Aug 11

Guinea Pigs – Feeding Tips For Cavies

Black and White GuineapigGrasses are the primary staple in a guinea pig’s diet. They meet most of the needs of the rodent known scientifically as cavia porcellus. But there are a number of supplemental foods that can help supply missing nutrients and liven up their diet.

Foraging is one way to accomplish that, but it requires some care. There are a number of wild plants that are safe for cavies. Dandelions are a favorite, but are better when they’re relatively immature. Plantains are safe and white clover will be appreciated, just as it is for rabbits. Clover is rich in  calcium, phosphorus and magnesium that guinea pigs need. Yarrow is fine, as are chickweeds.

But there is a variety of plants that are toxic, such as buttercups. So, unless you have a good eye for what is what, it may be best to avoid foraging until after your research is advanced.

If you feed raw grasses, foraged or not, rather than pellets, cavies will do better with young, fresh material. Green, leafy hay is much preferred to the stemmy parts. It’s important to ensure that nothing fed is contaminated with mold or mildew. Just as with humans or most other mammals, fresh food is far healthier for guinea pigs than that which is approaching spoiled. Guinea pigs are not scavengers and they don’t have robust digestive systems.

Vegetables make for excellent supplements, where the leafy greens are best. Avoid cruciferous vegetables, which may produce gas in the digestive tract. Instead, go for the turnip greens, kale or parsley. Cavies have less capacity for tolerating pesticides and levels that are fine for humans may be toxic to them. Ensure that any vegetables were grown with ultra-low quantities.

A wide array of fruits are tasty and nutritious. Small chunks of apricots and bananas, or even oranges, are fine. Avoid potatoes, which have too much starch and may contain harmful levels of oxalic acid from the skin and eyes of the tuber. Grapes are good in small quantities, no more than one or two per day. Some cavies like tomatoes and small chunks are fine in moderation.

Introduce new vegetables or fruits in small quantities and one at a time to make it easier to judge your guinea pig’s reaction to changes in diet. Though they have commonalities, each pig is an individual and may (and probably will) react differently.

A guinea pig’s back teeth grow continuously. Allowing them an ample supply of grasses and vegetables promotes not only good nutrition but good dental health. As they graze, the teeth are ground gently down in a gradual process that keeps them at the right length.

A final tip: properly stored, a bale of hay may be kept fresh and provide enough food to last for months. That’s an inexpensive way to give your cavy protein and other compounds to satisfy its dietary needs. Some hay may also be used as bedding, but take care to monitor their intake. Overeating and obesity are possible.

Jul 16

Guinea Pigs – 13 Cavy Breeds

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Professionals recognize 13 official breeds of guinea pig or cavy, though several more are popular. Within this set is a group of differently colored types that add further variety to this amazing animal. To top it off, there are ‘satin’ varieties, in which the hair shafts are hollow, giving them an ultra-shiny appearance and smooth feel.

Abyssinian

The Abby is among the oldest of breeds in a group going back to the 16th century. Despite the name, they don’t originate in Ethiopia (the present name for ancient Abyssinia). They are easy to spot in a crowd of cavies, with their distinctive rosettes. Rosettes are tufts of hair that swirl from a whorl, forming a spiral of fur.

They also have an endearing mustache that gives them a definite comic look. They can be found in multiple colors such as the brindle, in which different colors like brown and black bunch together to form patterns. They also come in a satin breed variety.

American

This breed is what will come to mind for most when they think of a guinea pig. Also known as the English cavy, their hair is short and sleek. They have the familiar ‘chunky tube’ body, blunt nose and come in a wide variety of colors. Some are the Self type, denoting a solid color, such as black, beige or white. Others are roan (white and another color, such as red or lilac).

This breed, too, comes in a satin type with a glossy coat that feels like what the name suggests. The fur is very dense, soft and has a translucent sheen.

Peruvian

The Peruvian cavy is one of the most popular long-haired breeds. Hailing from South America, where the Andes mountains can get bitterly cold, this breed stays warm in the coldest of weather. The smooth hair can grow up to 17 inches/43 cm, though 6-12 inches/15-30cm is more normal. The Satin has a similar appearance, but again with more glossy, satiny fur.

Silkie or Sheltie

Another long-haired breed, the Silkie differs from the Peruvian in having hair that sweeps back from the face. The Peruvian may look like a wig, with its face and hindquarters completely covered by long, flowing hair. The Silkie’s face is clearly visible, having a clearly marked forehead.

