Monthly costs of guinea pig

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:30 pm

Hello! My first post here :)

I'm hoping to adopt some guinea pigs in a couple of months, but in the meantime--research (with which this forum has already helped me greatly!). I was hoping you could help me with some issues I'm a bit unclear on.

I was attempting to calculate approximately how much I could expect in regular monthly expenses (not including things like vet visits). I've looked around at prices and think I have a reasonable idea of how much things cost, but not how much I'll need.

I'm currently thinking of a 2x5 cage (2 females, most likely), with a 1x2 kitchen area that will use bedding while the rest of the cage uses fleece. If I clean out the kitchen area twice a week, about how long will a 60L of Carefresh last me? (or any other kind of bedding, really. I just looked at Carefresh first since people seemed happy with it). Part of my confusion is that I'm unsure how deep the bedding needs to be--if I make it deeper and spot clean each day, is it more likely I could get away with a complete dump and refresh once a week? Or does this make no difference?

Similarly, I know the amount of hay available to the pigs should be unlimited, but about how many pounds of hay would a pair eat each month?

Also, if any fellow Southern Ontarians know of any good local places to buy hay, please let me know ;) (I'm in Vaughan, just above Toronto)

Thanks very much!

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:50 pm

If you have a 2 by 5, I'd consider doing fleece/towels. Carefresh is going to be expensive in that big a cage. Or if you can find a local feed store, they usually sell hay and bedding cheaper.

You can find an oxbow retailer by going to

I'd recommend ordering kleenmama in bulk but I don't think she ships to canada.

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:13 pm

I use nothing but Carefresh Ultra and it costs me a fortune! It's good that you are planning to only use it in the small section of your cage. How often/much you need to spot clean depends on your guinea pigs' habits. If they only 'go' in your small kitchen area you will be constantly replacing the Carefresh. If they use the fleece more, than you could possibly get by with once a week. However, you should plan on a minimum of once weekly. You could do an experiment and see how many times you can fill the kitchen with one Carefresh bag.

Local hay is usually much cheaper than having it shipped to your home. Pet stores are the most expensive places to buy hay and their hay is usually old/dry because it goes through distributors and is generally stored longer before you get it.

As for vet bills, you would need a crystal ball to see the future to know that! I recommend having a credit card in addition to a vet fund savings account with a few hundred dollars in it, so you will be prepared for an emergency if necessary. Hopefully you won't need it though!

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:26 pm

Mash, there is the Canadian Pet Connection in Oakville that sells Oxbow bulk hay, pellets and aspen shavings. I also sell all these in my store in the Pape & Danforth area of Toronto. if you’re interested.

There is also a newer product we just got in called Pestell Boxo. It is a paper product just like Care Fresh, but it is a bit cheaper and works better, plus is much softer.

My 2 pigs (now have 3) were going through a 25 pound box of Oxbow timothy hay every 2 months. For bedding, I used Care Fresh (now Boxo) and would spot clean daily, and full cage change once a week. I normally put the bedding 1 ½ inches deep and slightly thicker where they sleep or spend more time.

Fleece is really good but does require changing frequently. If you have your own washing machine and dryer, that might work for you. However if like me, you use public machines, I would suggest either washing the fleece by hand or using another type of bedding.

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:09 pm

I have a 2x4 cage that uses Jen's (Jen's Custom Crafts in the products area of the forum) cage liners and then a kitchen area with Carefresh for our 2 girls.
We can go about a week between cage cleanings, but we do spot scoop the kitchen area when needed, and scoop poops from the rest of the cage daily. The large bags of Carefresh last 3-4 cage cleanings (usually about 3 1/2) and our kitchen area is about 1x1.
We used to use only Carefresh, and we were buying the large bags every other week, which added up quickly.
I'm interested to see the Boxo when I can next get to Kallie's store! Anything that works like Carefresh but is cheaper can't be a bad thing in my books.
If there's a Global Pet Foods near you, they're a Canadian chain that does not sell animals, and most carry Oxbow hay & pellets, if you can't/don't want to travel into downtown Toronto.
Last edited by tashab on Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:12 pm

Thanks for the replies!

sus4rabbitsnpigs: unfortunately I don't think Kleenmamma ships to Canada either (I can't remember where I saw that, but it sounds familiar). I do plan on using fleece everywhere besides the kitchen area, as I have a washer/dryer :)

PinkRufus: I have my fingers crossed that they go in one area, but unfortunately, I'm sure it won't quite work out that way in reality ;) I guess it will really come down to the pigs. I sometimes think I may be going a bit overboard on planning!

Kallie: I was just in that area yesterday, I'll be sure to check it out when I'm there again :) Thanks for the details about what you use--I must admit, the 25lb every two months was a bit more often than I guessed!

Tashab: thanks for the input :) I should look into liners etc. as a possible option as well.


Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:20 pm

For my three sows (but one is still pretty young):

I have a 1x1 kitchen (I know small, but its working great for my girls and they have no problem sharing--I've seen three piggie bums munching happily together), and a 60L of carefresh will last me about 2 months, spot cleaning one day and completely changing the next (so a spot cleaning=basically 1/2 of their kitchen plus picking up hay that's fallen out of the rack and poops). So you might be going through a bag a month, or if your kitchen is bigger, you might be able to go longer between cleanings/not have to replace as much in between because of saturation. My kitchen is about 1"-2" deep which is more because if its any shallower, they kick out the stuff easier.

I buy 1 10lb bag of Oxbow hay every 3-4 weeks. I buy one 5lb bag of pellets a month. I buy 2 bunches of cilantro, 1 head of green/red leaf lettuce, and a bell pepper each week. They also eat snap peas and carrots on occasion, but that's the humans sharing with the guinea pigs (as in not buying just for their use).

