The first to arrive is a toy for cats, not guinea pigs, called the Egg-Cersizer. It's an egg-shaped plastic container about the size of my fist with holes in it that allow food to fall out as the egg rolls around. It can be adjusted to allow 1, 2 or 3 holes to be open. Seemed pretty simple and for under $10, it was certainly worth a try. Guinea pigs won't bat it around like a kitty would, but I'm sure they could grasp the concept of rolling it around for food.
|Attempt #1: cucumber on grass|
They had slightly better luck on the fleece floor of their cage. I found it moved easily across the floor of the cage and a few more pieces out fell of it, but the majority of the cucumber was still inside. Later, when I took the egg out of the cage, I discovered that the cucumber had clumped together. It prevented the egg from rolling freely and the clump was too big to allow any of it to easily fall through the holes.
So the next morning I tried it again with small chunks of celery. This was a big improvement. Bertie was very adept at getting her nose under the egg and flipping it away. She quickly learned the egg would leave behind what she wanted, so she'd eat the celery, then go after the egg and flip it again.
Pinni wasn't as successful. She would move the egg, but not as forceful as Bertie and the egg wouldn't always turn enough to drop the food. Pinni was confused why Bertie would put her nose to the egg and suddenly be munching loudly, but she did the same thing and no celery would appear. In the end she tried to bully Bertie for her treats. The pieces were small enough that Bertie could eat them before Pinni could steal them, which just made Pinni mad. As you can see, Bertie wasn't going to walk away from her prize without a fight.
So, at least to start, I've learned that small (about 1/4") pieces of non-clumping food works best. I'm sure strong smelling foods, like cantaloupe would be good to start with, too, because guinea pigs will be drawn to the Egg-Cersizer. I imagine this will be great for floor time, with the much larger floor space for them to roll it around and chase after.
By the fifth attempt, I had adjusted the egg to two openings. Bertie's persistence was clear. She'd chew at the holes if it got stuck in a corner. She managed to roll it over the wood chips and even bowled it over with such force in smashed into one of the walls of the cage with a BANG! Pinni has figured out how to work it, too, but still finds it easier to wait for Bertie to release the food, then beat her up to get it. I'm hoping Pinni will eventually focus on the egg instead of Bertie... but that might be expecting a lot from that pig.