The Silkie’s hair is also finer and typically softer than its cousin’s. The Satin has the expected sheen, but in the Silkie the soft texture is brought to a peak.

Teddy

This adorable breed has short, wiry hair and a series of whiskers. The hair is kinked, meaning it moves back into place after being brushed backwards. They resemble the American breed and have a Roman nose, blunt and curving back toward the body.

Texel

The Texel is among the most unusual cavies, owing to its long ringlets. Curls cover the entire body, back and belly, front to rear. The ringlets can become several inches long, though a couple of inches is more usual.
Within all these breeds there are several color varieties including the black and white Dalmation, the Tortoise Shell, the Dutch and many more. Whatever your preference, there’s a cavy to suit.

Jun 18

What’s a Guinea Pig?

Guineapig In The HatThe question posed in the title is a legitimate one. Even though guinea pigs are familiar, they’re neither pigs nor do they hail from Guinea. These rodents, originating from the Andes mountains in South America, are so similar to rabbits they were nearly reclassified. They’re commonly called a cavy, a derivation of their scientific name.

But whatever their scientific status, their role as pets in the lives of millions is beyond debate. There are a baker’s dozen recognized breeds and several ‘unofficial ones’. But each has unique qualities that make it a far more interesting animal than you might expect.

They amuse their human companions daily with a range of behaviors that are far different from rabbits, hamsters and others. Timid, yet full of amusing habits, they wheek or whistle, popcorn or hop, and exhibit a range of distinctive behaviors unlike their mammalian cousins.

Guinea pigs are small, accounting in part for their popularity as caged pets, where they reside happily. They reach no more than about 10 inches (25 cm) long and weigh no more than about 2.5 lbs (1.2kg). They live an average four to five years, but can last as long as nine. But within that size and time they pack a lot of enjoyment for their human companions.

Some look similar to fat rats, apart from having a flat face, not a narrowed one. Others look like small, rounded rabbits, but lack the obvious ears of even short-eared lagomorphs. Many are long-haired, like the Peruvian, others are short-haired like the more familiar American. But they all share the same diet, the same propensity for developing certain diseases and the same undeniable cuteness.

They can breed often year round, producing as many as six litters, though this would be pushing the limit for a sow. Their gestation lasts about two months and produces an average of three young per litter, though several more are possible. The young are immediately active soon after birth. Though they suckle like all mammals, they can eat grass right away (one element of their natural diet). They’re also fond of Timothy hay and will eat some fruits and vegetables.

Like rabbits, their teeth grow continuously so they can often be found gnawing on anything available. They do well with chew toys designed specifically with the cavy’s teeth in mind.

They won’t usually do much with a walking wheel, since cavies tend to be quieter and more placid than other rodents. Depending on the design, it can also harm their feet. But there are dozens of toys that can help keep them from being bored. They love to snuggle in small valleys of blanket or shavings.

Contentment is easy to detect, since they’ll purr like a cat, a sound known among cavy aficionados as bubbling. Attending a professional cavy show, the sound can be obvious, when a whole chorus of these affectionate animals may ‘sing’ in harmony.

Jun 17

Guinea Pigs – Cavy Behavior

Guinea-PigGuinea pigs, or cavies, are like any other species in having a number of distinctive behaviors. Within that broad outline, of course, each pig will have its own peculiarities. It’s the latter that makes detailing the former a little tricky.

Most guinea pigs enjoy companionship, both of other cavies and of humans. How do we judge when a guinea pig is happy? The same way we would judge ourselves or any other animal – by its behavior. Dogs wag their tails when happy, but tuck it between their legs when they’re fearful. Similarly, guinea pigs give a number of tell-tale signs to signal their moods.

A contented guinea pig will commonly purr, somewhat like a cat. The sound is typically known among cavy enthusiasts as burring or bubbling. They’ll exhibit it when stroked or picked up and held. But the pitch of a burr is important, since it can also signal stress. When it’s deep and slow, it’s more likely to signal enjoyment, a more high pitched burr can indicate rising stress.

There are signs that are still more obvious that a guinea pig is happy. A movement called popcorning is common among cavies. This up and down jerk of the front and hind legs gives them a movement that explains the term. It may be accompanied by a twisting motion, or even a small leap in the air. These hops can occur under any circumstances that create excitement, but they occur much more often when the guinea pig is simply playing.