I use fleece and puppy pads for my cage, so I have a 100 pad box of pads from Costco that I'm still working through from when I bought it the third week in May (one week into the second 50 now). I change my fleece twice a week (wed and sun-ish).

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:01 pm

KM doesn't ship hay to Canada but you can still order pellets!


Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:47 pm

Wow, is it just my pigs? I go through one nine pound bag of oxbow hay every 3 weeks or so. I have 6 pigs. They are never out of hay, but do get lots of fresh grass in the summer and corn husks when I have them.

I use boxo for my skinny pig's cage and love it. It is quite a bit cheaper where I work than the Carefresh. (pet valu) I am in the kw area and have not been able to find a feed store that has hay. We are surrounded by farms but all the hay they seem to have alfalfa in it.

Another option for your kitchen area would be wood stove pellets. Home Hardware has 40lbs for about $6. I use them in the other two cages and they are great for odor. You just have to be sure they are 100% pine. When they get wet they break down into sawdust so they don't hurt their feet. Much nicer than shavings but cheaper than boxo. My skinny thinks they are chew toys but none of the other 5 have tried to eat them.

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Post   » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:33 pm

Thanks, all :D

dmppiggie: thanks, I think that gives me a good general idea (and also reminds me that I forgot to ask about pellets!)

caruba: ahh, good to know, although I'll probably end up sticking with Oxbow pellets simply because it's more widely available here :)

labrynthlegond: hehe, just from the small sample I have so far, it seems the range of hay eaten can be huge! I'll definitely look into wood pellets; I was a little hesitant before because I thought I'd have to mix it with Carefresh anyway, but at that difference in price it would be worth the extra step.

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Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:32 am

I recently ordered those cage liners too and will be so glad to have them, to replace my worn towels and fleece.

Veggies are costly here. One average small veg costs 3$ here, a large type 5$. Pellets and hay have to be ordered online to get some remotely decent hay and a better quality pellet.

Besides that, you will be temped to buy some new ietms to please the piggies, like hideys, coseys and so.


Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:15 am

I buy lots of veggies too for my boys. My mom and dad recently went to a farmer's market and called to see what their grandkids would like to eat from there. They have made slaves out of my parents too.

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Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:46 am

Instead of using Carefresh, you can use wood stove pellets. Feline Pine is the same thing, just packaged for cats and more expensive.

I use the wood stove pellets and it's about $5 for a 40lb bag. Feline pine is about $10 for a 25lb bag. Even if you go with the Feline Pine it's WAY cheaper than care fresh.

THe pellets dissolve to sawdust when wet. You can put a layer of aspen shavings over top if you are worried about your pigs walking on them.

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Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:53 pm

Thanks everyone, your suggestions are much appreciated :)

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Post   » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:32 pm

My 4 pigs go through about 70lbs of hay in 3 months. I buy 70lb bales for 6$ at a feedstore. I use fleece a layer of towels and puppy pads in my main cage and then I use pine shavings in my kitchen box. I pay about 4$ for a 12cubic pack of shavings so one pack lasts me about 4-6 months and I change the litter pans every 2-3 days.


Post   » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:02 pm

Hay and Pellets - Montreal Critters and Canadian Pet Connection both ship it for roughly the same cost. Flowertown Chinchillas also carries it for much cheaper if you pick up (disclaimer: they breed Chinchillas). I don't have a car, so that didn't work out for me.

Wal-Mart has a bedding called Critter care, which is the cheapest available (I've done the math) for a Carefresh-equivalent bedding. It'd be about $5/week for a 1x2, more if you clean it out more.

Also, don't forget veggies and all of the pretty things you'll want to buy them!

Another tip: don't buy anything without consulting here first. We spent soo much money on a cage and supplies that we don't use because they're inappropriate. You can save yourself alot of money by making sure you're buying the right things.

Where are you thinking about getting your pigs from?


Post   » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:07 pm

Your set up sounds pretty similar to mine, so here are my estimates in USD.

Carefresh can be expensive (a 50L bag that is around $15 might last you 3 changes.) More affordable options might be Yesterday's News, a purina newspaper cat litter; or hard wood pellets (a type of animal bedding or stove fuel), or aspen shavings (which you can buy at a horse feed store.)

If you can find a feed store near you, you will save a lot of money, especially on hay.

Research how much Oxbow pellets will cost. This is important.

Research cost of veggies in your local neighborhood. Primarily, lettuce.

Research vet fees and have a slush fund. (I'm reluctant to reccomend guinea pig ownership to anyone who feels money is super tight, if only because vet fees can be astonishingly high.)

You can save a lot of money by avoiding toys and treats sold in pet stores, they are worthless--better, cheaper toys can be made using regular household goods!

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Post   » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:08 pm

Congrats on adopting :)

My girls get unlimited Oxbow timothy hay, and it takes them about 10 months to go through a 50-lb box.

We also use just plain aspen bedding for the kitchen area. It works just fine.

Edited to add: I definitely agree with considering potential vet bills. Maggie suddenly had an abscess back in March, and in the end it cost us about $400 (between the actual surgery, medication, and follow-up visits).

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Post   » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:27 am

Ditto considering future vet bills. In about a month we spent about $1000 on two pigs. We haven't spent much since, but things do have a habit of happening all at once.

Cinnabuns Legacy

Post   » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:36 am

There is a knock off version of Carefresh that costs, even where I live where things tend to be really expensive, at least two if not three times less than Carefresh. It's called CritterCare. And CritterCare isn't running a grant system (grrr) for classroom pets.

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