Fun for Cavies
So far, I've only tried two kinds of pig houses: cardboard boxes and a store-bought wooden one. The cardboard boxes work all right, although they don't last very long, since the little ones really love to chew on them. They're also somewhat light-weight, so that they'll move if the pigs run into the walls. Still, it's a fine way to get rid of a box.
The store-bought wooden house is nicer. It's small enough to fit in the cage, but big enough for two cavies. It also has two doors (well, a door and a "window", but the latter is quite serviceable as a door), so that they can enter and leave easily. And it is low enough that the cavies can hop up on top of it to get away from the rest of the herd or for fun. The only down-side, other than the cost (around $20), is that it's large enough that it takes up a significant chunk of floor-space in the cage, limiting the room to run. That, and they sometimes fight about who gets to be in the house.
Also store-bought, you can get the grass hidey-holes. You'll need the giant or the baby-giant (for a smaller piggy). Pallas loves his because he can get in and out through 4 holes, it's comfy, and he and nibble on it.
In this category, but much less durable are paper lunch bags. You know the ones, you can buy them in stores for around a buck for 50. If you cut these down, the cavies love them. I usually stuff them with hay, but that just adds to their fun. They'll chew this up pretty quickly, by the way. (They seldom last for more than a few days.) But, for 2 cents a peice, they can nibble away.
|Log cabin house. This is a "large" house, made entirely of wood (with a bit of glue helping out). It's big enough for 2 cavies, and small enough to fit in the cage and for a piggy to hop onto the roof.||Pallas snuggled up in his hidey hole.|
|Metis curled up inside of a cut-down paper lunch bag. She likes to hide in these.||Metis showing off the versitility of the paper bag. It can also be used on its side. It's like two toys in one!|
The Herd loves their tunnels. I purchased five one-foot lengths of 4-inch PVC pipe. (It's cheap and the hardware store will probably even cut it down for you.) This is large enough for the piggies to get in and out without risk if getting stuck. It is also big enough for them to maneuver a bit inside. Combine those segments with a few pipe-joints, and you can make a variety of tunnels. I have the Y-shaped, T-shaped, and elbow joints (see below).
The Herd really enjoys these tunnels. They run in and out of them, between them, straight through them, etc. They can also hide in them when they get scared, which is really key for them. Occasionally, two of them will meet head-on in the tunnels. One of them either backs out, or it will find a wider part of the tunnels (at a joint) and turn around. It's quite entertaining to watch them negotiate tunnel right-of-way.
|One of the straight peices of foot-long four-inch PVC pipe.||The elbow joint.|
|The Y-shaped joint.||The T-shaped joint.|
During floor-time in the kitchen and bathroom, the Herd tends to hide under the toilet's tank and under the kitchen shelves (behind the garbage can). So I have put down newspaper there and two litter bin (one each site). I put a bit of bedding in each bin, and they seem to use the bins to urinate automatically. They don't always get there, but they are very good about only doing it on the newspaper. This is a considerable relief, of course.
|A litter bin. Nominally, these are intended for ferrets, but the herd uses them.|
When the weather doesn't cooperate, the pigs have to have their daily floor time inside. Fortunately, my kitchen and bathroom (which are contiguous) are easily washable so the herd can run and play all they like. Unfortunately, it's also slippery. While this does lead to some extremely funny moments when a pig is running all-out and not going anywhere (rather like a Looney Toons character), it means that they don't get as much exercise as they should. So I have throw-rugs for the floor. They're fairly cheap and washable, and provide excellent traction.
Of course, we also have to keep the piggies contained, which is why I made some fencing out of parts of the storage cubes. These work wonderfully as fences, and also allow me to mount a water bottle for them during floor time.
|Throw rugs to get better piggy traction. These come in different sizes, so they can fit almost anywhere.||The fence keeping the pigs in the kitchen.|
|The fence keeping the pigs in the patio.|
I confess that I got this hammock on sort of a whim. They're pretty cheap (even if the pattern is sort of ugly) and nominally for ferrets and I wouldn't have particularly thought that the piggies would like hanging in a hammock. Evidently, I was wrong. The girls (Pallas hasn't tried it yet) seem quite taken with it.
|Tea in the hammock, looking very comfortable.||Tea peering over the side of the hammock. (This is cuter when you have a sense of depth and realize that the hammock is about 5 cm off the floor of the cage.)|
|Metis also enjoys the hammock for naps.||Metis, ever the clever one, again showing us how versitile the hammock is: it is also a place to hide under.|
Assorted things that I've found help.
|Kick-guard to keep the pigs from kicking their bedding out of the cage. The guard is made of tag board and just wired to the outside of the cage.||The storage cubes make great supports for the pig cages as well as shelves to store the food, bedding, and fun stuff.|
|The pigs don't like the store-bought chew blocks. I think it's because they're so low to the ground. Solution? Glue two or three of them together so that there is also at least on that is vertical. Now they gnaw away!|
Weiss John Last modified: Mon Nov 24 21:48:59 MST 2003