When you become a caretaker for guinea pigs, it can be easy to get carried away buying all kinds of treats and accessories for them. But guinea pigs do not equate a lot of expensive stuff with how much their owner loves them. If you can keep them healthy, clean and popcorning about, then you are doing very well.
Never get cheap guinea pig food, bedding or cages of questionable quality. Those things you really can’t afford to skimp on. Good food, good bedding and good housing will prevent great big vet bills and heartbreak down the line. However, you can cut corners on some other guinea pig accessories.
Within the last ten years, some really interesting commercially made nest boxes or hidey-holes for guinea pigs have come on the market. These are makeshift burrows and give the guinea pig a place to hide and get away from it all when feeling stressed. But you do not have to buy one if you have access to a supply of small cardboard boxes.
These can be shoe boxes, mail boxes or toy boxes. They should be firm enough for the guinea pig to stand on. They should not be boxes that held paint, household or automotive chemicals, because your guinea pig will nibble on the box. Old shoe boxes work great. Remove the lid. Cut out a mousehole-shaped archway on one side of the box and place in the cage. Be sure to replace if it gets soiled or too nibbled.
Guinea pigs need to be brushed once a day (or at least once a week) in order to remove dead hair and it makes a nice way to bond with the piggie. Long haired guinea pigs that have easily matted coats will need a small comb as well as a brush. But you do not have to get a special brush for a guinea pig. A toothbrush will do.
If you already have cats, then the cat’s comb and brush will work as well. Depending on where you shop for pet supplies, cat brushes may be less expensive than rabbit brushes.
You do not have to get loads of calorie-laden treats, even if they are labeled as being good for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are not into nuts and seeds. It is good to have one hard treat a week for them in order to help wear their teeth down. Some guinea pigs like small animal wooden chew sticks (which are very inexpensive) but many just ignore them.
Fresh fruits and vegetables make the best treats for guinea pigs and for people. These include a sprig of parsley, a baby carrot, broccoli florets, a couple of cucumber chunks or an apple slice. Never feed grass clippings, tomato leaves, rhubarb, candy, onions or iceberg lettuce.