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I have two female guinea-pigs. They are just over a year old and aren't de-sexed.

I have two cages for them. One is an outside hutch and the other (the one where they have the issue) is an inside cage 1m long, 50cm wide and 35cm tall. The base of it is solid plastic and the top is a wire frame.

I use small cardboard boxes to make places for them to hide in and have done the whole time I've had them. Recently they've been chewing on the cardboard "homes" and ripping tape off (I don't think they are eating the tape as I've only seen them rip it off but not chew on it).

If I do take away their house they seem stressed and unhappy about it so I believe they still like their homes. I'm not sure why their behavior has changed so radically. Can anyone help?

  • If tape is eaten it can be problematic, when forming cardboard hide places or toys for my rabbits I use a non-toxic glue like Elmer's. – James Jenkins Jun 2 '14 at 10:39
  • It doesn't seem like folks are able to answer the question of why their behavior has changed, but perhaps if you change your question to ask for housing suggestions that wouldn't be harmful for them to eat you would get some responses. – Zaralynda Jun 27 '14 at 20:39
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Do you have things for them to chew on (like wooden blocks, chew sticks, etc?)? Guinea pig teeth grow constantly and if they don't have something to chew on all of the time, they get stressed and their teeth can overgrow. Most pet stores have lots of wooden things for small animals. Good luck!

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I've had three guinea pigs before and some will not stop chewing until the item is completely gone! Their behavior might have changed if you are spending less time with them or if there are more sounds around. Animals are finicky, so they could simply be bored/restless and looking for something to do.

Here's my advice...

  • Don't give them cardboard (unattended) with tape or anything printed on it, because even if they don't eat it, the adhesive from the tape probably isn't safe to chew on. Just because they can process some paper, doesn't mean they should. It is fun and cheap to make tunnels out of boxes, just make sure it's no more than a little corner-nibbling! :)
  • Guinea pigs don't live in the wild, but their ancestors were eaten by hawks and other large birds, so they are natural burrowers. Because of this, they should always have have access to a hiding place of some sort. (Though you can coax them out with food or occasionally play with them without the house.)
  • I'd recommend getting a non-dyed pine hideaway or one of the "chewable logs." These are tougher for them to eat and are safer for them.

Also, like Michelle suggested, chew sticks are great! Be careful not to get any toys that they can get "stuck" in (i.e. large loops they can get stuck around their necks). - The chew sticks are always a safe bet!

Good luck!

-- Update --

Just like with other animals and humans, there is no nutritional content in paper-based products. So if they fill up their tummies on cardboard, they could be missing out on nutrients from their regular food and hay. Also, too much of a non-food could cause a blockage - see previous link and this one.

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    This answer seems to imply that guinea pigs should not eat cardboard. I am 100% with you no tape or bright shiny print, but I am not aware of any issues with plain brown cardboard. Could you clarify your position or provided references for excluding it? Also you did not mention hay, which is dietary requirement for them much like rabbits – James Jenkins Dec 1 '15 at 11:32
  • @james-jenkins, the only reason I did not mention hay is because the question was regarding housing. Of course, hay should be available to them 24/7 as it wears down their teeth and is a main source of nutrition! I didn't "exclude" cardboard (in fact, I agreed that giving them boxes to play in is fun and cheap), but I said not to leave it unattended. - I updated my answer to clarify! :) – Megan Dec 1 '15 at 16:08

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