Author Topic: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?  (Read 1222 times)

Redstone5

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I have two guinea pigs and I'm spending about $30 a month on their bedding, but I'm concerned about switching to a cheaper option since I hear bad things about wood shavings hurting their feet and their breathing. I buy the largest bag of recycled paper bedding available at Pet Smart and change it once a week.

Any ideas?

Laserjet3051

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2019, 10:21:14 AM »
Weve gone through this same exercise/question. SOME types of wood bedding can be problematic for Cavies, others less so. We use a mixture of paper and wood, seems to work well with both our American Shorthair and Abyssinian. With regard to cost, yes all disposable bedding will run up your costs. Two possible solutions: First, if you can buy large volume bedding wholesale and have it shipped, you could probably reduce costs a lot. My employer does this for their Cavie colonies. Alternatively, my daughter has been urging us to switch to washable fleece bedding. One time cost, but youll have to run that filthy thing through your washer dryer OR do it by hand in a basin/bucket.

Whatever your bedding changing schedule is, you can usually get some more mileage out of it, by only spot cleaning (and adding a top layer of fresh bedding) once in a while.

Good luck.

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2019, 11:04:26 AM »
Thanks so much! I'm going to give those options a try (except for washing the bedding in our communal laundry room. My apt neighbours would hate me LOL)

Spiffy

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2019, 12:46:26 PM »
I put a waterproof pad on the bottom of the cage then a piece of fleece cut to size on top of that. Then in the corner of the cage I put a an old metal cake pan with shredded paper (Katee Clean and Cosy from Amazon) for a litter box. He mostly uses it, just a few stay pellets that I sweep up between cage cleanings. I shake out the fleece outside then sweep it with a broom to get most of the hair and hay off, then wash it and waterproof pad in the washing machine. It works really well.

Spiffy

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2019, 12:47:58 PM »
Posted before I saw that you live in an apartment...the fleece may not work for that situation. Sorry!

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2019, 01:13:43 PM »
Posted before I saw that you live in an apartment...the fleece may not work for that situation. Sorry!

You know, I think that option might work for me, maybe a little modified. I've noticed that mine mostly use one corner for a potty too, so if I put a pan and the paper just in there and refreshed it more often, I might be able to get away with shaking out the mat and fleece from the main cage floor a few times a week, and wash it less often. I'm also going to look at those big puppy pads they sell and see if it's more economical to buy a pack, cut them to size, and then throw them out once a week instead. 

thanks for the ideas!

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2019, 01:19:05 PM »
Posted before I saw that you live in an apartment...the fleece may not work for that situation. Sorry!

You know, I think that option might work for me, maybe a little modified. I've noticed that mine mostly use one corner for a potty too, so if I put a pan and the paper just in there and refreshed it more often, I might be able to get away with shaking out the mat and fleece from the main cage floor a few times a week, and wash it less often. I'm also going to look at those big puppy pads they sell and see if it's more economical to buy a pack, cut them to size, and then throw them out once a week instead. 

thanks for the ideas!

So I just priced out the puppy pads. They sell them at walmart here in packs of 150 for $25, or 17 cents each. Depending on the amount of pellets, I might be able to get away with replacing the pads in the cage once or twice a week, at the cost of 17 to 34 cents a week, or $1.36/month. Much better than $30!

Even if I have to put a light layer of the bedding on top of the pads it will still be much cheaper, and will probably make clean up easier too!
 
Thanks so much!!

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2019, 04:18:02 PM »
I know, it really adds up. The trouble I had with fleece or towels was that it’s still really gross when you wash it. I stopped because I was worried about gunking up my washing machine. That wouldn’t be very cost effective. The problem I had with puppy pads was that she ate them. She survived, so maybe they are designed to be harmless when consumed. But my heart sank when I saw how much of it she had eaten.

A friend had good luck with an inch or so of kitty litter under the fluff to keep the ammonia smell down. I just wasn’t sure if that was good for them.

So, basically, I have no good answers for you. Just some commiseration.

