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The HayPigs!® blog. All the latest news from HayPigs!® along with lots of fun and informative information about guinea pigs.

Filtering by Tag: HayPigs

20 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs!

Helen Cridland

20 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs.jpg


1. Guinea pigs are NOT pigs! (They are rodents.)

2. Guinea pigs eat their own poo……What?! Yes, as well as the poos you will see in their enclosure, they also produce special soft poos. They eat these to ensure they absorb all the nutrients they need.

3. Guinea pigs don’t sweat.

4. Guinea pigs don’t sleep for long periods of time, they just take lots of short naps.

5. A guinea pig is also called a ‘cavy’. Their official title is ‘Cavia porcellus’. They belong to the family ‘Caviidae’, which is made up of rodents found originally in South America. Capybaras are also part of this family!

6. Guinea pigs need to take on extra vitamin C every day (just like humans do too!).

7. Guinea pigs are vegans.

8. Baby guinea pigs are born fully formed with fur and teeth and are ready to run around after a few hours!

9. When guinea pigs are excited they might ‘Popcorn’. This is when they jump up in the air and often do a little twist too.

10. Guinea pigs have teeth that are constantly growing. This means they need to munch on food lots and lots to grind their teeth down.

11. Guinea pigs need lots of space. They love to run around and explore, especially if they have lots of tunnels and safe places to hide away too.

12. Guinea pigs are often confused with hamsters. This is very frustrating for people who have guinea pigs. And probably also for people who have hamsters. Guinea pigs and hamsters are really very different!

13. Guinea pigs are very sociable animals and are happiest living in a group. They should not be kept on their own as they get very lonely.

14. Guinea pigs can learn tricks! They are really smart and can learn to do tricks if you are patient and use food as a reward!

15. A male guinea pig is called a ‘boar’ and a female is called a ‘sow’. Baby guinea pigs are called ‘pups’.

16. Guinea pigs make lots of noises. The most well-know is the ‘wheek’! This is a sound they only make for their humans, usually to remind them to bring some food!

17. Guinea pigs need to eat lots of hay and forage. This should be 80-90% of their diet. They can also have a small portion of vegetables and dry pellets each day. Fruits and herbs are special treats.

18. Guinea pigs secrete a white substance out of their eyes that they use to wash themselves!

19. Guinea pigs have 4 toes on their front feet and 3 toes on their back feet.

20. The oldest guinea pig officially recorded lived to be 14 years and 10 months old. Wow!

What to do with your guinea pigs when you go on holiday!

Helen Cridland

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.


No matter how dedicated you are to your precious piggies, there will be times when you can’t be there to look after them, perhaps you are having a weekend away or a longer holiday break of a week or two. So, what do you do to ensure your guinea pigs get the care and attention they need while you are away? Here are a few of our ideas to make sure you are prepared and therefore have the peace of mind you need to enjoy your holiday, without spending all of it worrying about your little ones!

 It can be difficult to find the right solution for care of your small furries when you go away. Due to the nature of guinea pigs being prey animals and being very good at concealing illness, it is important that they are well looked after. There are options when it comes to pet sitters, either of someone visiting your home, or for your piggies to go on their very own ‘holiday’. The benefit of having someone come to you, is that your guinea pigs get to stay in their own environment, which is much more relaxing for them! If you do have to move your animals from their regular enclosures to stay at a boarder’s home, it can be a good idea to take some of their cage accessories with them, so they have some familiar smells and surroundings. The benefit of having them board with someone is that they will most likely get seen a bit more often throughout the day/evening, thus getting more human interaction and, hopefully, a closer eye kept on their health and well-being too.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Whether you have family, friends, good neighbours or a pet sitter looking after your guinea pigs, it can be useful to have clear instructions and a checklist prepared for whoever is looking after them (To download our FREE Holiday Checklist, simply click here). For example, detailing when and what you usually feed, what medication (if any) needs giving and when/how and the details of your vet in case of an emergency. Ensure you have stock of plenty of their usual food and hay and that it is clear ‘what is what’ (for example, feeding hay vs. bedding hay; pellets vs. treats). Don’t assume that just because you know what everything is, that your piggy care giver will know too, so label things if you need to. If we were going away for a longer period, perhaps a week or more, we would ensure to give our piggies a little health check before they go, trimming nails, checking teeth, weighing them etc. It may then be sensible during those longer holidays to have your pet sitter repeat this check regularly, to keep an eye on things like their weight for example, as any significant weight losses can be a sign of underlying illness.

Lots of good boarders and pet sitters will also provide you with updates or pictures of your furry family members, again providing you with peace of mind that they are being well cared for. So, go ahead and book that holiday……just make sure you book in your guinea pigs’ boarding or pet sitting first!

HayPigs!® Reach New Heights With A Brand New Product Launch!

Rik Cridland



HayPigs!® are delighted to announce the addition of a brand new enrichment toy to their award-winning HayPigs!® Guinea Pig Circus™ range. The HayPigs!® Tightrope Teeter Toy™ is inspired by a circus highwire and provides guinea pigs and other small animals with a food based treat challenge.

The World’s first tightrope toy for guinea pigs!

The World’s first tightrope toy for guinea pigs!

“We’re so excited to finally unveil our first product of 2019” said cavy acrobatics expert and co-founder, Helen, “This really is something quite different and we think it will fit in with the rest of our circus range perfectly!”

The Tightrope Teeter Toy™ consists of two platforms with a string cord between the two. By placing a food treat at one end, Rik and Helen discovered that their guinea pigs were more than happy to scamper across the wire to satisfy their bellies.

“To be honest, we stumbled across the idea completely by accident when we spotted one of our resident rescue piggies scaling a narrow branch.” explains Rik. “We had no idea guinea pigs had such a good sense of balance. It was only when we did some further research that we discovered that this hidden talent is perfectly natural and a skill that has simply been forgotten about over time. Remarkably, when you look back at some of the early cave paintings in Peru, there is actually evidence of guinea pigs crossing over bamboo canes to avoid pits and channels dug in the ground for irrigation purposes. Our piggies love their new enrichment toy, once they get the hang of it, you can’t stop them!”

