The Pet Project – Part 10 – Cleaning and Maintenance

This is a post about poop!

There’s a pretty vibrant and lively FB group for guinea pig owners in Singapore, and there’s a lot of sharing, discussions and cute to-the-max photos of cavies in the forum. A frequent question that comes up is the amount of cleaning and maintenance required to keep up with cavies. So, here’s my offering:

Guinea pigs defecate more than hamsters – by a lot! For Stacy – our just over a year old Syrian hamster now – we just need to change her sand bath every 3-4 days, and do a full clean-up of her enclosure ever month or so. That’s it. For Rudolf and Danny, our two boar cavies, their clean-up work happens everyday.

Guinea pig poop is, essentially, solid, odorless and easy to sweep or pick-up by hand even – unless there’s something wrong with their diet. Their urine though can be quite a stench. It’s not too bad if there’s plenty of air movement – e.g. a ceiling fan is on and the windows are opened/air-conditioning is switched on. But when it’s not, the smell build-up can be quite strong, e.g. when we’re back home from work.

A lot more clean-up materials are required. Our arsenal includes a mini-brush with dust-pan, animal-safe wet-wipes, two different types of pee-pads, and small pet recycled pellets as litter.

Our current enclosure is a simple C&C of 90x60cm and still evolving. With that in mind:

I use two types of bedding:

  1. Two layers of charcoal pee pads (totally four sheets of 45x60cm) as the base layer.
  2. A third layer (of 33x45cm) at their favorite pee spot, which at the moment is the furthermost right corner of their current enclosure. This third layer is secured by letting their house and cage wall sit on it.

Either the cavies recognize that this is their designated pee area, or their human slaves have adapted to their habit of doing their business in this part of their world. Either way, this top-most pee-pad layer is the most heavily soiled part of the cage and gets changed daily. The current pad here is sold at Daiso, and contains 8 pieces for $2. The Daiso pad is barely adequate in its job. So, once the current supply gets exhausted, I’ll look for something that holds fluids and odors better.

The cavy house and cage wall base sits on the pad, though that won’t stop the cavies from – occasionally – pulling it out. The cavies early on did very occasionally chew on the cage bars. Maybe out of boredom?

There’s also a 280mm x 228m x 150mm Gex square toilet that I first place a pee-pad inside, then fill with about 4cm of small pet litter on top of it. I’ve been using Pets Dream Paper Pure from Pet Lovers’ Centre for a year now, but am just switching to Nature’s Eco Recycled Paper and giving that a try. The pee pad here and pellets are changed every 3-4 days, and the toilet unit gets washed (I have a second toilet of similar size and color that gets rotated in). As our two cavies like to pee/poop in the far corner of the toilet, I scoop up and dispose of the most obvious poop bits, and also re-arrange the pellets to spread the used pellets.

This is approximately the 24 hour output on the toilet from my two boars, with most of the poop on the 33x45cm pee pad. I left the grid in too as my boars were digging up the pellets haha. Most of the poop is in the far corner, so I’ll typically resettle the fresh unsoiled pellets on top of the soiled ones. The entire toilet gets washed and its bedding replaced every 3-4 days.

My arsenal for all occasions!

If the cage wall base is coated with dried poop, the wet-wipes come in for spot-cleaning.

The top (of two layers) of charcoal pee paid is changed every 7 days, and the bottom layer kept as it is as a backup-layer.

Every month, everything gets dismantled for a thorough cleaning. It takes a bit of time to scrub all the dirt off and have it sun-dried, but I’ve got plenty of cage spares.:)

All in; my daily maintenance takes about 5 minutes, and the weekend maintenance maybe about 10 minutes in all. Quite manageable!


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