Floor time for guinea pigs is when you set up a guinea pig proofed area and give your guinea pigs some free time out of their cage to explore. Floor time is highly recommended for guinea pigs at least 3 times per week for an hour or more at a time. Daily floor time is ideal, and even more important if you have young guinea pigs or a relatively small cage.
Floor time is important for guinea pigs for several reasons. First of all, guinea pigs are prone to obesity and they gain weight very easily. Regular exercise is important to decrease excessive weight gain. Floor time can also help skittish pigs come out of their shell a little more and make it easier to bond with your guinea pig.
Setting Up A Safe Floor Time Space For Your Guinea Pigs
When setting up a floor time area for your guinea pigs, the first thing you’ll need is a safe room to set up in. If you have other animals, you may want to use a room with a door, such as a bedroom or bathroom. An easy to clean floor is a bonus too.
An exercise pen can also be handy to keep your guinea pigs contained in 1 area or to block off furniture that guinea pigs could squeeze under or chew.
If you have carpet or a hardwood floor you want to protect from guinea pig pee, a waterproof splat mat is a great option for floor time.
These mats are waterproof, so any guinea pig pee will just sit on the surface without soaking through. They’re also great for guinea pigs that poop everywhere. I typically just soak up the pee spots and then fold up the mat and dump everything else into the garbage bin.
These mats can be put in the washer on a delicate cycle as well, which is way more convenient than having to hand wash them! Depending on how big your floor time space is, you may need a couple of them to cover the entire area. They measure 51″ x 51″ each (a little bigger than 4×4 feet).
What if Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Like Floor Time?
If your guinea pig seems to hate floor time, try to find out the underlying reason.
What does your guinea pig do when they have floor time? Do they sit still in the middle of the floor? Stay hidden in their hidey hut the entire time? Run back to their cage?
All of these behaviors can actually be signs that your guinea pig is simply nervous. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your guinea pig doesn’t like floor time.
To get your guinea pig to like floor time, provide them with lots of hiding places on the floor. Get them out in a quiet room where they will be less scared. If your guinea pig runs back to their cage, keep it closed (but provide lots of hiding places on the floor so they can feel safe.) Try scattering some of your guinea pig’s favorite veggie treats around on the floor to encourage them to move around and start to explore.
The most important thing is not to give up right away! Sometimes it can take guinea pigs a few weeks to feel relaxed and start to leave their hiding place. Setting a routine and getting your guinea pig out for floor time at the same time every day also helps them to relax quicker as they start to predict the routine.
How Long Should Guinea Pigs Have Floor Time?
Typically, floor time should be at least an hour to give your guinea pig time to settle in, explore, and get all their energy out! However, floor time can be as long as you like! If your guinea pig isn’t 100% supervised the whole time, make sure that they are safe in a guinea pig-proofed area or exercise pen. Also, ensure that they have some hay, water, and hiding places for the duration that they are out.
How Often Should Guinea Pigs Have Floor Time?
It’s recommended to have floor time for your guinea pigs every day. However, you can do 3 times a week or more if you have a relatively big cage for them to live in. You can compensate for having a smaller cage by having your guinea pigs out longer and more often for floor time. Young guinea pigs should ideally be let out every day regardless because they generally have SO much energy.
It’s a good idea to pick approximately the same time every day for floor time, as guinea pigs thrive on a routine. Having a routine for floor time isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does benefit nervous guinea pigs when they know what to expect.
Benefits of Floor Time for Guinea Pigs
There are countless benefits to having floor time for guinea pigs.
First of all, it’s great exercise for them! Guinea pigs are very prone to obesity, and that can cause many health problems for them. In addition, guinea pigs are very curious animals, and floor time gives them a chance to run around and explore.
Young guinea pigs, in particular, are usually very energetic and need the time and space to popcorn and run race track laps around the room!
Floor time can also help timid guinea pigs come out of their shell (although it may take some time for them to feel comfortable enough to start exploring!) Floor time also provides a perfect opportunity to bond with your guinea pig. Sitting down on their level and feeding treats is a great way to teach your guinea pig to trust you.
What To Do With Guinea Pigs During Floor Time
There are several things you can do with your guinea pigs during floor time. You can set up a playground with tunnels, toys, and other obstacles (you can find some ideas near the bottom of this page.)
You can hide treats or chewable ball toys inside tunnels and on top of hidey huts for your guinea pig to find. Help point out the treats to your guinea pig if they struggle to find them at first.
You can also sit down with your guinea pig and hand feed them, as mentioned above. Floor time is a perfect time for sitting down at your guinea pig’s level and bonding with them.
You can also teach your guinea pig tricks! Use your guinea pig’s favorite treats and start with simple tricks like paws up or going in a circle.