The HayPigs!® Tightrope Teeter Toy™ will retail for £19.95 and is available for pre-order now. Email for more details or to book a demonstration.

EDIT: ⚠️DISCLAIMER: This product is not real. April fools!

What is the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig?

Rik Cridland

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.


If we had a pound for every time we heard the phrase "How are your hamsters?" or "Look Isabelle, it's a hamster circus!" we'd be very rich indeed! It's frankly astounding how many people confuse the two. Yes, they are both small furries with two eyes and a nose, but you wouldn't call a dog a cat, so why do people do it?!

Just before Christmas we got some fabulous coverage in the Sunday Times which resulted in the article we were featured in being talked about on BBC Breakfast News. In it, the guest analyst discussed the latest trends in pet products, with consumers looking for higher quality, luxury products for their pampered pets. He then made reference to our Cavy Cannonball™ - Tilting Tunnel (featured on the front cover of the Sunday Times Home supplement) and called it a "hamster cannon"(!).  Well, we just had to laugh, here we were again, confronted by another case of mistaken identity.

 So why does it happen, is it that difficult to tell the difference?

Could it just be ignorance? Admittedly, a baby guinea pig does look fairly similar to a hamster (when you squint your eyes while chopping onions) but surely there are a few telltale signs that give us a clue...


1. They are furry. Can't argue that one (unless it's hairless breed like a Skinny Pig!)

2. They have little round eyes on the side of their heads. (Yep, both the same on this score)

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

3. They have four legs. OK, got to state the obvious now, but yes, they do have the same number of legs. That said, both species use their legs differently; piggies tend to stay on all fours while hamsters are more likely to sit up on their back feet and use their front paws to hold food or climb.

4. They are related (but it's a fairly distant relationship). Both guinea pigs and hamsters belong to the order of Rodentia - so they are both rodents. But they don't share the same family; guinea pigs are members of the Caviidae (or Cavi) family while hamsters are members of the Cricetidae family.

5. They have very similar teeth. Two large incisors top and bottom and then a row of premolars and molars for grinding down food. These teeth are continuously growing hence why it is important that your small furries get the right nutrition and forage to wear them down.



1. They grow to a completely different size! Typically a fully gown guinea pig will measure somewhere between 20-30cm while a hamster will only reach around 5-15cm*

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.


*there are obviously different breeds of hamster and their sizes can vary, but this is based on two of the more common breeds found in pet shops; Syrian hamsters and Dwarf hamsters.

2. A guinea pigs life expectancy is considerably longer! You can expect your guinea pig to live 5-8 years if it stays fit and healthy whereas a hamster typically lives 2-3 years.

3. Guinea pigs are herbivorous while hamsters are omnivorous! Put simply, guinea pigs are vegans (kind of!!) and will not eat meat, although it's by necessity rather than choice! A hamster can eat 'meat' (or put scientifically; obtain chemical energy and nutrients from materials originating from animal origin) although it is more likely to be in the form of insects rather than a full-on roast dinner!

4. Their offspring are very different! Guinea pigs give birth to pups that are born with hair, a full set of teeth, eyes wide open and the ability to run around. A litter is typically around 2-4 pups. A hamster’s offspring will be born without sight and hair and their litters can be as large as 20 (although typically more like 6-12 pups).

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2019 HayPigs Limited. All Rights Reserved.

5. Guinea pigs are a lot more sociable! We're not just being nasty to hamsters here, but it is a well-known fact that (in general) guinea pigs enjoy interacting with one another and indeed, other animals (including humans!). Yes, they are small furry socialites! In fact, this need for constant connections is so strong, guinea pigs can really suffer in isolation, become depressed and even die from loneliness. In contrast, hamsters aren’t fussed about hanging out with one another and can actually become very aggressive in each other’s company, particularly when there is food about!

6. Guinea pigs are not good climbers! While you may catch your guinea pig scaling over a low-sided play pen or ascending a staircase, they are not good climbers (in the truest sense of the word). What I mean by that is, they don’t pull themselves us using their paws. Instead, they tend to jump (and are actually rather good at it!). In contrast, hamsters love to climb and often scale up the bars in their cage.

7. Guinea pigs cannot run in a wheel! Let’s be very clear here; guinea pigs CANNOT run in a wheel, it’s physically impossible for them and quite dangerous. While our hamster friends will happily run all day in a wheel, a guinea pig’s spine is simply not built for it and trying to use one will cause them pain or even permanent damage to their back.

8. Guinea pigs cannot use exercise balls! And here’s another health warning; guinea pigs should absolutely NOT be using exercise balls. Again, it requires backward arching of the spine, something rats, mice and hamsters have no problem with, but guinea pigs are simply not physically built for.

9. Guinea pigs do not carry food in their cheeks! As much as they’d probably like to(!), guinea pigs do not have the ability to carry food around with them, this is a trait of hamsters. While it may seem amusing, it’s simply a hamsters way of food hoarding. In contrast, a guinea pig tends to wolf their food down in one go and then wheek for more!

10. Guinea pigs are not nocturnal! It’s often the case that small prey animals (such as rodents) choose to spend most of their waking hours in the dark. This is a basic defence mechanism against predators, who will find them harder to spot than in daylight. This is certainly true of hamsters, who will do most of their scurrying about and eating at night. Guinea pigs on the other hand tend to just take a nap as and when they feel like it! This is a bit of an oddity, but it has been suggested that this is a direct result of their prolonged domestication. They just don’t feel threatened like they did in the wild! So rather than sleeping at night or during the day, guinea pigs are actually masters of the power nap and (with frequent short sleeps) can be awake for as long as 20hrs within a 24hr period.


Clearly a guinea pig is nothing like a hamster and there are a lot of differences between the species (listed above), so the fact that people muddle them up is somewhat perplexing. It just seems a bit ignorant and lazy to me. So the next time someone drops the 'H' bomb on you and calls your guinea pig a hamster, please point them in the direction of this blog for some light reading or memorise the content for a smug retort!

