Three simple, homemade toys cavies love

2 May

Let’s be honest: cavies aren’t hamsters. They don’t run in wheels, climb tubes or sneak out on midnight escapades. What’s a quiet, homebody of a critter to do for fun?

Our cavy friends like to keep things simple. Most of the toys they love, such as hideaways and cuddle cups, can be made at home, with supplies you probably have on hand.

Hideaways

These are most popular among cavies who still like to hide away in “burrows,” even if they’ve forgotten how to make their own.

Commercial hideaways come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colors, but they can cost $10, $15 or more. Hideaways from the store also sometimes run a little small for some adult guinea pigs. Fortunately, if you can’t find a hideaway that suits your needs, it’s easy enough to build your own.

Chances are you already have a hideaway tucked in some closet somewhere — a simple shoe box will work just fine. Turn the shoe box upside down, cut a door in one side, and voilà. Hideaway. Your cavy might eat the box, but that’s fine. It might even prevent them from chewing their cage.

The nice thing about this homemade technique is that you can convert just about anything a cavy could hide in or under into a toy. This might not be very fancy, but it’s likely your cavy doesn’t mind. But if you do want something nicer, and you’re remotely handy with a hammer, you can always build your own wood hideaway from scraps. Just be sure you don’t use any toxic paints or adhesives.

A commercial treat basket for vegetables.

A commercial treat basket for vegetables.

Treat Trappers

Guinea pigs fancy three hobbies in particular: running, hiding and eating. They’re naturally grazers and foragers, so a box or basket stuffed with hay and herbs is always a hit.

Again, your local pet store will have numerous commercial options for this sort of thing. Some will even come with mounts or chains so that you can hang them from the wall or ceiling of your guinea pig’s pen, which can be especially helpful if your enclosure is on the small side. However, making your own at home can be as simple as stuffing a spent toilet paper roll. No additional expenses necessary.

You could also build your own treat basket with just about any kind of wire mesh or grid, so long as the openings in the wire are large enough for cavies to remove their treats.

What sort of stuffing should you use? Just about any kind of treat your cavies enjoy will work. Anything long and narrow will work best — think hay, grass, dandelions, parsley or cilantro. If you use anything that comes out of your yard, be sure it hasn’t been sprayed, and wash it thoroughly. Herbicides, pesticides, rodentcides, even unknown molds and bacteria could make your pet very sick.

Cuddle Cups

Not every cavy will use a cuddle cup, but the nest builders in your herd — usually the females — will enjoy them.

These can be more difficult to find at a store, but larger outlets might have one or two options. Some cavy enthusiasts do make specialized cuddle cups and sell them online. You can also find detailed instructions for sewing your own, with pictures, over at guineapigcages.com.

In reality, a cavy cuddle toy doesn’t need to be especially fancy. The cavies that are inclined to use them will generally want to arrange their nest on their own, so any kind of soft fabric will do just fine. You could throw in a scrap of fleece, or an old tattered towel you were going to throw away anyway. In fact, a towel folded into quarters so that a few ends are left open will provide multiple warm, dark places for your cavy to snuggle.

Cuddle cups are probably best used as out-of-pen playtime toys, but if you do choose to leave one in the pen for your cavies, be sure whatever you use is easy to wash, and clean it often.

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