When they grow excited, such as when food is about to be served, they can often squeak loudly. Sometimes they do that just when their human companion enters the room, before letting them out of the cage. That squeak is called a wheek or a whistle. The term ‘wheek’ describes what the sound sounds like. The sound may also be elicited when searching for another guinea pig with whom they’re friendly.

Rumbling is another common guinea pig sound. This deeper sound can be produced when one pig is establishing dominance over one or more others. It’s especially prominent during mating rituals. Two males competing over a female will give the sound and sway from side to side while walking around the female.

Guinea pigs chut and whine during episodes of chasing one another, with the chaser chutting and the pursued whining. The sounds are distinctive and anyone who has observed two guinea pigs in this behavior can’t mistake it for anything else.

When a guinea pig grinds its teeth together it makes a sound called chattering. It’s often accompanied by a kind of jerk of the head upward, as if they’ve just heard a disturbing sound. As prey animals, cavies have developed an acute sensitivity to sounds indicating a predator. That has been adapted alertness to dangerous situations in general. Chattering often indicates that the pig has become concerned it may be facing one.

Like many mammals, especially small ones, they’ll shriek when the danger level becomes prominent or obvious. Of course, like cats, hamsters, gophers and others the sound can indicate a sharp, acute pain. Such sounds should be heeded and owners should check a pig thoroughly to search for any obvious signs of illness or injury.

May 18

Guinea Pigs – Do Your Cavy Homework

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are cool, but they’re also a little different from most other animals. That creates the need for a little investigation into these unique animals.

Guinea Pigs, known as cavies among professionals and enthusiasts, make excellent animal companions. They have a range of interesting behaviors and they’re ultra-easy to care for. They come in a variety of breeds and colors to suit all tastes.

The prospective guinea pig owner will want to research the local vet situation before bringing his or her new friend home. All vets have experience with dogs and cats because they’re such overwhelmingly popular pets. But guinea pigs, though hardly unknown, are not found in every home. Vets tend to have less experience treating them. Find a vet that can treat your pet.

As with any other species, guinea pigs have a set of common illnesses and symptoms. Eye and respiratory problems from hay or bedding particles are commonplace. Certain genetic conditions predispose them to specific illnesses. Skin problems are a typical concern. Knowing a little bit about what they are and what to look for will help protect your pet.

Even when you’ve selected a vet and become knowledgeable about symptoms to look for, it’s wise to review which medications are safe and which are not. Penicillin, for example, is highly beneficial to a number of species, but is toxic to cavies. Most vets will know this if they have any experience with guinea pigs or rabbits, but it’s always a good idea to double check.

Doing some research about diet is a good idea, too, before bringing Binky home. Guinea pigs thrive on grassy hay, and can benefit from small quantities of certain fruits and vegetables. Others are decidedly harmful. Knowing which is vital to your new friend’s health.

Everyday practices, such as grooming, are slightly different for guinea pigs, and even within breeds. They’re not social groomers, but they’ll keep the fur on their face clean by using a milky substance secreted from the eyes. An owner who thinks the liquid is a sign of disease may wipe it away, doing the pig a disservice. Long-haired breeds require slightly different treatment than short-haired types.

Knowing a little bit about guinea pig behavior, which will naturally get expanded the longer you interact with your pet, is helpful. Popcorning, a distinctive hopping behavior, may look to the uninitiated like a seizure of some kind. Wheeks (a common low, short squeal) could suggest fear or pain to those not familiar with guinea pigs. Find out what’s normal and what indicates stress or pain and your cavy will be better off.

They’ll enjoy the right kind of bedding, but some types (such as cedar wood shavings) can be harmful. Exploring the range of options available can be fun and is definitely beneficial for your new companion. They’ll also like to have the right kind of cage and toys to keep them safe and stimulated. There are dozens of options that can be expanded as your guinea pig family grows in size.

Spend some time learning what suits your cavy best and you’ll be happier, too.

May 17

Guinea Pigs – Common Signs of Illness

Guinea pig 2Because guinea pigs are common prey for many larger species, they have evolved to hide pain and weakness. Making noise, limping and other signs of distress alert predators to a location. They tell the predator that a particular animal is easy and therefore, safe prey.

That makes it all the more important for guinea pig owners to keep a sharp eye out for any signs of illness.

