Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper? (The Honest Truth You Need To Know)

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So, you put a carboard box or a few pieces of paper in your guinea pig’s cage and now you’re wondering if the paper is safe for your piggies to eat. Well, good here’s the good news:

Yes, guinea pigs can safely eat small amounts of paper and paper products as long as it’s free of ink, glue, chemicals, and toxic substances. But, purposely feeding large amounts of paper to guinea pigs can result in problems such as obstruction of their digestive tract, leading to health concerns. If your guinea pigs nibble on paper occasionally, it’s nothing to worry about and it won’t harm them.

a guinea pigs wondering if he can eat paper

Keep reading to understand the reasons behind this behavior, what sort of papers are okay for cavies to eat, and how you can prevent your cavies from eating too much paper.

Is It Safe For Guinea Pigs to Eat Paper?

a tip that explains that guinea pigs can eat certain types of paper in small amounts
Do not feed paper to your piggies as a meal. They can’t digest huge amounts of paper.

Let’s us clear the air on this one. There’s no evidence that supports the claim that eating paper is harmful to guinea pigs. However, there’s some things you need to think about before giving your cavies paper (that they might end up eating) like:

  • The type of paper you give your little friends (newspaper, paper plates, tissue paper, etc)
  • The size and thickness of the paper
  • The frequency at which your cavies eat the paper
  • Whether or not there is ink on the paper
  • What type of ink is on the paper

You don’t have to panic that your cavies are gnawing on cardboard or cereal boxes. Many types of paper are safe for guinea pigs to eat (in small amounts).

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Paper is made from plants (hello, cellulose). So, they’re basically safe for cavies to chew and even eat in moderate amounts. But, you need to remember that papers aren’t actual, fresh food, so they don’t provide any nutritional benefits to cavies.

Apart from helping them kill boredom, the paper helps keep cavies’ teeth at ground down. Guinea pigs’ teeth don’t stop growing.

So, your little friends need something to gnaw regularly to make sure their teeth don’t overgrow. Apart from hays, different types of paper products be a great way to keep their teeth at a manageable length.

Will Eating Paper Hurt My Guinea Pig?

a sarcastic guinea pig wondering if he can eat paper
Most plain types of paper are safe for piggies to nibble on occasionally. But, you need to make sure that your little friends eat much more hay and veggies than paper.

Eating papers will hurt your guinea pigs if they eat too much. Paper (or paper products) should never be a meal alternative, just something for them to have fun with and nibble on from time to time.

Most piggies can safely digest small amounts of paper. Overeating papers can cause the following issues with your little friends:

1. Bloat

Their intestines may be blocked from eating excessive paper. Since cavies’ system can’t break down large amounts of paper into something useful, it can block their intestines and digestive system.

This’ll start a domino effect of issues. Because a blocked intestine leads to bloat in guinea pigs. And bloat is a serious condition that can quickly kill your cavies if left untreated.

2. Constipation

There are a number of things that can cause constipation in cavies, and eating too much paper. Huge amounts of paper isn’t easily digestible, and it can cause blockages in the intestines. This can lead to discomfort and even pain for your little friends.

When cavies are constipated, they usually stop eating and can’t poop. Unable to dispose of waste (poop) or eat, they experience pain all over their body. Chronic cases of constipation can be deadly for your fur babies.

If you think your guinea pig may be constipated, take them to the vet for an exam. In the meantime, try to avoid giving them any paper to eat.

3. Malnutrition

After having constipation, their feeding pattern is undoubtedly affected. Your cavies won’t be able to feed on hay, fruits, or vegetables because of being full.

And if they’re not eating fresh, raw food that’s good for them, then your piggies are missing out on important nutrients that they need to stay healthy and to live long lives.

Guinea pigs need Vitamin C to prevent Scurvy, fiber to digest food, calcium to help bone strength, vitamins to build the immune system, and iron to boost metabolism. If they don’t have the essential nutrients they need (daily), your fur babies’ health will go down very quickly after a few days.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Paper (Or Paper Products?)

Cavies may gnaw, eat, or nibble on paper because they enjoy playing with it or because they’re genuinely hungry. Sometimes, they may eat paper due to fiber deficiency or to help rebalance their gut (like after being sick). Finally, boredom will cause guinea pigs to eat paper, too. Actually guinea pigs might eat anything chewable that comes their way for the reasons above. 

How Do You Stop Guinea Pigs From Eating Paper?

There’s a few different things that you can try to keep your piggies from eating too much paper. Remember it’s okay for guinea pigs to gnaw and nibble on paper, but eating tons of it isn’t good for their health.

Let’s take a look at a few tips:

1. Change Their Paper Beddings And Lining

Out of sight; out of mouth…mind…whatever. Instead of using paper, change their beddings and lining to other materials. There’s plenty of affordable ways to line your guinea pigs’ cages.

Fleece liners and noodle bath mats are popular options. Wood pellets or wood shavings (like aspen or kiln-dried pine) are safe to use as well.

This way, they won’t have any paper available in their vicinity to chew, and you’ll be able to easily monitor their eating habits.

