Ever wondered, “Why do guinea pigs eat their bedding?” If so, you’re not alone.
According to a study by the Scientific Reports journal, guinea pigs can exhibit such behavior due to various reasons, including “curiosity,” “boredom,” or even “nutritional deficiencies,” – to name a few… .
As an experienced guinea pig parent and expert, I’ll share with you the latest and greatest explanations – deep into the whys and hows of this habit – I’ve learned from my observations and my decades of scientific research.
Stick around, and I’ll share my expertise in understanding and managing this behavior for your furry friend’s well-being.
- Understanding: Your guinea pig might eat its bedding out of curiosity, boredom, or nutritional deficiencies.
- Prevention: To prevent this behavior, provide your guinea pig with a nutrient-rich diet and enough toys for mental stimulation.
- Safety: Be aware of the potential health risks of guinea pigs eating their bedding and opt for safe bedding options.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Beddings? (3 Reasons)
Let’s dig deeper to understand the reasons behind this behavior.
#1 Nutritional Deficiency
The most common reason guinea pigs eat their bedding is their dietary needs.
As herbivores, guinea pigs require a balanced diet of hay, fresh vegetables, and commercial pelleted food to maintain optimal health.
When their diet lacks sufficient fiber, vitamins, and minerals, guinea pigs may eat their bedding to supplement these nutritional deficiencies.
#2 Boredom and Lack of Stimulation
Guinea pigs are active creatures requiring regular exercise and mental stimulation.
Your guinea pig may use their bedding for amusement if their environment falls short of these needs.
Additionally, guinea pigs possess an instinctual urge to chew, which helps keep their constantly growing teeth in check.
Absence of enough toys and chewable items could result in them seeking solace in their bedding.
#3 Emotional Stress and Anxiety
Guinea pigs are known for their heightened sensitivity towards their environment.
Feeling stressed or anxious, they might eat their bedding as a coping mechanism.
This can indicate that their environment feels threatening or overwhelming to them.
CHECK OUT this guinea pig cage liner today!
Ready for a more awesome explanation of this problem? Check out this video to see how destructive they can be – and what to do about it!
4 Bedding Types and Why Guinea Pigs Might Eat Them
As a guinea pig owner, you’re likely aware that your little critter is inclined to nibble on almost anything, including its bedding.
The bedding used can influence this behavior, so let’s examine common types and how they interact with your guinea pig’s natural inclinations.
#1 Wood-Based Bedding: Aspen, Pine, and Cedar
The most commonly used guinea pig beddings are wood-based, such as aspen, pine, and cedar. Their popularity stems from their affordability.
However, due to their texture, these beddings might tempt your guinea pig into chewing on them.
Despite their cost-effectiveness, they can produce dust that may pose a respiratory risk for your guinea pig.
#2 Recycled Paper Bedding
Recycled paper bedding is another kinder option for a guinea pig’s respiratory system. Being relatively dust-free, it’s less likely to provoke respiratory issues.
However, its softer texture might make it more attractive to guinea pigs, encouraging them to chew or eat it.
Remember, though, this type of bedding can clump when wet and may be pricier than wood-based alternatives.
#3 Fleece Bedding
Fleece bedding, while more expensive, offers supreme comfort for your guinea pig.
It doesn’t retain moisture like other types, making it a safe option that’s less likely to be eaten due to its unnatural texture. However, it requires regular washing and may clump when excessively wet.
#4 Hay Bedding
Hay bedding offers a unique solution: it’s a bedding type that’s safe to eat.
Being natural, dust-free, and absorbent, it is a comfortable bedding and a foraging material, helping prevent boredom.
While it may be pricier and require diligent maintenance to avoid it becoming soiled, it can be a good option for those guinea pigs that can’t resist nibbling their bedding.
A neat comparison table summarizes the above “temptation to chew”.
|Bedding Type||Temptation to Chew|
|Wood-based (Aspen, Pine, Cedar)||High|
|Hay||High (Safe to eat)|
Next, let’s see what experts say about guineas and their preferences for chewy bedding.
What Experts Say
A promising study conducted by researchers Kawakami et al., explains guinea pigs showed a preference for wood shavings (WS) over paper cutting sheets (PS) as bedding material ..
This preference was observed in both light and dark conditions. However, during the dark period, guinea pigs were found to spend longer in PS than WS.
This suggests that guinea pigs prefer different bedding materials under different light conditions.
As evident, it’s possible that the act of chewing on the bedding could be influenced by the type of material used.
For example, guinea pigs might be likelier to chew on a material they find less comfortable or preferable.
Finally, please be aware that chewing preference is anecdotal and various factors may contribute to this behavior and preference.
How to Address the Issue of Guinea Pigs Eating Their Bedding
As a seasoned guinea pig parent and an expert with years of experience testing various guinea pig beddings, I understand why these adorable creatures sometimes chew on their bedding.
Resolving this issue is multifaceted and involves understanding their dietary needs, providing appropriate stimulation, and choosing suitable bedding options.
One reason guinea pigs might chew on their bedding is nutritional deficiencies. Adjusting your guinea pig’s diet can often mitigate this problem.
Fresh fruits, high-fiber hay, and quality commercial guinea pig food can provide the necessary nutrients that your pet requires.
Guinea pigs are active creatures and need mental and physical stimulation to keep boredom at bay. Invest in chew toys, maze tunnels, and running wheels.
These can entertain your guinea pig and divert their attention from their bedding.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it normal for guinea pigs to eat their bedding?
Yes, it is normal for guinea pigs to eat their bedding. Sometimes, they may be bored or because of insufficient dietary needs.
2. What types of bedding should I avoid giving to my guinea pig?
You should avoid giving your guinea pig anything that contains artificial fabrics, dyes, or chemicals.
Additionally, it would be best to avoid bedding made from cedar or pine, as these materials can be toxic to guinea pigs.
3. How can I discourage my guinea pig from eating their bedding?
To discourage your guinea pig from eating their bedding, ensure they are provided with various safe chew toys and other items to keep them entertained.
Additionally, ensure they have a healthy diet that meets their nutritional needs.
Now that you know the secrets to “Why is my guinea pig eating his bedding (Reasons & Tips)?”, here’s a killer summary of what you’ve learned:
Guinea pigs are unique, with many peculiar behaviors that can be difficult to understand.
While the exact reasons they eat their bedding are difficult to pinpoint, it is clear that it is a behavior that is a normal part of their daily life.
Whether it is to fulfill their foraging needs, supplement their diet, or even just for fun, it is important to keep bedding away from guinea pigs if it poses a potential health or dental risk.
By providing adequate food, hay, and other safe options for chewing guinea pigs can continue to express their natural behaviors without any risk to their overall health.
Just remember to leave a juicy comment to tell me how much you loved my article (along with your own tips, experiences, and – of course – to say Hi!)
Until next time…
1. Łapiński S, Niedbała P, Markowska K, Rutkowska A, Lis MW. The effects of age, size, and cage complexity on the behaviour of farmed female chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera). Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 20];13:6108. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-32516-5#:~:text=In%20conclusion%2C%20the%20larger%20cage%20size%20and%20its
2. KAWAKAMI K, TAKEUCHI T, YAMAGUCHI S, AGO A, NOMURA M, GONDA T, et al. Preference of Guinea Pigs for Bedding Materials: Wood Shavings versus Paper Cutting Sheet. Experimental Animals. 2003;52:11–5.
My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
FIND HIM ON: FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
Read his latest ARTICLES
Learn more about Benhere