Guinea Pig Proofing The House
Before letting your guinea pigs loose anywhere, it’s essential to get down on floor level and look at things from your guinea pig’s perspective.
Anything you wouldn’t want lying around for a puppy or baby to get ahold of isn’t safe for guinea pigs either. Guinea pigs can and sometimes will eat anything that will fit into their mouth, and they may attempt to chew things as well.
Also, look for small spaces that a guinea pig may try to squeeze into or under, and block them off with a piece of cardboard or an ex-pen. Some of the things you should potentially pick up or block access to are listed below.
- Headphones/earbuds or anything else with wires
- Cords plugged into the wall or laying around within reach (you can cover these with pet cord protectors to prevent chewing)
- Peeling wallpaper or paint
- Money (bills) or any other important paper you don’t want to be chewed (Trust me, they only like the taste of paper they’re not allowed to chew!)
- Favorite books (Again…. they know which ones are your favorites!)
- Any furniture that has spaces a guinea pig could squeeze under
- Paperclips, pins, staples…. (very dangerous for piggies if they eat them!)
- Small children’s toys or toy pieces
- House plants (especially those that are poisonous to guinea pigs!)
This list is not exhaustive by any means because guinea pigs can get into things you might not expect sometimes. While not all guinea pigs will chew a lot, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Some guinea pigs might leave most things alone, but all of a sudden decide they want to chew on a cord plugged into the outlet.
Always be safe instead of sorry and assume that your guinea pig may chew things. You can always reduce undesired chewing by providing several appropriate guinea pig toys and other safe chewable items (some are listed below), but make sure you are also thoroughly piggy-proofing the room. Always ensure that any space they have access to is safe for curious piggies.
Best Chew Toys for Guinea Pigs
You can reduce your guinea pig’s tendency to chew furniture and other undesirable items by providing some appropriate guinea pig toys for them to chew instead. Choosing a variety of different toys is best, so you can rotate them out and keep your guinea pig more interested in the toys than chewing books and baseboards.
When choosing toys for your guinea pigs, make sure they are made with natural materials and avoid anything with bells or any other non-edible pieces they could choke on or accidentally swallow. I’ll list some of my guinea pigs’ favorite chewable toys in the list below.
Natural Chewable Willow and Seagrass Balls
These natural willow and seagrass play balls are quite affordable and also very popular with guinea pigs and other small animals. They also come in a pack of 6 or 8, with different types and textures of balls.
This is great for switching up the toys and providing more variety for your guinea pigs.
Often guinea pigs will tire of a certain toy and lose interest in chewing it for a little while, so having several to choose from keeps things interesting for them.
These handwoven hay mats are another great option for chewing. My guinea pigs love to chew them on the floor, but you can also encourage your piggy to stretch and exercise a little by attaching them to the side of a cage or ex-pen with wire ties.
Attaching them to a cage also eliminates the possibility of guinea pigs peeing on them, which will make them last much longer.
The Oxbow Enriched Life play wall is another fun toy for guinea pigs, with a variety of different pieces to entice your guinea pig to chew on them.
The whole thing is safe and edible, so it’s great for chewing. This toy is a little more expensive than the others, but I have found that it lasts quite a long time. Therefore, it shouldn’t need to be replaced as often as most other guinea pig chew toys.
Apple tree sticks are a favorite for most guinea pigs, and they make great chew toys to keep your piggy busy. Apple tree sticks are also healthy, natural, and great for wearing down your guinea pig’s teeth.
Some guinea pigs even like to toss them around. I do find that most of my guinea pigs prefer thinner apple tree twigs over the sticks, but that preference really varies from one guinea pig to another.
Stress-Free Ways to Move Your Guinea Pig To and From the Cage
Many people say they find floor time difficult because their guinea pigs dislike being picked up to be moved back and forth to the cage and floor. This is especially an issue for skittish guinea pigs. In their eyes, the arms reaching in to pick them up are giant birds swooping in for their next meal, and therefore they react as if their life is on the verge of ending. This can be a continually stressful situation for both guinea pigs and owners.
If you’re looking for an alternative, small soft-sided carriers make it super easy to move your guinea pigs back and forth.
Simply open the carrier, place it in the cage, and remove all other hiding places. A skittish piggy will quickly retreat into the carrier, and you can then simply zip it up, place the carrier on the floor, and open it for the guinea pig to come out at their own pace. It may also help to give your guinea pig a veggie treat when they go into the carrier, so they associate it with good things.
If your cage door is too small to fit a carrier through, you can use a snuggle sack or fleece bed instead. Just make sure your guinea pig can’t jump out when you lift the bed out of their cage.
Things to Set Up In Your Floor Time Area
Floor time can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Guinea pigs are often happy just to be able to stretch their legs, run around, and popcorn!
However, it can also be fun to set up some obstacles and tunnels and watch them explore and play. There are countless things you can put in your guinea pig’s floor time enclosure or room.