How To Bond Guinea Pigs - Top Tips

Helen Cridland



 Guinea pigs, cavies, piggies, fluffy potatoes, furry mini-hippos, wheek machines, grass guzzlers; whatever you want to call them, there is one thing that we can’t dispute … guinea pigs LOVE company! Not just of the human-kind either, they are social animals that need the company of their own cavy-kind.

So, as a guinea pig slave (or ‘pet parent’ if you prefer) there may inevitably be a time when you are left with a single guinea pig and you need to bond them with a friend/friends. Either that, or you are just addicted to your fluffy potatoes and keep acquiring more piggies to join your herd! Whatever the situation, it is of course important that a new guinea pig gets along with you existing piggy (or piggies!).

Sometimes this bonding process of introducing a new partner or member of the herd can be really easy. Excellent! But other times, well, not everyone sees eye to eye (or whisker to whisker) do they?! Most often, people will have two boys together, or two or more girls together. A neutered male can live with a herd of girls or you can have a boy-girl partnership, as long as one of them is neutered to avoid the obvious breeding implications! Neutering is not a decision to be taken lightly however and should really only be done if absolutely necessary.

It is really important that guinea pigs have companionship, so the pros of bonding far outweigh the potential problems of piggies not getting on with each other. Just be prepared to have another go and persevere if the first piggy-date doesn’t go to plan!

A good rescue centre can help with bonding guinea pigs, so if you have one near to you, that’s a great place to start. They can help and advise you and even arrange and supervise the ‘play dates’. We’ve had the support of our local rescue with any newcomers to the HayPigs!® herd and until recently, we had a really easy time adding to our herd of happy pigs! But with our more recent introductions it has not been so easy. This is perhaps due to the big change in the dynamic of our group in recent months, with three of the herd, including our neutered male, passing away in the space of four months (due to a variety of different issues). This upset and stress does of course have an impact on the piggies who are left and could be a factor in why the recent introductions have been more difficult.

Anyway, regardless of ‘why’, here are just a few tips we have picked up along the way from our (relatively modest!) experiences of bonding so far.

- Space. Lots of it. In this case, bigger really is better! Neutral territory is best (e.g. in a large enclosure on the grass if the weather is good, or on a big ‘floor time’ space) so that existing piggies don’t feel threatened by a newcomer invading ‘their’ space. We’d recommend you start with a separating wall (C&C cage is great for this or a similar cage mesh) so the piggies can see one another and interact without being able to ‘get at’ each other. We tend to keep this in place for the first few meetings and then when you do remove the dividing wall, it is less of a shock meeting!


- Clean and fresh bedding to keep existing smells and scents to a minimum. Also, a small drop of lavender oil on the back of the guinea pigs’ necks can be calming and also help disguise their scent around other piggies for a period of time.

- Ensure there are plenty of tunnels/huts/hideys so there is not a fight over who gets to use them. Try to allow for the free flow of movement too, so a guinea pig doesn’t become cornered by an over-enthusiastic ‘newbie’! As well as plenty of accessories, we all know guinea pigs love their food, so provide lots of tasty treats to nibble on. There’s nothing quite like some fresh grass or tasty hay and forage to distract - and relax - a guinea pig.

Often, things will go well and you will see signs of friendly behaviour, or maybe some dominance from certain piggies, who want to be in charge. Most of the time this is fine and they will settle into who will be the boss and who isn’t quite so bothered!

However, sometimes there will be a clash of personalities and two piggies will show dominant behaviour … neither will want to give in! Things to look out for: rumble-strutting (waggling their bottom and making a rumbling noise); the ‘who can lift their chin the highest’ game; chattering their teeth; showing their teeth; chasing, nipping or biting. None of these are ideal! Some dominance behaviours will only be mild and if the other guinea pig doesn’t rise to it, things will settle. But if neither want to back down, a full-on fight could ensue. Watch your piggies during introduction sessions and be prepared to break them up if they do start fighting - but ensure your safety too, as guinea pig teeth are very SHARP! Have a towel handy to throw over the top of the guinea pig before you pick them up or remove them from the environment, to hopefully avoid getting bitten in the heat of the moment. You might even want to put some thick gardening gloves on, or use oven gloves.

If things go well in a neutral space, do then ensure to keep an eye on the pair or group that are bonding as they are returned to their usual enclosure, as this may then provoke a territory battle. Try all you can to minimise this (fresh and clean bedding, enough beds/hideys/food to avoid arguments etc.) and of course, the more space your piggies have, the better it will be! The occasional display of mild dominance behaviour or a look that says ‘get off my carrot’ is normal (let’s face it - we all have THOSE days!). If moods do change as you return your piggies to their usual enclosure, keep an eye on them and again, worst case scenario, be prepared to step in and separate them if things turn nasty.

Sometimes bonding can be a gradual thing and you may need to just take it slowly with introductions and then give the piggies some ‘time out’ in-between. Other times, piggies just will not get on with each other and if this is the case, you must of course prioritise their safety and separate them to avoid fighting and injury. But when you get the dynamics right and have a happy herd of piggies all munching away happily together, it really does warm the heart!

Tips for keeping guinea pigs outdoors in Winter

Helen Cridland

Outdoor Piggies.jpg


Firstly, it’s worth noting that HayPigs! HQ is based in the UK. So, we are obsessed about the weather! Too cold, too hot, too wet, too windy – you name it, we talk about it! But as we do experience a varied climate in the UK, then it is certainly something to consider when thinking about housing your guinea pigs ‘outside’.

In Winter, your piggies shouldn’t just be left outside to deal with the cold weather, in particular, wind and damp. Their hutches or enclosures need to be protected and ideally brought into an out-house or a shed. For example, our lucky HayPigs! piggies have their own dedicated shed, which is insulated and has a heat lamp for those cold Winter nights. (So yes, then we had to buy a second shed for all of our garden bits and bobs!) An additional bonus to having their own dedicated space is that we can keep everything together that is piggie-related. We have also given them a floor enclosure too, so that they can have a ‘floor-time’ run around in a different set up, keeping their brains and bodies fit through the Winter.

