What are the best toys for guinea pigs 2021?

cute short haired guinea pig

There are many toys you can buy for guinea pigs but not all of them are safe and many are not the kind of toy a guinea pig will play with or use. So we’ve put together this “Best Toys for Guinea Pigs” guide to help you buy the best and most fun boredom breakers for your small pets.

With several guinea pigs of our own, we’ve bought many toys over the past few years. Some have become firm favourites and others were completely ignored and utterly useless.  This article will help you spend your money wisely and find toys that your guinea pigs will love.

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Do guinea pigs need toys?

Some people will say that guinea pigs don’t need toys and will question whether guinea pigs even play with toys. But these pets are intelligent animals and can become bored if they don’t have enough day to day enrichment opportunities.

Guinea pigs like variety in their lives just as we do and you’ll see evidence of this when you provide them with a new toy (also known as a boredom breaker or boredom buster), providing it is suitable for their needs. 

Our guinea pigs get extremely excited when a new toy arrives in their cage and it’s incredibly rewarding to watch how much they enjoy what we have bought or made for them.

What toys do guinea pigs like best?

Foraging is a natural behaviour for a guinea pig and eating is probably a guinea pig’s favourite pastime. These small furries also love to explore. 

Safe toys that involve foraging, eating and exploring can all be a good addition to your guinea pig’s cage and interaction with these toys will enrich their daily lives. 

The 4 main types of toy that your guinea pigs will like the most are:

Treat balls

Treat balls can be filled with a healthy, nutritious treat and your guinea pigs will roll it around the cage in an effort to make the treats fall out. This provides a challenge for them that they will enjoy immensely.

Abyssinian guinea pig playing with the Haypigs Treat Ball
Our guinea pig, Sunny, with the Haypigs Treat Ball

Our guinea pigs have the Haypigs treat ball which is the best quality treat ball we’ve found. As pea flakes are a favourite treat of theirs, we put a few of these inside the ball. You can also slot pieces of fresh veggies in the holes around the ball.

The Haypigs treat ball is one of our guinea pigs favourite toys and is great value as it doesn’t need replacing like many other toys do. All you’ll need to replace are the treats you put inside the ball.

The metal hay balls that are widely available in pet shops and online are NOT suitable for guinea pigs. We’ve heard awful stories of guinea pigs becoming stuck or suffering serious injuries, some fatal, from using these balls so please don’t buy these.

Chew toys

Guinea pigs love to chew and pull things apart so chew toys are a good choice providing they are made of safe and natural materials.

Some of the best chew toys for guinea pigs are available at Small Pet Select whose toys are made from a range of fibrous grasses that are suitable for guinea pigs to eat. 

These fibres are dried and twisted or woven into various shapes such as rings, spirals, sticks and balls. Fibre is an important part of a guinea pig’s diet so these edible toys also contribute to a healthy diet.

It’s important to avoid any chew toys that have some kind of artificial colour or flavouring added as these aren’t good for your small pets to ingest.

Hanging toys and mobiles

A chewable hanging toy or mobile adds another dimension of fun and a challenge for your guinea pigs. 

Hanging toys in a guinea pig cage
Guinea pigs love hanging toys

It’s difficult to find good quality hanging toys as many of the ones we tried were either not made with safe enough materials or our guinea pigs were simply not interested in them. 

The toys our guinea pigs loved best were again from Small Pet Select and included those with fresh timothy hay cubes, braided natural grass fibres or mobiles that had a selection of natural woods hanging from them. 

Tunnels and bridges

Guinea pigs love exploring tunnels or running under bridges and there is a good variety of these toys to choose from that are safe for your guinea pigs.

Wicker tunnel

The Trixie woven wicker bridge is a good toy but is also something your guinea pigs will chew on until it falls to bits so don’t expect it to last too long. But they have lots of fun munching on it as well as hiding underneath it. 

