Since they have been introduced by European traders in the 16th century, guinea pigs have become one of the most popular household pets in the world. Their docile nature, friendliness, willingness to impress and bond with their owners and ease of caring are amongst the many reasons guinea pigs are preferred by some people over other high maintenance pets, such as dogs.
Despite being relatively chubby and seeming lazy, guinea pigs are active animals that love to play and move around. Since they get easily bored and stressed if stuck in a cage all day, it is important to stock up on a wide variety of toys to keep the rodents happy, as well as healthy. Since there are many options out there, the purpose of this article is to teach you how to choose the perfect toys for your little pet. Here is a brief buying guide that will make your choice easier.
Buy A Wide Assortment of Toys
Since they sit in a cage for most of the day, guinea pigs get bored faster than other pets such as dogs and cats. So, if you want to buy a pig and you are wondering what kind of toys do guinea pigs like, the answer is simple: they love variety. Guinea pigs are naturally wired to seek novelty and new challenges in order to test and stimulate their mental and physical acuity.
The guinea pig’s strongest trait is motion. They are capable of learning and remembering, relatively complex pathways for months, so toys that help them develop and maintain this skill are one of the best choices that you can make. For example, you can buy several wooden mini-houses from any pet shop, place them in strategic spots around your house and encourage the pig to start looking for it. This safe toy, which is made out of chewable wood, will appease not only the pig’s need for exploration but also its love for hiding spots.
Your guinea pig will also appreciate toys that can be knocked and pushed around. You can choose everything, from tennis and ping pong balls, to children’s blocks (again, make sure they are easy to chew and non-toxic). Ideally, you should choose balls that are made out of natural materials, such as grass, wicker, and wood.
A good rule of thumb is to introduce new toys regularly. As we have mentioned above, guinea pigs love variety, so it is good idea to build a space that incentivizes the animal to engage in a wide assortment of activities, such as running, hiding and chewing. Here is an idea: place one tunnel, a cave and a chew toy inside of it and let the pig explore.
Like many other species of rodents, your guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing throughout its life. As a result, they have a natural instinct to continuously chew objects in order to keep the teeth at an adequate length. If they are not given enough things to chew on, they might start to chew on the metal bars of the cage.
If your pet starts doing this, there is no reason to become alarmed – he might simply find the taste or the sensation of the metal bars appeasing. It is worth noting that they do not chew only to maintain the length of the teeth – it is also an effective coping mechanism. Guinea pigs are very anxious and frightful creatures and can be easily startled upon hearing the slightest sound. Therefore, they bring themselves back into a relaxed state by chewing on whatever comes handy. But, if the pig’s teeth grow to an alarming size, make sure to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
This is why providing your pig with enough chewing toys is essential for the pet’s health. You can repurpose things as simple as willow sticks, fruit tree sticks or (special guinea pig) abatement into toys for your pet. Another good option is to buy special toys that the guinea pig can play with and chew at the same time, such as balls made out of natural materials and fruit-flavored pine wood sticks.
Or, even better, you can combine the two and treat the pig with calcium stones, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli – these treats will satisfy the rodent’s need to chew and keep it healthy.
However, do not, under any circumstances, let the pig chew on salt blocks. While the pig will have a fun time munching on them, salt blocks will only add too much sodium into their diet. Adding to the list of unhealthy snacks are chocolate, processed foods, garlic, onions, and lettuce. Mineral blocks are a much better alternative because they are both very nutritional, and have no harmful side effects on the guinea pig.
Toys Made for Other Animals
On a final note, you do not have to limit yourself to toys specially designed for guinea pigs. They will enjoy any toys that lets them jump, chew and run around. So, next time you visit a pet shop, make sure to check for toys made for birds, cats, ferrets, and chinchillas. Here are a few examples:
- Ferrets tunnels and hammocks
- Balls with bells on the inside
- Hanging bird toys
Guinea pigs are adorable, docile creatures that love to play and engage in activities with their owners. Their friendly nature, as well as the fact that they are very easy to care for, make them one of the most popular pets in the world. But like any domesticated animal, guinea pigs get bored quickly, so make sure to offer it a wide assortment of toys that will satisfy its instinct for incessant chewing, as well as its need to roam and explore.