Bedding Question

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Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:00 am

My wife and I recently moved, and we have decided to rescue a couple of piggies when we're all settled in. I've decided on the food and hay we're going to use, but I'm still unsure of the bedding. I know they say pine shavings aren't as bad as cedar, but I really don't want to risk it. Also, we're planning on cleaning the cage (a good sized C&C cage) twice a week, and dumping that much carefresh would be way too costly. I've been seeing a lot of pictures of piggy cages w blankets/fabric as bedding, and I just have a few questions about that. Do your pigs chew holes in it? Do you feel as though it gets smellier faster than something like carefresh would? Is it messier/more of a pain in the butt to clean vs. just dumping some disposable bedding? Do they mess it up the way bunnies do? (ok, I know pigs don't dig like bunnies, but I wasn't sure if they'd try and burrow under it leaving the bottom of the cage exposed) Are there any pros/cons of fabric bedding you can think of? I can only imagine it would be a lot more comfy/pleasant/home-y for the pigs to have nice fleecy bedding, but my main concern is the smell. Any thoughts?
Oh and while I'm at it, how do you feel about Oxbow hay and pellets?
Thanks in advance!


Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:25 am

Try the search function. These questions have already been answered many times over.

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Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:42 am

I use fleece as the bedding in my C&C and I think it's great.

I've not had a piggy yet that has chewed holes in the fleece, but if there's a label on the fleece they like to chew that off, so I just make sure to cut it off.

I've not tried Carefresh so I can't compare, but I think if the cage is a good size and you're cleaning it twice a week I doubt it'd get very smelly. The idea of a cage full of carefresh makes me imagine it being quite messy and getting everywhere.

I don't find it too difficult to clean. I sweep all of the poops, hay, hair off the top, roll up the fleece, take it outside and give it a good shake and then throw it in the washing machine. It doesn't take long at all to do. Plus, when you've got a few sets of fleece and underthings (towels etc) you don't need to buy new until they're all worn out. And I have fleece that are 5 years old and still going strong.

*touches wood* I've never had a burrower, but I know there are people on GL that have had piggies who like to tunnel under the fleece. It can be solved either by weighing down the edges of the fleece with bricks, or clipping the fleece to the cage sides. (Unless your piggies name is Ouiser because she can magic herself under the fleece still)

I find fleece is better for my old pig to walk on, it's nice and soft and there's nothing for him to climb over/walk through.

I do have a kitchen area which I put carefresh in. I put their hay in there so it gets pooped and peed on alot more, so I clean that alot more often.

Oxbow is a great source of hay and pellets and I wish we could get it over here in the UK cheaper, but sadly not. A lot of the US members of GL prefer to use KM hay and pellets. I don't know the website unfortunately but I'm sure a search on here (KM's hayloft) should bring something up

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Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:42 am

Yeah, I definitely wouldn't use pine. I took in a pig that had been housed on pine, & he still reeked of pine long after removing him from his old cage.

I used to use all Carefresh (BIG pain/HUGE expense to cover a C&C, not to mention the regular stuff is dusty/caused some of my pigs to sneeze), but now only use fleece. I know a lot of members have a "kitchen" area in addition to the fleece, where they'll use some form of litter.

I don't think smell is any more of an issue with fleece provided it properly wicks/you change it often enough.

Some pigs do burrow, which is why some owners will clip the fleece to the coroplast. I've only had one burrower, but he was ill/trying to hide. My current trio aren't very active, so the fleece stays in place. I know there are plenty of healthy pigs that burrow, though, so you want to be prepared.

Oxbow pellets are considered pretty top notch, but there is concern on this forum that they aren't the greatest choice for pigs more prone to bladder stones, grit, etc. Instead, they (myself included) opt for KM's Timothy Choice (for adult pigs, that is). Their hay is also some of the best out there, if not the best. Despite it being expensive to ship hay, it ends up cheaper for me than Oxbow.

Oxbow is considered quality hay, but there is such a wide variation from bag to bag. I've had very soft bags of fragrant hay, but also frequently very hard stemmy pieces that I fear will poke them in the eye.

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Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:44 am


Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:47 am

Hi BambiQwon

Welcome to Guinea Lynx.

