Guinea Pig Floor Time: How to Provide a Safe and Fun Experience

Guinea pig floor time

We all want to provide our guinea pigs with the best care possible, but there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there! You might have a lot of questions about floor time in particular.

Setting up a space for floor time requires a space as large or larger than their cage. Use C&C grids or other barriers to block off unsafe areas and dark areas where piggies may be tempted to potty. Line the floor with a waterproof liner and provide a fresh pile of hay and plenty of hides and tunnels.

In this article, we’ll go in-depth on how to set up floor time for guinea pigs, and give you some ideas on how to prevent them from peeing on the floor and going where they shouldn’t. I’ll also talk about how to provide enrichment for your piggies while they’re out of the cage.

How to Have Floor Time With Guinea Pigs

Floor time for guinea pigs is pretty simple. The two main things to account for are guinea-proofing the space and keeping things tidy.

Guinea pig eating vegetable

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up floor time for your piggies.

Choose a Space

Will you use a playpen, make a barrier out of C&C grids, or let your piggy free roam a room or the house? All are great options when done right.

Guinea-Pig Proof the Space

Next, you need the space to be safe. This is pretty easy for small spaces, but gets more difficult if you want to let your piggies free-roam on the floor.

Pick up choking hazards, tuck electrical cords out of reach, and make sure there’s nothing on the floor that they might chew. Use barriers to stop your piggies from climbing under furniture or going anywhere unsafe, such as near the stairs.

Also block off anything your piggy can damage, such as furniture legs and baseboards.

Remove Other Pets From the Area

Guinea pigs should not be allowed to interact with other pets like dogs and cats, as they’re predator animals. Even the most docile dog or cat can surprise you, and many dogs or cats who have been fine around guineas before have gone on to kill them. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Rabbits, though they aren’t prey animals, can also severely injure guinea pigs. They’re also asymptomatic carriers for Bordetella, which can kill a guinea pig if they catch it. Dogs and cats can also spread Bordetella to piggies.

Protect Your Floors

There are several ways to protect your floors from guinea pig pee. Use waterproof liners covered with fleece for small areas. Larger areas can be covered with large tarps and fleece, or you can choose to trust your piggies to potty in certain spots. This sometimes works if you provide pee pads around the hay and under their hides–many piggies will poop and pee the most in a hidey house, rather than out in the open.

With that said, you do want to block off anything you don’t want your piggy pooping or peeing beneath–as they will likely gravitate toward these spaces and will almost certainly make a mess. I learned this the hard way when my piggy Rocky left a huge pile of poop in a cat tree!

Bring the Hay

Guinea pigs need access to hay around the clock, so don’t forget to also provide it during floor time!

Provide Hides

Large, open areas are scary for most guinea pigs. Provide plenty of hides, especially in large spaces, to make them feel more comfortable.

Make Floor Time a Group Activity

When I first had my piggies, I made the mistake of trying to bond with them alone by giving them their own floor time. But it’s actually easier to bring bonded groups of piggies out together. It also gives them a confidence boost and may make more timid guinea pigs more likely to explore.

Supervise Your Piggies

I recommend supervising floor time during the first few times at least, just to make sure the space is guinea pig-proofed. This is especially important if you’re allowing them to free-roam.

If you’re completely sure the space is safe and nothing can go wrong, it’s then okay to look away or leave them alone in a room.

Guinea pig out-of-cage time

How Much Space Do Guinea Pigs Need for Floor Time?

In my opinion, floor time should provide guinea pigs with at least as much space as they get in their cage–but preferably more.

Even spaces the same size as their cage can be enriching because your piggies get to explore a brand new space with different smells and sights.

But too small of a space, and they won’t have room to run around and have fun. Floor time is about providing enrichment and encouraging your piggies to exercise, so they do need to be able to sprint around!

How Long Should Floor Time Be for Guinea Pigs?

You may have seen people claim guinea pigs need an hour or multiple hours a day of floor time, but this isn’t necessarily true. Instead, it depends on the guinea pig.

