Guinea pigs are gentle little creatures that are normally calm, usually playful, and generally friendly. They are a common family pet that’s loved by both children and adults.
They like being neat and they’ll groom themselves often. But sometimes they will throw hay all over, strewing it everywhere and making a mess of their environment.
They will also chew on anything and everything which would make you wonder if these lovely balls of fur could be destructive at times. Well, let’s look into that a little deeper.
Are guinea pigs destructive?
Guinea pigs have a tendency of being destructive at times more so when you don’t keep an eye on them. They will chew on cage bars, things inside their cage, clothing, household furniture, electric cords, and anything they can get their teeth on. Though it’s their nature to constantly chew on things, sometimes it can be triggered by something affecting them. It could be due to loneliness, inadequate exercise, depression, or a lack of space.
Destructive guinea pig behaviors
Guinea pigs have some destructive tendencies like:
Chewing on things
Guinea pigs are chewy animals that need to chew constantly to wear down their ever-growing teeth. Their teeth keep growing and if they do not get worn down they become painful which could lead your pet to stop eating.
If they do not have things to chew on, they will begin chewing on everything inside their cage from their cage accessories and cage bars to their hideys and bedding.
Sometimes they will chew on things outside their cage like your furniture, carpet, electric wires, etc. Also, if they don’t have enough space to fit into a place, they may chew around it to make the space bigger for them to pass through.
Due to their cleanliness, guinea pigs will tidy themselves up every now and then. Sometimes they end up overdoing it and this can be dangerous for them.
As they lick up their hair, it’s usual to swallow some of it. Sometimes the hair that falls during grooming may get into their food and water.
The hair can pass through their digestive tract with hay and water and be excreted, but at other times the hair forms lumps in their stomachs or digestive tract. These lumps get stuck there and cause a blockage that makes them unable to eat or drink.
This is what we call the formation of hairballs and it’s dangerous for guinea pig health.
Just like over-grooming, barbering involves guinea pigs and their hair. Barbering is where guinea pigs chew on their hair or that of their fellow cagemates.
Barbering is usually excessive because the barbered guinea pig is left with bald patches on their skin.
Overeating is another destructive tendency where guinea pigs will eat more than their normal share of feed. Eating a lot of hay is always okay, overeating becomes a problem when they are ingesting more veggies and fruits.
Fruits, for instance, will contain high sugar content which will lead to teeth damage, fast weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Reasons that lead to destructive behaviors in guinea pigs
As we said earlier, destructive tendencies are usually brought about by some triggers because naturally, guinea pigs are calm and gentle. Triggers may include:
Guinea pigs are very active and they will run around their cage and play with toys day and night. If they are bored, they will develop destructive tendencies.
Guinea pigs are prone to stress and could even develop depression. Small things may stress them up from a siren they just heard to your cat passing by their cage. They will become uneasy and restless.
Guinea pigs require to be taken out of their cage often for some good exercise. Whether it’s some indoor floor time or a little outdoor adventure, guinea pigs need the breath of fresh air and the runs that keep them healthy.
Lack of mental stimulation
Did you know that your furry pet was a smart intelligent animal that requires frequent mental stimulation? Guinea pigs require something to stimulate their brains regularly.
Not enough hay
Guinea pigs require a lot of hay at all times. It’s recommended to provide hay as 80% of their food.
These pets have a delicate digestive system that needs hay for fiber to aid in digestion. Hay can also be part of their bedding.
Lack of chew toys
Guinea pigs will chew on what’s available if they do not have chew toys. Chew toys like Aspen wood provide them with a good chewing exercise which prevents destructive behavior.
Guinea pigs are social animals who need attention. If your guinea pig is alone and lonely yet you are not taking time to be with them, expect to hear the rattling of their water bottles or chewing on cage bars to capture your undivided attention.
Age and gender
Females and younger guinea pigs tend to be more destructive. Younger guinea pigs usually do it less often as they mature.
Female guinea pigs on the other hand normally have occasional hormonal imbalances. Even when spayed they may have phantom pregnancies which are fake pregnancies that they cannot differentiate from the real ones.
They will act pregnant and may become destructive.
What to do if your guinea pig has destructive behaviors
Even though chewing and digging are natural for guinea pigs, most of the triggers of destructive tendencies are things we can control to avoid a lot of damage.
Try the following:
- Give lots of hay at all times.
- Provide a variety of play toys and chew toys.
- Create tunnels and mazes for mental stimulation.
- Let them out of their cage frequently for some much-needed exercise.
- Offer only the food they need daily to prevent overeating.
- Spend time with them.
- Put away things they can chew on like electric cords to avoid electric shocks.
Guinea pigs are generally adorable pets and they will not turn your house upside down with damage but you should always keep an eye on them. They can easily keep themselves busy nibbling on that new carpet you bought or that vintage furniture which cost you an arm and a leg.
Always give them enough attention, extra hay, and make sure they exercise. This will help a great deal.