A Detailed Guide on How to Host Floor Time for Your Guinea Pig
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Your guinea pigs are built to move. Whether it’s running to hide in a pigloo or jumping and squeaking for treats, guinea pigs need adequate exercise and mental stimulation for optimum health and happiness.
And floor time is the perfect way to give your guinea pig just what he or she craves: a time for fun and discovery.
What Is Floor Time?
Floor time is a scheduled hour each day when a guinea pig gets to roam free of the confines of its cage in a danger-free area in its Human’s house. Floor time areas are replete with hideys, food, and water. This daily event is the perfect time to introduce new activities and exciting places to explore while giving your cavy the routine and exercise it needs.
The main objective of floor time is exercise. While a guinea pig keeper should be performing weekly health checks and regular maintenance tasks (along with snuggle-time and frequent daily interaction), it is no substitute for the exercise and stimulation afforded by floor time. Unlike snuggle time, floor time enables your pig to explore and learn, and to develop his or her own curiosity away from its everyday environment.
Because guinea pigs thrive on consistency and schedule, The Humans provide the HappyCavy with floor time every day for about 45 minutes. During this time, each guinea pigs is taken to a pig-proof sun-room: a well-list and danger-free section of the Humans’ home.
How to Host Floor Time for Your Guinea Pigs
Ideally, floor time should be conducted each day at the same hour or at least once every other day. Remember: The smaller your guinea pig’s cage, the more frequent and longer your guinea pig’s floor time should be!
Guinea Pig Cage Size Requirements
A single adult should have 76 x 91cm in unobstructed cage space. Two guinea pigs should have 76 x 127cm. Learn more about cage size requirements here.
Floor time is best done in a well-light and well-ventilated (but not drafty) part of your house; try to pick a spot with low noise levels and low foot traffic. Some guinea pig keepers prefer to use dining rooms or spare bedrooms. Others like hallways or utility rooms.
Whatever the location, make sure all members of your household know that floor time is in progress. Ask each Human to keep noise levels to a minimum and to be respectful of the pigs’ special space.
How Often To Host Floor Time
Your guinea pig should be getting exercise daily. At least one hour is optimal for each floor time session.
Whether your schedule allow you to provide floor time each day or once every other day, it’s important to pick a set hour and stick with it. Your pigs will love you for planning ahead to give them the extra care and attention they need to stay happy and healthy!
Preparing for Floor Time
For most guinea pig Humans, a recommended Floor Time Supply Kit may include:
- Cage grids and Zip ties, used to enclose a floor time space and/or block hazards
- Fleece or other fabric to cover floor
- Non-slip netting mats (for smooth floors) or absorbant material (for carpeted floors)
- Food bowl, water bottle, fresh hay
- 1 hidey per each guinea pig, plus 1 extra (e.g., 2 pigs = 3 hideys)
While your floor time supply list may vary, the focus remains the same: fun, exercise, and interaction. So here are a few things every cavy keepers needs to consider when preparing your guinea pig’s floor time area:
#1. Guinea Pig Proofing
The Humans are fortunate to have a large, dedicated floor-time room in their house. But for many others, floor time is generally set-up in shared living quarters: living-rooms, hallways, etc.
If you’re hosting floor time in a shared living space, take a moment to think about what items in the floor time room will need to be “piggy-proofed”.
Will you need to…?
- Remove all obstacles such as chairs or other furniture which you don’t want your guinea pig hiding under?
- Close any doors or exits to the room?
- Block any potential traps like vents, small holes, or tight gaps between objects and the wall (like at the back of the refrigerator)?
- Remove or cover any sharp corners on furniture or floor moulding or trim?
- Unplug and remove any electrical cords? Cover any electrical outlets?
- Remove any house plants that are poisonous to guinea pigs? (Remember, if in doubt, take it out!)
