How often should I clean my guinea pig's cage?Your nose will tell you. Generally one week is the maximum between complete bedding changes. How often you need to clean will also depend on:
- Your choice of bedding material
- The age of your guinea pigs (young pigs mean less waste)
- The size of your cage (bigger is better) and
- How many guinea pigs you have.
Many pet owners spot clean on a daily basis. Others do complete bedding changes every four days. Towels usually need to be changed daily.
Cleaning regularly will keep your guinea pigs healthier. More frequent cleaning prevents urine from breaking down into ammonia, which can harm your guinea pig's respiratory system. Frequent cleaning will also slow bacterial growth and your guinea pigs will be less likely to contract urinary tract infections.
How do I get the crusty parts off the bottom of the cage?
Normal, healthy guinea pigs will pass calcium compounds and other minerals in their urine. This scale can be difficult to remove.
To clean litter boxes or cages, remove bedding materials, clean with soapy water and rinse. Then pour a tablespoon or two of vinegar directly on the calcium deposits and allow to sit for several minutes. This mild acid dissolves the calcium and mineral deposits through a chemical reaction (if you watch closely, you can see the release of gas as tiny bubbles). Repeat if necessary with more vinegar until the deposits are gone. You can scrub lightly with an old toothbrush to aid removal. Minimal scrubbing should be required.
A general cleaning with a dilute bleach solution every month or two will help to keep bacteria in check.
What if my guinea pigs have mites or fungus?
If your guinea pigs have mange mites, perform a general cleaning as described above and vacuum the area just before or after you treat your guinea pigs for mites with ivermectin.
If your guinea pigs have a fungal infection, washing with a dilute bleach solution (one part bleach to 20 parts water) will help to stop the spread of the fungus. Dispose of wooden hidey houses if the fungal infection is severe and difficult to cure.