Your pig has vanished. The only clue: a telltale gap at the edge of the fleece. Could it be aliens? A pignapping? The IRS? Seconds later, a moving, squeaking lump makes its presence known in a corner of the cage. "Darn it," you think, "not again!"
An unexpected drawback to fleece bedding is burrowing - a common source of annoyance to more than a few guinea pig owners. Our very own Belka was a habitual burrower, pulling her disappearing act every chance she got. Aside from eating, her favorite recreational pastime was diving under the fleece to conduct reconnaissance. This proved to be both aggravating and amusing, especially when she'd run into aboveground obstacles (such as pigloos and other pigs).
WHAT IS BURROWING
It's what happens when your pig discovers that fleece bedding has multiple layers and tunnels underneath them instead of staying on the surface.
WHY GUINEA PIGS BURROW
Shy cavies feel more secure when they're hidden. This is especially true for pigs adjusting to a new home or an unfamiliar environment. Others, like Belka, are mischievous and simply enjoy tunneling beneath the fabric. Boredom is another possible reason.
WHY IT MATTERS
The number one reason why cavy slaves find burrowing a pain is because of the resulting mess. Poops left behind get stuck to the layers underneath, making it more difficult to clean. More importantly, your cavy could become trapped underneath if they can't make their way back out. It's also unhygienic for them to be wandering around on damp bedding.
- Binder clips or clothespins. Use them to fasten fleece in place, clipping a few extras into problem areas.
- Change your cage configuration, setting the grids on top of the bedding like in the image above. This allows you to tuck the ends of the fleece underneath the coroplast, giving them no leeway for digging. This is the method we use. Nothing else would deter Belka, burrowing expert.
- Try a larger swath of fleece. A single continuous length of fabric will prevent your guinea pig from squeezing through overlapping edges.
- Place a heavy object over the edge. Food bowls, bricks, or even their hay rack will do.
- Distract your pigs with a tent. Make one by draping a towel, spare piece of fleece, or other cloth scrap over a corner of the cage. Secure with binder clips (see how handy they are?).
- Provide additional hideaways to make them feel secure. Pigloos, cozies, cuddle pouches, etc.
- Appease their need to retreat somewhere sheltered by making a fleece forest. Those hanging panels provide excellent camouflage! Or so they believe.
- Make a PVC pipe frame. I haven't tried this myself but it's a pretty nifty idea.
- Single-layered cage liners may discourage cavies who don't like walking directly on top of the coroplast.
Do your pigs have a burrowing problem?