Now, not everyone will have the means or the space to have an outbuilding just for their animals, but even if you can find an area within a shed, garage or under a sheltered space to keep them out of the elements, it will help to keep your guinea pigs happy and healthy!

Here are some of our tips that we have learnt along the way…

Thermal Insulation Foil

Thermal Insulation Foil

Keeping guinea pigs out of draughts is important, so a good tip would be to ensure the shed or outbuilding doesn’t have too many holes that the wind could whistle through! While some ventilation is important, the idea is that they do have extra shelter, so if you need to, see if you can fill any big gaps with something. A shed, for example, doesn’t tend to be ‘insulated’ but this is a DIY project that even novices can attempt! Insulating is easy enough to do; with some rolls of what looks like silver coated bubble wrap and a staple gun, you’ll be good to go. It may well make your shed look like the inside of the Starship Enterprise, but hey, it’s worth it!

Digital Greenhouse Thermometer

Digital Greenhouse Thermometer

Our second tip would be to lift the hutch up off the floor so it’s up and away from draughts and the damp. Another easy win, is to put some old fleece or thick blankets over the top of the hutch for additional warmth. Heat rises and escapes upwards, so in a similar way to insulating the loft in your house, a heavy blanket on top can help keep warmth within a hutch. It can also be useful to have a thermometer. We use a digital max/min thermometer so we can also check how cold it’s getting during the night.

Infra-red Heat Lamp

Infra-red Heat Lamp

If you want to go the extra mile, and we certainly wouldn’t be without ours, then you can invest in an infra-red heat lamp. A good agricultural shop can usually help you out with this and whilst you won’t necessarily need it on all the time, there are always periods of winter when it gets cold and frosty or even snowy. Something else we have also added in more recently is a dehumidifier. This will help remove any excess moisture that might be in the air, again helping against any potential damp issues.

Finally, think about your bedding choices within the hutch and make sure your piggies have lots of places to snuggle and keep themselves warm. We bed our guineas on newspaper (find a friendly neighbour who will donate their used newspapers to you!!) with loads of hay on top. Not only is a hay the most important part of a guinea pig’s diet, it also keeps them warm in Winter months. Make sure you use plenty of it, so they can burrow underneath it to get cosy! Piles of hay also encourage guinea pigs’ natural foraging behaviours, keeping their minds active. A fun fact that’s worth noting, is the use of a ‘haybox’ as a cooker! Food items are heated up to boiling point and then the pot containing the food is placed in a box, which is packed out all around with hay. Hay is such a good insulator, that the food then continues to cook within the haybox. So, it just shows you, it really works to keep things warm!

HayPigs!® Circus Hidey Hut™ - Fleece Hidey Hut

HayPigs!® Circus Hidey Hut™ - Fleece Hidey Hut

For extra cosiness we use some fleece items in their hutches too. A fleece hidey or cosy tunnel (check out our HayPigs! Circus Hidey Hut!) works well as a safe and warm place to curl up. Just be sure to check fleece items don’t get damp with pee, so change them and/or the pee pads regularly to keep things clean and fresh. The Sungglesafe heat pads also fit inside our fleece circus hidey hut, so on frosty nights, your piggies will love to snuggle on their version of a hot water bottle!  

One thing to just be aware of, is that it’s better to make a decision on where you will house your piggies for Winter, and then stick to it! Don’t keep moving them from inside to outside, as this could be more detrimental to their health with the big changes in temperature.

So hopefully, there have been some useful tips here for Winter living for your small furries. To find out more, why not check out our YouTube video on the Winter Shed Tour (see below).

Now, roll on Spring…and then Summer, when we can start worrying about how to keep our piggies cool in the hot sunshine!!!

Do Guinea Pigs Cry?

Helen Cridland



 Well, it depends on what your definition of ‘cry’ is! If we are talking about crying in a vocal sense (to ‘cry’ out), then absolutely, they are noisy little fluffsters! But I guess vocalisation is a whole other blog post! So we will look instead at crying in terms of ‘emotional’ and ‘physical’ crying:

Crying Emotionally

If we were to put on a good old tear-jerker, would our furry piggy friends shed an emotional tear as they cuddle up on the sofa for film night with their pig-slaves?! We would have to say ‘no’, we haven’t seen our guinea pigs crying like us humans might be doing by the end of ‘The Bucket List’. (Yes, we re-watched it the other night. Yes, we cried lots…!)

We certainly see them showing emotion in other ways however (they aren’t just fluffy potatoes, they absolutely show emotion among their companions). If you’ve ever been in the sad situation of a bereavement, you’ll know that guinea pigs appear to have a period of morning when one of their companions passes. This is clear evidence of how highly evolved they are social and emotional.   

Crying Physically

So, although we wouldn’t consider guinea pigs to cry ‘emotional tears’, like all mammals their eyes do produce physical tears. This is to keep their eye moist and clean. And if you can excuse the pun, it’s certainly a good idea to keep YOUR EYE on your guinea pigs’ eyes as they are a good indicator of their general health. Healthy eyes, just as with humans, should look moist, bright and clear. Here are some things to keep a ‘look out’ for:

If your piggie has a constantly watery eye, it could be that something has got stuck in there and the fluid is being produced to try and wash it out. This can sort itself out, but sometimes a stubborn small piece of hay, for example, might not budge. If there is something stuck in there that is visible, it could need you (if you have a VERY steady hand) or a vet to remove the offending object with some tweezers.

A cloudy look to a usually bright and clear eye could also be a result of damage from a hay-poke, injury as a result of fighting or also a sign of infection. Cloudy eyes are not normal and so advice should be sought. A vet may well prescribe drops or ointment as appropriate.

If one or both eyes have a sticky, crusty substance around them, this could be a sign of a URI (upper respiratory infection) or other infection that will need treating by a vet. Other symptoms of a URI could be a snotty nose, lethargy, not eating … all of which are not good news at all for these small critters, so best get them checked out by a professional.

