As a pet owner, you want to provide the best for your furry friend. But what about hay racks? Are they safe for guinea pigs?
As a general rule, some hay racks are dangerous for guinea pigs. A hay rack with bars that are too flexible risks injuring a guinea pig if their head or body becomes trapped. And the design of some hay racks make it difficult for guinea pigs to eat the hay inside, which can cause serious health problems.
Now, you’re probably thinking: But, my guinea pigs waste so much hay that they don’t even eat! They just urinate and leave their droppings in it or toss it all over the cage. Then I have to toss the wet hay and add more. A hay rack will solve everything!
I feel ya.
But, is a hay rack your best, safest option for healthy piggies and an owner who’s rather not have a nervous breakdown over all that wasted hay?
Well, you’re about to find out. So let’s get started!
In this article, I’ll go over some of the things that make a hay rack unsafe for guinea pigs. Plus, I’ll give you a list of alternative, safe options to keep your pigs happy and healthy.
✅ If you’re in a hurry or just want a safe, stylish hay feeder for your little friends, then this hay feeder is the one you want. It has a great, space-saving design that’ll keep the hay contained and your little friends happy and well-fed.
How Do You Know If Your Hay Rack Is Safe?
The safest hay racks don’t have any gaps between the bars big enough (or flexible enough) for a guinea pig’s body or head to get stuck in. However, a safe hay rack should also easily allow your piggie to eat the hay inside without a problem.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.
Gaps in a Hay Rack
Unfortunately, a quick Google search will reveal (in all it’s heartbreaking glory) that some guinea pigs have suffered serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries to their bodies or heads by getting stuck in bars or hung up in bars. This isn’t just one isolated case either – there are many reports of this happening to different guinea pigs all over the Internet.
I’ve heard of a few different ways for a piggie to get caught (from their head, a tooth, or a leg), and it’s really too horrifying to even think about.
Hard To Get Hay
All piggies need to eat hay daily to survive. It’s the primary source of fiber, which is crucial for good gut health.
It’s a BIG problem if the hay rack’s design doesn’t allow your piggie to get
But if a piggie has to push and shove their head deep into the hay rack just to get a mouth full of hay each day, it’s going to get old – and fast.
Either they’ll get frustrated and stop trying to get to their hay, or they’ll get bored and move onto something else. That’s definitely not something you want to happen!
Say you were offered a juicy hamburger (or a veggie burger if you’re vegan – I’d like to stay inclusive here) on a plate, but you had to stick your face through a very, very small hole in order to eat it.
Would you be able to get the burger (or veggie burger) out of that hole?
Yep, that’s what I thought.
(Nobody wants to eat their dinner through a straw, right?)
So, of course your guinea pig is going to have the same problem trying to get to their hay!
And you never want to make your piggies work hard for something that is so critical to their survival.
Popular Ways To Feed Hay To Guinea Pigs
All right, I absolutely love getting the 411 on little fuzz spuds from a variety of guinea pig owners. So, of course, I did a survey of 506 guinea pig pet parents. I literally asked them “Do you use a hay rack?”
And what they told me was very interesting.
- First of all, about 1/5 (19.6%) of the people who responded to my survey said that they didn’t use hay racks. They just dump the hay on the cage floor and let their piggies burrow and munch away.
- Almost half (49.3%) don’t use “hay racks” per say. Instead they use trays, bowl, paper bags, and other methods to contain the hay.
- Around 12.1% use hay bags. A hay bag is a cloth bag with holes in it to allow the hay to come out. Piggies can get trapped in hay bags, so make sure that the holes are big enough to not get their heads stuck, or they can climb inside to eat the hay.
- A mixture of hay feeders was used by 5.2% of the people polled. Usually a hanging one (either a hay bag or rack) paired with a hay pile in a tray or bowl
- 13.7% use hay racks, but over half reported that they either modified store-bought ones or built their own home made hay racks, to make sure there weren’t any hidden dangers
So, it seems that if you’re going to use a hay rack, that you need to be prepared to make alterations or modifications to ensure that your piggy is going to stay safe.
Alternative, Safe Hay Feeder Options For Your Piggies
Ok, so you’ve heard the bad news about hay racks – but what are some good options to use with your piggies?
Well, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out just how many safe options really exist. I know I was!
But, no matter which one you choose, watch your little fuzz spuds carefully when you first introduce them to your hay feeder of choice.
It’s important to monitor them when they first use it, to make sure that they’re able to get their hay without any problems and that they’re not getting into any trouble with the hay feeders.
This observation period is a wonderful way to spend extra time with your piggies as well as to stay on top of their health care.
