Guinea pigs are fun and rewarding pocket pets, but they're not cheap to maintain. Between a properly sized cage, good bedding, fresh vegetables, and good quality pellets and hay, they'll put a dent in your budget.
Fortunately, you can save some money on guinea pig toys. Here's a list of five cheap or free items that are great fun for cavies.
Brown Paper Bags
A paper bag is such a simple object, yet it entrances many different types of animals. I was already familiar with the power of paper bags to attract cats for playtime when I got my guinea pigs. I soon learned that they, too, enjoy this cheap but intriguing toy.
You can use paper bags with guinea pigs in a variety of ways. I use lunch-sized bags, which I stuff with timothy hay. It's a fun way to give your piggies their daily hay servings.
I also poke a hole in the end of an empty bag and put it in the cages for an impromptu tunnel. I sometimes link bags together or connect them to my piggies' other tunnel toys, like their Corn-N-Straw Tunnels, Super Pet Crinkle Tunnel, or their Flex-E Fun-Nels.
You can buy plain brown lunch bags very cheaply at any grocery store. When your cavies rip or soil them, simply throw them away.
I bed my guinea pigs on paper bedding like Carefresh Premium or Kaytee Clean & Cozy, and I line the cage bottom with a layer of newspaper. That way, some of the urine falls through and I toss out soiled spots of bedding and wet pieces of newspaper daily.
I also line the piggies' playpen with newspaper, and that led me to discover that they enjoy using it as a plaything. There's no bedding on top of it in the playpen, so my female cavy, Amy, loves to get under the paper and use it as a tunnel or hiding spot. Now I put some in a position that makes it easy for her to do so.
Newspaper is a very cheap guinea pig plaything if you shop around. I subscribe to the local newspaper Wednesday through Sunday for less than a dollar a week. It's easy to throw away when it gets soiled. Most papers are printed with soy ink, making them safe even if your piggy chews them.
If you have a playpen for your guinea pigs and let them out regularly for floor time, give newspaper a try as a new amusement.
Guinea pigs love to hide, and you can buy various products, like plastic igloos, that allow them to do so. As prey animals, they feel safest when they're under shelter.
You can make little hiding spots for cavy cages and playpens by saving cereal boxes and similar cardboard boxes, taking them apart, and setting them up in a A-frame shape. Your piggies will love their new "homes."
My guinea pig Amy is especially fond of boxes. She loves to hang out in them and moves them around her cage if she doesn't approve of the spot where I initially place them. When they get soiled or beat up, I throw them away and give her new ones, since we're constantly using products that come in boxes in my household.
Toilet Paper Rolls
To humans, toilet paper rolls are trash to be discarded when they're empty of paper. To guinea pigs, they make perfect hay dispensers.
I save toilet paper rolls and stuff them full of timothy hay for both Amy and Borat. They love digging out the tasty treat and often drag the cardboard tubes around their cages. They're easy to dispose of and replace as needed, and they don't cost a penny.
Guinea pigs love to hide in fleece forests constructed from hanging strips of fleece. Some cavy owners construct elaborate hideaways for their piggies, but I'm not at all handy. Instead, I simply cut up some pieces of fleece, hung them on a grid, and put them in Amy's playpen. She loves to hang out in the dangling strips.
You can buy scraps of fleece very cheaply at a store like Joanne Fabric. Just look at the scrap shelf, and try to shop on a day with an overall sale so you'll save even more money.