Guinea pigs are a popular pet in America and the rest of the world, and one of the questions we get asked frequently is how to exercise these pets and how much exercise they need to stay healthy. There are many conflicting reports on the internet and a large number of toys and devices that claim to help your pet stay fit. We are going to look at the different methods you can use to keep your pet in shape safely and discuss how often and how much activity will be the most beneficial, so get comfortable and continue reading while we help you keep your pet in good health.
How Much Exercise Does a Guinea Pig Need?
Most experts seem to agree that your guinea pig should get about one hour of exercise per day. This activity doesn’t need to be all at once, though, and your pet can do several different things each day that will help your pet reach its daily requirements.
How Does Exercise Benefit a Guinea Pig?
Exercise benefits your guinea pig the same way it benefits any life. It helps your pet stay at an ideal weight. Obesity can cause several health issues that can shorten your pet’s life. Lack of exercise can lead to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, constipation, and more. An overweight guinea pig will also be less active and might even become depressed. Following some of the ideas outlined in this guide will help your pet from becoming overweight. It will also provide them with plenty of mental stimulation, making them happier and helping them to bond with you better.
The 8 Methods to Exercise a Guinea Pig
1. Provide Plenty of Space in Cage
One of the easiest ways to make sure your pet gets more exercise is to get a bigger cage to keep them in. A larger habitat will encourage more movement every day, and this extra roaming around can help burn calories without you needing to do anything.
2. Free Run Time Outside the Cage
You will need to make sure the area is secure, but some free roam time outside the cage can be a great way to provide your guinea pig with some exercise as well as mental stimulation. Your pet is a natural explorer and will appreciate the opportunity to see what’s under your couch. When allowing your pet to roam free, it does not need a lot of space or even an entire room. Something about two to three times the size of their habitat should be fine. Too much space can leave them disoriented or even frightened. It’s also harder for you to patrol a larger area, and guinea pigs can move surprisingly fast.
3. Outside Playpen
Guinea pigs get noticeably excited when they go outside, which automatically gets their hearts pumping, and they start to run around. You can purchase an inexpensive outside playpen or small cage to give your pet some fun in the sun. Your pet will enjoy playing in the grass, and it’s one of the best activities you can provide. Though we never had any troubles, we recommend placing a lid on the playpen or using a cage, not only to keep the sun off your pet but to keep it out of sight of birds of prey and stray cats.
4. Play Tunnel
Guinea pigs like to explore almost as much as they enjoy the outdoors. A play tunnel can provide a great way for your pet to get some excitement as well as exercise. You can place it anywhere in your home or outside and guard the ends. When your pet finishes playing, the tunnel folds up to a fraction of the size for easy storage.
5. Train Them to Use Toy Steps and Ramps
Guinea pigs will not climb stairs naturally, but you can train them to do so with treats. After a few tries, your pet will be running up and down the stairs with ease, and it will give them plenty of exercise. There are all types of steps and ramps you can purchase for your cage that your pet can use throughout the day to stay active.
6. Build an Obstacle Course
Another way to get your guinea pig to be more active is to build them an obstacle course. The obstacle course is a DIY project, and you can make it as large or as small as you want. You can use ramps, boxes, paper towel tubes, and more to create your course. Mazes are also fun ways to get your pet to move a long distance in a small space. Cutting up cereal boxes and gluing them together is a great way to make a maze for your guinea pig.
7. Get Another Guinea Pig
One way to make your guinea pig more active is to get a second guinea pig. They will spend the entire day palling around and often engage in competitive behavior that can lead to quite a bit of exercise. You can often get one of their favorite vegetables like a cherry tomato or piece of cucumber and give it to one of your pets. The other guinea pig will often quickly steal it, starting a chain reaction where the two of them keep stealing it off each other and causing them to be much more active than they might be ordinarily.
8. Proper Diet
A proper diet will help in a couple of subtle ways. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein will provide your pet with the energy it needs to stay active and build muscle. A proper diet will help make sure your pet doesn’t become obese, and animals at the proper weight are more active than obese ones.
What Should I Avoid?
Exercise balls are very popular and easy to find in any pet store. Unfortunately, these balls are for hamsters that have a flexible backbone. A guinea pig’s backbone is not nearly as flexible, and your pet can easily get hurt trying to run in one of these devices. We recommend sticking to tunnels, ramps, and stairs, along with plenty of free roam time.
If you allow your pet to roam around freely in your home, you will need to make sure there are no wires exposed because your pet might chew on the wires, causing damage and risking electrocution.
We like to use playpens and tunnels to keep the guinea pig in an enclosed area that’s big and new, so our pet feels like it’s exploring a new area without getting near any wires or areas that are difficult to reach.
Too Many Toys
Many owners try to treat their pets with too many toys, and it clutters the cage. A cluttered cage is difficult to move around in, and your pet will not be able to move around the way it should. Some toys are fine, but make sure there is plenty of open space left in the cage for walking around.
It’s important to make sure your pet gets about an hour of activity per day, but you won’t need to be present for all of it. If the cage is large enough to walk around in, your pet is getting much of the exercise it needs. Ramps and stairs will add to the activity that happens when you aren’t there. When you have some time to interact with your pet, the tunnels and some free roam time can give your pet a full workout. A little time outside on a summer day will be the highlight of your pet’s week.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped you get your pet on a path to fitness, please share this guide to exercising your guinea pig on Facebook and Twitter.
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