopping guinea pigs from digging and moving out.
These barriers should also protect guinea pigs from predators, such as cats and dogs. That will help in guinea pigs to be stress-free and feel safe.
If your garden does not have fences, you can keep your guinea pigs in a barricaded space or take them to the nearest park with their playpen.
Keep your eyes on your guinea pigs, whether they are in your garden or a pickable playpen in the park as they can get into trouble in a matter of a few minutes.
Guinea pig proof your room
There is nothing always wrong when your guinea pigs chew on something. Owners should ensure that their homes are guinea pigs proofed before getting a guinea pig.
Follow the steps below:
- Get all the electric wires covered with duct tape or cable covers, or just try to keep them away from the reach of your pets.
- Put a shield of a cardboard box on the wooden objects or table legs.
- Cover the carpet areas with towel or cardboard boxes so your guinea pigs can only chew on them.
- Use a small gate or playpen to allow your guinea roam freely without reaching items to chew like wires.
- Place chewable objects around like old books, baskets, etc.
- Use some bitter apples so that they stop chewing on other objects. Though, it will not work on all guinea pigs.
- Providing other areas for chewing and digging near furniture yo keep your guinea pigs busy.
- If you are renovating your house, try other furniture instead of wicker furniture because guinea pigs enjoy chewing on wicker furniture.
Sources: Sciencedirect, Vetexotic, Guinea pigs, The laboratory guinea pig(research)