If you ever see a milky-white substance being secreted from the corner of your piggies’ eyes, then this is perfectly normal and is actually a super clever way that guinea pigs groom themselves! This substance cleans their eyes and they also rub it onto their paws to then clean their faces. Guinea pigs are very clean animals and like to keep themselves looking beautiful/handsome at all times. So, if you hang around long enough, you might catch sight of this substance in their eyes and get to observe the cuteness overload that is their grooming ritual!


So, in summary, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, beauty is actually right inside your guinea pigs’ eyes, waiting for them to have a good wash! Stay clear, shine bright, stay happy!

The Importance of Hay in a Guinea Pig's Diet

Helen Cridland



 It’s no coincidence that we are called HayPigs!

As fibrevores, high quality feeding hay is an essential food for guinea pigs and they literally need access to it 24/7.

Good quality grass hay should account for 80 – 90% of the daily food intake for your piggies, along with fresh water, vegetables and a small amount of nuggets. This might seem like a lot, but hay (along with forage) is super important, it literally keeps their bodies ticking over. Without it, a guinea pig's unique digestive system won't work properly, so please make sure they maintain a high fibre diet with loads of hay!

In addition to keeping their digestive system in order, hay is also great for wearing your piggies teeth down. A guinea pig’s teeth are always growing, so regular chewing helps stop them overgrowing.

The trick with hay is to make sure you are getting good quality feeding hay that is super fresh! It should be green in colour, smell sweet and be free of dust. We joke as piggy parents that it should smell tasty enough to eat ourselves!

At HayPigs! we also use hay as bedding for our piggies, and while they do chomp on it (especially when their den has been freshly cleaned out) this bedding hay soon gets trampled and soiled on and we find they quickly lose interest in it as a snack food! So, it's strongly recommended to present feeding hay in something that keeps it off the floor. The HayPigs! Wheek Wagon (but of course!) is a great way to contain your feeding hay, giving good access for a herd of piggies to munch away happily on their essential fibre. But also, don’t forget you can be creative with how you present their hay too...  try using left over toilet roll tubes, egg boxes or other natural cardboard items to stuff the hay into, maybe with some other tasty treats and forage hidden in there too. This presents them with more of a food challenge and some stimulation to keep their brains active.

Here at HayPigs! HQ, we give our piggies fresh handfuls of feeding hay multiple times a day – it’s most interesting to them when it’s fresh out of the bag! Our piggies really love the Burgess Long Stem Feeding Hay (which is great for piggies!), and also their Chamomile Herbage and the Dandelion and Marigold Feeding Hay. But there are lots of great feeding hays out there – look for a tasty Timothy or meadow hay. If your piggies don’t eat much of what you present for them, try something else! Some piggies can be picky, so don’t risk them not eating enough hay, experiment with different types to find what they like best*.

(*It’s worth noting that alfalfa hay is high in calcium and, aside from perhaps feeding this to pregnant sows and guinea pig pups, it should be reserved as a treat only for healthy adult pigs, as too much calcium could cause problems.)

So, it really is hay, hay and more hay! And what better way of treating your piggies than giving them a super healthy and tasty snack, that will have them popcorning with joy?!

Right, I’m off to pick the hay out of my hair…and off my jumper…and out of my boots….

Did you know we now stock tasty feeding hay on our website?! Why not check it out here.

Do guinea pigs smell?

Helen Cridland



We aren’t questioning the effectiveness of those guinea pig noses here, because we all know they can sniff out a sprig of parsley at fifty paces! But a common question, especially from those who are first thinking about getting guinea pigs as pets, is “do guinea pigs smell”? Now we think it’s fair to say that guinea pigs are generally very clean animals (we’re not biased, honest!) and as long as they are cleaned out regularly, then no, they don’t smell!

Guinea pigs groom themselves and there’s nothing cuter than watching them have a ‘wash’ with their paws! They actually secrete a white substance from the corner of their eyes and use this to clean their face, as well becoming masters of contortion using their mouth to groom the rest of their body.

If anything is going to cause any smell to develop, it will most likely be the urine and not the animal itself. So, keep bedding fresh, spot clean dirty areas regularly and do a full clean out at least once a week.

People also wonder about the need to give your ‘pampered’ piggies a wash or a bath. There are occasionally times when a guinea pig has got a little grubby and may need freshening up, but it’s not something that needs to be done regularly, if at all with some pigs.  But a couple of things to bear in mind: Long haired piggies are likely to need more grooming care than short haired ones, as their fur will have more contact with the floor of their enclosure. Boars (and occasionally sows) can also need a little more attention if their grease gland (found just above where their tail would be, if they had one) is overactive. This can be a challenge to keep clean but we find breaking down the grease with Swarfega first, before rinsing and then a quick shampoo to follow, is a good way to deal with their behinds!

If you do find your guinea pig needs a bath, then make sure to use an appropriate shampoo for small animals, avoid getting water on their head and in their ears, always rinse well and make sure they are nicely dry before they go back into their enclosure, so they do not catch a chill.


So, if you keep their cages clean and just assist them with the occasional extra wash if needs be, then you shouldn’t be catching a whiff of any unpleasant odours. You can just enjoy the smell of fresh hay and vegetables, although you can bet the piggies will be loving that kind of smell even more than you!

HayPigs!® are finalists in the Essex Business Awards 2018 for New Company of the Year!

Rik Cridland

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Press Release - 30.09.18


HayPigs!® are thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of 5 finalists in the Essex Business Awards 2018 for New Company of the Year! It is wonderful to be recognised in our home region and we are once again honoured to be representing the pet trade at another awards event.

HayPigs!® is home of the multi-award-winning HayPigs!® Guinea Pig Circus™. Our family run business designs toys, feeders and accessories for guinea pigs and other small animals . Our range of bespoke products has a circus theme and is designed to enhance and enrich the everyday lives of small furries and their owners.

Products include the 'Cavy Cannonball™' tilting tunnel, The 'Circus Hidey Hut™' fleece hidey and the PATS 2017 Best New Small Animal Product winning 'Piggy Weightlifter™' vegetable kebab maker.