Since the floor time area is usually much more spacious than their regular cage, you can put in a lot of the toys and other things that may not fit in their full-time cage.
There are lots of options, from store-bought tunnels and huts to DIY things like piles of shredded paper and boxes with holes cut out of the sides to run through.
Necessary Things For Floor Time
- A piggy-proofed room or an ex-pen
- Water bottle (should always be available)
- Hay (if they are out longer than an hour)
- Hidey huts to retreat to should they get startled by something or feel uncomfortable (provide at least one hiding place per pig)
More Things You Can Include in Your Guinea Pig’s Floor Time Setup
Guinea Pig Tunnels!
There aren’t many things that guinea pigs love more than tunnels! Guinea pigs have a blast exploring them and running through them. You can also hide treats in their tunnels for them to find.
Flexible tunnels are a lot of fun because you can twist and bend them into different shapes.
Fabric tunnels are great for floor time because you can fold them back up when not in use.
Fleece tunnels are another cozy option for guinea pigs that love to hang out and cuddle in their tunnels.
Popup Fabric Tents
Fabric tents are also fun for guinea pigs to explore. Additionally, they provide a safe space for when your guinea pig gets nervous or needs a rest from running around. These tents can also be folded up and tucked behind a desk or shelf when floor time is over.
While they can be used as a standalone tent, these connect nicely to the Living World fabric tunnels. A tunnel/tent combo is often appealing to guinea pigs that love to run through things. They also appeal to skittish guinea pigs, as a tent and tunnel together provide more privacy and security.
Hidey huts are a necessary addition to any guinea pig floor time setup. Hidey houses come in all different shapes, sizes, and materials.
Edible hidey huts made from woven hay are great for guinea pigs, as they provide a hiding place and chew toy all in one.
Wooden houses are also chewable but tend to last a lot longer than hay-woven huts.
Regular plastic hideys are a classic. Durable, long-lasting, and easy to clean.
Fleece houses are super cozy for guinea pigs and are also easy to clean in the washing machine.
Guinea Pig Beds
Beds are a nice addition to your guinea pig’s floor time space. Great for when piggies get tired from all the zoomies and running around!
Some good choices are the animal design beds seen in the photo to the left. These beds aren’t completely closed in like a hidey hut, but they do have a bit of a roof to help guinea pigs feel more secure.
Fleece pillow beds are also super comfy and great for chill guinea pigs that love lounging.
Cuddle cups are also a classic favorite for guinea pigs.
Treat balls are a great way to encourage your guinea pig to forage and exercise.
Dice up some super small pieces of carrots or other similar veggies and fill up your treat ball. If your guinea pig really loves their pellets, you can use those too!
Teach your guinea pig how to use the ball by putting some small treats all around and under the ball. Point them out to your guinea pig. Feed them treats every time they nudge the treat ball.
Eventually, they’ll realize that pushing the ball results in even more treats! Once they get the hang of using a treat ball, most guinea pigs absolutely love them!
DIY Toys for Guinea Pig Floor Time
DIY toys and obstacles are also a lot of fun for guinea pigs. They are also very cheap and easy to find or make. Many of these are things you may have lying around your house already.
Paper Bags are Fun to Explore!
Large paper bags can be a fun DIY thing for guinea pigs to run around in and explore. You can make this even more fun by putting treats inside.
You can also stuff paper bags with shredded newspaper for guinea pigs that prefer to hide and burrow instead. Paper bags are also great for chewing.
Piles of shredded newspaper are often a hit with guinea pigs, particularly the piggies that prefer to hide. For a more curious guinea pig, you can encourage them to tunnel through the shredded paper by hiding some treats. This idea is also free and super easy to do. If you don’t have a paper shredder, you can also shred up some newspapers by hand.
Piles of Soft Pet Blankets
Another thing that most guinea pigs love are soft, cuddly blankets to burrow under. My guinea pigs love to run underneath and then drag the blankets all over the room.
This idea is also free if you already have some soft pet blankets at home for your guinea pigs. Piling up 3 or 4 soft blankets into a fluffy mountain is sure to entice almost any guinea pig to run inside.
Make a Tunnel Fort Out of Blankets
Another thing you can do with blankets is clip them to a fence or ex-pen to create a blanket tunnel or tent. The blanket drapes down onto the floor and provides a nice place for your guinea pigs to hide or run through. This is usually a favorite thing for my own guinea pigs.
Cardboard Boxes for Guinea Pigs
Cardboard boxes are a classic for guinea pigs, and for good reason! They come in all shapes and sizes, are free, easy to find, and guinea pigs love them!
You can cut multiple holes in the box so your guinea pigs can run in one way and out another. They are also great for your guinea pig to chew on, and they are so much fun to explore!