Time to clean the guinea pig's cage for the first time. But do your kids really know how to do it? They need to be taught step by step to ensure that the guinea pig stays clean, healthy, and happy. Cleaning the cage seems simple enough. While teaching my kids to clean the guinea pig cage, I realized there are important things to remember so that the guinea pig is safe at all times.
Put the guinea pig in a safe temporary location. Guinea pigs are very good escape artists. So they should be in a secured location that is safe for them to play in. An extra cage or hutch works great for this purpose. You also may want to use a guinea pig playpen. Show your child how to be sure there is no way for the guinea pig to escape. Kids also need to know that supervision is important during the cage cleaning, unless the guinea pig is in a securely locked cage.
Show the kids how to disassemble the cage. As you take apart the cage, show the kids how it is done with each step. It may take longer when you have to explain things. But it will be worth it when the kids gain the knowledge to do it for themselves. Some cages simply pull away from the base tray. Others may only allow for the bottom tray to slide out while the cage stays intact. Guinea pig cages and hutches can be a decent size. Therefore, depending on your child's age and ability, you may have to help with or be responsible for the cage cleaning.
Having a scoop for bedding removal makes it easier for kids. Since guinea pig cages and hutches are fairly large, it's easier to scoop out the bedding than it is to dump it into the trash. Large kitty litter scoops work great for this duty. Be sure you and the kids are wearing gloves while cleaning out the cage. Be sure all the bedding has been scooped out before moving on to the washing.
Give the kids tips on washing the cage. The guinea pig's cage should be washed only with a very mild soap and should be rinsed very thoroughly. The kids need to know how important that is. Guinea pigs can become sick or worse from even a small amount of soap. We like to use an environmentally-friendly mild dish liquid that is chemical free, fragrance free, and dye free. Some choose to use the cage cleaning solution found in pet supply stores. Soaking all the parts of the cage in boiling hot water helps to sterilize the items. Once you wash and rinse all the cage parts, allow it to air dry. This is to avoid it coming in contact with any chemicals, dust, or germs that may be lurking in towels.
Show them how to replace bedding and reassemble cage. Once the cage is dry, explain to the kids how to reassemble the cage. If your kids are like mine, they may already know this from putting it together after purchase. We find it helpful to place bedding (and any accessories that go into the cage bottom) in the bottom tray before putting up the top and sides. The guinea pig can be returned to the cage once it has been properly assembled and food, water, salt and mineral licks, toys, and other accessories have been replaced.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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