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2019, 04:49:51 PM »
I know, it really adds up. The trouble I had with fleece or towels was that it’s still really gross when you wash it. I stopped because I was worried about gunking up my washing machine. That wouldn’t be very cost effective. The problem I had with puppy pads was that she ate them. She survived, so maybe they are designed to be harmless when consumed. But my heart sank when I saw how much of it she had eaten.

A friend had good luck with an inch or so of kitty litter under the fluff to keep the ammonia smell down. I just wasn’t sure if that was good for them.

So, basically, I have no good answers for you. Just some commiseration.

I hadn't considered that :( So annoying.

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2019, 06:23:06 PM »
We have a rabbit, which I know isn’t the same, but google suggests Guinea pigs can be litter box trained the same way. In our case, our bunny was in a cage with bedding until we adopted her, but she litter trainer herself instantly when presented with a set up of low pile carpet with a litter box in a corner. YMMV of course, but worth looking into. We use yesterday’s news cat litter in a grated cat litter box and one $25 bag lasts 3 months (cleaning out her corner every other day and dumping it all once a week).

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2019, 08:55:29 AM »
We have a rabbit, which I know isn’t the same, but google suggests Guinea pigs can be litter box trained the same way. In our case, our bunny was in a cage with bedding until we adopted her, but she litter trainer herself instantly when presented with a set up of low pile carpet with a litter box in a corner. YMMV of course, but worth looking into. We use yesterday’s news cat litter in a grated cat litter box and one $25 bag lasts 3 months (cleaning out her corner every other day and dumping it all once a week).

Thanks! I'm going to give that a try. I have noticed that when I attach their pen (with a cardboard base) to their cage, they do still go to their same corner in the cage to poop rather than mess up the pen, so I think it might work.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2019, 05:41:57 PM »
I just grab the huge bags of shredded paper from work, when the shredder is emptied. If your work doesn't do that, guaranteed that somewhere close does and normally just bins it. I once got my local doctors office to save it for me. And after it's dirty it can go straight on the compost heap.

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2019, 08:46:33 AM »
Great idea! Yes, we do have shredding and I can take it home.

I also bought some fleece and waterproof lining remnants from the fabric store this weekend and laid out the new bedding situation in their cage and pen, with a few towels in between the layers. So far so good. I'm thinking of getting one of those little dust-busters to do spot pick up as well. I think I saw one at our local thrift store.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2019, 12:55:50 PM »
I just grab the huge bags of shredded paper from work, when the shredder is emptied. If your work doesn't do that, guaranteed that somewhere close does and normally just bins it. I once got my local doctors office to save it for me. And after it's dirty it can go straight on the compost heap.

most ink is toxic. animals that chew paper will absorb a lot of ink through both tactile and masticatory means. be careful.

nessness

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2019, 01:14:48 PM »
I just grab the huge bags of shredded paper from work, when the shredder is emptied. If your work doesn't do that, guaranteed that somewhere close does and normally just bins it. I once got my local doctors office to save it for me. And after it's dirty it can go straight on the compost heap.

most ink is toxic. animals that chew paper will absorb a lot of ink through both tactile and masticatory means. be careful.
Wouldn't recycled paper bedding have the same problem then?

I used shredded paper for my chinchilla for years with no issues. She did not eat it, though - I don't know if a guinea pig would.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2019, 01:19:10 PM »
Eating it is not required for absorption of ink in the paper. Inks can be absorbed through mere contact of skin surfaces and oral mucosa during chewing.

zygote

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2019, 03:28:57 PM »
Fingers crossed that your new solution will work for you!

I also live in an apartment with guinea pigs. I don't even have laundry in my building, and did not want to deal with washing gross fleece bedding at the laundromat. Plus one of the guinea pigs will chew/eat anything (and I mean ANYTHING). Once, I tried to line the bottom of the cage with paper towels to extend the life of the bedding, and she pulled one out and wore it like a cape. There's no way the fleece would stay down.

