Guinea pigs are fun little pets to have, but first-time owners may not know how best to play with them. After all, they’re not like cats and dogs and need specific forms of enrichment to be entertained and happy.
What do guinea pigs like to play with? Read on to find out!
What Do Guinea Pigs Like To Play With?
Guinea pigs like to play with toys and games that engage their natural instincts. These instincts involve exploration, burrowing, gnawing, chewing, and eating. Most of the games your guinea pig will love will allow them to do at least one of the above!
Toys And Games That Guinea Pigs Like To Play With
Guinea pigs are natural burrowers, but they don’t get to exercise those instincts as much in a home environment. Encourage those skills by using tunnels!
You can purchase some in a store or simply DIY them out of paper towel rolls and other similar materials.
You can hide treats inside the tubes and include cute little “rooms” between them for your guinea pig to explore. It’s great enrichment!
2. Crumpled Paper
Guinea pigs are pretty easy to please. Get some paper and crumble them into different-sized balls, then simply set them inside your guinea pig’s cage.
They’ll love the crumpling noise and will gnaw safely on the paper to keep themselves entertained!
3. Exploration Game
This is a simple “game”, but it’s a wonderful way to engage a guinea pig’s curiosity and encourage bravery. All you have to do is lie down on the ground in a safe and enclosed area, place your guinea pig in the area, and let them be guided by curiosity.
Add some toys, soft materials, and little items on the floor for them to interact with to make things more fun. Stay still and let them climb on you and amble about if they wish!
4. Tug Of War
This is a game that you’ll need two guinea pigs for! In a play space with sufficient space, place a little piece of newspaper or a bit of an old sock stuffed with hay and let them tug at it.
Guinea pigs often naturally play with each other and will figure out what to do.
If they need more encouragement, add some treats into the old sock or piece of cloth and secure them with a knot.
Let your guinea pigs sniff the treats out and encourage them to pull at the tug toy. Eventually, they’ll get the gist!
5. Chase The Treat
Guinea pigs need a good amount of exercise to make up for their predisposition to obesity. You can help to mix both food and exercise by playing a Chase The Treat game!
Take a treat like a cucumber, carrot, or other safe vegetables. Tie that piece of treat to some string, and grab your guinea pig’s attention by pulling the treat slowly across the floor.
Your guinea pig will eagerly chase the treat for the reward of food! You’d be surprised how long they’ll run for a bite of something yummy.
6. Obstacle Course
You can make a DIY obstacle course for a guinea pig to play in to engage their minds and challenge them! Use some cardboard pieces or wooden blocks and tape them to a big board to create the maze.
Keep it simple the first time you do this, guiding your guinea pig to the exit by placing treats that they can follow.
As your guinea pig gets better at this, you can increase the complexity of the mazes and space out the treats further and further.
They’ll love the exercise and the food rewards, and you’ll be impressed by their smarts!
7. Cardboard Boxes
Guinea pigs love having things to hide in and run through. Cardboard boxes are an inexpensive way to provide this. Empty a box, wipe away dust and packaging, and clean it thoroughly.
Then, cut the box to create different entrances in different shapes and heights. Your guinea pig will love crawling in and out of them and running through them!
8. Chew Sticks
Chew sticks are a must-have for any guinea pig. Guinea pigs simply can’t get enough of things to chew on to keep their teeth nice and short!
Rigid chew sticks are easily available in pet stores and places online. Give them the sticks and watch them work at them!
You can get creative with these, too. Stick the chew sticks in a toilet roll to make a “tree” that your guinea pig can interact with, pull at, and roll around. Or make your own chew sticks by stuffing toilet rolls with hay and rigid, non-toxic materials!
Tips For Playing With A Guinea Pig
1. Put Yourself In Its Shoes
It sounds silly, but you have to imagine what the world looks like to your guinea pig before you can properly play with them. The world is so incredibly big to them, and you have to understand that to engage with them.
A dog or cat will have no problem running across the room to fetch or chase the ball you’re rolling around.
But a guinea pig is near-sighted and can’t see very far, and their paws will tire out from too much running across a room. Keep the play area small and compact for their comfort.
2. Don’t Play Loud Games
Dogs and cats might like bells and squeaky toys, but guinea pigs have very strong senses of hearing. This means they can get over-sensitized by too many loud noises.
They need relatively quiet games or games that only create soft sounds that their ears can handle.
3. Make A Safe Space
Guinea pigs are very small and delicate, and they need a very safe environment, just like dogs and cats do. If you’re taking them out of their cage to play, prepare a safe space first.
Create a small, safe play space with no electrical wiring, sharp or dangerous items, or things that could harm or distract them. Setting down a soft material is ideal and recommended for comfort!
4. Utilize A Routine
Most pets enjoy routines, and guinea pigs need them much more than cats and dogs! As prey animals, they easily get startled and spooked by changes that they’re not ready for.
Minor changes are okay and are healthy for a guinea pig’s enrichment, but a schedule needs to be in place.
This means that you should play with your guinea pig at a similar time every day. You should initiate playtime with a similar tone or word that tells your pet that it’s time for fun and games. This keeps them calm!
5. Get To Know Your Unique Guinea Pig
There are quite a few things that are almost universal across cats and dogs. For example, cats can’t resist something small that moves quickly, and lots of dogs have a fetch instinct.
But guinea pigs are very unique across the board and can have different personalities that change their preferences.
Maybe yours has a short attention span? Maybe they prefer something rowdy? Or do they like quiet, laid-back, low-energy games? Test out a few different games and see what your guinea pig prefers.
Guinea pigs love playing with toys that let them gnaw, chew, burrow, explore, and eat. It’s surprisingly easy to please these adorable pets and their toys are often inexpensive or free!
Just make sure you monitor them and choose non-toxic materials.