We have two guinea pigs at our house named Butterscotch and Twix. My sons adore them, and I must admit, so do I. They have so much more personality than I expected they would possess. They can be so sweet and even social. Our older guinea pig is so comfortable with us he even gives us kisses all the time.
We bought the pets to have fun with them, so we wanted to have them with us more but we wondered how we could make that happen. We have found some tips and tricks to get them out of their cages more often and interacting with us as a family more. I love these tips too because the guinea pigs aren’t bored alone in their cages so they are happier little guys.
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We have two boy guinea pigs so they are very territorial and they will fight. For this reason, we keep them separate and if they are ever near each other we supervise heavily. Yes, we helicopter parent the pigs (we like to call them the pigs because it’s funny). Our pigs hang out with us a lot every day using the following tricks.
10 Tricks to Get Your Guinea Pig Out of his Cage More and Interacting With Your Family
Guinea pigs do like to have a hideout place to dart into because this makes them feel more secure, so we’ve often incorporated this fact into how we have them out with us. Here are 10 ways we have our pigs out with us:
1. Use Towels and Waterproof Mattress Pads
Towels and waterproof mattress pads are a great way to have them hang out on the couch because all we need to do is shake them off and wash them. This protects the couch from any urine or excrement (they do go to the bathroom a lot). We started putting our pigs on a stack of four folded bath towels on the couch or on mattress pads and they pretty much think of that spot as theirs so they stay on the towels. We have little washable beds we flip upside down that they like to hang out under like a cave. They feel safe under these beds and will often sleep or lounge for hours but come out every so often to socialize or look for snacks. The kids watch tv or play games while lounging next to the pigs on the couch.
2. Use a Kiddie Pool as a Play Pen in the Living Room
A kiddie pool placed in the living room works great as a guinea pig play pen. We always provide something for them to go into or under so they can feel safe. We use a box or their beds or even a towel for them to slip under. This may not work for homes with cats or dogs who will bother or attack the pigs, but it is a great solution for homes where this will work (our dogs will sit on the couch next to the pigs and not bother them, but always are supervised). The pool can easily be washed with soap and water to clean it up if they go to the bathroom. We often add towels to the kiddie pool too. Kids can easily help clean up any messes by using a towel and mild soap with water in a spray bottle.
3. Use a Kiddie Pool as a Play Pen Outdoors
We take our pigs outside and put them in the kiddie pool on the grass as an option too. This way the pig can enjoy the outdoors also, but we always stay near them in case they figure out how to jump out (ours haven’t yet).
The other reason to stay near them is to make sure a hawk won’t swoop down and steal them. This would be devastating and something I don’t want to see happen. We stay near our pigs also anytime we have them outside so they don’t run off in a panic and get lost. Their behavior shows they know they are prey animals so they often don’t like open spaces so they will dart for the nearest cover. If a cover is provided in the kiddie pool, they will feel more comfortable, protected, and happy.
We find cleaning up the kiddie pool outside is easy using a hose to simply rinse out the pool. We often grab a handful of grass for them to munch on while they are in the kiddie pool. They happily squeak and munch on the grass.
My boys have had fun putting the guinea pigs in the kiddie pool to float in like a boat in our in-ground swimming pool.
4. Use Boxes as Play Pens/Shelters or Magnet Tiles to Make a Box
We often use boxes as play pens or as shelter. I like to use boxes because they soak up any urine, plus if they do get urinated on, it’s easy to replace with a new box. We are always getting new boxes at our house for deliveries so we never have a shortage of cardboard boxes to use for the pigs.
My kids love to make a box using magnet tiles for the pigs to hang out in.
5. Line Surfaces You Want to Protect with Puppy Pads
I will often line boxes, carpet, or even the couch with puppy pads to protect the surface. I’ve found puppy pads at many stores such as Target, Walmart, or pet supply stores and these pads work fantastic for soaking up urine. I simply roll them up and toss them, however, this can get expensive so using towels that can be washed is the cheaper way to go. I use the puppy pads sparingly to cut the cost.
6. Use a Shallow Plastic Storage Bin
Another idea that works out well is to buy a shallow plastic bin for your pig to sit in on the couch. We have some friends who have a guinea pig and they came up with this great idea. They can then move the pig around from couch to floor to anywhere by simply picking up the bin and moving it. I love how the guinea pig could easily move around with the family from floor to floor in the house or even outside with this option. Simply line it with towels, add some veggie snacks or hay and the bin works as a mobile play pen.
The plastic bin protects the couch or carpet as a bonus, plus it is easy to quickly wash the bin with a rag, soap, and water because it is plastic.
7. Allow Snuggle Time at Your Child’s Bedtime
My son loves to take time each night before bed to snuggle with his guinea pig in his bed. Butterscotch will sit, snuggle, and give my son lick kisses or 5-10 minutes. He would snuggle longer if there is time, so when there is the time he snuggles longer. This gives them special alone time. A towel can be laid down on the bed next to a child to catch any urine or stool (or use a puppy pad for extra protection), but we often find our guinea pigs go to the bathroom in their cages or their usual towels. However, we do see them going to the bathroom in the wrong spot occasionally, but they seem to like to go in the same spots if they can.
8. Take Your Guinea Pigs Outside in the Yard
We love to take our guinea pigs out to the yard to eat grass when it’s warm out. They love to eat grass, but we make sure the grass has not been treated with chemicals before we allow them to eat it. We always stay right near our pigs when outside because if they get spooked they may run under a bush and be hard to find or even get lost. Plus, we stay near them always when outside just in a case a hawk or bald eagle happens to be nearby in the trees.
9. Teach Your Guinea Pigs to Go Up the Stairs
Teach your pigs to go up the stairs for some exercise. My son taught both of our pigs to go up the stairs and the kids love to see them do this so it’s a great way to get pigs out of their cages and interacting with family. This is great too because the pigs get exercise by climbing the stairs.
How to Teach Your Pig to go up the stairs:
My son placed the pig in front of the step and lifted up the front of the pig slightly with a hand on each side of the pig. With a boost, they instinctively jumped up to the next step. He kept giving the guinea pigs a boost at each step all the way up the flight of stairs. He repeated this activity for several days in a row and the pigs learned how to do the whole flight of stairs by themselves. Now they always go up the stairs all by themselves when they need to go up to their cages. It is so cute to watch and they go so fast too! Wactch Butterscotch go up the stairs in this video.
10. Give Your Guinea Pig a Bath in the Bathtub or a Sink
Give them a bath in the bathtub or sink in a very small amount of water, like an inch or so. Some pigs like to swim so more water could be added, but start with just a little at first to see if they are a water-loving pig. Our pigs panicked at first but they did instinctively swim. Now we only bathe them if they get stinky and occasionally for fun (but we take them out immediately if they start to panic or try to jump out). We use just a tiny bit of tear-free baby soap or plain water. I have seen videos of guinea pigs online who love to swim in a large pool or a kiddie pool. I’ve read mixed reviews on whether they should be in chlorine or not, so we avoid putting them in chlorine (consult your vet).
We always stay with our pigs in water for safety reasons.
Being a guinea pig owner is fun for kids and the whole family. Getting your guinea pig out of his cage more is the best way to get the most enjoyment out of being a guinea pig pet owner. I hope this helps you find more ways to get your guinea pig out of his cage and interacting more with your family. For more tips on being a guinea pig owner, check out Why Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets for Kids.
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