Cedar and pine shavings aren't great for them because the aromatic oils can irritate their lungs. I have also heard about the ink issue with using newspaper. We were having good luck with aspen shavings for a long time, until one of them started to get sores on her paws. Too abrasive, I think. Not sure why it was fine for 5 years and then suddenly not. We ended up switching to care fresh. It's ungodly expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do. It's $18-ish for a 60L bag that lasts us around 3-4 weeks at chewy.com

In fact, I went to chewy to get you the link, and it seems to be on sale right now, just in case it helps you or another reader. I may need to stock up. https://www.chewy.com/carefresh-small-animal-nesting/dp/122301

« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 03:34:05 PM by zygote »

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2019, 04:06:10 PM »
Fingers crossed that your new solution will work for you!

I also live in an apartment with guinea pigs. I don't even have laundry in my building, and did not want to deal with washing gross fleece bedding at the laundromat. Plus one of the guinea pigs will chew/eat anything (and I mean ANYTHING). Once, I tried to line the bottom of the cage with paper towels to extend the life of the bedding, and she pulled one out and wore it like a cape. There's no way the fleece would stay down.

Cedar and pine shavings aren't great for them because the aromatic oils can irritate their lungs. I have also heard about the ink issue with using newspaper. We were having good luck with aspen shavings for a long time, until one of them started to get sores on her paws. Too abrasive, I think. Not sure why it was fine for 5 years and then suddenly not. We ended up switching to care fresh. It's ungodly expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do. It's $18-ish for a 60L bag that lasts us around 3-4 weeks at chewy.com

In fact, I went to chewy to get you the link, and it seems to be on sale right now, just in case it helps you or another reader. I may need to stock up. https://www.chewy.com/carefresh-small-animal-nesting/dp/122301

I think they only ship within the US :(

I'm going to look around online and see if there is a Canadian company with good pricing that ships here.

happy

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2019, 04:46:04 PM »
My ultimate solution for guinea pig bedding was Piggy Bedspreads with a kitchen area. https://piggybedspreads.comThe fleece bedspread was expensive up front but well worth it - saves time and absorbs odours. They are still going strong after 8 years plus  - I have 2: one in the cage and one out for washing.. I made a kitchen area up one end using corflute. All the food goes into the kitchen area...piggies will eat there and mainly poop there whilst eating.  I line  the corflute with a few sheets of newspaper and then wood shavings which I get from the pet store and are safe for guineapigs.

The fleece bedspread is not too gross to wash...dry piggy pellets brush off easily before washing. Most of the gross stays in the kitchen area. Since the kitchen area is smaller, you save on bedding. Its very quick and easy to clean the cage.

 

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2019, 11:44:22 PM »
I just grab the huge bags of shredded paper from work, when the shredder is emptied. If your work doesn't do that, guaranteed that somewhere close does and normally just bins it. I once got my local doctors office to save it for me. And after it's dirty it can go straight on the compost heap.

most ink is toxic. animals that chew paper will absorb a lot of ink through both tactile and masticatory means. be careful.

They prefer chewing on harder things. They will still need hay to keep healthy. I've used shredded paper for all animals, piggies, rabbits and chickens with no ill effects, and actually the local zoo here uses it for animal bedding also. If dry ink that's printed on paper was that toxic, don't you think you'd get sick handling papers or reading books or being a student???

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2019, 09:01:29 AM »
This is all super helpful!

What I've done so far is moved my guineas into a space in the living room where I can open their pen enclosure as large as possible, and I've lined their pen space and cage with a waterproof liner, towels, and then fleece on top. I've added two potty areas of shoebox lids and carefree recycled paper bedding (my last bag), and hung their hay from a cotton bag that I made last weekend.

The fleece is working well, no wet spots on the surface, and the smell has been fine. Actually better than before when I was using 100% carefree paper bedding and changing it all once a week. Every evening I sweep up the fleece and empty the shoebox lids and add more paper to them again.

I'm thinking I'm going to move the hay area and potty areas closer together and cover the area with a cloth or shoebox lid roof to encourage them to make their mess in one area only (the kitchen idea). Right now the hay makes a bit of a mess under the bag and the guineas seem to like pooping there as well. We'll see if the change will make clean up even easier.

This weekend I'm going to shake out the fleece and towels etc, roller the extra hair off, and then put them into the industrial washing machine in my building to see how it all washes up. Since I'm only using a handful of paper to fill their shoeboxes each time, I'm going through this last bag much slower already than when I was filling their whole cage at each clean out.