1. Litter Trays and Boxes
You can use the kind for cats and small dogs. Actually, other than just plopping the hay on the floor of the cage, this has be one of the easier and budget-friendly options.
Just make sure to put 2 to 3 inches of bedding down first. It’ll absorb a lot of the pee, so you don’t have to change it out too often.
Then plop a big pile of hay on top and add more as they eat it throughout the day. The only hay that should get really wet is the hay that is nearest to the bedding
Also, you need to make sure that your piggies can easily get into the litter box. If the entrance is higher than about 2 inches, then that’ll be a problem.
It keeps the hay contained, so the cage stays neater and tidier.
But, your little friends will have an easy (dare I say the easiest?) time munching away at their food.
The openings are so large (and there’s so many of them), that you don’t need to worry about whether or not your piggies can reach the hay.
And let’s be honest, you don’t need another reason to worry about your fur babies.
You do enough of that without adding a safe hay feeder to the list, right?
3. Cardboard Boxes
Not only do cardboard boxes make great piggie houses, but they’re a fantastic place to keep hay.
It doesn’t take much to prepare them for your little potatoes and the cost is very low.
If your piggies chew the living daylight out of it, just replace it with another box.
You can even use cardboard cereal boxes to make feeding your piggies easier (and neater). You can binder clip to the side of the cage and then cut a hole in the bottom of it. Stuff the hay inside the top.
Some will spill out of the bottom for your little friends to eat, but the rest will stay inside.
It’s true! You can make a do-it-yourself hay feeder with nothing more than a cardboard box. Just cut a hole in it to give your little friend easy access to their hay.
4. A Plain Cloth Bag
Keep it simple and easy.
Just take one of these cloth bags and cut a big slit (or two) in it. One big enough for your guinea pigs to easily get into and get out of.
Then use binder clips to attach it to your cage.
If you opt to use this option, but end up getting a bag with drawstrings. Make sure that you get rid of the string before you hand it in your piggie’s cage.
You wouldn’t want your piggies to get tangled in it. (good grief that’s an awful image!)
5. Hay Bag or Pouch
Hay bags are usually a good alternative to hay racks. They’re great for organizing the hay while still giving your little friends easy access to it.
Most hay bags are made of nylon. But, I have seen some DIY hay bags made of jeans and fleece.
Either way, you’ll want them to be sturdy, durable, and to last a long time. Here’s a good brand of hay bags and here’s another one if you want the option for a hay bag made with a cute pattern (and who doesn’t enjoy cute, right?!)
You’ll never have to worry about your small pet getting hay all over the floor again.
6. Paper bags
Okay, so this seems a little simple, but hear me out.
Brown paper bags are convenient to use and easy to replace if your piggies chew them up (which they probably will ).
Just make sure to get bags that are big enough for your little buddies. Brown paper bags for lunches are great to use if you have a smaller piggie.
But, you can also level up with grocery bags and watch your furry potatoes REALLY have a great time.
Just stuff some hay inside and make sure that they handles are cut off.
Should I Use A Hay Rack For My Guinea Pigs?
If you’re able to find a hay rack that has appropriately-sized grids, buy one that you can alter, or that you’re able to make one by hand that’s safe with easily accessible hay, then why not?
After all, a handful of people that I surveyed said that their little friends actually ate MORE hay with the racks that they provided.
On the other hand, if your nerves (like mine) are get the best of you while thinking about how your piggies could injure themselves while trying to get to their food or you don’t feel comfortable modifying racks for your piggies , then don’t.
The main priority is that your guinea pigs are safe, happy, and healthy – and that you have peace of mind.
So, there you have it – six ways that you can provide your piggies with easy access to hay.
Pick one or mix and match one or two of them to come up with a hay feeding solution that works best for you and your little friends.
If not, there are plenty of other options. I’m all for keeping your furry friends’ cage neat – there’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure that your piggies can easily eat their food without getting injured in the process.
Things To Remember About Hay Rack Safety
Hay Racks can be safe if the design of the rack itself is altered to be safe for your piggies.
If you’re able to do that, then go ahead and use one if it makes life easier for you.
But, don’t let “easy” for you translate into “dangerous” for your little friends. Keep in mind all of these important safety tips mentioned above.
And if you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to use a hay rack for your guinea pigs, there are plenty of other options available.
Just make sure that they can easily eat their food without getting injured in the process.
Some people find it helps if they modify the racks themselves with grids that their piggies are safe on and others just prefer using boxes, litter trays, or other containers.
The main priority is that your guinea pigs are happy, well-fed, and healthy!
Thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope that it helped!
Do you use hay racks? If so, what kind do you have? Do you have a favorite hay rack? Let me know in the comments below.