Being a pet parent to a guinea pig can be a wonderfully fun experience. These little critters have a way of cuddling their way not only into our lives but our hearts. Like any animal you choose to bring into your home, a guinea pig requires special care and attention. It’s up to you to ensure they are eating properly, getting exercise, and living in the right environment.
The one area where many guinea pig owners have lots of questions is their diet. Yes, guinea pigs love to chew and gnaw. It’s not uncommon to catch them sharpening their teeth or taking a bite out of lots of things they come into contact with, even cardboard. While yes, guinea pigs eat cardboard, the real question is whether it’s safe for them.
Luckily, it is safe, to an extent. Guinea pigs use wood and wood-based products to care for their teeth and at times, they do eat it. While their bodies are built to digest these kinds of items, it is best to limit the amount they get so things don’t get a bit blocked up inside. Let’s learn more about guinea pigs and their diets so you can learn more.
What Is a Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs came from the Andes Mountain region of South Africa. While the name is misleading, these cuties are not pigs. They are actually a member of the rodent family, known as Hystricomorph rodents. While they still live in the wild, most people know guinea pigs as being family pets. These docile little creatures are very well-mannered and come in an assortment of sizes, colors, and appearances. Guinea pigs can have short hair, long fur, or even look fuzzy. Guinea pigs do great with children and are normally very docile and seldom bite.
Guinea pigs are known as social animals. If you bring one into your home, you should expect to give it lots of love and attention. You should also consider having more than one. The key when choosing a guinea pig as your pet is to understand its habitat and nutritional needs. They are herbivores, but as we already mentioned, they love chewing to help their teeth. A guinea pig’s diet consists of grass, hay, fruits, veggies, and store-bought pellets.
Guinea Pigs and Cardboard
A guinea pig’s habitat should include proper bedding. One of the most popular choices is wood shavings. (Avoid cedar shavings as they can cause respiratory issues.) Often, owners will place boxes or other similar items inside their guinea pig’s cage. You may even use a bit for bedding. While this isn’t a big issue, and in most instances, is relatively safe for your guinea pig, keeping up with how much they chew is important. While gnawing on the cardboard can help their teeth, if they make it a part of their diet, problems can occur.
Cardboard offers no nutrition for your guinea pig. If it plays inside a box or bits of cardboard are inside for bedding purposes, don’t let your guinea choose it for meal time. They need grass, hay, fruits, and veggies to stay healthy. If they fill up on cardboard, they aren’t getting the nutrients they need. Cardboard can also be hard on their gut health if they eat too much. You do not want your guinea pig suffering from intestinal blockages or other medical issues due to eating too much cardboard.
Tips to Keep in Mind With Cardboard
If you want to allow your guinea pig a bit of cardboard here and there to help their teeth, you should exercise caution. Be mindful of where the cardboard came from. Packaging materials and treatments can be deadly to your guinea pig. Also, avoid tossing a paper towel or toilet paper tube to your guinea pig without slicing them open. Due to their size, they can potentially get their head stuck. This can be dangerous when you aren’t around.
Final Thoughts on Guinea Pigs and Cardboard
As you can see, allowing your guinea pig to have a bit of fun with cardboard is fine. You can even be creative and use cardboard to serve up their meals and offer a bit of gnawing once they finish. The key is to be mindful of your guinea and just how much cardboard they are ingesting. If you see your guinea pig acting differently after having cardboard or notice issues with their bowel movements, reach out to your veterinarian for assistance on the matter. As a responsible pet owner, it is up to you to ensure that your adorable guinea pig is happy and healthy.
Featured Image Credit: JustynaKoniecz, Pixabay