What Toys Can I Give My Guinea Pig?
A guinea pig's idea of fun differs a lot from other pet's ideas of fun. Although you may come across balls and wheels in pet shops or online stores that say they are toys for guinea pigs, they are not. Guinea pigs think nibbling, burrowing and sometimes tossing things about is fun. But running around or climbing anything is not.
Do NOT Get
If you can't remember what TO get, at least remember what NOT to get. Do not get hamster or ferret balls. The guinea pig will not know what to do and may easily suffocate. Also, do NOT get them any kind of wheel. They don't hate wheels, but they will never use them. However, they will stare at them and, very occasionally, use it as a butt-scratching device.
Think "baby" when selecting a toy for a guinea pig - anything you give the piggy will eventually go in his or her mouth. This means no toys that are made of harmful metals, questionable paint (especially lead paint) and put together with any kind of staple or toxic glue. Also, don't give them anything that you don't want them to chew.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to amuse a guinea pig. This is one of the joys of keeping guinea pigs (or being kept by them - whatever the case may be!) Great toys for guinea pigs will mimic things they love to do - nibble and burrow. These things include:
- paper bags
- their water bottles (they will play with the ball inside the spout, sometimes just to hear the noise)
- big, overturned flower pots (NOT plastic!)
- scrunched up balls of blank computer paper (nothing with dyes on it) with a tidbit inside
- PVC pipes to hide in
- big paper towel rolls or toilet paper cardboard rolls
- old clothes or towels you don't want anymore
- old socks filled with hay
- small, empty cardboard boxes, with perhaps a side taken out, or sturdy enough for Piggy to perch on
- treat sticks or chew sticks made for guinea pigs
- shoeboxes with part cut out so piggy can poke his or her head out
- "hideaways" or "igloos" made of non-toxic or edible materials
Toys That Need Supervision
In the last few years, small bird and cat toys have been given to guinea pigs so they can but them around or toss them around. The hanging bird toys with bells and wooden chew sticks are reported to be safe enough to leave with a piggy, but I would remove the bell (unless it is too large to fit inside a guinea pig's mouth).
Some recent publications like Bowtie Press' Guinea Pigs, (2005) lists plastic spoons as good guinea pig toys. Like small cat toys and some bird toys, they are also of plastic. Although plastic will usually pass through a guinea pig's digestive system, it is not the best thing for the guinea pig to eat, especially if there are sharp edges or if the plastic causes an intestinal blockage.
This writer recommends reserving toys like this for floor time, when you are around to observe the guinea pigs. This only needs to be an hour or so a day, just to be sure they aren't eating their plastic toys. Guinea pigs don't need a lot of exercise, but after running about their play area for a little, they do like to sniff around and go exploring and find new things to nibble.