Fingers (and paws) are now crossed that we can go all the way and scoop the top prize! Wheek! Wheek! Wheek!

HayPigs!® secures deal to stock over 150 Petbarn stores in Australia

Rik Cridland

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Press Release - 20.09.18


Ahead of their second appearance at PATS Telford this weekend, small furry accessories brand, HayPigs!® have some extremely exciting news to share. With help from their 'pawtners' Guinea Pigs Australia, they have just signed a deal to stock over 150 Petbarn stores in Australia.

HayPigs!® MD and self-proclaimed Ringmaster, Rik, is overjoyed with the news, "This is obviously really exciting news and we are delighted that our range has been so warmly welcomed over in Australia. We can't thank Niomie, Steve and the team at Guinea Pigs Australia enough for their hard work and dedication in helping make this happen. It's humbling to think that we will be enriching the lives of so many small furries across the length and breadth of Australia."

Steven Ferrante of Guinea Pigs Australia had this to add, "Guinea Pigs Australia is so excited to be officially launching HayPigs!® into Petbarn, Australia. With Petbarn's fantastic reach across Australia it will give more guinea pig owners the opportunity to access high quality, fun and creative enclosure accessories. HayPigs!® product range will be available on Petbarn online and at over 150 Petbarn stores by December 2018."

In a triple celebration, HayPigs!® are also thrilled to have made it to the final of the PetQuip Awards for Marketing Project of the Year and also the Essex Business Awards for Best New Business. HayPigs!® Co-founder Helen is really looking forward to the awards events, "It's just lovely to have been recognised for all our hard work. As HayPigs!® is a family business, there have been a lot of sacrifices over the last couple of years, so this is a great opportunity to give ourselves a pat on the back and let our hair down a bit!"

HayPigs!® will be exhibiting at PATS Telford this Sunday and Monday and will also be unveiling a brand new product at the show. For more information, contact or check out their website:

How many toes do guinea pigs have?

Helen Cridland



OK, we admit it, it’s not a topic that is going to change the world, but, on the other hand (or foot), have you ever noticed how cute a guinea pig’s feet are?! And don’t we just all need a little bit of cute in our lives to keep our spirits up from time to time?

So, we bring you guinea pigs’ toes. They have fourteen toes in total, with four on each of their front feet, and three on each of their back feet. All their toes have nails that grow continuously (just like ours!) and need regular trimming. (See our previous post on nail trimming for more on this.) Piggies have a soft pad underneath their foot and it’s always worth checking their feet as part of your regular health checks. That way you can keep an eye out for any potential problems like bumblefoot (the common - and much easier to say - name for ‘pododermatitis’), which is a painful infection on the bottom of the foot. Also look out for spurs on the underside of the feet, usually the front ones. Some piggies will never get any, others may have them growing quite regularly. These flaps of hard skin don’t generally cause many problems except perhaps if they are large and then tear and get infected as a result. Spurs that are large can be cut off (VERY carefully) with nail clippers to be on the safe side and avoid any potential knock on issues.

Sometimes, guinea pigs can have more than the expected number of toes, and if they do, it’s most likely to be an extra one on their back feet. These can be removed, if necessary, by a vet, so seek advice from a professional if you are concerned.

But, extra toes, bumbles and spurs aside, guinea pigs’ toes and feet are just totally CUTE! And if you catch sight of your precious piggies chilling out, then you will more often than not see them kicking out their back feet for all to see just how happy and relaxed they are!

How do you cut guinea pigs nails?

Helen Cridland


Much like our own nails, Guinea pigs’ nails just keep on growing, so regular nail trimming is essential for their health and wellbeing. While they may all look similar, these nails can be very different depending on the age of the guinea pig; young piggies tend to have very sharp nails while older piggies tougher and more brittle ones. Regardless of the age though, we’d suggest to aim for a nail trim once-a-month.

Guinea pig nails typically fall into two categories; dark nails and light nails. When it comes to cutting, light nails are a lot easier, as the 'quick' (the blood supply that runs within the nail) is easier to see and therefore easy to avoid! Dark nails provide more of a challenge, as the quick is hidden and cutting too much nail off can result in bleeding. That said, if you keep up with a regular nail cutting routine, the quick will recede and your job will become easier. It's definitely a case of 'less is more' (i.e. cut less off and do it more regularly) than the other way around!

How do you cut your guinea pigs’ nails?

You can take your piggies to the vet, who will do nail trimming for you (for a fee, of course!), but it will save you a lot of time (and money) to learn how to do it yourself.

So if you are going to take this task, be prepared and make sure you are comfortable with the idea... here’s a few hints and tips that we’ve found helpful, so hopefully you will too!

What do you need?

  • A good pair of clippers. Make life easier for yourself with a decent pair that are sharp and will cut cleanly. Some people even find that ‘human’ nail clippers work well.

  • A torch, if you have guinea pigs with dark or black nails. This can help you to see the ‘quick’. Failing that, err on the side of caution and don’t take too much off the nail, but ensure you trim regularly to avoid nails getting too long.

  • It can be handy to have a styptic pencil (you can find these in chemists/beauty stores - they are used to help stop bleeding from shaving cuts). If you do catch the quick and the nail bleeds, use the styptic pencil to stop the bleeding. Or, use some general first aid knowledge - have some cotton wool/tissue to hand and apply pressure to the appropriate nail.

Helpful Tips!

  • Have everything you might need ready and close by. To avoid too much stress, remember, most guinea pigs are happiest when munching on something tasty. Get their favourite food and give it to them before/during/after nail trimming to distract them and then make them feel good afterwards!

  • Make the animal feel safe and secure. You can sit down and have the piggy on your lap (place a towel over your knees), held securely and close to your body. If you have someone to help you, even better – one person to hold and one person to clip! Or, place your guinea pig on a flat non-slip surface (you can use the towel again!), standing with your body close to the piggy to provide comfort and support.

  • If you have a pig that’s a bit of a diva (we do!) and/or is not a fan of a trip to the nail salon, try wrapping them securely (but not too tight!!) in a towel to minimise any wriggling, leaving the appropriate paw free for clipping.