2. Provide Toys and Activities

If your guinea pigs are constantly bored, they may start looking for things to do–and that includes eating paper.

Luckily, there’s plenty of toys and activities you can provide them to keep them entertained.

Some piggie favorites include:

  • tunnels
  • treat balls
  • cardboard boxes
  • willow balls
  • mirrors
  • Oxbow brand toys

Your piggies will be busy all day with enough stimulation. Therefore, they won’t have time to eat paper even if it’s within their reach. Besides, cavies gnawing on toys are an excellent alternative to keep their teeth at bay. 

3. Offer Better Hays

Sometimes, guinea pigs’ chewing of papers may result from hunger or fiber deficiency.

Make sure that your little friends have unlimited access to as much hay as they want. The hay pile shouldn’t ever run low. Otherwise, your little friends will grab the roughage from wherever they can get it – including paper.

Timothy hay (or any other high quality hay) is the best and fiber-rich hay option. Make sure your cavies enjoy the optimum fiber level from eating hay.

4. Get Them A Friend

Cavies are social animals. This means that when they are alone for too long, they get bored. Boredom can lead to them chewing on papers (and eating too much paper), which isn’t good for them.

But, you can get them a friend to beat boredom. Most piggies would love a piggie cage mate or neighbor to talk to and play with. By being routinely engaged, your fur babies are less likely to be focused on chowing down on paper.

Why Has My Guinea Pig Suddenly Started Eating Paper? 

If your guinea pig has suddenly started eating paper, then it could be for a couple of reasons. If your little friend has been sick, eating the roughage of paper (and paper products) might help bring their guts back into balance. If your piggie has recently become a solo piggie, then they might be experiencing loneliness and boredom which are both contributing factors to why they’re eating paper.

All is not lost if your guinea pig is eating too much paper. With some simple changes and vigilant monitoring, your furry friend can get back to their healthy ways in no time.

As a responsible piggie parent, it’s important to be aware of the reasons why your guinea pigs may be eating paper. Although gnawing on paper is normal and healthy for cavies, please remember that overeating paper can cause health problems.

Can You Use Shredded Paper For Guinea Pig Bedding? 

Plain, shredded paper isn’t the best choice for bedding. Paper doesn’t absorb liquids well, so it’ll be hard to keep your guinea pigs’ cage clean and dry. But, certain brands of paper-based bedding (like Carefresh) can work really, really well for your little friends.

And if you have piggies that LOVE eating paper, having paper bedding isn’t the best idea. Literally, it’s going to be in their face…everywhere. Your piggies aren’t going to not, not eat it. They’d have a field day.

There’s many better bedding options on the market – like fleece liners, wood pellets, and noddle bath mats- that you can use to keep your furry family healthy and safe.

But, you can use shredded paper as a base and top it with more conventional or natural bedding options – like hay or wood pellets.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper Towel Rolls?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat paper towel rolls as long as they only eat a small amount of it.

Like many other paper types, paper towel rolls don’t have any harmful substances that could affect cavies. It doesn’t have ink or anything dangerous. It’s entirely plant-based.

However, remember that if your little friends eat too much of a paper towel rolls (too quickly), then it might bring on intestinal blockage and constipation.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Toilet Paper Rolls?

a fact that explains that guinea pigs can eat a little paper if it's given to them in the right way
Toilet paper and paper towel rolls make excellent toys for piggies. Just clean them off first.

Like most plain paper products, toilet paper rolls are safe for guinea pigs to nibble on. Just don’t feed toilet paper rolls as a meal to your piggies. That’ll cause some serious health issues.

But, as long as the glue has been removed from the toilet paper roll, it’s okay to use them as toys for your little friends. And it’s all right if they eat small amounts of it.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper Bags?

Yes, guinea pigs can nibble on paper bags safely. Paper bags could be a toy alternative for your guinea pigs. Cavies treat paper bags like toys.

Your little friends can play with these bags by squeezing, hiding, or tearing them. Just please don’t let them chew and swallow large amounts of it.

But, compared to other paper types, grocery paper bags are pretty large and thick. Chewing or eating it may lead to intestinal blockage and other digestion problems.

Please make sure you cut the handles off of the paper bags before your give them to your fur babies. That way they won’t get stuck in them.

By the way, if you use paper bags to serve your piggies hay, it’s harmless. Your piggies will be so focused on the hay (and forage if you sprinkle any in there), that they’ll hardly notice the paper.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Colored Paper?

No, guinea pigs should not eat colored paper because it contains dyes that were used to change the change the paper to white. If they eat it, it might cause serious health problems in cavies like stomach pain or blockages. So, keep colored paper away from your little friends. It’s not something that they should be around.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper Bedding?

Paper bedding? For guinea pigs? Absolutely not! These little guys are paper eaters, and if you’re not careful they’ll try to nibble on their bedding.

While paper is safe for them to eat in small amounts, it’s not something you want them to make a meal of. So if you’re looking for a bedding option for your paper-loving guinea pig, consider using something else instead. Hay, wood shavings, or even fabric would be a better choice.

