To truly understand what toys your guinea pig will want to play with, you first need to know their needs. Guinea pigs are sensitive, and they are prone to boredom and frustration, so having accessories that are going to enrich their lives is incredibly important.
Guinea pigs are actually very intelligent, too. When placed in mazes, guinea pigs have demonstrated that they’re able to recall pathways to food and hold onto these memories for months. And another study carried out suggests that guinea pigs are actually able to learn new lessons faster than other rodents.
So if guinea pigs are incredibly social and they’re actually rather clever, it makes sense that stimulation and engagement are vital for a happy and healthy guinea pig.
Knowing what toy your guinea pig will like to play with can be determined by how that toy fits every one of their needs. If you’re looking for new toys check out our round-up of the best Guinea Pig toys.
Guinea Pig Toy Needs
Need 1: Mental stimulation and socialising
Answer: Interacting and bonding games
Guinea pigs form bonds with their owners and become depressed if their owner isn’t present. Because they’re naturally social animals, guinea pigs need a lot of interaction to be happy, and this is something that people often don’t understand about them.
As a side note, it’s important to state that you should always have more than one guinea pig since they’re much happier in groups.
Returning to the interactive toys, you should try and find something you can do together. For example, using toys that allow you to hide food and treats within them so you can challenge your guinea pig to forage and search for their food while being there to praise them when they find the missing treat.
A ball that dispenses treats is also a good idea since your guinea pig will enjoy the attention they’ll be receiving from you as you roll it towards them, not to mention the reward they’ll receive when they manage to get the treat out of the ball.
Need 2: Exercise and adventure
Answer: Large cage and accessories
Guinea pigs are natural explorers and foragers, so they actually need quite a lot of space. Not only is it essential that you’ve provided ample space for them to run around, but it’s also good to have toys and accessories that make that space more engaging and adventurous.
- Tunnels – Not only do tunnels reflect their real habitat more, but it adds a greater sense of intrigue and will encourage them to explore the space more
- Toys – As well as joint play, they also need solo play. Homemade guinea pig toys are perfect, as you can hide treats inside
- Runs – All guinea pigs should also have a run outdoors, which is safe and gives them space to bask in natural light and fresh air
They must keep moving to keep healthy and happy.
Need 3: An outlet for excessive chewing
Answer: Chew toys and hay
It’s no exaggeration that guinea pigs will chew just about anything. Their teeth are evergrowing, so it’s an instinct for them to continue to gnaw and chew. Guinea pigs who are bored and don’t have any chew toys end up chewing the bars, which isn’t something we want.
So invest in some good chew toys. There are some great choices available in the form of houses, huts, mini vegetable patches, dinosaurs and large wooden carrots.
Or if you want to buy something more traditional, then try a chew ball – made from hay, dried grass or wood. These will also provide plenty of fun while your little piggie rolls it around.
Hay is also a must, so they can keep chewing on something safe when needed.
Need 4: Mental stimulation
Answer: Tricks and obstacle courses
We’ve already mentioned it many times, but try to help your guinea pig reach their full mental potential. A great way to encourage this is to try and teach your guinea pig new tricks or to try an obstacle course.
You can buy these from various places including Amazon or Etsy; otherwise, you can create your own by using cardboard boxes, toilet rolls (for tunnels), small plastic cups (to create a weave poll circuit) and two books and a pole to create a mini jump.
Naturally, treats will motivate your guinea pig to do the tricks, and of course, you will have to start small and build up the level of difficulty each time.
Need 5: New interactions
Answer: New toys
This isn’t to say you should be changing their environment all the time – because this would actually cause a lot of distress – however, your guinea pigs will benefit from having new toys or tunnels placed in their environment for something to pique their curiosity again.
This is why homemade toys are a great choice. Used loo rolls and paper bags can always come in handy…
Things to look out for
It seems obvious, but you always have to check that the product specifies that it’s non-toxic or chew-safe. always remove anything which is being over chewed or is damaged.
Type of toy
If the toy is glued together, then check its pet-friendly glue or perhaps avoid it altogether.
Weaved balls also begin to unravel as your guinea pig chews away at them so it’s important to check that they don’t become something that your guinea pig can get tangled up in.
While guinea pigs love dark and small hideouts, it’s also essential to check how accessible they really for your guinea pig. If your guinea pig looks like they’re struggling to get through space, you should take away that accessory. It’s not worth the risk of them getting stuck.