As night approaches and the busy household quiets down, your pet guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) comes out to spend time with the family. Hiding in his nest during the day, he prefers to visit you when the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning and when it sends its last rays over the landscape. While a cage provides a safe environment, your pet enjoys exploring and hiding in homemade tunnels that imitate his natural habitat.
A large cardboard shipping tube, with a 3 to 4 inch diameter opening, is easily cut to fit in a guinea pig cage. By burying it partway in hay or bedding, the guinea pig can explore the tunnel and hide when he feels threatened. Round cardboard oatmeal containers, triangular shipping tubes and long rectangular boxes also make interesting tunnels. If your pet is a particularly chunky fellow, you can make tunnels with 6- to 8-inch round concrete forms. Cut the cardboard form in half with a saw to make two tunnels. Throw the cardboard away and replace it with a new tunnel if the guinea pig pees on it.
Your hardware or plumbing supply store proffers 4-inch PVC pipes, T-joints and elbows to build an entire complex of tunnels for your guinea pig. Provide several openings in the complex to allow her to enter and leave the tunnel system. Six-inch PVC pipes can also be used as tunnels. Cut a 2-inch strip out of the bottom of the pipe to prevent the tunnel from rolling while your pet is scampering through it. While PVC pipe is durable and easy to clean, she may chew on the ends of the pipe. Monitor the pipe and discard or file down that section before it develops sharp, ragged edges.
A log or tree branch, 6 inches in diameter, can be made into a short tunnel suitable for a guinea pig. By using a 4-inch hole saw with a drill, you can drill a hole through the middle of the log. If a hole saw isn't available, drill a series of holes in a 4-inch diameter circle, through the center of the log, with a long drill bit and then chisel out the center. Because your pet will chew on the wood, avoid using wood from evergreen trees such as cedar, pine and redwood and the Prunus species such as almond, apricot, cherry, plum and peach trees. Better choices include aspen and apple tree logs.
More Tunnel Ideas
While guinea pigs are native to South America and can tolerate cool temperatures, a cozy tunnel made of fleece with a cotton exterior provides a warm nest. Add boning, also known as rigilene, in casings at each end to keep the tunnel open. Scrap wood also makes a simple tunnel; simply nail four 1-by-6-inch boards together into a long, open-ended rectangular box. For a rustic look, cut apple tree branches into 1-foot lengths and nail them together into an arch to make both a tunnel and a tasty treat for your pet to gnaw on while she's hiding during the day.
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With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.