One common denominator of many ailments is a lack of appetite, a sharp reduction in the intake of food. Anorexia, when it can be detected, is a sure sign that something serious is wrong. Though that may point to digestive problems, the underlying cause may be a respiratory infection. The cause underlying that may well be a bacteria.

But diagnosis of the fundamental reasons are best left to a professional. Seeing a veterinarian is vital to arrive at the best possible treatment. Naturally, before anyone has a reason to endure the time and expense, they’ll want some evidence of disease. Regular checkups for guinea pigs in the absence of any obvious external signs are rare.

One external sign is the absence of any feces. Like rabbits, cavies eat some of their feces, so it can be a little tricky to measure the right amount. But experience will teach an owner what to expect. One sure sign is when no feces at all are found for a couple of days, particularly when coupled with a sharp reduction in food intake.

Reduced urine output is also a sign. Again, this is most commonly coupled with a substantial reduction in intake, in this case of water. Any guinea pig that hasn’t urinated in a day is undergoing some kind of physical stress. The cause may be kidney problems, urethral blockage or other serious problem. Seek medical attention right away.

Rapid weight loss is another way to measure possible medical problems. Weekly weighing of your guinea pig can help provide those early signs that motivate a visit to the vet.

Guinea pigs weigh an average of 1.5-2.5 lbs. Full grown females are generally between 700-1000g. Males are a bit heavier, going up to 1,200g or so. A couple of ounces (a few dozen grams) of variation is not generally a concern. But anything outside that range is cause for a call to the vet. He or she can advise you about whether a visit is appropriate.

A regular close-up skin examination is another must. Guinea pigs will scratch themselves, of course, possibly producing temporary redness. But any lesions should be a concern. Mites, fungi and other organisms can produce skin problems. Whether due to infection or scratching, they need to be treated right away.

Similarly, a home dental exam should be performed at the same time. Occlusions, mouth and throat infections, and other oral issues need to be attended to at once. Look for excess redness, lesions or any condition out of the ordinary. Abscesses in both the teeth and the throat are common guinea pig problems.

With regular care, most guinea pigs can be free of serious illness for years. The variation on the old saying applies here: an ounce of prevention is worth 2.5 lbs of cure.

May 17

Guinea Pigs – Common Illnesses Among Cavies

guinea pig 3Guinea pigs are subject to a number of common illnesses, including respiratory infections, skin problems and genetic disorders.

One common source of many skin conditions, for example, are the Trixacarus caviae, or mange mites. These small parasites cause itching, which can lead to excessive scratching and hair loss. Another common source, especially among those who are not alert to skin problems in long-haired breeds, are running lice (Gliricola porcelli). These small white insects move through the hair, feeding on skin cells and laying eggs. The eggs, which may be small speckles of black or white, hatch, starting the cycle all over again.

Hair loss may also be the result of hormonal problems that can result from a wide variety of underlying ailments. Ovarian cysts are relatively common. Genetic predisposition can lead to diabetes, problems with the thyroid and other issues that upset hormonal balance.

Heat stroke is a common problem in high temperature environments, especially among long-haired breeds such as the Peruvian. When summer temperatures linger above 90F(32C), cavies can suffer hyperthermia, particularly when humidity levels are above 70%. High humidity makes it more difficult to release body heat.

Other conditions in the guinea pig’s local environment can be a problem. Straw or hay is often used as bedding. But both stems and straw dust can cause ailments. Stems may lodge in the throat, leading to infection. Dust often finds its way into the cavy’s eyes, where eye infections are the typical result.

A number of genetic disorders are, though not overwhelmingly common, far from unknown in guinea pigs. Congenital eye disorders among Abyssinians are a well known tragedy. Waltzing disease, producing a palsy and deafness, are another. The disease is so-named owing to the cavy’s tendency to run wildly in circles.

Dental abscesses may result from occlusion. Since a guinea pig’s teeth continue to grow throughout his or her lifetime, any malformation of the molars or other teeth can grow into a painful condition. Oral infection is a common result.

Fungal infections are also all too common, as well. Ringworm is typical in climates with high humidity. Spores may be released into the air that hibernate for long periods, sometimes years. When the animal comes into contact with it, a skin lesion may result. The lesions appear as hairless ovoids that may exude serum until they heal.

A simple fungicide, often in the form of a shampoo, may be all that’s needed for treatment. Nizoral or Malaseb are two examples. In some cases it may be necessary to treat with topical creams, such as Miconazole or Clotrimazole. In rare cases, an oral treatment of Lufenuron is called for.