At different times I've used pine shavings, Carefresh, puppy pads and fleece/towelling. They all have their own pros and cons. You might need to try each different type out to see whats best for you and your piggies, but here is what I thought:

I found that pine shavings (spread thickly over newspapers) smelled nice but were rather messy, and easily kicked out of the enclosure by my piggies.
Carefresh was good - didn't smell of anything and only needed changing once a week, but was expensive.
Puppy pads were my least favourite - they harboured a bit of a stink and broke up quickly, meaning my piggies could kick them to bits and chew them.
At present I use fleece over old towels. I've found that it's the most cost-effective type of bedding (I buy second hand towels and fleeces from Ebay so they've already been washed plenty and are ready to be used for bedding straight away) and it's nice and soft on their feet. It's also good for me as it means I battle with my allergies less.

I've never kept rabbits so can't compare their behavior to guinea pigs, but I've never had a piggy chew their fleece/toweling bedding. Some of the piggies do like to burrow under the bedding, however a brick in each corner of the cage holds the bedding down and stops them from burrowing. I can vouch for Oxbow hay being popular but I've not seen Oxbow pellets on sale here. Maybe another member of the forum will post about that later on.

Something I should add is that I have five boars in the same room as each other, so they're naturally a bit stinky. A plug-in air freshener helps with that though!

As Piguet recommended, the search function is a pretty good tool, but if you can't find what you're looking for please do ask and I'm sure that you'll find most folks are very happy to help, so long as you post plenty of photos of your new piggies!


Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:02 pm

My girl LOVES her Oxbow Cavy Cuisine. When we first got her she was 4 months old so I fed her basic alfalfa guinea pig pellets. When she hit 6 months we switched her to Cavy Cuisine because it's made with Timothy hay, and she went bonkers for it. If I put her pellet bowl in at the same time as her veggies, it's a toss up as to which she'll head for first!

I've never had a problem with her chewing on her fleece or the towels below. If you have a washer/dryer in your home it's a very convenient and inexpensive bedding to use. I change it two times a week, but I have a piggie that almost exclusively uses the corners for her bathroom, so they get pretty saturated.


Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:52 pm

Thanks so much guys! I think I am going to go with fleece and some sort of "kitchen" area. Is the kitchen just for hay, and the food and water is downstairs, or is it all together?

Also, 8ball, do you find boars to be smellier than sows?

I'll definitely look into kms hayloft and I promise to post pictures of the babies when they arrive :)

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Post   » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:05 pm

Pine has an undeserved bad reputation. It's all kiln dried these days anyway, so no dangerous phenols. It's inexpensive and can be found most anywhere, even some grocery stores. It does a great job on killing odors and wetness, especially if you put a thin layer of wood pellets underneath. My main beef with it is like 8ball says--it gets kicked out easily.

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Post   » Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:27 am

Pine has a strong odor, even if it's not harmful. I don't care for the smell, & would question whether a pig wanted to always be smelling that strong aroma (but that's just me).

If you are going to have a two story C&C, I would be sure to have hay & water on both levels (maybe pellets, provided they don't overdo it). Hard to always predict where they'll go to the bathroom, but near the water & (in the!) hay is a good bet.

I've had more boars than sows & don't find them to be any smellier. My two current seniors only smell if "stuff" accumulates in their sac/I don't clean it out. Something to factor in with the boars, but more so as they age.

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Post   » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:10 am

I open my bales of pine shavings as soon as I get them home. I find the pine smell airs out pretty quickly - long before I put it in the pig cage.


Post   » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:01 pm

I really only know of pine and fleece. My pig lived on pine for about three weeks, while I was gathering supplies and found out about guinealynx. This all about happened a week after finding guinealynx. Then when the cage was done he was fleece from there on. I really love fleece and so does my piggy. :)


Post   » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:47 pm

I also have a question about switching to fleece bedding:
Our vet says our 4 1/2 year old female has a respiratory infection, likely from from her pine litter, which we have always used. She recommends switching to Oxbow Pure Comfort paper bedding. The paper is very expensive, and we found when we tried it with a previous guinea pig that it got wet and smelly sooner than shavings. While pricing bedding online, I came across fleece bedding, which I had never heard of, but many people seem to like it.

