Have you ever noticed your guinea pigs are trying to chew their cage bars and wondered why they do so? Is it something natural? Do they do so because they need something? As a curious guinea pig owner, I researched why guinea pigs bite the cage, and here is what I found out!
Guinea pigs have an instinct to chew things up. As they possess an ever-growing pair of teeth that need constant wear down, they need to chew something to keep them in shape. Also, biting their cage bars can signify boredom, not enough room in the cage, and an inappropriate diet.
There can be many factors that can trigger that behavior in guinea pigs, and we need to look at them carefully to find out the cause so that we can prevent them from biting the cage bars.
Although biting their cage sometimes is a natural behavior, there is no need to be alarmed about it.
But if you notice them biting the bars all the time, then you might need to investigate the matter thoroughly.
Is it normal for guinea pigs to chew on their cage?
Yes, it is normal behavior for guinea pigs to chew on their cages. However, we must discourage them from doing so because the metal bars might end up hurting their teeth or lips.
Also, some cheap quality cages are painted with chemical paints, which can cause some health issues when ingested.
Although your guinea pig might chew the cage bars sometimes, if they are doing so frequently, we might need to do something about it.
So, how can we discourage them from chewing the cage bars? For this, we first need to find the cause of why they are doing so.
What does it mean when your guinea pig bites the cage?
If your guinea pigs are biting the cage frequently, then there might be something bugging them for sure.
A lot of factors can trigger this behavior in guinea pigs, so let us have a look and find out why your guinea pigs are biting the cage:
Maintain their teeth:
Guinea pigs have an ever-growing tooth that needs to be worn down to keep them healthy.
If the tooth starts overgrowing, then your guinea pig might have trouble eating & drinking.
So, to keep them worn out, guinea pigs chew on many things like veggies, hay, cardboard boxes, plastic, chew toys, and even metal bars if they don’t have enough stuff to eat on.
Some guinea pigs chew plastic and metal just because they like to do so, while others do that to keep their teeth worn out.
Guinea pigs need a reasonably large cage to live.
The minimum recommended cage size is around eight sq. feet, and if your guinea pig doesn’t have a decent size cage with enough space to eat, play, and exercise, then they might want to get out of it.
Most commercial pet store cages are far too small for our guinea pigs, and they will feel uneasy living in one.
So, guinea pigs will also bite their cage bars when they don’t have enough living space in their cage.
Boredom and lack of stimulation:
Guinea pigs are active animals; thus, they need to keep themselves busy in some activity to remain happy.
If your guinea pig is bored of its usual routines and there is nothing new happening in their lives, they will start biting the cage.
Sometimes having nothing to play with or less area to move around makes them lethargic, which also triggers this habit.
Lack of floor time:
Lack of floor time is another major cause of guinea pig biting their cage. Guinea pigs are caged animals, but still, they need some outside of their cage to run around and play.
They need at least one hour 3-4 times a week; however, daily would be ideal for them. You can either create a play area in a room by guinea pig proofing a room or part of it.
You can also get a playpen or a run so that guinea pigs can spend some time outside of their cage. This will also help in keeping things spiced up for them.
Not enough veggies or food:
Guinea pigs need an unlimited amount of hay, followed by a cup of veggies daily.
If your guinea pigs don’t get enough food daily, then they might start biting their cage.
Although such circumstances are a rare occurrence, it is still possible.
Looking for your attention:
Some guinea pigs start biting their cage when they get a glimpse of their owners.
Whenever guinea pigs are looking for their owner’s attention, they will do such activities if they don’t get it.
Also, if your guinea pig knows they are going to get a treat from you, then they might bite the cage out of excitement too.
Guinea pigs are social animals, and if you happen to have only one guinea pig by any means, they might be biting the cage because they feel lonely.
Guinea pigs need a lot of attention and interaction, and lack of it can make them feel isolated and depressed. Thus a solitary piggy can bite its cage more often than others.
What can guinea pigs chew on?
Crumbled paper or paper bags, wooden chew sticks, cardboard boxes, hay chew balls, fleece accessories etc.. are some of the most common items which our guinea pigs can chew on.
How do I get my guinea pig to stop biting the cage?
By now, you could have already understood are various reasons which make guinea pigs bite their cage.
Now let us check out some of the possible solutions to make your guinea pigs stop biting their cage.
