Cardboard and newspaper are often found in guinea pig cages. They may be used as bedding material or homemade toys, and some companies even make guinea pig houses or hay boxes from recycled newspapers or cardboard.
Inevitably guinea pigs get their sharp teeth into action and begin chewing. Knowing if it is safe for guinea pigs to eat cardboard and newspaper is essential. After all, no one wants to hurt their tiny furry potatoes.
Cardboard and newspaper can be safe for guinea pigs to chew on in some cases. However, swallowing large quantities of paper products can be harmful to their health. Newspaper or cardboard with glue, toxic inks, or other substances should not be given to guinea pigs as they will contain dyes that are not good for guinea pigs.
Looking after your pet guinea pig in the best possible manner requires much thought and research. Some products may not be healthy even if advertised for guinea pigs.
Guinea pig owners need enough information to make a good decision on cardboard and newspaper in the guinea pig’s environment.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cardboard And Newspaper?
Guinea pigs have an insatiable urge to chew on almost everything in their environment. This is because they have constantly growing teeth that must be worn down. Long teeth lead to nasty dental problems that can compromise the guinea pig’s health and life span.
Newspaper and cardboard placed in a guinea pig’s cage will present an irresistible lure and will surely be chewed or eaten. Some people like to use shredded newspaper as bedding. Cardboard tubes or boxes may be offered as entertainment, and some commercially produced guinea pig homes are made from cardboard as well.
In most cases when guinea pigs chew cardboard or newspaper, it will not cause them any harm. These two items are made from plant pulp, a natural substance unlikely to harm the guinea pig. The fibers can even help to wear down the guinea pig’s teeth.
Guinea Pigs Should Not Swallow Too Much Newspaper Or Cardboard
Cardboard and newspaper should not be consumed or ingested regularly. Small amounts are acceptable, but if the guinea pig swallows large amounts, the cardboard or newspaper may cause intestinal blockages, which can be life-threatening.
It is difficult to watch a guinea pig all day to observe if newspaper or cardboard is being ingested. Usually, when guinea pigs gnaw on items, they spit out most of the chewed pieces.
There is a good chance the guinea pig is swallowing the materials if there are no chewed piles of newspaper or cardboard. In this case, it may be best to remove any paper products from the guinea pig’s cage and use them for supervised floor time only.
Is The Ink On Newspapers Toxic To Guinea Pigs?
In previous eras, newspaper ink was produced using heavy metals, making it toxic and unhealthy. Even coming into contact with these inks could cause health problems.
Due to increased environmental awareness and safety concerns, newspapers were pressurized to change their ink. Most newspaper ink is now made from soybean-based oils or has a water base. Carbon is the most common pigment used to create black ink. Carbon is a natural substance that will not harm guinea pigs. Black-printed newspapers should be safe for guinea pigs.
Bright pigments are produced using other chemicals, which may be inorganic or organic. It is usually best to avoid newspaper which has brightly colored ink, as these could be harmful to your guinea pig.
Some newspapers have a SoySeal to show that they are biodegradable and non-toxic. They can safely be used in your guinea pig’s cage.
Check if petrochemicals are used in the newspaper ink by rubbing the ink. If a black film is transferred to your fingers, the ink has a petrochemical base and is unsafe for your guinea pig.
Generally, glossy advertisement inserts in newspapers or magazines have paraffin or wax included in the paper or ink. These should not be used with guinea pigs.
What Cardboard Is Safe For Guinea Pigs?
It is best to avoid cardboard with printing as the ink may contain toxic substances. Plain brown cardboard can be used in your guinea pig’s cage or offered as toys or housing.
White cardboard and other paper used to be whitened using chlorine bleach, making it unsafe for guinea pigs. In recent years, ecological awareness has shifted the manufacturing process. Most cardboard and paper are whitened using hydrogen peroxide, which is not harmful to guinea pigs.
Glues, Resins, Or Plastic On Cardboard Are Toxic
Cardboard and paper have many uses, and sometimes this necessitates the use of glue, resin, or plastic coatings. These products can potentially harm guinea pigs, causing toxic reactions, and are more likely to result in physical blockages.
Stained Newspapers And Cardboard Are Harmful
Cardboard is commonly used for boxes and packaging. Shredded newspaper may also be used for insulation or protection of items when packaged. The products in boxes may transfer some of their properties to the packaging materials. They may also leak and cause stains on the cardboard or newspaper.
It is important not to use any stained or strongly smelling cardboard or paper in your guinea pig’s cage. Trace substances which are not harmful to people can sometimes be fatally toxic to guinea pigs.
Some people view all natural products as safe. Scents from soap and essential oils may be natural, but they can also be toxic to animals. Keep all packaging from these items out of a guinea pig’s reach.
Moldy Newspaper Or Cardboard Is A Hazard
Due to the wood pulp origins of paper products, they retain moisture and allow the growth of molds and fungi. It is critical to regularly remove wet newspaper or cardboard from the guinea pig’s cage.
Molds and fungi cause severe, often fatal, respiratory infections in guinea pigs. Keeping their cages dry and preventing any inhalation of mold or fungi spores is vital.
Choose Guinea Pig Safe Items For Gnawing
In addition to paper and cardboard-based objects, there are many other safe substances that can be used for your guinea pig’s housing, bedding, and toys. Several kinds of wood are safe for guinea pigs to gnaw on. Houses or dens can also be made from guinea pig-safe woods.
Grass and hay are also essential for helping to keep your guinea pig’s teeth worn down and satisfy their urge to chew constantly. Hay is especially crucial, as the long strands wear down the guinea pig’s back molars, which grow just as quickly as the front teeth.
Hay should make up about 80% of your guinea pig’s diet to ensure proper gut function and dental health. Guinea pigs can eat many types of hay, but the most popular kinds are timothy and orchard hay.
DIY Guinea Pig Cardboard Toys
Plain cardboard and guinea pig safe newspapers make great materials for DIY guinea pig toys. There are countless things you can do with these simple materials.
For example, you could cut and glue pieces of cardboard together to make mini jumps for your piggies. You can also cut holes in cardboard boxes for your guinea pig to run through.
Paper bags make fun hiding places to hide treats. Cardboard toilet paper tubes also make great toys, but it’s crucial to cut a slit lengthwise down the tube and supervise your guinea pig while they’re playing, as guinea pigs have been known to get stuck in them. You can find some more ideas for creative and simple toys on our guinea pig enrichment page.
Newspaper and cardboard are safe for a guinea pig to chew if they are free of toxic inks, glues, and other substances. They are unsafe for guinea pigs to ingest or eat in large amounts as they can cause gastrointestinal disturbances or blockages, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your piggy if you think they’re eating these items regularly.
Be sure to provide big piles of fresh hay at all times to give your guinea pig a better alternative to eat. Cardboard and paper products provide a great source of enrichment, and newspaper can also be an economical source of bedding under other more absorbent layers of material.
There are so many creative ways to put it to use, recycle some old materials, and save money in the process! For some other unique ideas to keep guinea pigs on a budget, you can also check out this article on 8 ways to save money with guinea pigs.