Bonding Guinea Pigs: How to Introduce Them
How to Introduce Your Guinea Pig to Floor Time
Floor time is an excellent method that should be introduced to your guinea pigs to promote a healthy lifestyle with mental stimulation and exercise. They should have floor time at least once a week to reduce boredom. If you've never given your guinea pig floor time then now is a great time to start!
Preparing for Floor Time
Understand the concept of floor time.The purpose of floor time is to provide your guinea pig with exercise, fun and a time to explore new objects and toys all in one. Floor time is also beneficial to your guinea pig's mental health, as it gives them a special time to interact with new objects.
- Floor time is an increasingly popular and effective method to keep guinea pigs fit and encourage them to exercise. During floor time, your guinea pig is promoted to move around more.
- Floor time also allows you to play and bond with your guinea pig. The open space allows the both of you to interact better and connect with each other.
- During floor time, provide your guinea pig with plenty of toys, huts, tunnels and obstacles to explore and play with on the open floor. This is something your guinea pig probably wouldn't be able to do just as well in their confined cage.
Understand that your guinea pigs may feel scared at first.It might seem odd reading about floor time as an exercise method and then seeing your guinea pig inactively huddle in the corner of the room. This is normal and every guinea pig starts out like this. The new surroundings takes a toll; your guinea pig will need some time getting use to the concept of floor time just as much as you do.
- Set up hiding places (such as pigloos). If a guinea pig can hide and feels safe, s/he will be more comfortable with the floor time space and get used to it faster.
Set a schedule.Floor time should be given at least every other day, especially if your guinea pig is new to it. For instance, you can say that every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, you will give your guinea pig an hour of floor time. The consistent schedule will help your guinea pig adjust faster. If possible, floor time should even be given at the same time every day.
- If your guinea pig has a smaller cage, do floor time more often. Although it's not a substitute for a larger cage, it can help a guinea pig be healthier when living in one (although you should always try to get a bigger cage).
Acquire a puppy pen or border (optional).If you have a guinea pig-safe room (no wires or things to chew) you can just allow them in the room, but if you are using a bare spot in a room they can't wander around in, a puppy pen is a good way to make sure they stay safe. Things like electrical outlets/power cords are dangerous for guinea pigs, and they may also gnaw wooden furniture or items, which can be dangerous for them and damage the wood.
- C & C cubes are a cheap and easy material you could use to make a DIY play pen for your guinea pigs.
Decide where you would like your floor time to be.There are no limits on where you can go to introduce floor time. Consider arranging floor time directly outside of your guinea pigs cage. This assures that you don't have to go through the hassle of transporting your guinea pig from one room to another.
- No room is off limits. A spare bedroom can be a good choice if there's not a lot of stuff in it. Bathrooms also tend to be good because there aren't usually power cords or things to chew on, and if your guinea pigs pee on the floor, they won't damage it.
- Try to select a room that has low traffic where you and your guinea pig are less likely to be disturbed. On top of that, it is suggested to choose a room that is well-lit and well-ventilated (but no drafts).
Safety check your room.It is important to ensure that the room you choose for floor time is safe and secure for your guinea pig to play and roam around in. It is your duty to provide a safe environment for your guinea pig. This includes;
- Packing away wires sprawled around the room. You can temporarily put these into a box secured away from your guinea pig or put them up somewhere. If your guinea pig chews into the wire it will cause an electric shock. This includes phone chargers too.
- Blocking off areas where your guinea pig shouldn't go. Guinea pigs are notorious for getting into places where they shouldn't be. Usually out of fright they will scamper to the first hiding spot they see, like under a sofa or other hard-to-reach place. You can block these off with something as simple as a flattened cardboard box (as long as it doesn't have tape or other things your guinea pig might chew on it).
- Removing pets from the room. Other animals, such as dogs or cats, are predators to guinea pigs. If you have both animals in the same room, a cat or dog could attack and kill a guinea pig.
- Closing the door to the room if possible.
- Removing any house plants that are poisonous to your guinea pig. If unsure about a specific plant; remove it. Don't put your guinea pig at risk.
Set down some puppy pads, towels, or other absorbent material.This is particularly important if you have hardwood floors, which can be damaged if your guinea pig pees on them.
- Do not just put down fleece! Although it's used as bedding, it needs an absorbent layer under it, as it itself is not absorbent.
Add toys.Toys are the fun part of floor time. You can place as many toys as you would like, as the space is unlimited. However, do not get sucked into thinking that any toy is safe for your guinea pig. There are a few toys that should be steered away from.