If your guinea pigs are quite large, you would be best to buy the rabbit bridge which is identical but bigger.

Haypigs Cavy Cannonball

The Haypigs range of toys and cage accessories are circus themed and their Cavy Cannonball is a fun and colourful cardboard tunnel that sits on a plastic base. 

Abyssinian guinea pig in the Haypigs Circus tunnel
Baileys in the Cavy Cannonball Tunnel

The tunnel tilts as your guinea pig runs through it making it a unique toy compared to all the other many cardboard tunnels that are available for guinea pigs.

To change things up a bit for them, you can stuff hay inside the tunnel to turn it into a forage toy.

The cardboard is safe to chew and if it needs replacing you can buy the cardboard tunnels as separate items without having to replace the plastic stand.

Forage toys

Because guinea pigs love to forage, this kind of toy has always been a popular choice with our guinea pigs.

Rosewood Naturals Forage ball

One of our guinea pigs’ favourite forage toys is the “Roll’n’Nest” which is made from all natural materials: woven dried grasses and stuffed with meadow hay, dandelion and marigold.

It doesn’t take long for them to munch their way through all the hay inside but you can re-fill it with your own hay and even use this as their hay feeder.

They will eventually demolish the actual ball itself as it’s all edible, but we find that it lasts a good few weeks before the ball itself falls apart.

Rosewood Naturals Forage cube

The Rosewood Forage Cube is made from edible cardboard that is coated with tasty forage. It has heart-shaped holes in each side, so your guinea pigs can get to the tasty meadow hay and marigold flowers that are inside.

Rosewood forage cube for guinea pigs
Rosewood forage cube

The only downside to this toy is that the guinea pigs will sometimes sit inside it, and, if they pee inside the box, the base can become soggy. 

It also doesn’t last as long as the Rosewood forage ball because the cardboard gets chewed pretty quickly. For this reason we prefer the forage ball to the cube but it is a good toy all the same and our guinea pigs like it a lot.

Fleece snuffle and forage mats

A fleece forage mat, also known as a snuffle mat, is usually handmade with lots of secret hiding places where you can hide small pieces of vegetable or favourite treats. Your guinea pig will be able to sniff out the treats and try to retrieve them from their hiding places.

We’ve found that dried forage mixes or pea flakes work really well for guinea pigs in the forage mats. 

When buying a snuffle mat, take care it doesn’t contain glues and that it’s made with safe materials.

Are climbing toys good for guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs like big flat spaces and their bodies aren’t made to climb in the way that some other small animals do.

Guinea pigs are able to use a ramp that has a gentle incline to get to a second level in their housing but climbing frames, ladders, bendable bridges or climbing towers are not suitable as toys for your guinea pigs and could cause a serious injury.

Can guinea pigs use exercise balls or wheels?

Guinea pigs have a delicate bone structure and are not built to move in the way necessary to use an exercise ball or wheel.

These exercise toys are extremely dangerous for guinea pigs and they should never be made to use them. If they are made to use these toys, there is a good chance they could end up with fatal injuries.

Are any exercise toys good for guinea pigs?

There is only one good “exercise toy” for your guinea pigs and that is a super large cage. The thing guinea pigs love the most is having space to run around on one level without having to climb.

There is no exercise toy that is good for guinea pigs so for the sake of their health and wellbeing you should always stick to the safe foraging and chew toys like the ones listed above.

DIY toys for guinea pigs (sticks / loo rolls / box tunnel)

There are some DIY toys you can make for your guinea pigs that they may enjoy. Here are some simple ideas for homemade guinea pig toys you might like to try:

  • The cardboard tube of a toilet roll stuffed with hay. You could also hang these in the cage for more of a challenge.
  • A cardboard box (beware of glues or staples though). Make an archway in each opposite side to turn it into a tunnel that will work as a hideout too.
  • Safe branches from apple, pear, birch, hazel or willow trees. You may be able to weave the willow branches into a toy for them too.