Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Foiling Fleece Bedding Burrowers

The brick method
Fleece is a great bedding choice for guinea pigs, although it can have its difficulties.  Many guinea pigs enjoy their fleece bedding and some of them love it best from underneath:  they burrow under the fleece.  This can be messy.   They'll eat the newspaper or chew on whatever you have under the fleece to absorb the urine.  Or worse, they'll get down to the bare bottom of the cage and you end up extracting a sodden, poopy pig.  Yuck.  Even with a ton of places to hide and cozies and cuddle cups to snuggle into, some pigs just prefer to get into where they shouldn't.

There are a few different ways to deal with this problem.

An easy, quick and inexpensive way to keep pigs from burrowing under the fleece is to hold the edges down with something heavy.  Bricks, a big food bowl, hidey houses or anything hard to move or get under can do the trick.  I have a brick under my girls' water bottle.  It works double duty: it keeps the excess water from soaking the fleece as well as keeping the fleece from being pulled up.  The drawback of bricks is that they take up room on the floor and can be obstacles in an otherwise open running space.  If you have truly tenacious pigs, any open edge is an invitation to get under the fleece, so the heavy object approach may not be practical.

Binder Clip
Since I started building C&C cages, I've discovered there are two things I can't do without:  zip-ties and binder clips.  I have two different sized binder clips on hand and I am surprised (and amused) at how many are in use (14 in one cage and several more for their pen).  Binder clips are a wonderfully effective way to stop burrowing.  It requires cutting the fleece large enough to run up the sides of the cage so you can binder clip it to the top edge of the coroplast.  I cut mine an inch or two longer than the sides, so I can fold it over the edge before clipping it into place.  Not only does this prevent burrowing, it stymies coroplast chewing (I've discovered Pinni has a penchant for scalloped edges).  

I have heard of a variation of the binder-clip solution by sewing velcro to the fleece and sticking the matching side of the velcro to the coroplast.  Personally, I'd think that velcro would be hard to clean around and lose its grip too quickly.  However, it's worth mentioning - you may come up with some nifty way of making it work.

1/2" PVC pipe frame
Another method to keep fleece down is by using a PVC pipe frame.  It's not a common solution, but I've seen descriptions of this design once or twice.  The idea is to make a frame of 1/2 inch pipe that is just slightly smaller than the inside edge of the frame.   The fleece needs to be a few inches larger than the bottom of the cage.  The fleece is placed over the frame, the edges tucked under, and the whole thing is placed into the cage.  It eliminates any raw edges for the guinea pig to burrow under.  The weight of the pig on both the PVC and fleece should hinder them from tunneling underneath.

PVC pipe threshold between shavings and fleece
I implemented a variation of the PVC pipe design in my cage when I split the main floor to be half-fleece, half-shavings.  The idea was to use it as a threshold, to keep most of the shavings off of the fleece.  It was only a partial frame (just one straight edge piece without any joints), so a determined guinea pig could nose under the pipe to get to the fleece.  Willow demonstrated this design flaw to me a few times.  But it must have been more trouble than it was worth and she stopped burrowing under the fleece within a month or two.  Neither Pinni nor Bertie have shown no interest in getting under their threshold.

These are the most common prevention tactics I've seen.  I'm sure there are other methods that people have dreamed up in order to thwart their industrious guinea pigs.  If you're lucky, your pigs have never considered that burrowing under their fleece bedding is a possibility.  Keep your fingers crossed that they don't become enlightened.


  1. We keep a large ziploc bag full of binder clips to secure fleece in place.

    One mischievous pig taught all the others how to burrow so if we're not thorough we'll return from an outing to find four squeaking lumps underneath the fleece and no pigs in sight.

    1. Oh, what bad pigs you have! Don't you love how they teach other?

  2. The simplest fix for this, is simply cut the fleece to the size of the floor of cage. Take off the 6 inches or so on each side that comes with the fleece you buy from Jo-Anns. Then the pigs don't have a nice tent or a tunnel they can run under. Worked with a champion tunner. Keep the bricks if you want to but this is much easier.

    Also if you're using towels with fleece you don't need newspaper too. It just makes the cage smell.

  3. I use a large, folded, double layer of fleece that comes up 4" on all the sides. Then I clasp the cage down on top of the fleece using binder clips. I use "puppy" pee training pads under the fleece since my GPS can't possible burrow.


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