Guinea pigs need comfortable bedding, but you may not get the bedding material for some reason sometimes. On the other hand, hay is one of the most important and available supplies for your guinea pigs. So, you may wonder, Can you use hay for guinea pig bedding?
You can use hay as an urgent solution for guinea pig’s bedding. Meadow hay is better than timothy hay as bedding because it’s softer in texture. Try to use fresh hay from a farm supply store, as dried hay isn’t preferable for bedding. However, you shouldn’t use hay as bedding for a long time as it’s not an ideal bedding option for guinea pigs.
Now you may wonder, why hay isn’t a good option for bedding.
And, if you still decide to use hay, how to use it? What are the alternatives to hay for guinea pigs’ bedding?
Let’s find it out.
Is hay good for guinea pig bedding?
Hay can be a good choice as a bedding material for temporary solution use in an urgent situation like when you are out of bedding materials or have other problems. But, it can’t control moisture, give comfort and meet all the requirements that guinea pig’s bedding should provide. So, you must consider the regular bedding option.
What are the advantages of using hay as bedding?
Here are the pros of hay as bedding for your guinea pigs.
1. Natural Bedding
If you are looking for natural bedding for your guinea pigs, hay can be a great option. But, it’s not that natural material for bedding is mandatory for the piggies.
2. Cheaper bedding option
Hay is one of the cheaper alternatives to guinea pig bedding. Besides, you need to buy hay to feed your piggies. So, you aren’t wasting any money.
You can get the hay anywhere in the world for guinea pigs. But, other bedding materials may not be available all time in some places. However, you can order any bedding from an online store today.
4. Guinea pig loves hay
You may wonder what your guinea pigs think about the hay as bedding. The interesting fact is they love hay and if you tell them to prefer a bedding material, they will pick hay.
Guinea pigs can’t stay without eating hay. So, they would love it if you put it all around the floor.
You may also find some piggies like to bury themselves inside the hay before they sleep. But, make sure it’s fresh hay.
5. Playing and tunneling
Hay also helps give an area in the cage for tunneling for guinea pigs. Piggies also like to play with hay and nibble on it.
6. Provide nutrition
Hay is the main food for guinea pigs. So, if you use hay as bedding, guinea pigs may eat it that provides them nutrition and there’s no chance of having a moment without hays. The reason is they can’t stay a day without having hay.
But, even if you don’t use hay bedding, there are always some wonderful options that you can use to protect them. In many cases, those are even better.
Hay provides fibers that maintain their digestive system. Moreover, it helps prevent their dental problems.
Unlike wood shavings, hays are free of dust if you buy a good quality product. Dust can be bad for your piggies respiration. If you are allergic to dust, you can also get benefit from it.
8. Keep guinea pigs warm
Hay is a good option to keep your guinea pigs warm in winter. In fact, piggies love to burrow under the hay. So, use hay to let them bury themselves at night. This will help them in insulation and deep sleep. They can also eat hay when they are hungry. Be sure to you use fresh hay.
If you set guinea pig’s cage outside your home, this technique can also help.
For those who are trying to use cedar or wood shavings to keep them warm, I will recommend not doing that. Those are not only poor insulation options but also harmful for piggy’s lungs. Instead of that, Use fresh hay or go for fleece bedding.
9. Work well for a litter training
Hay is used in the litter box or tray to litter train the piggies.
What are the drawbacks of using hay as bedding?
Despite various advantages, hay bedding has a lot of disadvantages. That’s why people go for some special bedding options for guinea pigs.
Here are the cons of hay as bedding.
1. Poor odor control
As hay gets wet and can’t be dried so easily, it will produce a bad smell like a barn. So, it may not be friendly for the owner.
2. Guinea pigs pee on hay
If your guinea pigs aren’t litter trained, they will pee on it frequently. So, all cages can be dirty and wet very soon.
3. Not a good absorbent
Hay isn’t very good absorbent. Moreover, guinea pigs will pee on it again and again and keep it wet all the time, if they’re not little trained. So, it’s a bad option as bedding to maintain hygiene. Even though many of you would like to use newspaper as an absorbent, it might not work well in a long run. Besides, the ink of newspaper bad for piggies health if they decide to eat that.
4. Mold quickly
Hay bedding gets mold so fast because of poor absorbency and pee of your piggies.
5. Growing up of bacteria and microorganisms
Since guinea pigs pee on hay bedding and it remains wet all the time, bacteria and microorganisms can be grown up very easily which’s bad for piggy’s health.
6. Need frequent cleaning
To maintain proper hygiene and keep the bedding free from moisture, you have to change the hay bedding quite frequently than other bedding materials. You have to replace the bedding every 2-3 days with new hays. But, still, all of the drawbacks make it a bad option for bedding.