- Exercise wheels and balls are a big no! These objects are commonly targeted for guinea pigs in pet shops, when they aren't actually any good. Unlike mice and hamsters, guinea pigs do not possess a flexible spine. Using these balls/wheels on your guinea pig will result in harming their back.
- Check for splintering wood. Before you add a wooden toy to the floor time area, examine the wood to check for splinters or splintering which can harm your guinea pig when/if they chew it.
- Avoid wire treat toys. Guinea pigs are known to get their head stuck in these. Go for a safer alternative such as a plastic ball treat dispenser.
- Try making your own toys, instead! You can get creative with toilet paper rolls and pieces of cardboard. For instance, stuffing a toilet paper roll with hay is a fun way for your guinea pigs to eat it.
Add huts and hiding holes .When you first introduce your guinea pig to floor time, it is common that they feel frightened and may want to hide away. Huts aren't only a great object for your guinea pig to explore, but they serve the purpose of providing a safe place for your guinea pig to retreat to when scared, thus reducing stress levels.
Add tunnels and ramps.Guinea pigs are burrowing animals in the wild; they love hiding in tunnels and climbing ramps! You can purchase a safe tunnel from a pet shop or recycle a cardboard tube. Ramps can be made out of almost anything.
Add obstacles.With obstacles, your guinea pig is promoted to do more exercise and manoeuvre around the objects. Obstacles can be anything from toys to tunnels and ramps. Anything lying around the house (and is of course pet-safe) can be used as an obstacle such as blocks, wood, logs, pillows, etc.
- You could even construct a maze with the obstacles.
Include a feeding station.During floor time, guinea pigs should still be allowed to have access to hay whenever they would like. Pellets and vegetables are not necessary.
- You can turn hay into a fun toy! Stuffing a toilet paper tube with it is an easy way to make it fun for your guinea pig. You can also put it in locations your guinea pig has to work to get to (like on top of a ramp) or use your imagination!
- A water bottle is preferred during playtime to reduce leakage and mess.
Doing Floor Time
Supervise your guinea pigs.During floor time, it is important that you check on your guinea pigs often. Something can easily go wrong in an unconfined, open space where there is no supervision.
- Use your time up effectively and wisely. Bond with your guinea pigs. Talk to them or even play with them.
- If you think they might be able to escape, stay in the room to make sure they stay safe. If they are in a safer room (like a bathroom) you don't need to constantly be with them if you don't want to since there is little risk to them.
Encourage your guinea pig with treats.It's understandable that your guinea pig might be shy at first with the new space and surroundings of floor time. You can try your best to encourage your guinea pig to walk around and explore through the use of treats. Guinea pigs love fresh vegetables, or consider a forage mix.
- Fruits make a great alternative to commercial treats which are far too sugary. Fruits like strawberry, blueberry, and apple are just as sweet but contain less sugar and preservatives. However, they are still high sugar and should still be fed sparingly.
Take time to bond with your guinea pig.Floor time should be a special time for not just your guinea pig but you as well. In the space you are provided you should use your time up effectively. Socialise and play with your guinea pig. Be in the space with them and explore each object along their side.
- If it is the first time giving your guinea pigs floor time, don't try to interact with them. They need time to be comfortable with their new area first.
QuestionMy guinea pig just sits on the floor and does nothing. He only eats. How do I get him to exercise more?Top AnswererIf your guinea pig simply eats during floor time, try using that as an advantage. Spread vegetables and treats around the enclosure and hide them around obstacles and tunnels. Try to make it challenging for your guinea pig to get to the treats.Thanks!
QuestionI have a dog in my house, and I'm scared that my guinea pig(s) won't get a lot of floor time. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKeep your dog somewhere else while your guinea pig has floor time, and keep a time schedule so you know when to keep your dog away. Alternatively, you can look for a room with a door so your dog won't be able to get in.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if I can't get down on the floor for playtime?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut your guinea pig on your bed; just be careful and watch your guinea pig while doing this, as they can fall off.Thanks!
- If your floor time space is upstairs, secure off the stairway.
- Guinea pigs can easily slip on wooden or tile floor, which can hurt their feet. It is recommend to lay something down over one. Remember that they may pee on the floor, so opt for something absorbent and don't use something nice (like a rug).
- Guinea pigs, surprisingly, can fit in the tightest of spaces. There are numerous stories of guinea pigs getting stuck inside furniture, behind refrigerators, etc. Make sure to block all spaces off.
- Never use exercise wheels or balls during floor time. Guinea pigs have delicate spines which are nothing alike to other small rodents such as mice and hamsters. These objects can easily injure their back.
Video: How to Introduce a New Guinea Pig to Your Herd
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