  • Ensure you get the right angle when trimmingsee our diagram below for this.



Nail clipping can be a nail-biting experience for even experienced guinea pig owners(!), but with patience and practice it can be done by you (yes you!) at home. Don’t panic if you are worried about cutting the quick - if you are cautious and keep nail trims quite short, this will be enough as long as you ensure you do them regularly.

Do Guinea Pigs Sneeze?

Helen Cridland



In short, yes.

And it sounds just like you’d expect…. but at a smaller decibel level than made by the human pig-slave’s sneeze!

A Good Sneeze vs. A Bad Sneeze

An occasional sneeze from your piggy is not usually anything to worry about.

Just like us, guinea pigs can get particles up their nose and they may sneeze to shift the blockage. Hay is often the culprit and even when getting good quality ‘dust extracted’ hay, there can sometimes be enough dust to cause a little irritation. On two or three occasions now we've had one of our piggies develop a sudden crackly noise through their nose when breathing. Immediately our guard has gone up, with concerns of the dreaded URI (see below) yet they've had no other symptoms and a day or two later a big sneeze has shifted it and the noise has gone.

However, there are times when sneezing should be treated more seriously and may require swift action. If there are additional symptoms as well as sneezing, like runny eyes and nose, crackly and noisy or laboured breathing, lethargy and hunched posture, coughing or wheezing and/or a change in behaviour, then it could be a URI (upper respiratory infection). A URI can usually be easily treated with antibiotics, as long as it is caught EARLY (this is so important!). If left, it can be fatal, so don't mess around if you have suspicions and seek the advice of your vet without delay.

Guinea pig sneezes may also be the result of an allergy to a particular thing, like a strong scent of perfume for example. Symptoms of an allergy can sometimes be similar to a URI, but if you are concerned, always see a vet to first check if it is the serious issue of a URI, before looking at any potential allergies.


Guinea pigs do sneeze and the odd one now and then is usually more ‘cute’ than ‘concerning’! But, as always with your lovable furry friends, if there are other signs and symptoms along with the sneezing, then don’t waste time in taking the appropriate action to ensure the good health of your precious piggy.

Where Do Guinea Pigs Come From?

Helen Cridland



As with many of the questions about our gorgeous guinea pig friends, the answer is not always as obvious as it might seem! So, no, guinea pigs do not originate from Guinea, in west Africa. And, while we’re at it, they aren’t related to pigs either (but that’s another story!).

If not Guinea, then where?!

Well, the wild relations to our domesticated guinea pigs originate from the Andean region of South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia). Wild guinea pigs are often found living in the rocky areas and grassy plains that this part of the world provides. Although they do not burrow themselves (like a rabbit would), they have no problem using and sheltering in any unused tunnels made by other animals, or naturally occurring crevices and hidey holes. Those natural instincts to hide from prey are still to be found in the guinea pigs we know and love as pets today, so that’s why it’s important to provide them with tunnels and hideaways to avoid any undue stress.

Wild vs. Domestic

It would seem that guinea pigs were first domesticated in order to be eaten, and indeed they are still on the menu in some South American countries today……not something that, as owners of our pet piggies, we can even begin to contemplate! But the guinea pigs we care for and love as pets around the world today are a bit like ‘second cousins three times removed’ from their wild origins. For a start, wild guinea pigs certainly don’t have the range and variety of colours and hairstyles that our pet guineas do!


So, in summary, not-from-Guinea guinea pigs (that aren’t pigs) originally come from South America, but thanks to lots of interesting things happening throughout history (see the ‘All About Piggies’ section on our website for more on this!), we are fortunate to have ended up with our furry guinea pig companions to share our homes.

How long do guinea pigs live?

Helen Cridland



So, how many years of joy can you expect to get from your furry piggie friends?  It’s the million-dollar question that lots of people ask, and of course, the answer can vary depending on who you speak to...but let’s see if we can dispel a few myths and give you an idea of the sort of commitment you need to be prepared for, if you are going to give these gorgeous little critters a forever home!

A guinea pig is not a hamster.

So, this (you would think) should be fairly self-explanatory, however in our experience, we have come across many people confusing guinea pigs with hamsters! Now, not only do guinea pigs have very different needs and grow much larger than their (very distant!) relation the hamster, but the life expectancy of these creatures also differs. On average, a hamster can be expected to live for 2-3 years, depending on breed type and lifestyle.

So, go on then, what is the average lifespan of a pet guinea pig?

Well, without hedging our bets too widely, the average lifespan for a domestic guinea pig is 5-7 years, although as with any living creature, there are many factors that can influence this. They have been known to live for much longer than 7 years, indeed as the 2006 Guinness World Record states, the longest living guinea pig survived for 14 years, 10.5 months! While this record may not be the norm, guinea pigs are certainly a pet that you need to be confident about affording the care and devotion to, for a good number of years.

How can we help our precious piggies to enjoy a long and happy life?

There are lots of things you can do to give your guinea pigs the best chance of reaching old age. Good diet, a large enclosure, plenty of exercise, social interaction, good hygiene and proper response to any potential health issues are all factors that can contribute to a long and happy life. So, ensure you are feeding the correct foods in the right amounts, with plentiful hay and forage on the side! Provide your piggies with ample space and opportunities to run around, using tunnels and stimulating toys in their cages/runs or during floor time/out in the garden. Guinea pigs are social animals, so make sure they have a bonded cage mate, so they don’t get lonely or bored. Of course don’t forget, most guinea pigs love spending time with humans too, so enjoy some lap-time snuggles with them. Clean their enclosures regularly and thoroughly and ensure you handle your animals daily to keep a close eye on their health, seeking advice from an exotic vet should the need arise.

The Rainbow Bridge

As with any animal, there can be health problems in guinea pigs that occur at any age. This can be very hard to deal with, especially if a young piggie is taken ill. With the best will in the world, and despite all the best efforts to provide a healthy environment for our furry friends, there will be problems beyond your control. We suggest that you find a good exotic vet who is used to dealing with guinea pigs and act quickly should you need to, as they can go downhill quickly.


