Whether you hate it or don’t mind it, dealing with poop is an unavoidable part of caring for pets. Different types of animals will have different standards for healthy poop, but one stands out among the rest — guinea pigs. A guinea pig was one of my first pets as a kid and their pooping habits definitely came as a surprise.
A single guinea pig can poop more than 100 times a day. This is generally due to their high-fiber diet. Fiber increases the weight and softness of stool, speeding up its movement through the digestive tract. If you want to clean up guinea pig poop quickly, you can use a handheld vacuum.
If you want to learn more about why guinea pigs poop so much, as well as tips for cleaning up and evaluating their health, keep reading!
Why Do Guinea Pigs Poop So Much?
Guinea pigs, also called cavies or piggies, are relatively tiny, weighing between 1.5 – 2.5 lbs. and measuring 8 – 10 inches long. Their diminutive size means they can surprise you with how much they poop, but it’s a natural side effect of their diet.
The preferred diet for guinea pigs is a small amount of high-fiber hay-based pellets, like this food from Amazon. Also, unlimited amounts of Timothy hay like this one on Amazon or similar is great value. Timothy hay is:
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- low protein
- low calcium
- high fiber
- high energy content
To provide them with vitamin C and other nutrients their diet should be supplemented by fresh greens and colored vegetables such as:
- romaine lettuce
- bell pepper
As you can see, the bulk of a guinea pig’s herbivorous diet is high in fiber. Insoluble fiber normalizes bowel movements by increasing stool bulk and promoting the movement of material through the digestive system. Guinea pigs also have a naturally quick digestive system.
By eating fiber day in and day out, your guinea pig is essentially a little poop factory. The normal amount of times that a guinea pig poops can range between 100 – 300 times a day.
Aside from their diet, there are a few other factors that can affect your guinea pig’s poop:
Your guinea pig’s activity level is one of the biggest factors that affect how often they poop. A cavy that gets regular exercise will poop more often than one that isn’t very active.
This is because exercise gets their digestive systems working faster, resulting in more poop. In addition, the exercise burns off food, so your little pet needs to eat more often, resulting in even more poop.
If you want to be a responsible owner, you should give them ample space and activities inside their cages like:
- hiding places
- chew toys
It’s also good to set up a daily floor time routine to give them the exercise they need.
It can be tempting to slack off on their exercise needs so you’ll have less poop to pick up, but it’s crucial for their health — make peace with the poop and let them run around to their hearts’ content.
As they age, the bodies of guinea pigs slow down, similar to ours. This means that older guinea pigs poop a bit less because their digestive system has slowed down and they can no longer process food as quickly.
FACT: During the first few years, they’ll be pooping a lot, but you’ll eventually notice them producing less poop than usual.
This can be concerning, but just remember that it’s a natural part of their aging. You don’t have to worry as long as they’re still reasonably active and are drinking and eating normally.
However, if you notice that they’re having tummy trouble or are struggling to pass stools, you can try giving them gentle stomach massages. If the problems persist, it’s a good idea to visit the vet.
As mentioned, a guinea pig’s diet is the main reason that they poop so much. They’ll poop as much as they need to as long as you’re following a food plan that is:
However, they’ll poop less if you feed them:
- too little fiber
- too little Vitamin C
- not enough water
- excessive treats
This isn’t a good thing — they need the fluids, nutrients, and fiber to prevent gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.
GI stasis is a dangerous condition that many small herbivores are vulnerable to. Their digestive systems are designed to constantly have food moving through them, promoting the healthy movement of the stomach and intestines.
When your piggy gets food backed up in its system and is eating too little or stops eating entirely, its intestines will slow down and stop working. If not addressed in time, it could lead to your pet’s death.
NOTE: Always make sure that you’re feeding your guinea pigs a healthy, balanced diet and giving them free access to clean water. A daily treat or two should be fine, but don’t go overboard and let them snack all day. Aside from upsetting their digestive system, this can also lead to diabetes and obesity.
How Can I Tell if My Guinea Pig’s Poop Is Healthy?
You’ll notice guinea pigs produce two different types of poop:
- Caecotrophs: These are typically a lighter brown and sometimes greenish color, with a soft and sticky texture. They’re packed full of nutrients that your guinea pig’s system couldn’t extract the first time. You likely won’t see this type often, because piggies gobble them back up for the nutrients. If you’ve ever noticed your little fur ball dipping between its back legs and chewing like crazy when they pop back up, they’re likely eating their own poop. It’s a pretty gross idea, but it’s a great way for them to absorb as many nutrients as possible.