Providing your guinea pig with a good diet and a clean cage is the best first line of defense against disease. As prey animals, they commonly don’t show symptoms when they can avoid it. Alertness to changes in activity level, eating habits and skin condition is required at all times.

A guinea pig lives 4-5 years on average, and sometimes as many as nine or more. A long term commitment to health care is appropriate, as it would be for any other household pet.

May 17

Guinea Pigs – Common Cavy Eye Problems

Guinea-PigA guinea pig will naturally secrete a white, milky discharge from healthy eyes. The cavy then spreads that fluid over the face and performs a cleaning behavior. The habit may be done several times per day and is a normal part of grooming. But there are several conditions that can cause the eyes to become diseased, and it’s helpful to be able to distinguish some of them.

URI

Upper respiratory infections can cause ‘crusty eyes’, a condition in which a small, crystalline substance is produced. It’s often accompanied by mucous from the nose and a reduction in food intake. The cavy may be less active, though this can be hard to detect since they’re often quiet for long periods. Treatment with antibiotics can easily clear the condition, but a diagnosis and prescription from the vet is necessary first.

Cataracts

Cataracts are a normal part of aging. The eyes become cloudy and appear bluish. But when the condition occurs early in life it is often the result of genetic influences. It can also result from contracting diabetes. One piece of evidence for this is a rapid onset of the clouding and color change. Vision can be substantially reduced. Have your cavy checked.

Entropian

In newborns, entropian may occur. This is a turning of the eyelashes inward, with resulting irritation. Eyes may become white and a corneal ulcer may develop. Some breeds, such as Teddies and Texels, are more prone to this than others. Try to gently turn the eyelash outward and cleanse the eyes with a sterile eye lubricant.

Conjunctival Problems

A lacrimal gland located near the base of the eye can become inflamed, producing a condition called cherry eye. The term is borrowed from a condition that occurs in dogs, where it means something slightly different. Swelling and pain results.

A similar condition called Pea Eye can occur. This is a protrusion of the conjunctival sac, but the condition isn’t generally painful. Swelling is limited to the corners of the eye. Treatment isn’t typically called for.

An inflamed conjunctiva should be treated with an anti-inflammatory, such as flurbiprofen. Follow up with an antibiotic like gentamycin may be called for. A vet visit is in order in all these cases.

Injury

Beyond the diseases or genetic conditions that may cause cavy eye problems, normal activity may result in injury. Typically when only one eye is affected, and becomes watery or cloudy, injury is the likely cause.

The injury may be from an attack or simply due to a bit of hay getting stuck in the eye. It may be possible to manually remove particles with sterilized tweezers, but extreme caution is necessary. A corneal abrasion is possible, or the result may be infection. If the condition doesn’t clear itself within a day or so, a call or visit to the vet is in order.

Guinea Pig eyesight is considerably less acute than many other mammals. Nevertheless, they do use them for foraging and predator detection. Any impact to the eye can result in pain, infection and may lead to even worse problems. Treat all cavy eye conditions seriously.

May 17

Guinea Pigs – Cage Options For Your Cavy

guinea pig 3One of the many fun aspects of owning a guinea pig is selecting or designing and building a cage. Few homes are designed in a way that allow the owner to let their guinea pig simply run free. They can get into a lot of mischief that way. But creating a cage that is spacious and fun is easy!

As with any animal cage, the larger the better is a good general rule. Cavies need space to walk or run around. They’ll use parts of the cage for bathroom duty and training them to use a litter box is a challenge too onerous for most guinea pig owners. About six square feet is the bare minimum for a comfortable cage for one pig. That may sound ample, but it is only 2 ft x 3 ft. Even for a small animal, that is not a huge amount of floor space.

Cages can be open at the top or closed, but if open the cage should be high enough to ensure the guinea pig can’t get out. They’re not great leapers and can’t climb, but they can get out of a low walled cage. A foot or so should be adequate in most cases, though more height may be necessary. It depends on what they have to walk up on inside the cage.

A multi-level cage will be appreciated by all guinea pigs. That gives them variety and a means of healthy exercise, by working against gravity. Be sure to add additional height to the cage to prevent escape. Any ramp that leads up to the higher level(s) should be of gentle slope and solid. Walking on even plastic coated wire is not healthy for their feet. They can develop sores.

