If you have a pet guinea pig, then you are probably familiar with the sight of them gnawing away at something or the other while they are inside their cages.
Chewing is a natural instinct among guinea pigs. However, if your guinea pig likes to chew on its cage, then this can be worrisome.
For starters, you need to keep an eye on whether their chewing habits end up damaging the cage or not.
If this happens, your guinea pig could escape, and you might have to arrange for a small search party to find them again.
However, of course, the real question that you need to address here is— Why do guinea pigs chew on their cage?
As it turns out, there are several reasons for this. Read on as we discuss why guinea pigs chew on their cage and what you can do about it.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Chew On Its Cage?
Here are some of the common reasons why guinea pigs chew on their cage:
Maintaining Optimal Teeth Length
One of the most significant reasons behind a guinea pigs chewing on their cage is that they need to keep their teeth at an optimal length. Guinea pigs have teeth that grow throughout their lifetime.
This includes their molars as well as their incisors.
Overgrown teeth can cause a host of problems for guinea pigs. For instance, their teeth may become misshapen.
This can prevent guinea pigs from eating or drinking properly. They can also become prone to dental disease if their teeth do not grow correctly.
To avoid this, a guinea pig must chew on something almost all the time.
When a guinea pig gnaws on materials like wood or metal, it causes differential wear and tears on their incisors.
This keeps the length and sharpness of their incisors in check.
It is important that you provide your guinea pig with a sufficient amount of material to chew on.
Chances are that if your guinea pig is chewing on the bars of their cage, it is because they don’t get enough stuff to gnaw at.
If you are wondering if it is okay to let them chew on the cage anyway, then no, this is not an option you should consider.
Metal cages are typically made of hard materials such as galvanized steel.
If your guinea pig keeps chewing away at these surfaces, it can cause damage to their incisors.
Their teeth can break or get dislocated. Chewing on metal bars for a prolonged period can also shift the growth of their teeth.
As a result, their teeth will end up growing in the wrong direction, which can cause further problems.
Guinea pigs aren’t exactly claustrophobic. However, they do need a significantly large cage to reside in.
On average, guinea pigs require a cage with dimensions of at least 0.74 square meters (around 8 square feet).
A small cage will mean your guinea pig doesn’t have a sufficient amount of space for eating, playing, or exercising.
As a result, they may end up chewing on the bars of their cage in an attempt to get out.
The solution to this is simple—buy a bigger cage!
After all, as a pet owner, you need to make sure that your guinea pig receives an adequate amount of care and attention.
Sometimes, that translates into spending a few extra dollars and getting them a better cage.
Feeling Lonely or Neglected
While insufficient space or overgrown teeth can translate into a serious problem, in some cases, a guinea pig will end up chewing on their cage for a much simpler reason—they want your attention.
You need to make sure that you spend a sufficient amount of time with your guinea pig every day.
If you don’t, they can end up feeling neglected and will look for ways to get your attention.
One way to do this is by chewing away at their cages. While a tantrum from your pet probably sounds adorable, remember that your guinea pig could also hurt itself in the process.
As mentioned earlier, letting your pet chew away on hard metal can inflict some serious damage on their teeth.
If you want to do something about your pet’s apparent loneliness or state of boredom, then you can start by spending more time with them.
You can also get another guinea pig to keep the first one company. This can help reduce any feelings of loneliness or neglect.
If you have an adult guinea pig, then avoid introducing them to another guinea pig of the same sex.
This will result in hostile behavior. Adult male guinea pigs can exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other. The same follows for adult female guinea pigs.
Trying to Get Rid of Boredom
Boredom is another major trigger for guinea pigs that can result in them chewing at their cage.
If your guinea pig is feeling bored or lethargic, they may try and stimulate themselves by doing something like gnawing at the bars of their cage.
If you feel that your guinea pig is suffering from boredom, then you can try and give them new toys to play with or install a new feature in their cage.
For instance, guinea pigs enjoy wooden houses in their cage. You can add this feature, thus giving them something new to do.
Remember, if you happen to own more than one guinea pig, then it is important you get a separate wooden house for each animal.
What Objects or Materials Are Safe for Guinea Pigs to Chew On?
We have discussed why guinea pigs chew on their cages. Some of these factors, such as cage size, boredom, or loneliness, can be dealt with easily.
However, if your guinea pig happens to be chewing on their cages to maintain the length of their teeth, then there is little you can do to actually stop them.
What you can do is provide your guinea pig with a sufficient amount of alternative materials to chew on.
Some of the best options include:
- Installing a Grass Tunnel: You can add a grass tunnel to your guinea pig’s cage. These grass tunnels serve as excellent chewing material. Your guinea pig will also have a comfortable space to lie down on or play with.
- Buying Wooden Toys: This is another great option. You can find a variety of wooden chew toys at pet stores. However, avoid purchasing toys made out of chemically-treated wood. This can be harmful.
- Providing Hay: Your guinea pig must always have a substantial supply of hay to chew on. Hay is a part of the natural diet of a guinea pig. Chewing hay is also a great way of keeping the growth of their molars in check. The molars of a guinea pig are positioned at an angle of 35 degrees. They are not flat like human teeth. As a result, other chewing materials such as chew toys, chew blocks and sticks are unhelpful in maintaining the length of their molars. These materials can only help control the growth of their incisors. Chewing on hay can solve this problem as it causes wear and tear of the molars. Hay is also a critical element of the digestive health of a guinea pig, so you need to make sure your pet does not run out of hay.
You can also get vegetables, cardboard boxes, and suitable chew toys for your guinea pig.
Avoid getting salt blocks for guinea pigs. When a guinea pig chews on a salt block, it can cause a rapid increase in the amount of sodium they consume.
Excessive sodium can prove to be harmful to these animals. You can get them a mineral block instead.
This will prove to be a rich source of nutrition for your pet. It also serves as a chewing object and does not carry any harmful side effects.
If your guinea pig refuses to stop chewing the bars of its cage, you can consider applying vinegar on the bars.
The taste and smell will repel them and help break their habit. However, make sure you use very mild vinegar.
You must also keep an eye on how your pet reacts to the vinegar solution. In some cases, the smell of vinegar can cause guinea pigs to fall sick.
Let’s Sum It Up
Normally, a guinea pig chews on its cage due to the following reasons:
- They are trying to trim their teeth and prevent overgrowth
- They are bored and looking for a source of stimulation
- They want their owner’s attention
- The size of their cage is too small, and they need more space
You can get your guinea pig a variety of chewing materials to help counter this habit. Remember, if a guinea continues to chew on its cage for an extended period, it can damage its teeth.
This can cause serious problems for you and your pet.
Therefore, if you notice your guinea pig attacking the walls of its cage, we suggest you resolve the issue as soon as possible.
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