- Normal, healthy poop: This is the poop you’ll see more often. Healthy guinea pig poop should be:
- uniform in consistency
- distinctly smooth
- medium brown to dark brown in color
- very little smell
- grainy texture due to the hay in their diet
- not overly dry or break into pieces when guinea pigs step on them
Your guinea pig’s poop is one of the biggest indicators of its overall health. Here are some common concerns you can spot by paying attention to their droppings:
Small, Dry Poop
This can be a sign of dehydration. Other symptoms to watch for are:
- low energy
Ideally, guinea pigs should drink 10% of their body weight in water and shouldn’t go more than 24 hours without water (or even less if you live in a hot climate).
If you have a water bottle, make sure your pets understand how to use it. If you have a water bowl, change it often. You can also supplement their diet with cucumber, which contains a lot of water.
This can be a sign of gut problems or an unhealthy digestive system. Your guinea pig should have unlimited amounts of Timothy hay available since its digestive system needs a lot of fiber.
If your guinea pig is a picky eater, you can try mixing in other types of hay, such as the sweeter and softer orchard hay like this one from Amazon. Sometimes sprinkling in hay toppers to encourage their foraging instincts can help too.
If they’re being picky about drinking water, you can add a bit of unsweetened cranberry juice to their water (the water should look just barely pink). Only give it to them for one day and rinse out their water bottle or bowl thoroughly to remove any residual taste.
Clumpy, Big Poop
This can be a sign of gut problems or aging rectal muscles. Observe whether your guinea pig seems uncomfortable while pooping, like straining or acting like it’s pooping but nothing’s coming out.
You can try lubricating their booty with a small amount of coconut oil to help them pass stools while continuing to provide them with a fiber-rich diet and plenty of water.
NOTE: Follow the tips in the previous section if they’re being picky about eating or drinking.
If the problem lasts for more than a day, schedule a vet visit.
Soft, Mushy, Smelly Poop
This can be a sign of problems with your guinea pig’s digestive health such as a diet and nutrition problem or diarrhea. If you suspect your guinea pig is suffering from diarrhea, watch out for:
- loss of appetite
Severe cases can also come with low body temperature. Schedule a vet visit immediately, as severe diarrhea can lead to death.
If it’s not diarrhea, ensure that your cavy is getting a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of water. Their main food should be abundant fresh hay, supplemented by pellets and vegetables (typically 1 cup of vegetables per day per guinea pig).
Signs of blood in your guinea pig’s poop are serious, possibly caused by mechanical obstruction or a significant inflammation or tear somewhere in the intestinal system or anus. If you see blood in their poop, take your guinea pig to a vet immediately.
How Can I Deal With How Much My Guinea Pig Poops?
When your guinea pig is pooping constantly, it can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s a good sign that they’re healthy. On the other hand, it’s up to you to clean up after them. Guinea pigs appreciate being in a clean environment to the point where they sometimes refuse to touch food and water that’s been dirtied, so regular cleaning is a must.
Here are some tips to help you stay on top of things:
- Use a handheld vacuum cleaner: You can certainly put on some gloves and pick up their poop the old-fashioned way, but a handheld vacuum cleaner (this one from Amazon which is great value) is more convenient and more hygienic. Just put your piggies somewhere they won’t be spooked by the vacuum (like a playpen) and clear away any hay before vacuuming.
- Do a little bit every day: With how often guinea pigs poop, you can end up with an intimidating pile if you slack off on cleaning. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and dedicate a few minutes in the morning and evening to remove as much poop as possible. Ideally, the entire cage should be cleaned once a week.
- Consider litter training: If you’ve noticed your pets like pooping in specific spots, you can try taking advantage of it by putting out a small box or tray in their favorite spot (filled with newspaper and hay). If they get used to pooping in one spot, cleaning up can be easier.
- Use fleece bedding/cage liner: Traditional materials, like paper and wood shavings, are designed to let poop sink to the bottom. This makes cleaning up harder. Fleece, on the other hand, can easily be removed and machine-washed.
Guinea pigs poop a lot — it’s a fact of life that you have to get used to as a guinea pig owner. It can be tiring to clean up hundreds of poop pellets a day, but it’s something to be thankful for. If your guinea pig isn’t pooping as frequently, it can be a sign that there’s something wrong with their health.
Always feed your piggies abundant amounts of hay supplemented by nutritious pellets and vegetables. Ensure that they also have access to clean water and are drinking regularly. If you notice any problems, don’t hesitate to schedule a visit with your vet.
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