Guinea pig owners will be pleased to learn that there are several bedding options for our guineas. It will be essential to find out what is best for you as the owner and that it suits your cavies needs.
When introducing new bedding your piggies are unfamiliar with, remember to take it slowly and see that your pets are comfortable.
Guinea pigs do not adapt to quick change but need to be gradually warmed up to the idea.
We will discuss the best bedding for guinea pigs, top-rated bedding, and what not to buy.
Being an informed consumer will save you cost in the long run and help you buy right the first time.
- What is the best kind of bedding for guinea pigs?
- Top 3 most reviewed fleece liners
- When purchasing bedding for your guinea pig’s cage, what are the top considerations?
- Other than fleece, what different types of bedding are there?
- What types of bedding should you avoid with guinea pigs?
- How much bedding is needed if using paper or wood bedding?
- Do guinea pigs need a blanket? Do they like to be covered up?
- Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs? Check out these articles!
What is the best kind of bedding for guinea pigs?
Fleece – The most popular choice in material for guinea pig bedding. The material provides a soft, flat walking surface for the cavy.
One can purchase fleece cage liners that will fit their specific cage.
The most popular guinea pig cages already have fleece liners readily available.
Fleece is suitable for your washing machine and will cost less than consumable bedding over the long run.
There is no dust from wood or paper shavings, making it helpful for guineas with allergies, preventing respiratory problems and health issues.
There is an absorbent layer in the bedding material to catch urine, but you must wash it a few times a week to prevent foul odors.
On initial purchase, the fleece will need to be “broken in” by washing it several times to allow the absorbent layer to be activated.
Initially, a fleece liner will not absorb liquid well. Still, multiple machine cycles will open the pores of the absorbent layer and allow moisture from the surface to the inner layers.
It will be essential to have a couple of pads on hand to rotate between washings and to keep them looking decent.
Use a hypo-allergenic, scent-free detergent to wash your pads.
Do not use any fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Top 3 most reviewed fleece liners
- GuineaDad fleece liner- Has excellent reviews. The best feature of his fleece that others are not doing is adding a waterproof layer to the bottom of the liner. Urine does not leak through into the bottom of the cage. He uses bamboo instead of U-haul pads for absorbency, and they are machine washable.
- Small pets and company- Very highly reviewed on Amazon.com. A small company out of a suburb of Chicago, IL. They hand make liners out of fleece but do not say what their absorbent layer is on the inside. Small pets only create two specific cage sizes. Pay attention to what you are buying. They have many positive reviews and are overall a cheerful company. To prevent leaks, place a waterproof barrier underneath the pad. Wash the pad when it becomes soiled and smelly.
- Kellis Crafts and more – is the #1 rated fleece liner producer on Etsy.com. Produces liners for many different cages and will do custom orders for all types of small animals. There are no negative reviews to read. She does not create a waterproof bottom but can be easily fixed if you add a liner to the cage. Again, wash the pad when dirty and stinky.
When purchasing bedding for your guinea pig’s cage, what are the top considerations?
- Comfort- Guineas have sensitive feet and are low to the ground. They need to have a comfortable surface for walking on, sleeping and resting.
- Absorbency- Cavies like a clean cage and will not do well in moist environments. Urine will need to be wicked away from the walking surface with absorbent bedding. Our guineas are susceptible to wounds and infection if urine is not maintained.
- Non-toxic- It is vital to keep bedding as natural as possible. Your guinea has adapted to be domesticated but does best in an environment close to nature without harsh chemicals.
- Odor-resistant- No one will want a smelly cage. What will keep odor down for a quality relationship between pet and human? How often will the pen need to be changed to keep the smell down?
- Cost- How much is this going to cost upfront? How much will it cost over a year? Do I buy the fleece for more now, or stick with the disposable bedding that will cost more in the long run?
- Maintenance- How often do you want to clean the cage? Fleece bedding will require more maintenance but is more environmentally friendly and less waste.
Other than fleece, what different types of bedding are there?
- Aspen bedding- is an all-natural wood product that can be used as compost instead of disposed of in the trash. There is low to no scent, and it naturally controls odor.
It is naturally absorbent and has low dust. There are mixed reports on dust. However, some indicate that it is very dusty to reviews stating almost no dust.
As it is a natural product, results will vary widely. Guineas have a sensitive respiratory system and need to be monitored for sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes.
If these occur, Aspen bedding is not suitable for your cavy.
- Paper bedding- is available in several different colors. Lower dust is reported than Aspen bedding. Paper provides a soft walking surface for the guineas.
It feels like soft shredded cardboard or the outside of a paper egg carton. Paper provides more absorbency than wood, up to six times its volume in liquid.
This type of bedding is similar to a diaper in that it wicks moisture from the surface.
Not all paper bedding is natural, but it will be up to you the importance of an all-natural product vs. synthetic.
There are many different products that paper bedding is made from, including absorbable hygiene products, cellulose fiber, natural wood, recycled paper, etc.
- Hemp shavings- is a new product to the bedding market. Reviews have reported that it is very absorbent and dries quickly.
One person said that an entire water bottle spilled in their mouse cage, and the ground was only wet where the spill originated.
