I knew enough not to get wood shavings for the bedding, since certain types, like cedar and pine that hasn't been kiln dried, are bad for pocket pets. I decided to try Carefresh bedding, since it's made from paper and is soft and safe for little critters. I just kept my fingers crossed that it would keep the odor down because cages can get stinky, even with regular cleaning.
I bought the largest possible bag of Carefresh bedding to get Mufasa started. It comes in white (Ultra) or natural colors, but I choose the Confetti variety because I liked the different pastel hues. I lined the floor of my little guy's cage with a thick layer of Carefresh Premium and left him for the night, eager to see how the cage would look and smell the next day.
I was very pleased with Carefresh bedding's absorbancy. I quickly found the damp spots where Mufasa had peed, but the bedding wasn't totally soaked or squishy. It just felt damp in the affected spots. I simply took out the soiled material to prevent any odors.
After a couple of days of removing the wet spots and poop pellets, I added a little more bedding to the cage. I stripped it down completely after a week, which is when I could just start to detect a faint odor despite the daily attention.
The bedding is also soft and easy to burrow in, making it ideal for any pocket pet from a mouse, rat, hamster or gerbil who likes to dig around to a rabbit or ferret who wants a soft, clean nest.
Tragedy Leads To A Need For More Bedding
Alas, little Mufasa had an upper respiratory infection, which I've since learned is very common in pet store guinea pigs. He died after only 15 days, but in the meantime I'd learned about adoption vs. buying pocket pets. I adopted a new adult piggie, Borat, from the humane society and another, Amy, from Craigslist.
I would have gotten same-sex pigs, but Borat had been mis-sexed at the shelter so I originally thought I had two girls. I learned the truth in time to keep them from mating, but it meant I now needed to keep two large cages clean, dry, and odor free.
With two guinea pigs to take care of, I stocked up on more Carefresh bedding. This time I opted for the plain white type for two reasons. First, it was several dollars cheaper than the colored variety (around $22 as compared to $25 for the largest bag). Second, I realized that the white color would help me more easily find the poop and pee spots. It would also alert me early to any problems like discolored urine.
Clean Guinea Pig, Messy Guinea Pig
Mufasa had been a remarkably tidy guinea pig, confining his potty breaks to two specific areas in his cage. Borat is pretty good about that, too, although he uses four areas and produces a lot more pee and poop, since he's a fully grown adult piggy. I can easily remove his soiled bedding every day, refresh it as needed, and strip down his cage weekly.
On the other hand, Amy puts the "pig" in "guinea pig." She pretty much soils the whole perimeter of her cage. I top out her piggy house, too, but I have to add new bedding every day. That's not a good thing for my pocketbook, since Carefresh is more expensive than many other types of bedding, but I love its safety, soft feel, and absorbancy. It keeps her habitat as dry as possible despite her best efforts to make it soaked and stinky.
I now lay a base of newspaper under the Carefresh, which helps a lot in the pee spots. Some of the urine goes through to the newspaper before it gets soaked up by the Carefresh. That means I replace less bedding and more newspaper, which I can easily get for free. When I do the weekly strip-down, I clean out the cage bottom with a pet-safe cleaner.
My Favorite Paper-Based Product
I know that some pocket pet owners use other paper-based products as bedding for their guinea pigs and other small pets. I have four cats, so I've previously tried Yesterday's News cat litter, which is also a pocket pet bedding choice for some owners. However, it got stinky very quickly in the cat boxes, and I don't want a repeat performance in my guinea pig cages.
I may try some other bedding types for review purposes, but as it stands now, Carefresh is my bedding of choice. It's comfortable for my guinea pigs and keeps their home as warm, dry, and odor-free as possible, as long as I keep up with my cleaning chores.
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I recently switched to the purple Carefresh Advance Odor Control wiht baking soda litter (purple). Our perfectly healthy young hamster was dead within 3 days. Anyone else have that experience?
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