So, unlike their ‘wild’ guinea pig relations, who can only be expected to live for 1-4 years, pet guinea pigs can live 5-7 years providing you with many years of love, snuggles and wheeks! So, be prepared to do all you can to provide them with a long, healthy and happy life, and they will indeed brighten up your days in return!

Why do guinea pigs lick?

Rik Cridland


Why do guinea pigs lick? - Also known as a 'piggy kiss'

Have you ever noticed how your guinea pig likes to lick your fingers, hand or face? Have you ever caught your guinea pig licking itself or indeed another piggy? Well while this may seem a little strange, it's perfectly normal. In fact, in many cases it is a sign of affection!

Licking themselves

Guinea pigs love to groom themselves and licking is an effective way of giving themselves a little wash. No doubt you may have witnessed your piggy in an impressive yoga pose while attempting to hit the right spot! This is just like a human having a quick wipe with a flannel!

Licking other piggies

Being social little fur balls, guinea pigs also love to groom one another and again, this is perfectly normal. If this is happening frequently in your herd, this suggests they are very content with one another and enjoy each other's company.

Licking you

If your guinea pig starts licking you, this could be a very good sign that he or she likes you. It's generally regarded as a very affectionate gesture. In the same way that they show affection through grooming one another, they could well be attempting to groom you to!

Other reasons for giving you a lick

Guinea pigs may also lick you to lap up the salty taste on your skin. In this case, it's less affection, more exploiting your presence for a tasty snack! Likewise, they may detect the resonance of some food you may have been handling. Have you ever noticed how piggies may still be interested in your hand, even when all the herbs have been pillaged?!


All in all, guinea pig kisses, or licks, are a wonderful experience. Not all pets are so giving, so enjoy sharing this little intimate moment with your fur babies.

HayPigs!® reach the finals of the SME National Business Awards 2018

Rik Cridland

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HayPigs!® is delighted to announce that it has been successful in reaching the finals of the SME National Business Awards in the Best New Business Category.

Reaching the finals of these national awards is fitting recognition for the hard work, enterprise and endeavour shown by husband and wife team, Rik and Helen Cridland and their team of small furries, the HayPigs!®

"We're obviously over the moon to have reached the finals." explains Helen "What is particularly pleasing is that we are up against businesses outside of our sector, so we are flying the flag for the pet trade! We are just crossing our fingers and paws now that we can go all the way and scoop the top prize!"

The awards final takes place at Wembley Stadium on Friday 7th December 2018 and, whatever the result, HayPigs!® will have plenty to celebrate after a stellar first year.

HayPigs!® wins Best UK Small Pet Accessories Provider 2018 in LUX Awards!

Rik Cridland

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We are delighted to announce that HayPigs!® has won Best UK Small Pet Accessories Provider 2018 in the LUX Magazine Pet Product & Service Awards 2018! Yay!

LUX Magazine recognises those who have helped this industry see exponential growth in recent years. They have rewarded those individuals, organisations and enterprises who strive to produce the services and products which benefit the well-being and health of mankind’s best friends.

Commenting on the success of the awards, Kaven Cooper, Coordinator at LUX, said: “How we care, feed, and treat our pets is a reflection on society and the Pet Product & Service Awards is proud to provide the accolades for those who allow us to care for our domestic animal population in a sustainable and humane fashion. I am truly proud of all of my winners and wish them congratulations, I will be watching your future endeavours with interest.”

HayPigs!® First Birthday - Press Release

Rik Cridland

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HayPigs!®, home of the award-winning  HayPigs!® Guinea Pig Circus™, celebrates its first Birthday this weekend and is keen to thank everyone for their fabulous support. As the anniversary approaches, co-founders Rik and Helen Cridland reflect on what has been an very challenging, but rewarding journey;

"A couple of years ago, had we told you that we were going to launch a 'guinea pig circus' and design products specifically aimed at guinea pigs, you would have thought we were mad (and some still do!)." explains Rik, "It was quite a hard sell to be frank, many in the trade didn't believe there was enough of a market to focus solely on small animals, let alone specialise in guinea pig accessories! But we had a clear vision of what we wanted to do and most importantly, really knew our target market well. This gave us great confidence in our product and brand idea."

"Early days were tough, for our idea to work we needed to commit to a significant amount of stock in order to launch with a coherent, themed range of products. All our products were bespoke, some of the them required expensive tooling, there was significant testing and IP costs and once our stock landed, we also had to deal with storing it all. But thankfully, when the whole package was presented to the trade and most importantly, our potential customers, they loved it! The feedback we have had over the last year has been incredible and made all the hard work worthwhile."

Eager to establish their brand quickly, HayPigs!® spent a good portion of last year on the road attending trade shows and public events. Along with their relentless social media activity, these public events have done a lot to build and grow a loyal and committed fan base that HayPigs!® are very proud of. Helen explains, "We knew before we started this adventure that the guinea pig and small animal community are a very special bunch. They adore their pets and go to great lengths to please them. As guinea pig owners, we refer to ourselves as 'pig slaves' and if we're honest, our pets probably eat better than we do! Attending public shows like the National Pet Show has been a great opportunity for us to meet with our social media followers, introduce ourselves to new pet fanatics and get our educational messages out there. It has been a real family affair, those of you who attended PATS Telford last year may have found me with a new born baby strapped to my chest. We joke that Scarlett (or 'HayBaby!')  had done 3 shows before she was even born!"

In a year that has seen them scoop the best new small animal product in the PATS Telford showcase, get to the final of the PetQuip Awards for Pet Product of the Year as well as being finalist in the Innovation category at the PIF Awards, HayPigs!® have a lot to be proud of. This in addition to their range being taken on by several of the UK's largest retailers and many of the wonderful and diverse independents up and down the country, it's been a great start for the Essex based family business and their band of small furry friends.

"We can't wait to show you what's coming next" says Rik with a big smile on his face, "The show's only just begun!"