Like Aspen shavings, the reviews on the amount of dust are mixed.
Some people say that there is minimal to no dust, while others say there is significant dust.
Again, it is a natural product and will vary from bag to bag.
Hemp is great at odor control and is easy to scoop out.
It is the most expensive disposable bedding to buy.
One reviewer said that it helped their animal’s allergies when switching from Aspen bedding.
- Newspaper- If you want to use newspaper as a bedding choice, add a top layer for absorbency.
Using newspaper by itself is not advised, as it is not absorbent and will need to be changed several times a week.
Some people will place it below their fleece bedding without a waterproof barrier to catch any urine that may leak through the lower layers.
The additional top layer can be any of the disposable beddings mentioned. The newspaper will act as a filler, so you use less bedding, keeping costs lower.
- Cloth/towels- Some people create their cage liners, or they buy the components individually, place them in the cage, and wash them all together.
They do not end up sewing the pieces together. Here is a cheaper option than buying already made liners.
A liner consists of fleece on the top, then an absorbent layer such as a moving pad.
These are also known as Uhaul pads, followed by a waterproof bottom.
Some ideas to waterproof the underside include a plastic bag, tarp, puppy pads, or tin foil.
- Paper or wood pellets- There are mixed reviews regarding these products. Essential factors to consider are the pellets soft or hard, and does it absorb moisture well?
Natural cat litter can work if soft enough.
Still, it will be essential to read the label to ensure that it is appropriate for the sensitive feet of our piggies and does not contain harsh chemicals.
What types of bedding should you avoid with guinea pigs?
- Cedar shavings are excellent bedding for decreasing odor, moisture control, and preventing pests.
However, it will irritate the tiny lungs of our cavies and is known to increase liver enzymes in rodents. Prolonged exposure to cedar shavings can lead to liver damage and respiratory infections.
It contains aromatic oils known as phenols, broken down when made into the bedding.
While the bedding may smell nice, it has been recognized since 1967 to be toxic to laboratory animals.
- Corn cobb- Known to mold quickly, leading to respiratory issues in the piggies.
Guineas may also eat parts of this type of bedding and could dislodge in the intestines creating an intestinal blockage.
- Pine bedding- Very similar to cedar shavings with phenol oils, it can increase liver enzymes and irritate the lungs.
A product known as Megazorb is a pine-based pellet made for horses.
There are positive reviews in forums that indicate that it is a good option in a guinea pig’s cage.
It contains zeolite, an alkaline mineral that neutralizes urine and decreases smell.
Reviews say that Megazorb is soft and has little to no dust.
The benefit will need to outweigh the risk to the animal if you are to use such a product.
- Hay or straw- Hay is essential for guinea nutrition, as it will wear down their continually growing teeth.
However, it would be best if you did not use it for bedding as it can mold easily and cause injury.
Hay is best kept in a secure place in the cage. Having free-form hay around the cage can give way to accidental eye injuries.
Remember, our cavies do not blink much and cannot see immediately in front of their nose.
These two aspects leave the cavy susceptible to poking their eye with the hay.
- Cat litter- is not made to be lived on but a place to use the restroom and then move on.
These litters can contain harsh chemicals to allow them to clump, and your guinea may eat it as well.
It is best to avoid most cat litter unless entirely natural and soft.
How much bedding is needed if using paper or wood bedding?
The amount of bedding to lay down during a full cage clean is 2-3 inches.
You will want to have a couple of inches to catch urine to prevent it from leaking through the cage.
A couple of inches will also allow you to scoop out any wet areas and replace the bedding without changing the entire bed.
Do guinea pigs need a blanket? Do they like to be covered up?
In addition to comfortable bedding, guineas like to be covered up.
They are burrow animals and enjoy digging below the earth to create a safe space.
They want to feel safe, and a hideout with a blanket will provide that.
Fleece blankets provide the most comfortable and absorbent blanket material.
Fleece bedding may be the best for guinea pigs and humans, but it does not come without significant maintenance.
Disposable bedding provides a great alternative and saves time, but is not as environmentally friendly.
Careful attention is needed to decide which bedding option is best for your needs.
Can you handle washing a urine-soaked fleece pad? Can you afford the cost of disposable bedding on a weekly to monthly basis?
Do you have the ability to dispose of the bedding properly?
Of course, switching between beddings will be your call, but remember, our little piggies do not adapt well to sudden change.
The change will need to be gradual until your cavy is comfortable.
Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs? Check out these articles!
Want to learn more about Guinea Pigs Cages/Bedding?
Check out these articles here!
Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (September 2013). zeolite. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed on March 29, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/science/zeolite
Squeakypigs, S. (2013, July 24). Review: Megazorb. The Guinea Pig Forum. https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/review-megazorb.290/
- English-based forum, but Megazorb is available in the US. Information may be a good starting point, but variations vary widely by country.
Weichbrod RH, Cisar CF, Miller JG, et al. Effects of cage beddings on microsomal oxidative enzymes in rat liver. Laboratory Animal Science. 1988 Jun;38(3):296-298. PMID: 3411916.
Reviews were taken from Amazon.com, Chewy.com, and Etsy.com.