The warmer days are upon us, and the temptation is to put our Guinea pigs out on the grass for the day but be very careful as it isn’t as simple as it seems. Take a read before putting your Guinea Pigs out on the grass for the first time, it could save a life!
Guinea pigs love fresh grass and can eat lots of it. Fresh grass, like hay, can provide them with much-needed vitamin’s and can keep their teeth from growing too long. It’s much needed for a good diet.
However, did you know that putting them out on your lawn for the very first time or the first time this year, when they are not used to the grass all winter can be harmful?
Grass should be introduced slowly. Start by letting them have 20 minutes a day maximum and slowly increasing their time on the grass by a few minutes each day. Increasing the amount of time too quickly can upset their little tummies and cause Bloat. Bloat can be deadly for Guinea Pigs and if you suspect your Guinea Pig has bloat, take them to the vets immediately. Symptoms of Bloat are if Your Guinea pig's belly looks swollen or distended. Other signs include weakness, lack of appetite, heavy breathing, restless movements, lack of movement or stoppage of bowel movements.
Lawn mower clippings are a big No No! These could result indigestive upset and illness and should never be given to your guinea pig to eat. Although cutting with scissors and putting into your Piggie cage is fine, as you can make sure you haven’t cut any weeds. So, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the weeds that are growing in your garden, as some of them are toxic to guineas. Other dangerous weeds are things like:
Furthermore, never let a guinea pig out on grass that’s been treated with pesticide, fertilizer, or any other lawn chemicals. Doing so could result in severe illness or even death in your guinea. If you have a new lawn, leave it at least 12 months before putting your guinea pig out on it, if you can’t be 100% positive that it hasn’t been treated.
Wet grass. This time of year (March/April), the weather is just starting to warm up, but the grass can still feel wet and cold to touch. A good idea is to use a soft brush and brush the piece of grass underneath your run to remove the rain, at least half an hour before considering putting you piggies out. Feel the grass with your hand first and if it feels ok, you’re good to go! This obviously applies to Guinea pigs who normally live inside. But if your guinea pigs live outside throughout the winter, you should also ensure that they don’t spend too much time out on damp grass, as a wet belly and legs can encourage skin & chest infections.
Give them a safe environment. Buy a proper outdoor run for them. Somewhere that has to top to prevent cats or bird from entering their space. Give them shelter from any passing shower like a wooden arch or house, but not any plastic houses as these get extremely hot in the sun. Give them shade from the sunshine, something as simple os a towel of fleece throw will suffice.
Do your research before purchasing an outside run & look at the different varieties available to buy. The triangular ones look great and are compact, but they are a little too small and are very difficult to be able to get your Guinea pig out of, if they are not willing to go back inside. We bought one of these years and years ago when we were new Guinea pig owners. We couldn’t get our guinea pig out, so we lifted up the far end and the piggie ran like an Olympic sprinter towards the hedge at 100 miles are hour. We caught him just in time before his life of freedom, after a mad dash, a rugby dive & a bitten finger. We still laugh about that miracle catch to this day and is not something I ever want to repeat!
Some people let their guinea pigs have free reign of their garden and I’ve seen this on the internet too. Please only do this if your garden is 100% escape proof and you are outside with your pets so you can watch them all the time.
If you get the opportunity, please let all piggies out on the grass, they will love you for it.
Fact Guinea pig who has daily access to grass tend to live longer.