Fleece, hay or woodshavings: which guinea pig bedding is best?

Fleece, hay or woodshavings: which guinea pig bedding is best?

There are so many bedding options for guinea pig owners to choose from these days and everyone has a different opinion about which is best. Here's the HayPigs!® guide to your options.

WOODSHAVINGS

Woodshavings are convenient to use and easy to dispose of. But we have to say we're not fans. Some guinea pigs can be allergic to woodshavings, and the dust from shavings may cause health issues.

If you do choose woodshavings, make sure the packaging says 'dust extracted'. Cedar woodshavings should NEVER be used, as cedar contains chemicals harmful to guinea pigs. Aspen woodshavings are considered to be the safest – best used with several layers of newspaper underneath.

It's also important not to confuse sawdust with woodshavings. Sawdust should never be used as guinea pig bedding, as it is pure wood dust.

Pros:
- Widely available to purchase
- Easy to 'spot clean' between full cage cleans
- Relatively absorbent
- A natural product
- Can be composted

Cons:
- Some guinea pigs can be allergic to woodshavings
- Can be messy - easily kicked out of some types of housing
- Bulky to store
- Repeat purchases can make it an expensive option

 

HAY

A favourite of our fluffy friends, hay is not just for munching on and playing in, it's also a good bedding choice. Line the bottom of your guinea pigs' enclosure with some newspaper and cover with a generous amount of hay. Use puppy pads or hemp bedding such as Aubiose for an extra-absorbent underlay.

We dedicate at least a third of the HayPigs!® cage to hay bedding. We use meadow hay as it is finer and softer than other hays, such as Timothy. We also put high quality feeding hay in a HayPigs!® Wheek Wagon™ - Hay Hopper that stays unsoiled for feeding. You can also use a hay rack or hay sack.

The downside of using hay as a bedding and a food source is that it is quickly trampled down and your guinea pigs will wee and poo on it constantly. Because of this, you definitely can't avoid dedicated spot cleans every day. We find the best solution is to freshen up the top layer with new hay on a daily basis and clean out at least once a week.

Pros:
- Can be used for food, foraging and sleeping
- Helps keep guinea pigs warm
- It’s a very enriching bedding
- Natural and compostable
- Great when used with absorbent products like Aubiose

Cons:
- Your guinea pigs will quickly trample down and soil the hay
- Requires daily spot cleans
- Hard, pointy bits of hay can 'poke' a guinea pig's eye

 

FLEECE

We use fleece in the HayPigs!® enclosure, in conjunction with hay. One reason we love fleece so much is that it's gentle on sensitive little feet. Another is that it's easy to clean. Whether that's a daily spot clean or a full clean in the washing machine.

It's an especially good option for those with indoor guinea pigs/C & C cage, but it works well in all enclosures. Pre-line the cage/hutch with absorbent puppy pads or towels and then place the fleece liner on top.

Guineadad's fleece liner is very popular and the brand we use. It's the first liner to feature a waterproof membrane on the bottom - plus unique 'pockets' for your piggies to hide in. We also love the fun colours and designs of Guineapet’s and Kavee’s liners.

Keep colours looking bright by popping your liners in a laundry bag when you machine wash. This will also do the inside of your machine a favour by trapping hair and hay!

Pros:
- Soft and comfortable
- Easy to spot clean
- Can be custom made to fit your cage
- Available in a range of designs and colours
- Creates little to no mess
- No further cost once set up, as it's washable/reusable

Cons:
- Is expensive when starting out
- Requires frequent washing
- You will need multiple liners
- May mean less room for hay

  

Another bedding choice is Vet Bed, which is very soft and good for nursing ill piggies. You could also go for paper. The brand Kaytee is known for its super-soft, absorbent paper bedding. And Burgess offers a particularly innovative paper option – one made from tea bag off-cuts!

Aubiose/Aubizoo is made from hemp and an excellent alternative to woodshavings or paper. While it's traditionally used for horses, it's also a safe and extremely absorbent bedding for guinea pigs. It controls odours and is 100% natural and compostable.

 

SUMMARY:

So, fleece, hay or woodshavings: which guinea pig bedding is best? In our opinion, it’s hay and fleece. Hay is ideal, as it’s the most natural equivalent to what piggies would experience in the wild. And anything to encourage guinea pigs to eat more hay is a good thing!

However, hay can be messy and time consuming to clean and change. That’s why we dedicate a portion of our setup to hay and a portion to fleece. We love that fleece is soft, reusable, easy to keep clean and doesn’t create as much mess. For those reasons, it’s a great complimentary bedding choice to hay.

That said, your choice of bedding is all about personal preference - whatever makes you and your piggies happy!