Thursday, January 31, 2013

Home Base

 Athena and Vicky's home base, with hay and water
Willow and Pippin's home base; the current home base setup
Many people ask - can you litter train your guinea pigs?  I usually answer:  they'll train themselves if they want to.  At least that's been my experience in dealing with my guinea pigs.  I haven't made any attempt of training them in their cage, but for floor time I try to encourage my pigs to limit the peeing and the pooping to one spot.  I call this place Home Base.

The original home base came about as a shallow cardboard box, a well worn towel and was situated under an old hot-water radiator.  It was a perfect place to hide out, and the young pigs I had loved to spend their time under there while they weren't off exploring the kitchen, the laundry room and the family room.  There were accidents if they managed to get under the couch and hide there for any length of time, but otherwise, I let them roam a large portion of the house without worries.  Even after we moved to a new house, and home base wasn't nearly as warm and cozy, Eclair and Teddi still knew to stick with that.

Coroplast pan half in its fleece cozy
That was over a decade ago, and home base hasn't changed much over the years.  It is now made of coroplast, wrapped in a fleece sleeve (to prevent burrowing under the loose towel).  It has moved to various spots in two different homes, usually to wherever my guinea pigs naturally gravitate.  I find my best success is when I cater to their preferred hang-out.  I try to make home base as inviting as possible, supplying it with a hiding place, hay and water bottle.  I have met with varying degrees of success.  Most of my guinea pigs would have the occasional accident elsewhere in the room, most often when they found a better hiding spot.  None of them have been as diligent as Teddi and Eclair.  Athena and Vicky did pretty well, from what I remember.  Pippin and Willow didn't like to venture on the wood floors; I had fleece spread all over for their floor time, so I'm not sure how consistent they were at using home base.  And then there is Pinni, who purposely backs off of it to pee on the floor.  I'm not sure if she's just not bright enough to get the concept, or if she does it on purpose, just to make a point.  It's hard to tell with that pig.


  1. None of my girls like hardwood floors either, Abby-Roo is the only one who will walk across them.

    The fleece sleeve is a nifty idea, I would love to see a closeup. How do you keep the towel and fleece in place? Are they sewed together like a cage liner or do you just wrap it around in several layers?

    1. Sorry - it took me a couple of days to get a picture. I've updated the post with home base half in its sleeve. Think of it as a really big cozy sack and the coroplast slides into. I tuck the ends of the fleece under the bottom of the coroplast, or if I have a pig that's determined to burrow into it, I binder-clip it to the end of the coroplast.

      With two pigs, the amount of pee is pretty low per floor-time session, so I don't bother with a towel (but if I did, I'd just slide both coroplast and towel into the fleece sleeve). The fleece dries out by the time the next floor time rolls around.

      I hope this answers your questions!


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