Some piggies are homebodies who enjoy spending most of their time in their cages. They might hide during floor time and be too scared to have fun or find it enriching. In this case, floor time isn’t necessary.

Others are more outgoing, love adventuring, and should be allowed to do so for as long as possible (or as long as they’re still enjoying themselves).

Lastly, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that floor time makes up for a small cage. If your cage doesn’t meet the minimum of 7.5 square feet for two piggies (or bigger for larger groups), floor time will be beneficial but won’t make up for their improper housing the rest of the day.

Guinea pigs don’t sleep for long periods, either, so letting them free-roam during the day while locking them up at night still neglects their needs.

Guinea pigs free roaming

What to Use for Guinea Pig Floor Time

There are a wide variety of options when it comes to floor time. Some people simply let their guinea pigs free-roam on the floor with unsafe areas blocked off. Others fence off smaller areas using a playpen, C&C grids, or even cardboard.

Borders for floor time don’t have to be as strong as they are for a guinea pig cage, so long as floor time is supervised. If you aren’t supervising your pigs, you do want to make sure their enclosure is secure.

To protect your floors from pee, you can use a waterproof tarp, fleece liner, or a cheap shower curtain. So long as the object you choose is waterproof, you’ll be good to go!

Floor Time Enrichment Ideas

  • Scatter feeding: Scatter their daily pellets, treats, or forage around the space so that your piggies can search for their food. This imitates what they’d have to do in the wild–just make sure their hay is always easily accessible, as this is a food they should never have to work for.
  • Use puzzle toys: Puzzle toys made for cats, dogs, or pocket pets all work. If using cat or dog toys, be sure to choose easy ones with simple sliders or small treat balls they can easily roll around. The more advanced puzzles will likely be too difficult!
  • Set up a maze: Setting up an easy maze for your piggies shows you how intelligent they really are! Put some tasty treats, forage, or veggies at the end or scatter them throughout the maze to pave the way.
  • Bring them out together: The best enrichment for guinea pigs are other guinea pigs. Bring bonded pairs or herds out together for floor time and they can keep each other occupied.
  • Use a variety of hides and tunnels: This makes your piggies feel protected and encourages exploration. They’re much less likely to go from one side of the room to another if it’s a bright, open space. But add in a bunch of tunnels for them to run through, and they just might!
  • Change up the space: You don’t want the floor to have all the same items as their cage, in all the same areas. What fun is that? Instead, switch things up during floor time so that your guineas have a reason to explore.
Floor Time Enrichment Ideas

Why Does My Guinea Pig Not Like Floor Time?

Some guinea pigs don’t like floor time. Of these piggies, some are skittish in their new homes and will warm up to the concept over time. Others may not ever enjoy it.

If you’ve just brought your piggy home, try backing up a few steps. Let them get used to their cage first, then try bonding with them inside of the cage. Once they feel comfortable around you, try floor time again.

Single piggies might also be scared during floor time, but with friends they enjoy themselves. Having a companion makes guinea pigs feel more confident and happy.

It’s also possible that your floor space isn’t set up well, and your piggy feels scared in the open space. Try providing several hides all around the room so that they can get from place to place without as much fear.

Providing a calm, quiet atmosphere often helps as well. Try to sit or even lay on the floor, rather than walking around–this can make some guinea pigs nervous.

All of that said, I had a guinea pig named Baby who never grew to love floor time. He wasn’t skittish and was okay being held, especially if the TV was playing his favorite shows! But, he also loved his cage and would sometimes wander down the hallway toward it to let me know he was ready to go home.

At the time, I thought it was bad to never take guinea pigs out of their cage. But knowing what I do now, I’d focus on giving a piggy like Baby the biggest cage possible and providing plenty of enriching toys inside of his cage, rather than forcing him to be outside of it for longer than he liked.

I hope this guide has helped you to learn about floor time for guinea pigs, how to set up an awesome floor space, and what to do if your piggies dislike floor time.

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