My concern is that Molly is a big chewer and will eat anything. We keep half her cage covered with a towel, and she has eaten large holes in several. In her lifetime, she has also eaten large pieces of plastic grocery bags, corners of books and cardboard boxes, hair and clothing, and even the couch and carpet when I have her out! She likes a wooden chew toy with a bell that hangs on the side of her cage, but still chews her pine litter constantly, so I feel fairly certain she would eat fleece. I know it would be bad for her, being polyester and not even a natural material like cotton.

1) Has anyone had a piggy who couldn't use fleece bedding because of chewing?
2) Has anyone had a piggy who chews a lot but who did NOT chew fleece?
3) Is anyone with familiar with The kind of fleece they sell looks like the ordinary printed kind you can pick up at Wal-Mart, but I'm concerned about dyes and residue of detergent after laundering if Molly chews it.
Thank you!

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Post   » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:18 pm

PiggyBedspreads is great (they're one of the supporters of this site).

I do not recall chewing fleece being an issue for people who have used it.

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Post   » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:22 pm

Most pigs don't eat fleece. It doesn't ravel, so they don't get threads. You could always test it by just putting a piece in the cage and seeing what she does with it.

There are thousands of us who use fleece with no problems with dyes and detergent residue. I wouldn't worry about those things. The bigger issue with chewing is if she ingests enough for an intestinal blockage.

But most pigs don't chew that much. I'd be concerned about why she's such a non-stop chewer. Chewing can be a sign of pain -- does she have anything going on healthwise that might be causing her pain? Does she have unlimited hay to eat?


Post   » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:47 pm

I've cared for hundreds of pigs that have come through the rescue and I haven't yet found any that chew the fleece. I have had a few burrowers and some of those were so persistent that I switched them to a loose bedding.

I want you to be aware that when we talk about fleece, we mean fleece on the top and several layers of absorbent material underneath. Most people start out with cotton towels as the item underneath. A good ratio is to have about 3 layers of towels to one layer of fleece. You can often get both towels and fleece at your local thrift store for cheap. The premise is that the cotton sucks the wet down and leaves the fleece dry. You do still have to sweep up poos daily with a hand broom and dustpan.

You do have to change out fleece and towels more often than other bedding. It depends on how big your cage it, how many pigs are in the cage and how much each individual pig drinks (and wets). Generally, a 2X4 grid sized cage with two female pigs needs changed about every three days. Soiled fleece can be given a good shake outside to remove hay and then tossed into the washing machine with the towels. I usually washed on hot. Do not used any kind of softener in the washing machine and don't use a softener sheet in the dryer (they reduce the ability of the fleece to wick away moisture). Sometimes after a lot of use, there may be a little odor build up and then you can use some vinegar in the rinse. A great thing about fleece and towels is that it takes very little time for a cage cleaning. You remove the pigs, whip out the fleece and towels, give the coroplast a quick wipedown with vinegar from a spray bottle, rinse and dry, put the clean towels and fleece in and it's ready to go. It you get to the point of sewing your own cage blankets, a cage cleaning is even faster.

Most people generally create a hay area within the cage, either with coroplast or, what I did, was use a kitty litter pan (cut down a bit in the front) and filled with wood stove pellets. I highly recommend wood stove pellets in a hay area. They are cheap, super absorbent and don't need changed as often as the fleece. They are somewhat heavy though so they are not suitable for an area larger than that. And wood stove pellets are biodegradable so they can be added to a compost pile or just spread outside in an out of the way area.

I hope this helps.


Post   » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:52 pm

Thank you for this input! Trying out a piece of fleece to see what she does with it sounds like a great idea. And it's encouraging to know that dyes and detergent are not something to be overly worried about.

I don't think the constant chewing is a result of pain since she has been at it for over four years, but I know I have been remiss in not giving her a constant supply of hay before. She gets plenty now, so she may not eat fleece if her need to chew is satisfied.

Up until recently, most of my guinea pig husbandry was based on a couple books I had back in the 90's with my first piggy with some outdated ideas such as using cedar chips (fortunately found out that wasn't right by the second pig) and feeding primarily pellets with fresh food and hay only as occasional treats(!). I have started to provide unlimited hay after reading about it on this site and visiting the vet. (Back in the 90's, there WAS no vet in our area who really knew about piggies!)

Thank you, everyone! I am so excited to have discovered this site. It is a wonderful resource and it gives me peace of mind to be able to look up medical issues and ask questions from people much more experienced.

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Post   » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:03 pm

It sounds like you've come a long way! Glad to hear this site helped.

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