In general, there are three main types of bedding for guinea pigs: wood based, paper based or hemp based. For a more luxurious feel, fleece or Vetbed (made from high quality double strength polyester with a woollen feel) can be used for play areas. Straw and hay is also commonly used for bedding. For our guinea pigs’ sleeping and kitchen areas, we used the more traditional bedding materials.
After much initial research, we settled for the more expensive Carefresh, a product made from reclaimed pulp waste. We tried the different varieties of white, brown, coloured and the noticeable difference was that the brown variety was more dusty, but all the Carefresh products were dusty and caused sneezing. It also tended to get rather smelly, sometimes within a couple of days prompting more frequent bedding change. This regularity of bedding change created significant amounts of waste, though biodegradable, it was not something that one could easily dispose of in the garden, so ended up in landfill. From a financial perspective, it also proved to be uneconomical.
Wood chips and shaving are commonly used as guinea pig bedding, though is the least . Being concerned about the comfort of wood chips on their delicate feet, we tried wood shavings and found them not to be very absorbent and not a practical option at all. If you do choose to use wood products, be sure that they are not made from pine or cedar as their acids are damaging to the respiratory tract and the product is not treated with citronella or eucalyptus, as especially eucalyptus is poisonous to guinea pigs and they like to chew everything!
The best option we have found so far in terms of absorbancy, odour control, safety, comfort and being environmentally friendly is Mini-Hemp®. Minihemp made from the hemp plant, is an entirely natural renewable resource grown without pesticides and processed without chemical additives. It does not contain any added scents or chemicals against parasites, so is safe for small animals. Minihemp has double the absorbancy of paper based products, highly effective in absorbing ammonia in urine, resulting in reduced wet areas, less odour and overall a more hygienic guinea pig enclosure. It provides natural warmth and is hence comfortable for your cute pets. The product is also dust and spore free from being through a dust extraction process. Besides being labelled biodegradable, it is suitable for organic waste disposal rotting down into quality garden compost in just a few weeks and can be used as a biological garden fertiliser, so no more landfill as we can dispose of it ourselves. We have also tried it as mulch over the garden beds and seems to work fine. Financially, it is more economical to buy and lasts longer. A real added bonus is since using this product our guinea pig cage cleaning time has reduced by half!
All types of bedding have been used by owners around the world. The product you decide on will depend on various factors including personal preference and availability in your region, as some are materials are more readily available in some countries versus others. Whatever material you chose, just ensure that it is safe and bedding is changed as required. Your guinea pigs will appreciate being safe, healthy, comfy and warm.