A guinea pig is just a rodent – a tiny insignificant animal. Sure, the kids like them. But just the same, when you bring them home from the pet store, they’re just like any other possession (except they have that annoying habit of moving around) so they must be contained. So we have to toss them in a cage and give them food and water every day. They’ll be fine.
Hopefully that’s not your attitude.
Too many people seem to forget that guinea pigs are actually living, breathing beings that need to be cared for and shown the same respect that every living creature deserves. Not all people with this attitude are cold-hearted, unfeeling villains. Most are probably just well-meaning pet owners who simply haven’t done the research in order to educate themselves well enough to become knowledgeable, competent pet-owners.
As Guinea Pig C&C cage designers and sellers, we come into contact with a lot of guinea pig owners (often brand new guinea pig pet owners). We also communicate with and are monitored by various guinea pig rescue organizations. As such, there is one common specific cage-related situation which keeps surfacing and which is also decidedly hazardous to your pigs’ health and safety. The purpose of this article is to alert you to this common hazard so that you can easily avoid it.
This common problem is the usage of cage floors and other cage walking surfaces made of metal bars or grids. Many commercial cages are built with wire floors. The purpose of the wire floor is to let feces and other solid materials fall though the openings into a litter pan below. To clean, one simply slides out the litter pan and empties the pan. Very convenient – but dangerous for your pigs. While these types of cages offer a distinct convenience advantage for the owner, they are hazardous for your pig’s foot health.
Your guinea pig’s footpads are delicate and sensitive structures. To your pig, walking on wire mesh is just like you spending your entire day walking on rebar or similar metal bars in bare feet.
Living in a cage with a wire floor can cause sores and ulcers on your pig’s footpads. Additionally, your pig’s feet can get wedged or trapped between the metal bars. Pigs housed in cages with wire floors often suffer broken toes and legs.
The same is also true of ramps in multi-level cages. Ramps should not contain metal bars, mesh or anything else that may trap or irritate your guinea pigs tender feet.
Be sure to purchase or build a cage with a smooth bottom to avoid the injuries detailed above. Also, if applicable, make sure the ramp has a non-slip surface to allow your pig to negotiate it without falling or slipping but avoid ramps with metal bars or wire grids as these can trap delicate guinea pig feet and toes and cause painful injuries.