TrMama

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2019, 11:01:28 AM »
I tried the fleece lining over a couple old towels for one week. Our pigs immediately burrowed under it and basically stayed "under the covers" all the time. I was worried they'd somehow suffocate themselves if I stayed with that system. Our pigs don't seem to be the smartest animals I've ever met ;-) Plus it made a giant mess since they got pellets between all the fabric layers. However, it seems a lot of people really like this system.

I'd never use puppy pads for our pigs. If I'm not mistaken think those are put together like disposable diapers with layers of paper, absorbent gel and then a waterproof plastic layer. I'm sure our pigs would have great fun shredding them and would make themselves sick.

I use a thin layer of wood shavings (either alder or kiln dried pine) under a layer of shredded newspaper. We just shred the free flyers in our home shredder, so those are free.

The biggest cost savings comes from the fact I buy all our supplies at the local farm store. I get a 60lb bale of hay for $24, a huge bag of shavings for about $20 and a giant bag of rabbit pellets for another $20. If you've got some space to store larger quantities, it might be worth it to see if you can find a farm store. The hay and pellets last almost a year. I also like that all our used bedding can go in the garden as mulch.

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2019, 05:46:43 PM »
I tried the fleece lining over a couple old towels for one week. Our pigs immediately burrowed under it and basically stayed "under the covers" all the time. I was worried they'd somehow suffocate themselves if I stayed with that system. Our pigs don't seem to be the smartest animals I've ever met ;-) Plus it made a giant mess since they got pellets between all the fabric layers. However, it seems a lot of people really like this system.


I did this at first too. I've also tried using vet-bed over towels. It took a few weeks/months before they got to burrowing and some always made the tunnels and  others only used the burrows once they were made. Once they learned they could do it, they were unstoppable. I found the burrows etc  too messy cleaning all that poop etc out from between the layers.  Thats when I changed to the piggy bedspreads which totally solves that problem (I'm not affiliated with this product in any way - just found it made keeping indoor piggies much easier).

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2019, 07:52:22 PM »
I haven't had them in a while, but what I did was use corrugated plastic on the bottom. What they use to make vinyl signs with. I would score it and fold it up the sides. Then line the bottom with layers of newspaper and cover that with some pine bedding mixed with shredded paper and sometimes a bit of cedar mixed in. Then easy clean up just roll up the paper and throw it away.

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2019, 09:43:13 AM »
I made up a little kitchen for them last night by cutting a lower lip into a plastic tub so they could easily hop into it, and then I filled it with their carefresh recycled paper bedding and hung their hay bag in the centre. I then made a little hide over it using some old cloth napkins I had laying around. It was very cute to see them explore their new space, poking their noses under the curtain :)

They seem to like it so far and if they confine their poops there most of the time, the clean up will be very easy. I'm also looking around for some of the other non-porous flooring materials people have used, so I might add that later when I can find it. 

I think the reason why my pigs haven't gotten under the fleece bedding is because my pieces are large enough to drape over the sides of the cage and they are then held down by the wire walls so they can't get underneath.

TrMama

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2019, 10:40:55 AM »
I tried the fleece lining over a couple old towels for one week. Our pigs immediately burrowed under it and basically stayed "under the covers" all the time. I was worried they'd somehow suffocate themselves if I stayed with that system. Our pigs don't seem to be the smartest animals I've ever met ;-) Plus it made a giant mess since they got pellets between all the fabric layers. However, it seems a lot of people really like this system.


I did this at first too. I've also tried using vet-bed over towels. It took a few weeks/months before they got to burrowing and some always made the tunnels and  others only used the burrows once they were made. Once they learned they could do it, they were unstoppable. I found the burrows etc  too messy cleaning all that poop etc out from between the layers.  Thats when I changed to the piggy bedspreads which totally solves that problem (I'm not affiliated with this product in any way - just found it made keeping indoor piggies much easier).

Interesting. How long to the bedspreads take to dry when you wash them? Do you have 2 so one can be in use when the other is being cleaned?