Provide some chew toys:
Guinea pigs have an instinct to chew things on. If you could provide some good quality chew toys to your guinea pigs, then they will start chewing those and leave the cage bars alone.
Please make sure you get guinea pig-safe chew toys for them as all toys available in the market are not suitable for your guinea pigs.
Get a larger cage:
If you are a first-time guinea pig owner, you might be wondering how much space will those cute little piggies need anyways.
But trust me, they will grow pretty big quickly, and if you happen to have a pet store cage, then they are going to outgrow it just a few months itself.
Guinea pigs need a minimum of 8 sq. feet area to live happily. They need a dedicated space in their cage for eating, hiding, and playing.
If you have a smaller enclosure, they might not be okay with it and thus will start chewing their cage bars. So get the biggest cage you can find for them.
Increase their floor time:
Guinea pigs need plenty of floor time to play and exercise. If you have not been able to provide them with it just yet, then you must consider doing so now.
Providing at least 1 hour of floor time daily will keep your guinea pig energetic and stimulated, which can also help prevent cage bitings.
Providing fresh veggies daily:
Guinea pigs need a diet that contains a cup of fresh veggies daily.
Fresh vegetables not only provide guinea pigs with essential vitamins and minerals but also helps them grind out their teeth and keep them in shape.
They love to chew and munch on their veggies like anything. So, providing enough fresh vegetables is a great way to stop them from chewing cage bars.
Toys, hidings, etc. for mental stimulation:
Guinea pigs need a lot of toys and hiding spaces in their cage. It helps in keeping our guinea pigs active and stimulated.
Some guinea pigs often bite their pen out of boredom, and having enough toys will keep them busy, thus preventing them from chewing their cage bars.
Also, it would be best if you made sure not to offer all the toys at once but keep them in rotation so that your guinea pig doesn’t get bored with a particular one.
Get your guinea pig a cage mate:
Guinea pigs are social animals, and keeping a single guinea pig in a cage can make them lonely and depressed; this leads to biting the cage.
So, if you have a solitary guinea pig on its own, then it might be time to consider getting a cage mate for them.
Guinea pigs enjoy being in the company of two or more, and it is wise to keep them in a group. Getting a cage mate or more will keep them entertained, and thus, they might not bite their cage as they used to earlier.
Spend time with your guinea pigs:
Spending time with your guinea pig is a must. Guinea pigs love interaction both with humans and their cage mates. It makes them feel pleasant and calm.
It is seen that if you have a good bond with your guinea pig and you give them enough time, then the habit of cage biting is something unusual.
Apply some mild vinegar:
Applying some mild vinegar on the cage bar is one of the last resorts you can try. Although it is not the best option out there, you can give it a try if you still need to do so.
Say you have tried everything above, yet guinea pigs are biting the cage bars, then it is either a good option to let them bite or put some vinegar out there so that the taste and smell can prevent them from chewing it.
It is recommended to try this only as a last resort and keep an eye on your guinea pig, as some guinea pigs can get ill from the strong smell of vinegar.
Can guinea pigs chew on plastic?
No, guinea pigs should not be chewing any plastic toys or any other stuff.
Guinea pigs have sharp teeth, and they can chew the plastic and even cut it into bits. If any plastic bits are swallowed even by mistake, then it can harm your guinea pig as it is indigestible.
Thus, avoid plastic, especially the one which can be easily chewed.
Can guinea pigs chew on cardboard?
Yes, guinea pigs can chew on cardboard with no problem at all. Just make sure there is no adhesive or any chemical attached to it.
Some guinea pigs shred and eat cardboard, which can be bad for their digestive system, so if your guinea pigs eat some bits of it, then you should not use it else. It is okay if they only shred it into pieces.
Can guinea pigs chew on toilet paper rolls?
Yes, guinea pigs can chew on toilet paper with no problems at all. However, make sure you don’t offer a big roll at once as if they ingest a lot of toilet roll, then they might suffer from digestive issues.
Can guinea pigs chew on popsicle sticks?
Yes, guinea pigs can chew on popsicle sticks with no problem at all. Popsicle sticks are made up of beech, which is entirely safe for guinea pigs to chew on.
Will guinea pigs chew coroplast?
Yes, guinea pigs can chew the coroplast. However, make sure they don’t eat small bits of the same.
It is completely fine to do so until they are just chewing the edges and not ingesting the material itself.
There has been no report of any ill effect of chewing coroplast in guinea pigs.
Source: Sciencedirect, Vetexotic
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