If you decide to switch their bedding to something paper-based, make sure you monitor your little friends to make sure they’re not eating too much. Remember, paper is a healthy snack for them – but it shouldn’t make up the majority of their diet.

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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cardboard?

a reaction to a whether or not guinea pigs can eat paper cardboard

Yes, guinea pigs can safely eat small amounts of cardboard. But, keep in mind that cardboard shouldn’t be fed to guinea pigs like it’s a meal. It should be offered as a toy. And if your piggies nibble on it occasionally, there’s no harm done.

There’s different types of cardboard, and cavies can eat cardboard depending on its type. Cardboards are made from plants like every other paper product. This alone makes it less of a risk to guinea pigs.

But, some cardboards can contain harmful substances. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Cardboards With Dyes And Inks: Cardboard can be dangerous to guinea pigs. Anything written on it with ink or dye could make your cavies very sick. Chemicals from dyes and inks can cause severe stomach problems, so avoid using this type of cardboard if you can.
  • Cardboards With Glues Or Plastics: Cardboard can sometimes be used to make boxes. When you do this, you can use adhesives to fasten the cardboard together. You can also put plastic on the top and bottom of the box. This plastic can be dangerous for your cavies. Glues and plastic can be poisonous to your guinea pigs, so it is
  • Soaked Cardboards: Unknown liquids can be poisonous to guinea pigs, so it is important to keep your cardboard wet with water away from them. Cardboard that has been wet with water may also contain bacteria or mold, which could make your fur babies sick.
  • Stained Cardboards: If you’ve ever used a cardboard box to store something like detergent, oil, or candles, it is important that you do not give that box to your cavies. Cavies can be very sensitive to the harmful chemicals and dirt that may be on the surface of the cardboard.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Newspapers?

Yes, guinea pigs can nibble on (small amounts) of modern newspaper occasionally. It’s quite safe. Newspapers used to be made with ink that was very dangerous. The ink was made from petroleum, which is a substance that is dangerous to humans. But today, newspaper inks are safer. So, it’s not a big deal if your piggies eat a little bit of plain, black-and-white newspaper.

Newspapers, tabloids, booklets, magazines, cards, or any other paper types with large amounts of inks should be taken away from guinea pigs.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Printer Paper?

Just like every other type of paper, plain paper that is used for printing is safe for guinea pigs to eat. Cavies can chew on printed papers, but you must be careful. The inks that are used in printing are not harmful, but you don’t want your cavies to start eating printed papers regularly.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Notebook Paper?

Your cavies can nibble on notebook papers without any problem. Like other types of papers, it poses no health risks to them when they chew and nibble on it in small portions. It helps them keep their teeth ground down, too. Maybe not as well as wood or hay, but it’s still a good way for them to keep their pearly whites in check.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper Plates? 

Plain paper plates are safe for guinea pigs to eat in small amounts, because they’re made of cellulose (or wood pulp). Therefore, paper plates do not contain harmful substances.

Plastic plates and Styrofoam plates should never be given to guinea pigs because they can contain harmful chemicals that are poisonous. Soaking a plastic plate in water won’t help; the toxins will still be there.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper Cups?

Like paper plates, paper cups are also safe for gnawing cavies. Your cavies can play and tear tiny shreds of paper cups to their delight. It poses no health risk to them. However, plastic or Styrofoam cups should be avoided like the plague. They’re made of materials that are dangerous for your fur babies.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tissue Paper?

The answer is yes – guinea pigs can eat tissue paper in small amounts without any harm. But, you shouldn’t give them a lot of it because it’s not nutritious.

Tissue paper is really just made of… well, tissue! It doesn’t have any nutritional value for your cavies. It’s much better if they fill their bellies with hay and fresh, leafy veggies

And you should avoid giving your cavies tissue paper with lotion or other chemicals on it, as these can be harmful.

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Final Thoughts

So, the next time you catch your cavy gnawing on some paper, don’t be so quick to scold them.

It might just be that they’re enjoying a good game of chew and play, or satisfying their hunger for something new. And if it is due to a lack of fiber in their diet, there are plenty of other healthy things you can give them to eat instead.

Let’s go over a few things you need to remember about guinea pigs eating paper:

  • As a ground rule, are papers poisonous to guinea pigs? No.
  • Should your piggies eat large amounts of paper? No.
  • Can they nibble on some papers to keep their teeth at bay? Yes.
  • Can they eat paper with ink, plastic, etc.? No.
  • Should your piggies eat papers regularly as a meal? Absolutely not.

These are essential things to know when next you see your cavies nibbling on some papers.

Rest assured that they aren’t going to do any serious damage by nibbling on some paper every now and then.

Let me know in the comments below if your guinea pigs have ever shown an interest in eating paper – I’d love to hear about it.

[Digestive disorders in rabbits and Guinea pigs]. (n.d.). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1481206/

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The effect of cellulose on crystal formation in the kidneys of Guinea pigs fed diet rich in calcium and sodium. (n.d.). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22692100/

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What should I feed my Guinea pigs? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-guinea-pigs/

Why We Don’t Feed Fruit. (n.d.). PGPR. https://www.pdxguineapigs.org/fruit.html

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