As you expand your guinea pig family to include new members, you can expand your cages accordingly. In some cases, such as two mature males (especially in the presence of a female), it may be necessary to have more than one cage. Cavies will fight for dominance and mating privileges. In other cases, you can design your cage to simply provide more room and places to go.

Colorplast, a type of corrugated plastic, makes for good wall and floor material. Plastic-coated wire is also effective. In both cases, ensure that the guinea pig doesn’t chew on the material and ingest it. Their teeth grow throughout their lifetimes and they can get interested in the cage. Provide toys to distract them.

Metal/plastic grids are a great way to build an expandable cage for your cavy. Grids can be purchased in a range of sizes, but about 12 inches x 14 inches is a good size. Hooking them together to form a large, multi-space cage is simple. Obtain a number of cable wraps or Allen fasteners.

Cable wraps can be used to make a secure tie between the points on a grid. Just put one at every corner, pull tight and trim off any remaining tie so that the guinea pig doesn’t chew on it. To use Allen fasteners is even easier. Just snap them onto the grid where two or more pieces come together. Different types allow you to put together two pieces or four pieces. Some make it easy to snap together two to double the height, others provide a simple means of connecting two surfaces at right angles.

Enjoy!

May 17

Guinea Pigs – Bedding Options For Your Cavy

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs need soft, clean bedding that is changed frequently in order to stay in top health. Litter training a cavy is very difficult and, as a result, they tend to eliminate in many areas around the cage. It’s essential for their health that bedding be replaced to keep down ammonia and keep them and the cage clean.

Ammonia is a component of urine. In high concentrations not only does it smell offensive to humans, but can eventually lead to respiratory problems for the guinea pig. Breathing concentrated ammonia will damage their lungs, burn their esophagus and create other health problems.

Though guinea pigs eat some of their feces as a natural part of their diet, it is a small percentage of the total. That creates the need to remove droppings from the cage regularly. Some pet owners solve the problem by placing the cavy on top of a wire mesh that serves as a floor. But this is uncomfortable for the pig and, over the long term, can be very harmful to their feet. They will develop painful and debilitating sores.

Lining the cage floor with materials that can be easily and inexpensively replaced is a far better solution for both problems. There are many valid choices, and a few potentially harmful ones.

Any hardwood chips or shavings can serve as a soft, absorbent material for lining the bottom of the cage.

Aspen is a popular choice, though in some areas it can be a little higher cost than other options. Cedar is to be avoided. It contains aromatic oils (phenols) that have been correlated with respiratory and liver problems by many studies. Pine is a common choice but it may have the same, though weaker, drawback as cedar. Make sure it’s well aired out before use. Discard it if it continues to smell after a week of airing.

Wood pellets are an option.

Made from a mixture of wood scraps, they’re cheaper and will last longer. But they are harder and may contain some potentially harmful aromatics. Ensure they’re well aired before use. If they become wet they can disintegrate, which may lead to becoming lodged in the eyes or nose of the guinea pig.

Paper-based bedding comes in a variety of types.

Paper is economical, soft and very absorbent making it good for odor control and walking. But when wet it may suffer the same problem as wood pellets, only more so. If it shreds, the particles can more easily find their way into the eyes or nose where infection becomes more likely. Dry, they may produce excess paper dust, again leading to the same problems. Use a quality paper product from a reputable manufacturer to avoid these problems.

CareFresh, Megazorb and many other commercial brands provide different types. They differ in absorbancy, support and dust content. Each has its advocates among cavy owners and experience will be your best guide. Try several.

Hay is sometimes used by those who want a ‘natural’ product.

Hay is an option, but it has many drawbacks. It is not as absorbent as other options and so will need to be changed daily. Also, since it forms part of the natural cavy diet, they may well eat the bedding. It is low cost when purchased in bulk, but if not used up within a few weeks it can be infiltrated with mold. That will increase the odds of respiratory infection.

Other flooring alternatives are available.

If the mesh is fine enough and the grid soft enough, it is possible to use tiles. One type, EnviroTiles, are popular with some cavy owners. They’re specially coated and come in 12 in x 12 in grids that can be connected together. The tiles have 394 holes per square foot. But observe your cavy carefully for broken toenails, sores or redness on the feet.

Specialized products such as VetBed are an option. Made of layered polyester and other materials, they wick away the urine, keeping it beneath the feet and belly, which is good. But they do need to be cleaned every few days.

Explore all your options.