#2. Floor Time Bedding
The floor of the HappyCavy play room is linoleum, so The Humans don’t have to really worry about wee stains or cavy accidents (which WILL happen); the linoleum makes it easy to clean up afterward. But guinea pigs don’t like linoleum very much. And who can blame them? It’s impossible to walk on if you’re a little, chubby pig with slippery tootsies.
So The Humans approach floor time bedding with a “cloak and cover” approach. First, they lay down a few mats cut from non-slip netting.
On top of the anti-slip mats are placed two large pieces of fleece. The anti-slip mats prevent the fleece from shifting on the floor, giving the guinea pigs a comfortable and safe way to run and explore their floor time environment.
Then several outdoor patio stones are placed on top of the ends of each corner of the fleece. Doing so prevents tunneling and burrowing, a favorite of Hammy and Buttercup.
If you aren’t using a linoleum surface for floor time, you can protect flooring from getting dirty by laying down bath mats, newspaper, or absorbent bed padding.
Now that the bedding is set-up, it’s time to…
#3. Enclose the Floor Time Area
The Humans prefer to use a large enclosure for HappyCavy floor time. The enclosure is constructed with cage grids (the same grids used in cubes and coroplast guinea pig cages) that are zip-tied together to create a wall barrier.
Water jugs are then used to hold the grid barrier tight against the wall. (Fortunately, the HappyCavy are neither professional escape artists nor eager to leave their pampered lifestyle. Your security method should adapt to the cleverness and ingenuity of your cavy.)
By the way, Dot needs her own separate floor-time area, thus the use of 2 distinct sections in the photo above. Dot is the pickiest of piggies!
#4. Floor Time Accessories
Any HappyCavy will tell you: Floor time is never complete without food, water, pellets, and hideys!
As you already know, your guinea pig wants (and needs!) to eat constantly. So bring in the food bowl, give them their water bottle, and rustle up a box of hay or two. Guinea pigs will work up an appetite no matter what they’re doing; floor time is no exception.
Along with food, hideys are a must. Especially for shy guinea pigs like Dot.
The general rule is that you should provide one hidey per guinea pig, plus one extra. Hidey areas can be anything from plastic pigloos, wooden hutches, to large empty cardboard boxes. Hideys provide safe, comforting environments for your guinea pig to explore its play time area. Accidently drop something? Your guinea pig runs into its hidey. Don’t take that comfort away from them, give them a place they can escape to.
Then on to the fun stuff: Paper towel rolls, ping pong balls, chew blocks, burrowing tunnels. Get creative with floor-time, just remember that the objective is to give your guinea pig room to exercise. So keep the guinea pig toys to a minimum and stick with one or two that your guinea might like. Even better: Change the kinds of toys you use. The newness will keep your cavy guessing!
Floor Time Fun!
Now that your play time room is secured, your enclosure is set-up, food and water are available, and hideys are in place, your pig is ready to party!
When giving your guinea pig floor time, don’t just let them at it and go about your Human business! Sit next to your guinea pigs, talk to them, watch their behavior and how their little personalities grow and change. You may be surprised what a little time and observation will teach you about your fuzzy friends!
Floor time is also a great chance to help new guinea pigs acclimate to their Forever Home. The more time you spend with your guinea pig — speaking softly, feeding treats, watching and being there — the faster he or she will get used to the sounds, smells, and sights of their new environment.
New Guinea Pigs & Floor Time
Understand that guinea pigs new to floor time may choose to stay in their hidey places the entire time; this is especially true of new guinea pigs. But that’s OK! Just understand that they’ll need some “hands-off” to adjust, and the reward is that your guinea pig may learn to trust you and realize that you’re just there to help.
Conclusion: Creative Ideas for Floor Time?
Floor time is an important part of your guinea pig’s daily routine. It provides space and time for your guinea pig to grow strong physically and mentally, and for you to build a closer and stronger bond with your guinea pig.
So what are you doing for floor time? Is there a favorite room of your house you use? What works for you?
And do you have any creative idea for floor time? Inquiring pigs want to know! Please share them below!A Detailed Guide on How to Host Floor Time for Your Guinea Pig,
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