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2019, 06:35:06 PM »
I have 2 - one for the wash and one in use. I line dry my washing so time to dry depends on the weather...but probably half to a whole day on the line. You can put them in a dryer on low-medium heat, but I don't. In winter if its raining I would put them in front of the heater on a rack.  I made my own c&c cages and my own liners with corflute (I think its called coroplast in US) - that plastic corrugated stuff that is used for signs. And I made my own kitchen area out of it also.

I was into rescue for a while and housed up to 15 pigs at a time, but had 6 of our own. We decided no more new piggies a while back and are now down to one old girl, age 7 and a half.

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2019, 11:40:28 PM »
I made up a little kitchen for them last night by cutting a lower lip into a plastic tub so they could easily hop into it, and then I filled it with their carefresh recycled paper bedding and hung their hay bag in the centre. I then made a little hide over it using some old cloth napkins I had laying around. It was very cute to see them explore their new space, poking their noses under the curtain :)

They seem to like it so far and if they confine their poops there most of the time, the clean up will be very easy. I'm also looking around for some of the other non-porous flooring materials people have used, so I might add that later when I can find it. 

I think the reason why my pigs haven't gotten under the fleece bedding is because my pieces are large enough to drape over the sides of the cage and they are then held down by the wire walls so they can't get underneath.

Piggies are very prolific poopers. Fill the whole tub, floor to lid, with the shredded paper and let them burrow. They'll have fun doing that and you will be amazed how quickly they stamp it down into a layer of poopy paper.

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2019, 01:41:12 PM »
I washed the towels, fleece, and plastic liner in the washing machine over the weekend and they came up pretty well, so I'm going to sew them into make-my-own bedding flippers, probably next weekend.

I also had to punch holes into the plastic tub and tie it to the edge of the cage to hold it into position because they kept pushing it around when they climbed in and out, but so far it's doing a pretty good job of containing the potty area.

I also taught myself how to clip their nails thanks to YouTube! It was much easier than I thought. I can't believe I was paying the pet store $20 to do it for me :)

And it's funny, but now that the piggies are in the living room instead of my oldest's bedroom, my younger kids are much more interested in them and they are getting much more socialization than before, so this has been a very positive change all around.

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2019, 08:43:59 AM »
I used to have guinea pigs (never again)...

I use paper pellet litter for my cats and think back to how ridiculously expensive the shredded stuff was for the pigs vs how cheap it is for cats. The stores must recognize there's a limit to what people will pay. If you can find unscented pellets you might be able to do a thin layer of them and then put your shreds on top? Lots of reviews of this product saying ppl use them for their rabbits.


https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/purina-yesterdays-news-unscented-cat-litter?rrec=true

Redstone5

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #30 on: July 17, 2019, 01:11:59 PM »
I used to have guinea pigs (never again)...

I use paper pellet litter for my cats and think back to how ridiculously expensive the shredded stuff was for the pigs vs how cheap it is for cats. The stores must recognize there's a limit to what people will pay. If you can find unscented pellets you might be able to do a thin layer of them and then put your shreds on top? Lots of reviews of this product saying ppl use them for their rabbits.


https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/purina-yesterdays-news-unscented-cat-litter?rrec=true

Thanks! I'll have to check out what's available in my area.

sytar7

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Re: Guinea Pig Owners? What's the best, cheapest bedding to use?
« Reply #31 on: Today at 05:54:40 AM »
I used to have guinea pigs (never again)...

I use paper pellet litter for my cats and think back to how ridiculously expensive the shredded stuff was for the pigs vs how cheap it is for cats. The stores must recognize there's a limit to what people will pay. If you can find unscented pellets you might be able to do a thin layer of them and then put your shreds on top? Lots of reviews of this product saying ppl use them for their rabbits.


https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/purina-yesterdays-news-unscented-cat-litter?rrec=true

Thanks! I'll have to check out what's available in my area.

We have two litter box trained rabbits. We use wood pellets (for a wood burning stove) it is recommend by the house rabbit society because it is safe and neutralize the smell. The 40 lb bag at ~$10 lasts them at least 4 months.