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The Perils of Metal Guinea Pig Cages
Peril may be a strong word, but metal guinea pig cages still aren’t the best idea. We’ve had plastic and metal cages for our guinea pigs through the years and I would not recommend metal cages to anyone. They have odd defects that range from a rust problem to something we didn’t expect at all; they can be noisy.
As mentioned above, the first and most pressing concern for metal cages is rust. No matter how many times throughout the week you clean your guinea pig’s cage, there will be dampness. That’s just the nature of wood shavings in a cage for a guinea pig. They get full of urine. That urine will lead to dampness, which will lead to rust, shortening the lifespan of the cage.
Many guinea pig cages, you would think, would be made of stainless steel. But we’ve had a metal cage rust all the same. According to the Stainless Steel Industry of North America’s website, it is still possible to see rust on stainless steel from imbedded iron particles.
Guinea pigs are also natural chewers. Many metal cages on the market boast being “chew proof,” as if your guinea pig will chew through a plastic cage in a matter of minutes and escape into your home to cause mischief.
If your guinea pig is going to chew, it is better that they chew on a plastic surface, which is more yielding than metal. They have less of a chance of chipping a tooth and plastic cages are so slick guinea pigs rarely chew them to begin with. Guinea pigs will generally chew their huts over the edge of the cage anyway. To prevent them from chewing on the plastic cage, also provide them with chew toys so they have no reason to be interested in chewing on their home.
If this fails and your guinea pig does chew the metal cage anyway, the sound reverberates in metal easier. We used to hear the gnawing of our first guinea pig, Fuzzy, on the bars of his cage clear across the house. If we could hear a loud, metallic grinding, we knew he was at his bars.
Plastic is also easier to clean. Any grime wipes off the slick surface easier. Bleach can also be left on for a couple minutes to completely kill bacteria without the added moisture to potentially cause rust. Any small areas of degradation can also hold bacteria and grime easier, making it harder to scrub.
So plastic cages are the way to go. Most come with coated metal bars, but a high plastic bottom will have a longer lifespan and is a cleaning dream compared to metal.