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Guinea Pig Proof Your Home
Although coming home with a guinea pig suddenly sometimes happens, ideally you want to prepare the home in advance of Piggy's arrival. The traditional way of keeping guinea pigs - outdoors in a hutch - is becoming the exception now rather than the norm. People have discovered that guinea pigs made great indoor pets. You and Piggy get to develop a closer relationship than if you kept Piggy in a hutch. And Piggy is much better protected from predators, mischief makers and thieves.
Hopefully, you have a cage and a room where Piggy can get down on the floor and get some exercise. But guinea pigs will be guinea pigs, and will most likely decide to have a run about the home. In order to keep Piggy safe and you sane, make sure you guinea pig proof your home.
Guinea pig proofing your home is very similar to child proofing, rabbit proofing or puppy proofing your home. So, some of these instructions might seem very familiar! Just like infants, rabbits and puppies, guinea pigs explore the world with their mouths. That means anything you don't want them to put in their mouths, you've got to take away from the reach of their mouths. You need to:
- Pick up any chemicals, paints or hazardous materials and put them behind doors or cabinets Piggy can't open.
- Don't leave any food on the floor.
- Tape up any electrical cords a foot or so on your wall. If you absolutely cannot do this, you will need to periodically coat the wires with a foul tasting substance like Tabasco sauce. Guinea pigs can electrocute themselves by chewing on wires.
- Remove books from the bottom bookshelves and put non-chewable items there or things you don't mind getting chewed. (I had to learn this the hard way!)
- Think about replacing any throw rugs that have long tassels. The guinea pig will eat the tassels. This is not good for the piggy or your sanity.
- Unless you don't mind them being destroyed, get rid of all wicker furniture.
Make Sure Piggy Can't Hide
Guinea pigs love to burrow. Since they are a prey species, they always want to know where they can hide if they are frightened. Keep this in mind. Make sure any space, vent or opening into the inner workings of your home is sealed off. Our families had a good laugh when my cousin's hamster got behind the wall paneling of my aunt and uncle's home. However, we could never share laugh when they were in the room. If a hamster can get into it, a guinea pig might. Get down on the floor at Piggy's eye level and look for places to hide. When you find them, block them off.
Why Not Let The Piggy Roam Free?
The late, great Peter Gurney wrote many books where he mentioned Free Range Fred, his guinea pig that was never caged but lived free like a dog or cat. Peter Gurney was used to guinea pig's ways and made constantly sure of Fred's security. Free Range Fred was a major exception in keeping guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs are much too small to be survive roaming about the home for a long length of time. They can get pinched or squeezed to death behind doors opening and closing, or by burrowing into your furniture. They can hide under cushions. If you don't see them in time, you will kill them by sitting on them. They also can get under your feet. They also can get in your laundry.
Since guinea pigs like having a secure burrow where they know they will be safe, keeping a piggy in a cage is not cruel, especially if you provide them with a tunnel or edible basket to hide in. Please be sure to have a solid floor in the cage and NOT have a wire mesh floor. Guinea pigs' feet are too small for wire mesh floors and can be severely injured by them.
Don't keep Piggy in the cage 24/7. They need some time a day for play, even if it's only for a half-hour. You can section off a room in the home for this play. Be sure to always supervise Piggy play time. It won't be a chore - guinea pigs at play are quite entertaining!