Which hay is better for guinea pig bedding?
Fresh meadow hay is a great option for guinea pig’s bedding for temporary use. This hay is soft and comfortable as for them. Moreover, they also get nutrition from the meadow hay. However, you must put timothy or orchard hay as the main diet inside the cage.
However, make sure that meadow hay is fresh and doesn’t contain any dust.
Can you use timothy hay for guinea pig bedding?
Timothy hay can be used as bedding for guinea pigs. The good thing about fresh timothy hay is it has a pleasant smell and can absorb some moisture. Besides guinea pigs love to nest in it and eat it whenever they want. However, the downside is timothy hay can’t control odor, mold fast, and need to change frequently.
Absorbancy isn’t so good as other bedding options. When timothy hay gets wet, it will mold fast.
You can use ink-less paper under the hay to increase absorbency.
How can use hay in a guinea pig’s cage?
First of all, buy good quality hay that’s not dried. Dried hay isn’t suitable for guinea pig’s bedding. So, you should get hay from a farmer.
Most of the hay that you get from a pet store is dried. So, it makes a poor bedding option.
Moreover, you can purchase it from the farm supply store at a much less price.
Now, if you have decided to use hay as bedding for guinea pigs, you should be aware of its drawbacks and take some important actions.
Hay isn’t very good absorbent. So, use shredded paper or newspaper on the floor of the cage and then put hay over it. This will keep the surface dry and prevent bad odor. Make sure that paper is inkless or it can be harmful to piggies. But, truth is, even using a paper layer can’t prevent moisture and odor much.
Besides, you must remove any soiled material regularly from the surface.
Within 5 days hay starts to composts. So, this bedding can’t even last more than 3 days and it will start to mold and grow up bacterias because of the pee that remains on the hay.
So, you have to change the hay every 2-3 days or earlier to prevent microorganisms from growing and keep your guinea pigs healthy.
However, all of these are hard to do and it makes a wrong choice as a bedding option. So, I suggest you choose another bedding option for your guinea pigs.
Hay vs Straw for guinea pigs bedding
Many people get confused between hay and straw. These two are completely different when we talk about pets. Hay is soft and friendly for pets such as guinea pigs while straw is hard and doesn’t make comfortable bedding for guinea pigs. The sharp structure of the Straw can injury the eyes, ear, nose, and different parts of your piggies body. In addition, straw can’t absorb urine or moisture and make the surface wet. This makes it unhygienic bedding. Moreover, it can’t control odor. So, straw is not recommended as bedding for guinea pigs.
Top 5 Alternatives to hay bedding for guinea pig
Hay bedding isn’t ideal for guinea pigs and that’s why you may want to know, what can you use instead of hay for guinea pigs bedding?
You can use Carefresh natural papers, Kiln dried pine, aspen wood shavings, or fleece instead of the hay as perfect guinea pigs bedding. These products are specially prepared for your piggies. So, you can get almost all the benefits good bedding should have.
Let’s take a look at the alternatives to hay for guinea pig’s bedding.
1. Natural paper bedding
Carefresh is a natural paper bedding that’s one of the most popular bedding options for guinea pigs. It can resist bad odor and absorb moisture really well. This product is also free from dust and added smell.
It’s also cheap in price and good in terms of availability.
2. Kiln-dried pine
Pine bedding may seem good to hay bedding for guinea pigs bedding, all pine shavings aren’t healthy for them. Use kiln-dried pine that’s specially made for guinea pigs.
They are processed to make it free from aromatic oil that’s bad for piggy’s health. Moreover, they also have no dust. But, ensure that you get the best product. They have good absorbency and odor control properties as well.
3. Aspen bedding
This is made from aspen wood. Aspen shavings are dust extracted and free of volatile oils. So, it’s safe for guinea pigs. Though they have no such bad smell on their own, they aren’t good at controlling odors. So, you need to clean the cage frequently to keep it odor-free.
4. Hemp bedding
Hemp bedding is made from the hemp plant and it’s well known for its good absorbency. It’s also dust-free. Use newspaper as the base and use the hemp over it to get a better result. Urine passes through the top layer and keeps the surface dry.
The fleece blanket isn’t like hay but it makes good bedding for guinea pigs. This bedding is easy to use. Your piggies will love the softness of the bedding. It’s cost-effective as you don’t have to buy it for one time and reuse it. However, it has some issues with controlling odor. So, you have to clean it regularly.
Though hay is a “must-have” component for a guinea pig’s cage and guinea pigs can’t live without hay, it can’t be a good option to make bedding. You can use it only as an urgent solution. Go for natural paper fibers like Carefresh or soft bedding like fleece for your guinea pigs instead of hay. You can also consider Kiln dried pine or aspen wood shavings.